I’m no stranger to hard things. In ways my life was built around doing hard things and part of that has made me who I am today. I’m no stranger to sacrifice, conflict, or rejection. For a while, these things seemed to follow me and my family wherever we went.
In 19 years, my mom’s had 10 pregnancies and 8 children, most of them taking place over the last 11 years. At 8, my life would become a cycle of doing my own thing, and then that being put on hold to take care of everyone and keep the house running until the newest baby arrived. This wasn’t always the case…
We started homeschooling when I was in kindergarten, according to my parents, primarily because my private school wouldn’t let me jump grades (since I was at a 1st grade level). My brother’s best friend at the time was also homeschooled and their family had spent the last few years convincing my parents that my mom doesn’t belong in the work place and should be at home teaching us. Through Bible studies and home-churching, my parents began to learn that homeschooling was actually God’s will and most of what they believed was wrong.
The first home-church that I remember essentially taught us that corporate churches aren’t godly, that God did not give us doctors (and to see them is weak in the faith), home-birthing is the way to go, we should farm, and introduced us to a cult called Cleansing Stream. Thankfully, we did manage to get out of the cult. We started up our own home-church which involved spending most of Sunday afternoon sitting quietly listening to the dads read their bibles and talk about things that were just over my head. My dad eventually decided that we should go back to church and Sunday’s went from being boring to being stressful. My parents would argue with each other about how hypocritical it would be to go to a conventional church. One day I just blurted out that I hated sundays because of all the fighting. We did start attending traditional churches, and this began a time in my life filled with loneliness and uncertainty.
My average church experienced looked something like this: We’d go for a while, become semi-involved, I would start to make friends, the pastor would say something my parents couldn’t agree with, they’d approach the pastor and tell him he was wrong, there would be a big fight, we’d be forced to leave either by leadership or because the church totally turned against us, I’d lose whatever friends I managed to make. This cycle repeated over and over until eventually I just didn’t get close to people, I was social, but I never attached to anyone because I knew we’d only be there for a short time before we left, home-churched, and found another place that we’d have to leave.
It was at this time, between all the pregnancies and friendships come and gone, with me sitting in the middle helpless to stop any of it, that I developed what I eventually called my iron shell. I compared myself to The Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, and created a persona that nothing could permeate or illicit a tear. I thought crying (especially publicly) was a sign of weakness, and managed to sit stone faced through my brother’s funeral at age 10. I remember being annoyed with my mom for crying (both publicly and during movies or reading books) because I didn’t understand why it was okay for her to cry.
I tried to train my mind to become more like what I thought guys’ brains were like – compartmentalized. I tried to lock my emotions in a box where they wouldn’t come out, and I let issues build up for months on end until eventually I couldn’t take the weight of it all and I broke. As I got older, this would happen about every 6 months, so I only really cried twice a year, which, though I would have rather not cried at all, it was tolerable (since, I was human and it *had* been building up).
What’s worse, I was genuinely proud of the fact that I had (to a degree) been successful in locking the most intricate (though messy) part of me away in my brain, where I hopefully would never have to see (feel) it again.
Preparing a Visionary Daughter to Do Hard Things by Kiery: