Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Testimony.

I am going to be very honest with you. I am going to show you a side of myself that I have never completely allowed anyone to see; the side behind all the photographs and the jokes. Me. I am going to let you see me and let you in on some details of my life that I have told no one, this will even be the first my family will hear of it. God gave me the talent and love for writing for a reason and recently He gave me something substantial to write about, a “tidbit” of my life’s testimony. I feel that I shouldn't hide it or keep it to myself any longer but that I should tell the world and let God work it out from there. Please, open your heart and allow God to speak to you through my experiences or give this to someone that may be in need of it in some way or another.

As you could most likely guess (through recent writings), I have been thinking a lot about my memories and my past and how it has all affected me. Lately, it has seemed as though I could not escape them. All that has happened, everything that I have experienced within the last nine months, has cast a constant dark shadow upon my every step and consumed my every thought. For one that seemed so strong and rooted deeply within the foundations my parents worked so hard to build me upon, I was the weakest; the one who fell way too quickly and hard. I lost myself in a world forbidden. Figuratively, it was as if I willingly jumped off a cliff not caring to find a stronghold as I plummeted into the unknown. I thought I had it all figured out and I had actually convinced myself it was God’s will. Yet, I was walking through life blindfolded. I was so unaware of what I had truly gotten myself in to and where it would all lead. “But hey, everyone makes mistakes right? No biggy. We make them, we learn from them, we move on.” Little did I grasp that it would not end there.

Even though I had apologized to all and begged God for forgiveness, which He mercifully gave me, there still awaited the consequences of my actions. Just because He forgave me it didn't mean there wasn't still some foreboding punishing lying ahead. Such as, there were blessings which I robbed myself of; blessings that I hope to regain one day but perhaps will never again be offered. In addition, any liberty my parents had trusted me with was taken away and that trust was broken. But all that aside, the consequence that took the most out of me was the consequence of memory. I remember every insignificant and significant happening that transpired over those eventful months. I can recall so vividly even the thought process that was racing through my mind at the time, where it all began and how it all ended.

When I remember significant details of my life, it’s not simply a moving picture that enters my mind. As long as that particular memory was triggered by something physical, such as a sound, a smell, a touch…it shoots me right back to the world of my past. Once again, I find myself living in that very moment. All the emotions I felt at that time come flooding back in all of their entirety. Many times I found myself having to leave a store because a song began to play that brought back painful memories I had thought I’d forgotten, and because of the sudden emotional confusion I would begin to cry uncontrollably. So for months I had to live with a constant replay of the situations I allowed myself to fall into and how it has changed me…and how it all could have been so different. Behind ever door, down every street, in every song, the simple stoking of a fire, putting on my chuck’s, or even hearing a phone ring, there awaited an ever haunting memory yearning to pull me back into the one place I had hoped for so long that I would one day escape. That was my punishment, my consequence.

Of course, I knew I had a village of people that would have been willing to help me with what I was going through but I was so afraid that they would become upset with me or think I was just dwelling too much on the past. So I simply kept it to myself and figured that because I didn't speak of it it’d all eventually just go away, like normal memories always seem to do. Although, I do admit that I did try in an inconspicuous manner to contact various friends hoping I’d be able to unleash some of these thoughts upon someone else. But they happened to not answer their phone that day or maybe they didn't quite get the real reason why I was texting them. Their was even an instance when I longed more than ever before to talk to my brother about it, hoping he could help me somehow but that happened to be the night when he moved out and I never got the chance to after that.

So for the past six months my memories have held a certain power over me. They controlled me from the first thought that would pop into my head when I awoke in the morning to what I ate, what I wore, what I said, where I went, how I acted during the day…those memories possessed my being and became me. I begged God many nights to take them away. I confessed that I wasn'tt consciously trying to dwell on the past but I just couldn't control it, which was true. I never consciously recalled those memories. And so God would allow me maybe a day’s rest from those tormenting replays but for some reason when I would lay my head down to rest for the night everything would come flooding back and I would once more cry myself to sleep because of the pain and confusion they all brought. I even wrote about leaving it all behind on my blog a few times because during those moments I felt I had, I didn't realize that my hope was in vain at the time. I thought because I said it it made it true and that it’d finally be the end of it. But a few days later I’d be plagued by them once again.

I didn't understand this. I had moved on! I had no desire to go back, to return to those dark days. And I certainly had no deep wish for my life to have been different so I somehow could've continued in the way I was going and finished what I had started before it was all interrupted. And I had no hope or longing of picking up where I left off in the future. I honestly just wanted to erase the memories from my mind completely. I thought moving on meant to pretend none of it had ever happened and by doing so the memories would gradually disappear. I was wrong.

What I failed to understand at the time was that it is when one fights an unavoidable punishment that it only makes it much harder and becomes more severe. I was the one responsible for the situations I put myself in and all the pain I had caused; and I was also responsible for the consequences that were to follow. I knew I would be chastised eventually but I had it worked out in my mind that because of the pain I had already felt and caused that perhaps it was all punishment enough. Maybe God could make one tiny exception and I would somehow manage to escape the inevitable.

Well, I am certainly no exception to the universal truth that no one can out run God’s judgment. I thought in order to move on I should just try to forget, but that’s wrong. What I finally realized is that in order to move on from my past I had to first accept and acknowledge the fact that it happened. Despite how hard I may have tried to push my memories aside I was ultimately unable to let them go because for them to pass I had to first let them in, accept them and almost embrace them. When I figured this out I wept over the memories of the whole experience one last time, then prayed and thanked God for all that had transpired. Then I sincerely gave Him the heavy burdens of those memories and the mistakes I made. Since then I have not felt the effects of the damage they caused me for so long. Within a matter of hours I felt free, weightless. I could breathe again.

The memories are still there, I suspect they always will be. But they have faded drastically. They aren't as constant or nearly as out standing. They no longer bring pain enough to ruin the remainder of a day or to ruin time spent with my family. I no longer dread what memory the day may trigger. My memories aren't focused on the past months anymore but is running normally, sifting through many various memories all during the day but not so much as to distract me from the tasks at hand.

God was waiting to lift my burden all along and even though I begged Him to and was more than willing to allow myself to forget, He knew I wasn't ready. I needed to think on the things I had done, I needed to feel the way I made my family feel. God wouldn't take away those memories because I was still in a way relying on myself and didn't quite understand the meaning of it all or how to respond. But now that it’s all over, for this time it truly is, I no longer need worry about the past but look to the future. What does my future hold? Where will God lead me from here? What’ll be the next big adventure that I go through and how will it affect me and my family?

I decided to tell you all of this momentous chapter in my life in hopes that it can be used of God however He sees fit and that it may be of some help to someone out there. I thank you all for taking time out of your day to read this. Farewell for now and God bless.

~Johanna Marilee Oliver, age 18

2 Creative Observation(s):

Anonymous said...

Dear Johanna,
I love you very much!!! I do pray that God will use you in a great way for His honor and glory!!Praise the Lord for His love and mercy!!!I will never forget the precious moments we spent together in California.Continue to channel all that creativity and love towards the Lord and what you can do for Him- I truly am excited as to what God has in store for you !!! Love you dearly, Aunt Renee'

Anonymous said...

johanna, its an old friend. i'm trying so hard to get ahold of you. please. contact me. you have my email.