By J. Annette Bolken (Williams)
I would like to share my story as a healing tool for anyone who has had traumatizing experiences or wasnít treated like a person. I have been through a lot in my 32 years of life. I didnít have any traumatizing experiences with the ďchurchĒ although I donít think that I was treated like a person. However, I am not here to point a finger at anyone.
Each one of you knows your own experiences that you faced. Each one of you is dealing with or has dealt with your situation within your selves. Leave the rest to God.
I went through some things after I left church. Whether it had to do with what happened in the church such as the way I was treated or not, it was a learning experience for me. I was married for four and a half years to a man who was abusive, both physically and mentally. For the record, I have forgiven him. We are good friends now. He is the father of my two children.
When I was 8 months pregnant with my daughter, I was shot. I was in my own home doing nothing wrong and I got shot. It was a minor injury but a few inches lower or 5 minutes earlier it could have been devastating. When my daughter was three years old, she fell from my 3-story apartment building window.† She walked away from it with a bruise.
I know God has been with me.† Each of these experiences could have been a lot worse.† Why am I writing about this? What does this have to do with any of the other?† This is my story.†
I questioned God when my daughter fell out of the window.† Why did this happen to me? I remember asking Him one day, ďWhat have I done so wrong that this was to happen?Ē My daughter was fine now, why bother God.† This was very scary for me at the time.† I didnít understand.† It was probably close to a month after I had asked God ďwhyĒ, my daughter was playing in her room, and she was talking really loud, almost screaming.† I went in there and she looked at me and said only one word: ďforgiveĒ I didnít understand for a moment but then it hit me.† It was my answer from God.† The next question was forgiving whom? A couple of days later, my sister and I was talking about all the things going on with the church and the things that happened with us in the church and it hit me, all of the times that I was treated unfairly, accused of things I did not do, all the times that someone made fun of me, I still had it held deep inside.† I want everyone to know that I have forgiven everyone.† I donít hold anyone responsible.† It was what we were taught.† I donít have any bad feelings for anyone in or out of the church.†
The rest of this as follows, I wrote as it came to me over a period of months after all that had happened.† I hope that it will be an inspiration to those who are in need.†
Sometimes we donít feel like we want to feel.† Sometimes we donít achieve what we want to achieve.† Things happen that donít make sense and life leads us in directions that are beyond our control.† It is at these times, most of all, that we need someone who quietly understands us and be there to support us and remember that though things may be difficult now, tomorrow is a new day.
Sometimes it seems like the world is crumbling around us and we just canít go on but these are the times when we need to look to God, to hold on to our faith and hope and to each other.† One of the hardest things to accept is the realization that things that make no sense to us now may never make any sense, but life will go on anyway, with no explanations or apologies and that we somehow survived the changes thrust upon us.† We even managed to grow but nothing grows without rain, so when it begins to pour, let it flow and when the storm has passed, let it go.
Donít let go of hope.† Hope gives us the strength to keep going when we feel like giving up.† Donít ever quit believing in yourself.† As long as we believe we can, we will have a reason for trying.† Donít let anyone hold our happiness in their hands; hold it in ours, so it will always be within our reach.† Donít measure success or failure by material wealth but by how we feel.† Our feelings determine the richness of our lives.† Donít let bad moments or memories overcome us; be patient and they will pass.† Donít hesitate to reach out for help; we all need it from time to time.† Donít run away from God but towards Him, because Heís our deepest joy.† Donít wait for what we want to come to us, go after it with all that we are, knowing that God will meet us halfway.† Donít feel like weíve lost when plans and dreams fall short of our hopes.† Anytime we learn something new about ourselves or about life, we have progressed.† Donít do anything that takes away from our self-respect.† Feeling good about us is essential to feeling good about life.† Donít ever forget how to laugh or be too proud to cry.† Itís by doing both that we live life to its fullest.
We canít change the past; we just need to keep the good memories and acquire wisdom from the past.† We canít predict the future; we just need to hope and pray for Godís will and that which is right and believe thatís how it will be.† We can live a day at a time, enjoying the present and always seeking to become a better person.† Even though things might look a little cloudy now theyíll get better soon.† Just remember that itís true: it takes rain to make rainbows, lemons to make lemonade and sometimes it takes difficulties to make us stronger and better people.
No one ever said life would be easy and it seems so unfair at times. Yet lifeís ups and downs make us better and stronger even though we may not realize it at the moment. Remember, when we hurt, let the pain out. When we are sad, let the tears flow. When we are angry, release it. When frustration sets in, work it out.
When something happens in our lives that we find difficult to accept, we must decide if there is anything we can do to change things.† If there is, we must do what we can to make things right again.† But if we have done all we can and we know in our hearts that there is nothing more we can do about it now then we should let go of whatever is troubling us.† After going over all the ďwhat ifsĒ and ďwhysĒ, we may learn a valuable lesson and we find that even though it was painful; we grew through the experience.† Just learning to let things go, rather than worrying about what might have been, might eventually be worth even more than whatever it is we had to let go of.
In every change that we experience in life, there will be times when weíll wonder if we can endure, but weíll learn that facing each difficulty one by one isnít so hard.† Itís when we donít deal with a situation that it sometimes comes back to confront us again.† Changes are sometimes very painful, but they teach us that we can endure and that we can become stronger.
Itís not always easy to know which road to follow, which choice to make, or what to do.† Life is a series of new horizons, new hopes, new days and changes that come to us.† Life changes as we grow and we must learn to accept this.† Understanding our feelings makes life challenging and rewarding.
In life, we have to make decisions that arenít always easy.† Weíre afraid that whatever choice we make will upset someone.† It is at these times that we need to look inside and listen to the voice thatís inside us.† If we listen just to the wishes of those around us and ignore our own feelings, we will not be truly happy.† Listen to what you know is right and stand on that, because when you do, you will be happy.
Sometimes, life isnít meant to be easy; we have to work hard to get what we want so it will be appreciated more when we get it.† Opportunities donít always come searching for us; we must put in time and effort to look for them and even more to finally achieve them.† It will take time before all the pieces fit together.† Donít ever give up or give in because there is always a way.† Just learn to trust in God and us to choose the right way and if it shouldnít work out, try again.† Keep trying until you get it right and in the meantime, be patient, and when itís over there will be a reward-not of materialistic value but of self-value, which is accomplishment, inner peace and self-growth.† This is a valuable reward that can only be obtained by the learning experiences that each of us must face in our own time.
Our days can sometimes be very confusing.† We seem to have too many things to do, too many problems to solve and not enough time to accomplish everything.† We tend to forget that each day is a beautiful miracle given to us by God and there is much love and enjoyment to be experienced.† We donít have to solve every problem or accomplish our entire goal in one day.† Finish what we can today and leave the rest for tomorrow.
Love is the greatest gift we can give to one another and giving is one of the greatest joys life bestows upon us.† We do what we can and we do it with what we have inside of us.† Even if we may forget it sometimes, but thereís no doubt in my mind that weíll be able to do the things we want and need to do.
I have wanted to write this on here for a long time but as some of you may know that I still have family in the church.† My grandparents died fully behind the church.† They believed in it whole-heartedly.† I donít think that anything I have said points any fingers to anyone.† Itís time to heal the wounded, forgive the sinners, and let God do the rest.
J. Annette Bolken (Williams)