Who’s That Girl Part One

May 1, 2012

Just like in any new friendship, there is a period of getting to know each other. In a perfect world, I could sit down to coffee with each of you and we could share the stories of our lives that would begin to knit us together in friendship.  Sadly, that won’t be able to happen, but we (or at least I) can share my story so you can get to know me a little bit better.  So grab your popcorn and your snuggies, ladies- cause here is the life of Heather…….the early years…….

I was born on a warm spring day in early March… 😉 Seriously, though, I really was.  Like a lot of you, I was raised in a Christian home with two parents who both knew and loved Jesus.  My dad was handicapped and so he stayed at home while my mom was the one who went to work.  My brother, my only sibling, was five years older than me so we really didn’t have a lot in common. Despite it all, we were your typical American family….so to speak.

A lot of my youth was spent eating mac-n-cheese in the back seat of the car while my mom drove us to the hospital. That’s where my dad would be staying while recovering from some surgery for some new ailment.  It became a second home and a place or normalcy for me. I never had the dad who went to my t-ball game or played outside with us in the yard.  My dad was sick.  And he did the very best he could, despite his illness, to be the best kind of father he knew to be.  And he was.  But I couldn’t help but hold some form of resentment in my heart, feeling like I had been cheated out of a real dad experience. My mom worked hard to keep us financially afloat but then had to come home and take care of not only two kids, but a sick husband as well.  She was superwoman in my eyes.  To this day, I don’t think I’lll ever know how she did it.  My brother, though an irritant in my childhood, quickly became one of my best a dearest friends.  Even still, he is a calm in my sometimes stormy life.

I grew up in an area of Phoenix, AZ that was a lot more “cultural” than most- if you get my drift. I was constantly being bullied for being a scrawny white kid and often scared into helping the bad kids get away with a lot of awful stuff.  At age eleven I was first told about masturbation by a girl in my class and by age twelve, I had been exposed to my first picture of a naked man by another friend in my class.  At age fourteen, I was bullied into being the lookout on the bus so the naughty kids could do naughty things to each other in the back without getting caught.  Surprisingly though, I somehow made it through those crazy years without ever doing those things myself.

I grew up going to church, more specifically, a conservative Baptist church. And by conservative, I mean you would never be caught dead wearing jeans to church or the congregation would think you had fallen away from the Lord.  At the time I didn’t know it, but there was a lot of legalism in my church.  I remember one Sunday I sang with a girls group in our evening service.  The song was upbeat, and I swayed a little to the music while I sang. Afterward, I was told if I ever moved like that on stage again, I wouldn’t be allowed to sing in church.  Now don’t get me wrong, the church I grew up in is an amazing place with amazing people who helped me grow in the Lord in ways I never knew I could.  It was a huge part of who I am today, but it also played a role in some of the battles I deal with today.

I became a Christian at age five, and really committed my life to the Lord at age sixteen.  For all intents and purposes, I was the poster child for an upright Christian kid.  Leader of everything; attended all groups; always at church; mainly behaved; never drank; smoked; and was NEVER naughty with boys.  I was judgmental of the sinner. I was quick to condemn them and make my feelings known.  You guessed it, I was THAT Christian kid.  The self-righteous one who never did anything wrong so I felt it was my place to tell everyone how bad they were.  The funny thing is, even though I was a really good kid (my nickname in high school was “GG” for goody-goody), I was still this lost girl who was so full of hurt and pain on the inside that at times I thought I might burst.  But we’ll get more into that at another time.

It wasn’t until I got to college that my life went in a direction I never thought it would take.  But I’ll save that for part two.

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  • Georgie Jamison May 1, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I guess we’re all in the same boat in our school years. Thanks for sharing!

  • Annah Ruth Zantello May 1, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Thank you for sharing, looking forward to following along with you Heather!! :)

  • Laurie Lynn May 1, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    Sounds alot like me. I was the “perfect christian girl.” Yet I knew I was hurting and lost. Grew up in that perfect christian family yet didn’t actually meet and really get to know Jesus until 10th grade. I accepted Him in my heart at age 7 but I didn’t really know Him, know Him until 10th grade. Now I love Him and He’s set me free.

  • Juliyah Wright May 1, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    Has anyone here heard of Joice Myer????

    Migraine now so I’ll write a little later. :-)

    Thanks for sharing. Thanks for caring :-)

  • alimccormick12 May 2, 2012 at 1:52 am

    Thanks for sharing Heather. I grew up with only a dad. My mom died when I was ten months old. I can kind of understand the feelings of I wish I would have had more time with for me mom ( you dad). I look forward to hearing more about your story.

  • Jessica May 2, 2012 at 3:40 am

    Wow, this sounds a lot like me… in that I feel like my whole life I’ve lived being the “good Christian girl”, but I have days where I feel so lost. And the description of feeling like you might burst? Spot on. There’s just certain days where everything that bothers me comes crashing down at once and I feel like I might explode. I’m 22… and I feel like I’ve been in a rut, spiritually, for the past several years. I grew up in a very conservative church also… and am still there at this point. When you say you couldn’t show up to church in jeans without the congregation thinking you were falling away from the Lord… well in our church, you just shouldn’t wear jeans – or pants in general – at all. And the list of do’s and don’t’s goes on. Only within the past year or so – and, I have to say, thanks in part to this book of Tenth Avenue North song journals that by brother has, as well as a book called “Prodigal God” by Tim Keller – have I realized that our church is pretty legalistic. And something else I’ve realized? I don’t know that I have ever really thought about or contemplated God’s love for us… for me. I don’t know if it’s a case of I’ve never been taught about it… or if I just wasn’t listening when it was taught… or maybe somewhere along the way I forgot. But over the past year I’ve started hearing more and more about God’s love and it’s definitely changed the way I see things, but I still struggle with it. I’ll have days where I feel like I’m on the right path… those days when I take the time to read and pray. But the days when I let other things get in the way of that… I feel like I’m letting God down. I don’t understand why it’s so hard for me to make time to read and pray every night. Is that just me? It doesn’t seem like such a chore for other people. Why is it for me? I think the best way to describe my spiritual life is… I take a couple steps forward and then I hit a brick wall. Then I start stumbling backwards until I catch my step and start going forward again. Only to run into the brick wall… again. (To be honest, I’ve never thought of it that way until now, but I think that actually describes it pretty well.) Anyway, I could go on probably for another 10 pages, but I’ll stop here. :) My life isn’t bad by any stretch… in fact it’s so good that I live most days wondering why I am so blessed and still can’t find that “unspeakable joy”. But anyway… thanks for reading. I look forward to more of your blogs, Heather. I have a feeling they will be another stepping stone in this journey.

  • Cailyn Stevens May 2, 2012 at 3:51 am

    Heather, you are off to a wonderful start! Keep up the good work!

  • Juliyah Wright May 2, 2012 at 4:24 am

    Who me!!!!! I said to God as He was waking me up at 3;am every morning :-) so I begin to crawl into the tiny closet to read & pray & be still and know He is God :-) Then after many months I would get up later & later till finally one day I was getting up out of my prayer closet & three snaps. As these were my fingers from getting up out of the floor:-) So I moved us to the room. No… so every morning whenninwake up I must put HIM first or my day goes horrible :@(

    And I enjoy His presence more as I make notes and read my bible at home where I am safe from leaglism… false doctrine cliques Yada yada!

    Free to worship and sing and read and listen to the songs on my outdoor radio :-) and I even hear tenth’s songs!!!

    So yes Jessica this us what works for me.

    It’s been great to hear from you. :-) Sorry so long to get back :-) as I am suffering from s migraine headache :@/

    Juliyah W.

  • kathy strauch (@08Kathy) May 2, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I was that girl growing up too, and I am still that girl sometimes. Excited for part 2!

  • Winter May 2, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    I came across your blog after reading Jeff’s post on the TAN website. I am loving it so far, and I really look forward to reading more! I was not raised in church, and the only time I got to go was when my parents needed a babysitter…glad that I got to go, but would have been nice to be raised in it. It’s nice to hear your story…and what it was like growing up in church..now I must read more! lol

  • bubelaiken May 2, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    i didn’t really grew up as a christian. in matter of fact… i was totally opposite. i was a kid who was going through some tough times…grew up really angry at God, really totally bitter at God because everything bad happening in my life. i did get in trouble a lot and hang out with troublemakers. i also did some really bad stuff. i grew up without a dad…so growing up without a dad.. it was definely hard for me but my mom fall in love with a guy who mistreat me badly. i actually started to go to church recently..Last year of June 2011. i also got baptized on august of last year. i started to really open myself up to god after June 17 2011. let me tell you…i am on a unbelievable journey with God. i mean i am making a difference. who knew? I was a kid who felt unloved, unworthy, an outcast…and that nobody would care about me if i died but somehow an very special day open my eyes… telling me what i done is not who i am but it does remind me where i been… where i had gone. i’m slowly learning about God each day…i’m learning to make friends, i’m learning that i shouldn’t be going to the things that harm myself… that i should go to God… each day is a lesson for me. i am making a difference by sharing my testimony… by hanging out with girls that are going through tough times like i was in and be a true friend and making a difference in TWLOHA community. i am now in kids minstry where i teach little kids about god. i am in worship band for an amazing church. it’s pretty amazing how an very special day changed my life. I love my church and i love my high school youth group!

    • agirlikemee May 2, 2012 at 8:07 pm

      Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Rebekah May 4, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Very well written..Keep it up!!

  • Sarah May 9, 2012 at 11:26 am

    thank you so much for sharing!!!!! Tell Jeff I love their music.

  • Emily May 25, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    How can one area of the United States be more “cultural” than most? Don’t even Christians and non-minorities have their own culture?

    • Emily May 25, 2012 at 5:52 pm

      By the way, thank you for sharing, Heather. I appreciate reading your posts because I have a friend who works with some of the same challenges as you, and this allows me to understand (and hopefully relate with) her in a kinder way.

      The questions I sent to you previously^ were about your comment on the culture in Phoenix. I feel that I should explain why I asked it so that it will come across as helpful rather than hurtful to you.

      You see, my questions arose out of hurt I felt while reading that comment because, like you, I am a young woman. A beautifully delightful child of the King of kings who’s also categorized as an ethnic minority.

      I believe your words when you say that you were bullied. As you revealed, that bullying was hurtful to you. Because of its impacts, you struggled with its harmful effects on your spiritual, emotional, and mental growth for many years. This was a painful experience for you that the Lord has been, is, and will be redeeming.

      When you mentioned that the area you grew up in was “cultural” (as a euphemism for ethnic minorities living in your area), I felt surprised and hurt to understand that by that you meant that the area was unsafe, or that a girl who was white could or would be bullied there.

      Please hear my observation that, not only do whites have a culture just as strongly present as any other race or ethnicity (though it may not seem so if one is raised in it and lives in it over a long period of time), but also that white culture does not equal Christianity. Christianity, on the other hand, encompasses every culture, just as the Holy Spirit Jesus poured out covers all the people of the world with His grace. Revelations also speaks about the end of time when people of all nations and tribes will sing and dance for Jesus.

      Even Jesus was submerged within a culture, and although His Spirit was not captivated by it, He submitted to its boundaries humbly in order to politely communicate His love for us within our own cultural contexts, rules, and standards. As 1 Corinthians 13:5 tells us, “Love is not rude.” Jesus actually did many things within the Jewish culture that would be considered “weird” to lovers of white culture in the United States. For example, He made water into a huge amount of wine to spice up a wedding (hehe, He sure enjoyed a nice party), dined with those who most modern-day people would call ‘freaks,’ and never grew up going to Sunday services or celebrating Easter.

      “The bad kids” who bullied you hurtfully were people, no less than you. They are not simply sinners, but are people Jesus LOVED who also happened to be categorized as ethnic minorities. They did not bully you because they were ethnic minorities, nor did they bully you because they were “cultural,” whatever that term is supposed to mean in an entire world of culture. It is possible that they were hurt by others just as much as the hurt they caused in you. I will be praying for God to make available (or continue to make available, because you say that you’re meeting with a counselor) to you a person you’re close to, so you can process your pain freely and be freed in forgiveness.

      Thank you for the patience you have given me in listening to what I have to say. I hope that these comments have been respectful and not condemning, filled with acceptance and validation so that you will feel free and empowered by love. But if it’s not helpful, or you don’t like it, you can just disregard. 😉 Thank you, Heather!

  • Katherine August 3, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    I love your pictures!! You were an adorable baby, and I think the dress is really cute. And you do look really pretty in your senior picture!