Monday, July 19, 2010

Somewhere to Belong

I grew up as a people pleaser. My parents may not necessarily agree with that statement, because I didn't always please them, but it's true. I lived from about the age of ten through my twenties trying to make other people happy and wearing a constant mask. I wore one for my parents, one for my friends, one for teachers, one for my boss and all those parents I babysat for. One for my boyfriend, one for everyone at church, and one for the people in 4-H. The only time I ever remember being truly myself was when I lay in bed at night praying desperately to Jesus to come into my heart and make something of me, because I had no idea who I was.

It was hard, juggling all of my different identities, and sometimes I would slip wearing the wrong mask with the wrong group. Even worse was when my attempts to make one group happy upset the other groups. I could only keep so many balls in the air, and when one dropped, it was hard to get it all back together again. I can't say that the entire time in my life was terrible, but I remember more moments of weeping than I do of laughter.

It all fell apart when I became pregnant at age of sixteen. My carefully constructed personae good daughter, smart student, hard worker, devout Sunday School teacher, loyal friend, loving girlfriend were shattered. No one was happy with me. Former friends refused to take my calls and spoke of me in whispers to others. Teachers who had been beloved mentors deliberately snubbed me in the halls. I couldn't set foot in church. I couldn't bear to see the faces of those who thought I was so perfect.

I spent the next ten years fighting debilitating depression. I had no idea who I was or what I wanted out of life. I bounced from EMT to divorcee' to working woman to newlywed and then new mom. But still when I went to bed at night, I was that same little girl praying for Jesus to come and make me new. What I had really been praying for for most of my life was not just to belong to Christ. I wanted Him to come into my heart and then tell me clearly what I had to do every step of the way. I didn't want to be responsible for my own decisions, because no matter what I did, it was always wrong. I was always disappointing someone.

Then, shortly after I turned thirty, Jesus did answer my prayer and come into my heart. I finally understood what it meant to be truly His, and I desired that with all my heart. I wasn't going to turn into his marionette, letting him make every decision because I was afraid to. I was going to be His child and listen to His teaching and guiding. In that moment, my masks and facades fell away, and I became myself. The Christy Lockstein who has been typing on this blog for over four years, is the real deal. I still cry when I disappoint someone, but I don't let it run my life anymore. I live for Jesus. He is the only One who I want to please. That knowledge brought me an enormous amount of peace that I wish I could share with everyone who is suffering like I did for so long.

If you feel like your life is a sham, and you can't keep the balls in the air much longer, let them fall. Pray to Jesus and find yourself in Him, because that is the only true contentment I've ever found.

Somewhere to Belong by Judith Miller is the first book in the Daughters of Amana series. Johanna Ilg has always been the ideal daughter for her parents in Amana, Iowa. Living on a religious commune that focuses on work and prayer is often a austere existance, and Johanna has long desired to see the world outside of their small community. When Berta Schumacher moves to Amana, she's in for a rude awakening. The spoiled and petted daughter of a Chicago doctor and his wife has been forced to give up her big city life for the hard life in Amana because of her out of control ways. Johanna is both intrigued and angered by Berta, especially after the elders force her to teach the young woman about their community. Berta is free-spirited and has no understanding of the rigid life of rules of the town, despite who it hurts. The two girls become friends, despite their differences, and both just may have something to teach the other. While this book is ostensibly a romance, it is in truth a novel of friendship. Berta and Johanna are both of the cusp of womanhood (Johanna more so), and are both incredibly sheltered. It's only through their leaning on each other and God that they will be able to manage the terrible secrets their families have been hiding from them. I hope in the next novel Miller demonstrates more of the Amana lifestyle and introduces characters outside of the kitchen. But I look forward to reading about what Berta is up to next!

Thank you to Bethany House for providing me with a copy of this book for review.

Today's picture is of Mia, and I just thought that it fit today's post.