I know it’s hard to believe but a long time ago I was out of my eva-lovin’ mind.
I never meant to float through high-school without a sense of self-worth or value, life just happens that way. Growing up with a Daddy in prison didn’t help much. Growing up with a sexually abusive Daddy pretty much put the final nail in my coffin.
I remember the 16 yr. old me. I remember the one who decided to stay with my boyfriend who was cheating on me because I wondered if I would “ever get him back,” because I feared “no one else,” would “ever love me.”
I remember that 16 year old me, trying so desperately to find stability somewhere while it alluded me at home, ran from me in relationships and avoided me in school.
In so many ways, that 16 year old me was stuck.
I asked God to change things, but something was missing with God & I. For starters, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed “to do about God” other than NOT have sex, read my Bible and pray now and then. That clearly was not working. I hated the Bible. It was just one big jumbled mess of confusion. Secondly, I’d been taught from dear old Dad that sex equates with love. I had no idea how to give it up. Or even explore the notion for that matter.
I would pray, but I didn’t “feel” forgiven and I didn’t understand why I could be or how that might happen. I’d heard -all my life actually- that “Jesus died for our sins,” but often wondered “what the hell that meant” for me.
And so I am forgiven?
Awesome! Now what?
(It was all just weird, and have I mentioned SUPER confusing)?!
I’d never believed God was some big, magic genie that would make me rich but I also didn’t understand what God had to do with my poverty. And not just mine, but the poverty of Detroit. I will never be able to explain how deeply the divide between rich and poor and black and white affected me growing up. Whites had wealth. Blacks had despair, pain, death, murder, rape, suicide, drugs and gangs. Forgive my language again, but I often wondered where the hell God was with the black folks.
Again, weirdness. Perhaps utter despair would be a better choice of words, but if nothing else a solid belief that I -as a black kid- was not as valuable or good in God’s eyes.
By the time I hit Henry Ford Community College I had no aspirations nor desire to contribute anything meaningful to the world.
I did not believe I would graduate.
I tested in at 9th grade science and math levels.
I did not know how to break out of the unhealthy cycles I was in with men. (Additionally, I didn’t understand the correlation between my self-demeaning ways and the abuse of my father).
I did not know how broken I was nor how dangerous the path I was taking.
I did not have a clue how to change ANYTHING, and most importantly I had no people, financial or practical resources to deal with these issues. I had my peers, thankfully. But they could no sooner help someone like me than I could go put together a car in the next 3 months.
I remember that 16 yr. old me. Settling in for a life of rocky instability and poor choices simply because it was all I knew. There I was, ready to become a single Mom with three or four baby daddies, living in poverty, in the heart of Detroit. I was getting ready for the downfall of Grace Green.
He was working on campus at Wayne State where I ended up eventually. He was biracial and dressed cute. So right off the bat we had junk in common. He was dating one of my besties and was off the market, which made the whole situation even more awesome.
I could say a lot about all the ways York invested in my life…
…how he introduced me to Jesus and helped me figure out what on earth it meant to follow him…
…or how he helped me find a counselor to deal with my Daddy issues…
…or how he coached me to figure out who I was as a biracial woman…
…or how he rescued me away from the island of boy craziness and helped me see my value, my worth and gave me a dignity I never knew before…
I could talk about how he helped me to learn to study the Bible, as opposed to hating it! =) (Which is sort of like the equivalent of teaching a man to fish instead of just fryin’ him up a good old catfish)…
Or I could talk about how he helped me discern major life choices –including marrying Dave!!!— and what to do with my crazy gift set…
I could go on for hours how he & his wife listened to me cry for hours over various life issues for the last 14 years.
He was my InterVarsity Staff Worker.
I am an InterVarsity Staff Worker.
And these are a few of my students over at one of my favorite Universities on the planet…
For 10 wild and obnoxiously fun years I’ve had the opportunity to be the ‘York’ in their lives, and see them make similar transformations.
Being an InterVarsity staff worker means raising the funds to maintain all that life changing goodness.
Before December 31, I need to raise $15, 500 to keep being the presence on campus my students need me to be.
Will you give a fantastically awesome Christmas present to the 16 year old versions of me on campus today? These students out here need mentors. That’s what I’m here for baby! =)
You can give $1.50, $5.00, $50, $100, $500, $1,000, $5,000 or the whole amount =) here. (It is tax-deductible for 2010).
I don’t know much, but I do know this: everybody needs an InterVarsity staff worker on campus, that I’m sure of.