Photo by Billy June Richardson
I remember her. That little girl in pink and pearls. I remember reaching tiny fingers up to touch those gritty pearls and wondering if I could eat them later if I got hungry.
I remember. I always remember. At least I want to always remember… because, “Who knows when something or someone will leave, and all you’ll have left are your memories.”
When I look at this photo of a younger me, I see the pain. I wonder if a lost childhood is like the phantom pain of a lost limb. I still secretly grieve. I see the confusion that still haunts my heart to this day. I see a little girl wondering if she is cute enough to be allowed to stay. I see her pale little face, full of questions about who she is and why God would allow her to suffer. I see her yearning to be loved and to belong. I ask God, “Why?”
For nearly three decades I have roamed the dark hallways of my mind, calling my own name over and over, reaching out for answers. I have battled demons of depression, anger, anxiety and bitterness. I have survived the reoccurring trauma of my memories on a daily basis. My flashbacks are like bits and pieces of an old movie flickering with intermittent static on a black and white TV.
Some of my childhood memories leave me shaking. “What kind of parents try to drown their own baby?”
There I am again — in an empty bathtub at six years old — determined to be a lifeguard as soon as I turn 16.
Some of my memories are sad. The blurry face of my birth mother screaming beside my hospital crib still leaves a ringing in my ears today. Memories of being unwanted and unloved will haunt me to the day I leave this world.
I haven’t battled alone though.
Through it all, even when I didn’t know He was there, I had a Friend. A Friend who is gentle and meek, but also stronger than the demons and darkness I battle. A Friend whose arms are always wrapped around me, shielding me. A Friend who is never sleeping when I need help.
When my biological father and mother tried to drown me, God gave me the breath of Life. When they tried to starve and poison me, He sustained me. And when my birth mother turned her back on me, condemning me to a lifetime of mental and emotional anguish, God held me fast.
When I thought I had no one, He was always there.
My God is a Provider. He took the shell of a little girl that I was, and filled my cup to overflowing. I met my forever family about a year after my rescue. Three years later I was adopted by my second pair of foster parents. They opened their arms, hearts, and home to me. They promised to never leave. They promised to always love. When my broken little mind doubted, they stayed faithful. When I tested boundaries to determine if they could be trusted, they withstood the test with patience and understanding. They taught me about Jesus. The One who brought me from the brink of death into a beautiful new life.
I’m now married to a wonderful man and together we are raising our daughter to know and love Jesus. We are raising her to love, and together we are repainting my life’s canvas.
My God is a healer. He has taken the broken pieces of my spirit and made me whole. He has walked with me through every dark valley and shadow of death. He has been the key in my dungeon of despair. He is my Almighty Fortress. He is still restoring my soul day by day.
God has blessed me beyond anything I could have dreamed up myself (Ephesians 3:20–21). He has raised me from my pile of ashes, like Job, scraping away at the sores in my soul. He has been my rock.
No one could have known the joy that was coming to me, and I cannot wait to see where God will lead me next. I know it will be beautiful though, simply because I am walking with Him.
“For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness.” — Psalm 18:28 (ESV)
The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” — Exodus 14:14