I knocked on the door of my parent’s house, tears streaming down my face one dark February night. My blue sweatshirt still sticking to my arms from the vigorous workout I had finished, trying to cry and sweat away my hurt, stomach growling as I hadn’t eaten enough that day.
My step-mom Robin, answered the door and I went inside. “Is daddy here?” I asked her through my sobs.
“No, sweetie. He’s at worship practice tonight. What’s the matter? What happened?” She asked me with softness and motherly concern.
I didn’t know how to say it or speak it out loud. I was going to sound ridiculous and foolish. This man I had somehow fallen in love with over the phone and through e-mails and instant messages, this man I was so certain was “the one,” took one look at me and rejected me. That wasn’t exactly how it happened, though it was how it felt.
D was not cruel or unkind when he ended whatever it was that we had become. He was gentle and caring and full of integrity. He explained that when meeting me in person, the spark simply wasn’t there. He said he wasn’t attracted to me even though he said over and over again that I was this amazing and incredible woman.
Mostly, I didn’t want to feel lonely anymore. In two weeks time, the conversations I shared with D gave me a taste of belonging, of being treasured. I felt empty and was acutely aware of a gaping hole inside of me that I had so quickly let him fill.
I felt like a complete fool. I’m an idiot. To think he would have even wanted me. This obese, pathetic, ugly, damaged, poor excuse of a twenty-something nobody. What was I thinking? Nobody wants me. How could they?
I finally sobbed aloud to her, “He didn’t want me!!”
I can’t remember everything I told my Robin or even the words of comfort she gave me that night. But I do remember how it felt. I remember her wearing her soft baby blue robe, hair wet from just showering. Her invitation to rest my head in her lap while I cried. I remember her nurturing, motherly hands stroking my hair, and I was caught by surprise when I heard her crying with me. I surrendered to it in my rejection and desperation, feeling all of the disruption of how foreign a mother’s touch felt for me. I soaked her robe with my snot and tears and the blood that seemed to be pouring out of my destroyed heart.
God felt cruel to me. I was confused at what He was doing. It felt like He was there to take another thing away from me. I had been keeping a tally, and God now had one too many marks against Him.
Even after the care and hugs that my Robin and later my dad gave to me, I walked out of their house with anger settling in place of my sorrow.
You don’t care about me at all. Are you out just to break my heart and take everything that could ever be good away from me? You’ve done nothing but screw me over my entire life. You aren’t for me, You’re against me! You don’t love me, and if this is love, I don’t want it anymore!
Right there in the darkness of that cold night outside of my parent’s house, I told God to leave me alone in the most vulgar way I knew how.
That heartbreak undid me, broke me. I was done with God.
For several months, I lived out my heartache in the most destructive and violent of ways. I found myself in the beds of strangers. I got drunk often at the various bars I frequented. I was losing weight by purging everything I ate combined with three-hour a day workouts to ensure I ended up with a negative calorie intake every day. My dark brown hair was bleached blonde, which for a time, was an unflattering lemon yellow. My dark roots were always showing through, reminding me who I was trying to cover up. Nobody knew how desperate and lonely I was, and the measures I took to deal with my grief and pain.
Several months later, I found myself at a new breaking point. I was out of money. My car broke down. And I was presented with opportunities to go back to church, and I went, only to salvage one of the only friendships I had. I had to dye my hair back to brown because I couldn’t afford to keep treating it with the chemicals to bleach the roots that kept growing in.
I agreed to go on a weekend retreat this church was having for young adults with my friend. If anything, I was hoping it would be a distraction from all of the things I was facing. I ended up outside on a bench, alone in the dark after Saturday evening’s session. Something inside of my chest burned and ached, and I knew I had to talk to Him.
“How do I come to You? After all I’ve done, after how much I’ve hated You, how do I come? Can I come?”
I suppose I was afraid He might turn me away.
That night, I learned that I could come to God messy, and undone, and full of filth. It wasn’t that He took me back, it was that He had never left me to begin with, even though I had asked Him to.
God is much like my Robin. He doesn’t wait for our messes to go away or for us to be cleaned up enough to come to Him. He opens the door, invites us to be close and lets our tears spill all over His lap. He takes us sweaty and bloody and gross and He cries with us. God lovingly showed me that I could come battered, bleeding and bleached and it would always be safe and good to come to Him, just as I was.
Deeply rooted in South Texas, Jennifer Stamness is a sunshine-lover, wife and mother to two young boys. She enjoys creating beauty in places like writing, music, decorating and throwing parties. She desires to follow Jesus into the unknown places He invites her to and is thankful for His abundant and amazing grace. Jennifer writes, dreams and shares pieces of her story here.