Seven years ago
I was angry
Bitter with whatever the world told me.
I was frustrated
Arrogant and mean
I never listened
To my own body
To anyone who cared
I just listened
To the people who didn't
Everyone has a different way of telling me the way I was before we left. As I gain confidence in telling the details of my story, I realize that the people who knew me as a kid nod their heads whenever I mention what I was like all those years ago. It’s pretty chilling, to be honest with you. But truth of the matter is, is that if I would have lived one more month of the life I had 7 years ago, I would not be here today. I was pretty a scary kid.
I have a point to this though, I promise. And it’s not one meant to scary you or worry the socks off of my grandmas. But the fact of the matter is, this wasn’t my life because of my parents, or because of where I was living, and it wasn’t the bullies, the bullying or the school dress code. My attitude, just like every other attitude out there, was an expression of how I felt on the inside. I was lost, with no real grasp on the purpose of any of it— and I was acting out.
But now, 7 years, 4 counselors, 2 hemispheres, 2 graduations and 1 love-of-my-life later, I’d like to think I’m very little like the girl I used to be.
And it’s not just because of the good stuff either.
I don’t have everything figured out (haha lol, or anything really), but I look back on who I was before, and I can so clearly see God moving at the perfect time. It’s definitely not a time I would have chosen—or even what my family would have chosen—but it was by God’s grace, my parents chose to move our family across the world to become missionary supporters in Papua New Guinea. It was a decision that saved my life.
My parents were bold, making a choice that no one else understood. And to the rest of our friends and family, Papua New Guinea became where the Michael family moved to help people. But honestly, for me, it was the place that caught me by surprise, dug inside me and ripped out the stuff that was killing me. Brutally awakened, I was given a second chance. With all the heart-stuff that I needed to talk about out in the open, I could finally heal from my life before, heal from the process of being dug around inside and prepare me for what was to come.
My life was changed forever. And it wasn’t stopping in paradise.
This is happening because when growing up happens, so do growing pains.
When I was born, I was in the 98-percentile for my height, and for awhile, they weren’t sure if I was ever going to stop ;) I was always the tallest girl in my class and I was 5’10 by the eighth grade. I was growing so fast, my joints could hardly keep up, and I was seeing a chiropractor by the ripe old age of 13 because my knees and back were shot. My conclusion about growing pains? They suck.
But it wasn’t until I left Papua New Guinea that I realized growing pains are heart things too.
I am who I am because of the moments at college when I locked myself in bathroom stalls and cried quietly as the happy chatter of the girls on my hall filled the community bathroom. I am who I am today because of the nights that would turn into days, and my body wouldn’t rest because some how I believed that I wasn’t good enough for it. I am who I am today because of the countless hours I have spent in a counselor’s office, talking about things I vowed to never (ever) bring to surface. It’s the tears, confusion, and that angry, muddled feeling I got at the pit of my stomach whenever I’d think of the places I’d rather be. How I felt unworthy, unacceptable and broken—these were all those feelings no one like to talk about, and they were taking their place in me.
Filed up close to each other, these feelings became chapters of my life, and chapters became books until whole bookcases were filled. Some of these chapters would overlap, and it’d be like rereading the part when your favorite character dies (and rereading it over and over again), and others were filled with blank pages because of the time I lost trying to figure out “what was wrong with me”. While each of these books slid into place, they took up residence inside of me.
So as I concluded one of the largest, and most growth-intensive experiences in my life so far, I walked across the stage and I realized that, while these chapters and books may never be lived again exactly as they were, these books will be reopened because there is a world out there—or even just one person—who needs to know that they are not alone.
As I prepare my heart for my sister’s high school graduation, the wedding in August, and settle into my first “big girl” job, I know that the growing pains won’t stop. I’m going to be uncomfortable and awkward for a while, lanky with anxious insecurity, but even though these pains will threaten my ability to stand up straight, I want to remember that I am not who I was before Papua New Guinea. I am not who I was before college, and I am not who I was in the in-between. So I cannot expect or limit myself into thinking that I will be who I am today at the end of all of these question marks.
Instead, I want to be known as a loving person, a woman whose home is always open, a daughter who is filled with wisdom and compassion (just like Mom and Dad), the biggest fan of her sisters, and a soon-to-be-wife who supports her husband without shame or hesitation. A Christian who seeks to follow Christ, not other Christians. A creator whose weaknesses are her greatest medium.
Also, even though there’s a lot of questions in my life, there are some pretty cool stuff I want to share in a college recap / Q &A blog coming soon! I’ll answer anything (think: my college experience, my mental health journey, to that crazy awkward in-between where we were “basically engaged, but not really”, to our future plans! Got questions? Comment below!