Photo Courtesy of Kallima Photography
This week Conscious Magazine published the below article I wrote about parts of my past. My soul feels naked and exposed having these words out there for you and the world to read. I have felt more vulnerable in the last few days than I have in a very long time, but what I want more than anything is for people to know that in brokenness there is HOPE. God is good. He is faithful, and his promises abundant. If just one person can connect with my story, and be encouraged then I am grateful to have shared it!
Everyone has one, and it shapes who we are, what we think, and the way we interact with ourselves and the world around us.
Story has the opportunity to tear down or create. Story has the power to change my life, your life, the world, and the generations after us.
I choose to believe that my journey has power.
I choose to believe that one person indeed has the power to impact generations. What if we all got to the place where we believed our unique individual stories mattered so deeply that we collectively changed the world together? Hand in hand united for the greater good. A story is a spark, a small flame with the power to blaze an entire forrest…if we choose it to.
Freedom begets freedom. Creativity begets creativity, and it all begins with a story.
Here is a bit of mine.
From the outside it looks like I grew up in upper middle class in Dallas Texas, one of six kids, made good grades, was captain of the Varsity tennis team, went to state, and later played on a full ride college scholarship, was involved in church, and had a ton of friends. You could say that my life was pretty suburbia. Sure my parents split when I was 10, and both remarried but that is seemingly pretty normal these days…right?
Yet, in between the lines of a storybook childhood there were moments, days, and years, riddled with fear, heartache, and brokenness in my heart and in and throughout my entire family.
What really was going on for the majority of my high school and college life was a life where my father abused alcohol and drugs. My holidays were filled with broken promises, dad simply not showing up, or showing up under the influence. Intervention after intervention and nothing would stick longer than a few months. Memories upon memories of living with my dad in the summer and him disappearing for days at a time only to return home shirtless, shoeless, without a car or dime to his name.
Over and over again my heart was broken; it got to a point where it felt like such a bloody mess that I decided no one could come near. I decided that my heart was not worth fighting for because if it was then my daddy would stop using. If I was worth it, he would do whatever it took because he loved me, because he loved my sisters and brother. But nothing I ever did was ever enough.
I tried finding my worth in grades, in sports, in boys, and later on men, and nothing quite answered my question: am I worth it? Am I beautiful? Am I lovable? Am I enough?
Near the end of my college career I mourned the death of my father. Even though he was still alive he was light years away from living. I watched him go from being a successful business man to a homeless man on the streets of Dallas who lost everything and everyone that was precious to him. I lost all hope that he would ever be sober on this side of life.
Then something miraculous happened.
Over my senior year of college my Dad got sober. I could hardly believe the transformation that was taking place before my eyes. He started calling me everyday to let me know he was sober, in a program, was living a life surrendered to God, and that he loved me. This went on for months. I begged him to stop calling, told him I did not want him in my life and that my heart could not handle another heart break.
But my father persisted nonetheless, and looking back I needed him to pursue me during that time. My wounded heart needed to know my father loved me, and would do whatever it takes to restore a relationship with me and my brother and sisters.
And he did just that.
What seemed like an irreparable situation was repaired.
What seemed impossible was more than possible.
What was broken is now fixed.
What was death is now abundant life.
My dad is almost 8 years sober now, and has a redeemed and beautiful relationship with each of his children. He is one of the greatest heroes of my life.
Through this immense pain in my family I have learned about hope, identity, value, redemption, forgiveness, and the reality that love is messy!
So much has transpired in my heart, in my family and throughout our lives over the last 8 years. I have come to believe the message in my soul that I am to share with the world is that there is HOPE! My question of worth has been answered: I am enough, I am beautiful, I am worth the fight…and guess what: so are YOU!
My message is for young women to know their value, and their unimaginable beauty and worth. That I, we, as women are beautiful and of infinite value because of WHO we are not WHAT we are.
My vehicle for this message is photography and my lifestyle blog. I am a voice to my family, to my community, to the world that love actually does win. That beauty is more than skin deep. I want to change the way we as a culture view beauty. I want to see diverse women on the covers of magazines, I want to see young ladies chasing their dreams with reckless abandon. I want my story to ignite fire inside the hearts of young people that your story, who you are, where you have been, where you are going matters!
We live in a world full of damage and heartache, but I believe that truth sets people free and story changes lives. Take heart, and have hope for I believe nothing in this universe is so dark, so lost, so broken that it cannot be repaired.
We are a resilient creation, teaming with hope. So go ahead…share your voice. The world needs you.