One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.
I wanted to share my story with you. Today I will share up to the day that I came to truly know God as my Savior. It's not something I share often, but earlier this year, through this verse in Psalm 145 God prompted my heart to share. There are many things that the Lord permitted in my life that I find no profit in sharing or the need to give in depth details of, however, some things I will be transparent with. Sharing my story is not going to be easy, I am holding unto His strength as I obey His command to declare His mighty acts in my life. Because I tend to write as much as I talk, I won't promise to keep it short and sweet, just sweet : )
In the beginning...
God said, "Let there be beauty" and I was born! Ok, maybe that wasn't the way it all began. I am the second of three children born in New York to a very hardworking married couple. I grew up in a Catholic home with a fear of grieving the Virgin Mary, but even that didn't stop me from being the mischievous and rebellious child that I was. I have always been strong-willed and like the Spanish saying goes, "no tenia pelo en la lengua" in other words, I freely spoke my mind. I was often referred to as "El Terremoto" or "The Earthquake." Needless to say, I was the middle child, the black sheep, the strong yet forgotten child.
In School, my report cards would read like this, "She is very disruptive in class." Teachers either disliked me or loved me. They learned early on that if they gave me tasks to do I would behave better. I bullied the bullies. Yes, as you read it. I didn't like anyone getting mocked, picked on or harassed and I felt called to defend those who were in need. While in Kindergarten, I went to my sister's second grade class and while Mami spoke with Anelle's Teacher I took the liberty of giving the class bully a beat down and left him with some bruises to remind him that being a bully was out of the question while I was at PS 132 Juan Pablo Duarte Elementary. With that said, I was popular. The bullies wanted to keep me on their good side and the weaklings wanted me for protection. I was the friendly bully, people liked me and I liked that.
But at home things were different. I was the middle child, often neglected by my older sister and younger brother who were always playing together. They formed an alliance with all the teddy bears and I wasn't allowed to be a part of that clique. They called me "La Pea" and so I was left alone. The only time I had Ernie as a brother and friend were times that he and Anelle would fight. I would enjoy those moments, because I was his place of comfort. I was Raquel, no longer to be called La Pea. But as surely as the coming of the sun, they would get over their disagreement and I was shunned, till the next argument. My playtime consisted of playing Barbie by myself or helping Mami clean. I always knew that she wouldn't reject my presence. Papi was also a good outlet. He is the fashion industry and he passed on to me his creativity. As a child, I was Daddy's little girl, helping him out with all the fashion "homework" he'd do at home.
This pattern continued as I grew up, insecure and with the attitude of raging beast. I don't remember when or how it came to be but anger and bitterness grew to be a big part of who I was. Looking back I hid it very well, I always did. I became the leading actress in my life and I vowed to never let anyone in. I was changing and not for the better. I surrounded my self with the wrong crowd. I was involved in very illegal business, never consumed (get the point). I was failing my classes, as usual. I disrespected teachers. I shoplifted. I would dress differently behind my parents back. I wore make up that Mami forbid me to wear. I cursed like crazy, as if those words were the extended American alphabet. I was a mess. My rebellion though at the time was about to take a turn for the worse.
My Grandmother and some Aunts had surrendered their lives to Jesus a few years prior. Their prayers were answered when my Parents joined the wagon and accepted Jesus into their life in 1994. I did not like this conversion. And I certainly did not like God for taking my parents away. As a family we began to church hop. My parents were then on a search for a church where the Holy Spirit would ground them in sound doctrine. Mean while, slowly I was being forgotten more and more.
My Parents did find a church, a great one too. Because it was so great and Jesus was being preached I repelled it. Even though I wasn’t a Christian I would tell people that I was because my Parents now were. I would hear God being preached and instead of joy an uncontrollable anger would take over me. I was angry at God for the past. I was angry at God for things I could not understand. I was angry at God for "making" me stupid. I was angry at God for allowing me to get involved in horrible things. I was angry at God for not being wanted and for not being loved. I was angry at God for making me who He had created me to be. It was in that anger that I turned to what would be the last of me.
And here goes the hard part, the part of my past I rather not share. Between being insecure and feeling out of control I researched and concluded that the solution to my problem was to stop eating and be Anorexic. I planned it all out and figured that I could start by skipping one meal a day. Gradually I dropped one meal after another. My plan was successful and I had completely stopped consuming food. I was on a liquid diet for some time, until that was too much for me and so water it was. One day turned into a week that turned into a month and another and so on. The tables turned as I was the one rejecting people in order to not give an account for my sudden loss of weight. My parents were working and attending night school so it was easy to hide from them. Every one was busy with their agenda while I disappeared.
I remember weighing myself at the beginning and end of a certain week and having loss ten pounds in 5 days. That was the ultimate high. Finally I was in control of my life. I had a few complications, like dizziness, hard time breathing, weakness in my bones, sleepless nights, being parched, delusional at times, not focused, discoloration of pigment in my skin color and bad breathe. That was the price I was willing to pay to be in control but even that wasn’t enough. I was empty and wasn’t alive. I was more like a dead woman walking, barely even walking at that. My schedule consisted of school, sleeping during classes, then home, shower, nap, watch TV, go to sleep. One day though, I was interrupted.
That day, I came home from school. Was alone for some odd reason and went to take a shower. As I came out I felt weaker than I ever had. I couldn’t walk straight, my legs were giving out and so I held on to the wall and tried to make it to my room. As I reached the hallway everything around me began to spin, faster each time. The lights became brighter, to the point where there was no distinction between objects. I tried to yell for help but I had no strength to yell. I turned into my room where I fell on my knees. I was gasping for air and with every second my life slipped from my grip. With the little that was left of me I cried out to God, “Take control of my life. I can’t do this on my own.” Immediately, it was as if something breathed consciousness into me. The only way that I know to explain it, is in Genesis when God breathed life into Adam. I could not stop crying, on my knees. I couldn’t stop asking God for forgiveness and thanking Him all at once. He gave me life, literally.
I dressed myself and ran to my dresser where I had shoved the Bible that my parents had bought me earlier that year. The book that I once threw back at them became the bread of life to me. I opened it and began to read, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made…” Psalm 139* was my first read. I closed it and thanked God some more. I opened it again, this time it was Ezekiel 36:16-30*, “I have saved you, not for your sake, but for my holy name’s sake…I have cleansed you… I will give you a heart of flesh for your heart of stone…” After much crying, much repenting and forgiven much by my Lord, I went to the kitchen, made myself a peanut butter sandwich and served myself a cup of milk. The journey of being a Lily among thorns had begun.
Tune in tomorrow for the rest of my story…