From Riches to Rags and Back Again

“I grew up in a home with two parents that loved me and I was blessed for that. You could say we were an average family. My dad was in the military so we traveled a lot when I was younger. I had a hard time making friends in my first few years of school because we moved so often.

Once I got to third grade we finally stayed in one spot and I was excited because that meant I didn’t have to worry about us moving away from them once again. So I was a pretty happy kid for the most part just going through my every day life being completely oblivious to the real problems in the world and even in my own family. It was not until I turned 10 that I really experienced tragedy and heartbreak.

I still remember the day so vividly when my mom came to my room, sat down with me and told me that her and my dad were going to be getting a divorce. My world came tumbling down. I was so confused and I didn’t understand how my once happy family had crumbled so fast.

Years went by and I started to get used to my life with a split family but the pain of it never left me. The only love I had ever known was from my parents and I felt like that bond was now broken. In junior high by a random coincidence I ended up visiting a church for the first time. I had gone to several different churches growing up on special occasions but it was never anything consistent. It wasn’t until I started going to that church that I learned what real love was. I learned about the love that Christ displayed for me on the cross and how He shed His blood so that He could have a personal relationship with me. That was the first time I had ever heard that, or at least the first time it resonated with me. I made a profession of faith that year and thought that I was saved but years later in high school I realized that when I made that profession I didn’t fully understand my need for God.

So my junior year in high school after telling everyone in my youth group for years that I got saved at youth camp in 2005, I had to put down my pride and actually give over my heart and life to Christ. This was the best decision I could have ever made for my life. Not to say that I have lived a perfect life since then but I have seen God work in my heart through so many circumstances and He has been consistently faithful to love and forgive me through all of my sin and struggle.

I am now at Bible college training to do ministry in the education world and I am so blessed that He decided to use me to reach other people for Christ. I still have my struggles in finding contentment in Him sometimes as well as just trusting in His plan for my life completely, but I am growing and learning how to do that every day and I couldn’t be more excited about what He is doing in my life.”

-Anonymous

From Riches to Rags and Back Again

“My sophomore year summer I was dating a boy I had been seeing off and on since the 8th grade. I lost my virginity to him and no less than twenty minutes later his aunt came out of his house to tell me he was breaking up with me. The only reason I had slept with him is because he had told me he wanted to marry me. Not only was I young and naive, I was desperate for love, attention, and something more. After that day I lost all self respect.

Later that summer I sent some pictures to a boy. Him and another boy put those pictures online and put a link up on myspace because I would not sleep with them. I was devastated and had lost all self respect and pretty much anything else at that point. That sent me into a spiral that ended two years, a ton of heart break, and 8 guys later. I would give my body to a guy and little piece of my heart would leave. The worst part was everyone that was close to me in my life thought I was a good christian girl. That I would never do anything like that. I was so lost and hurting and willing to blame it on anything. Shortly after I graduated high school I started working at Kum and Go. I had a semi serious relationship with a great christian dream boat who adored me, but I was hell bent on self destructing.

In August of that year I started a friends with benefits relationship with a guy at work. The guy I was dating had no idea, most people in my life didnt know. In the first of January I found out I was pregnant and my whole world came crashing down. I realized that the lie I spent 3 years creating was crumbling around me, what I didnt realize is that God had to destroy who I was to make me who I am. To say I didnt consider abortion, to say that I didnt hate myself would be a lie. For almost 4 months I spent self loathing, angry at the world, depressed, and then I attended a service and God just broke down those walls. He literally brought me to my knees in sorrow, in awe, in unworthiness. That God through my fake life still loved me so much. Through my hurt, my lies, and my anger, God was there holding out a hand saying “Come with me and we will pick up the pieces.”

For the longest time my now husband would not come to church, wouldnt even listen to me talk about it. One day he finally came, several months later he gave his life to the Lord. We are now married with two kids who we love so dearly. God took the most ugly moment of my life, my most shameful past, and turned it into a beautiful future because I was willing to give my heart to Him. When I fell on my face and laid it all out God was there to pick me up and tell me how much He loved me. Now I can help young women learn how to guard their hearts and their lives.”

-Anonymous

From Riches to Rags and Back Again

“One definition of love is, “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person.” There are multiple definitions for this one word. Love, one word that can be used to mean so much or even to mean so little. Our parents show us love, we love food, I love children, we show others love, I love clothes, but ultimately Jesus shows us love.  Like I said, so much, or so little.

We enter Kindergarten and have “boyfriends” or “girlfriends”, we love our parents, and we love our pets. As we age, relationships get a lot more serious with our “other halves”, the relationships with our parents get worse, and we forget our pets. We see every day the love and affection that is shared by people around us. As teenage girls we dream about all of those from boyfriends, our first kiss, wearing a letterman jacket, dating the star athlete, getting married, or marrying our high school sweetheart.

For some these dreams have been attained, others maybe not. I never imagined myself being included in the never had a boyfriend, never been kissed, 18 year old, senior. In High School many times a day I am met with reminders of affection that others have for each other and that no one has for me. Many times I’d ask myself what is wrong with me? Am I not good enough? How can people tell me I’m a pretty, smart, funny, likeable, responsible girl, but never have one guy ever show interest? The fact that I’ve been told, “You’re the marrying kind,” doesn’t get me anywhere. I have found myself asking these questions over and over again.

These dreams every girl has I won’t be attaining, at least not anytime soon. Nowhere in my near future does it look like any of those will be happening. Some would say these are great things and assume that I have turned down multiple guys in order to keep this altogether, but the truth is I haven’t done anything. Something that one might take pride in is just seen as weird, embarrassing, and rare today in high school.

For all my life I have waited to experience love. For someone to have a strong or constant feeling towards me is just overwhelming at the thought of it! I have grown up in the church and know that there is one though and it’s God. No matter how hard I try and no matter what I do He loves me more than I could ever imagine. Multiple times when in need I find myself reminded that He loves me in music, verses, and others words. All I can give in return is my time, future, and voice. If teenagers can spend so much time in relationships that usually end up nowhere I can spend my time on a relationship that can go everywhere! As I give Him all I can He will give me all I need! I know that nothing bad can come from spending so much time with Him and that maybe one day if it is in His plans He would send me a husband later on in my life. For now though I continue to share His love with others.”

1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.”

-Anonymous

From Riches to Rags and Back Again

“You have to have a thin figure. You can’t weigh more than this much. If you look this way a guy can never love you. Why would a guy love you if you can’t love yourself?

These are the lies that constantly haunted my every day thoughts. These are the thoughts that plagued my life. Every day became a giant struggle to accept myself. How can one truly love how they look when the world repetitively tells us we have to look a certain way. How do you find confidence when boys only go for your “skinny” friends. We HAVE to look like the models in magazines. When in reality those models don’t even look like that. We HAVE to have this certain texture hair. We HAVE to have beautiful, poreless skin. Lie after lie after lie. Sadly I bought into them.

Even though I was on a downward spiral inside, I was the always confident, carefree girl on the outside. While I cried looking at myself in the mirror, I smiled and showed zero emotion amongst others. I hated, no despised how I looked. I allowed the worlds ignorant lies into my life and they took over. I became damaged in my mind. I was unable to be loved. No way could a guy find me attractive and want to call me his. Or so I thought.

I came to the point where I couldn’t take it any longer. I, in my mind, thought the only way to end it was to end me. Through Gods grace I never got that far.

God came through and started showing me where my beauty resides. He ripped the mask off the world and its lies, exposing it for what it truly is. He wasn’t finished with me yet.

My beauty is not measured by the size on the tags of my clothes. It’s not defined by my outer appearance. I am beautiful by how I treat others. I am beautiful merely because a gracious and loving God created me. YOU are beautiful because you are you. Block out the lies and let in Gods love.”

-Anonymous

From Riches to Rags and Back Again

“Being a woman in today’s world is difficult and I learned that the hard way. I grew up being pretty scrawny and was very active, I never thought about how I looked and I thought it would stay like that forever. I remember being the girl who loved to play in the mud and played in the rain. Then middle school came along, I began to see other girls get occupied with their bodies and didn’t quite understand. I continued to be oblivious that is until puberty came around.

My body started to change and I didn’t like it. I continued being the active, always outside girl and one day I noticed little pink marks on my inner thighs. I literally cried. I remember sitting there so upset and thinking I was getting fat and I didn’t like it. Other girls bodies are obviously changing as well and that is when I started comparing myself to everyone. Looking back I don’t know if it ever ended. Some girls were wearing bras and I wasn’t, and whatever else.

Unfortunately, this was a downward spiral for many years. I was never happy with my body from the moment I noticed changes. I began to hate myself. I didn’t like my stretch marks (which at the time, I didn’t understand many women have them). I tried so hard to hide myself under anything because I felt like I wasn’t good enough. I think I went from barely eating to other moments where all I did was eat. It was a roller coaster. I used to call myself things like “whale” and other terrible things.

It became such a habit and continued for a long time. Once I joined some things in high school that kept me active and too busy to think about my own imperfections, it got increasingly better. I was very drawn into the worlds thoughts of imperfections and how we all need to be perfectly thin. I wasn’t as mean to myself, but you can believe I was trying everything to make my stretch marks disappear or just hide.

I can’t tell you exactly how I changed throughout the years, but I know what changed it in the hugest way was accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior. It was then when I realized I was beautiful and what I thought were terrible imperfections never lessened my own beauty.

Right before I got married, I was so terribly bothered again by my body weight and stretch marks. I was once again told by the world and satan that I needed to be perfect for my future husband to think I was beautiful and so on. I spent my time with God and praying, trying to be healthy, and just talking it out with my future husband.

I just want girls/women to know that the worlds standards are frankly stupid. Please don’t let being perfectly thin take over your life. I damaged myself because of my own thoughts and it was hard to get out of that mentality. I was so nervous my now husband wouldn’t find me attractive under all those clothes and it was a waste of time. I don’t know about most guys, but I can tell you they probably aren’t going to see your stretch marks and think you aren’t beautiful. In fact they may not even notice your “imperfections” at all! There is nothing wrong with being healthy and even having goals to be a certain weight, but it’s important to keep a positive attitude and be sure to be realistic.”

-Anonymous

From Riches to Rags and Back Again

“I grew up with two parents who were addicts. I lived in disgusting apartments, houses, and was always moving. I had an abusive mother.

From the time I was 8 I had learned about sex, drugs, and the in-between of both. I was treated more like an adult, than a little kid. I remember trying to be the adult, always feeling like I carried that responsibility to look after myself and whoever came along into my life. My mother would pawn me off on a Christian friend of hers for a few months and then come back when she felt able enough to take care of me. I had learned about Jesus from her and as I got older I met a friend who always took me to church, just so I could get out of the house.

I remember how even then, in the darkest times of my childhood, the Lord sought me out, claiming I was His child. I, of course, fell away and started listening to the ways of the world again. I was 12 when I first encountered a “more-than-a-kiss” act. I was 13 when I started trying drugs. In my eyes, I was grown up. And I wanted all the pleasures a grown up was supposed to have.

When I started attending high school I was already well on my way to being the experienced one of my friends. I had been to parties. Drinking, drugs, sex, it all came with the territory. I stayed away from home as much as possible or locked myself in my room. I avoided my mother as much as I could. She by this time was still doing drugs and I tried ignoring what I didn’t care to see. I hated her. I hated what she was and who I felt she created me to be. I tried being good. Tried following the Lord when I was 16. But was so easily persuaded otherwise.

When I was 17 I stayed with my dad for a summer. I remember walking to the bathroom and found him snorting up drugs. My parents did a good job of hiding the fact that they did them and tried to keep it from me, but knowing and seeing are two different things.

I struggled and my senior year became a huge party I desperately wanted out of. The day after my 18th birthday my mother and I had a physical fight. She was high and attacked me in the street. I moved out that night and went to a Wednesday night church meeting. The sermon was about how God healed the broken-hearted, how He mended and transformed us.

I gave my heart to Him that night. I gave in and stopped trying to fight what I knew was right. I now live for Him. Even in times of struggle, temptation, or testing, I know He is right beside me guiding me on, reminding me of who I really am, and what I live for.

Now I am 20 with a place of my own, a member of a wonderful Church, a great job and trying to teach others about Jesus. My mother has gotten help and she gave her heart to the Lord. As for my dad, he’s stopped most of the drugs and is beginning to ask questions about Jesus.

There’s hope in a broken past and a bright future ahead with a mighty Savior, leading us on.”

-Anonymous

From Riches to Rags and Back Again

“After one of my friends had recently donated her hair to Locks of Love, I kept having these elusive dreams. In my dream I would wake up and not have any hair, or I would look down at my pillow and I would see large pieces of my hair missing. That’s pretty frightening to a 16 year old girl, as a matter of fact before my experience I think that losing hair would be frightening at any age. We find beauty in our hair, so who would want to imagine not having any? I kept running into things that constantly had my mind wrapped around childhood cancer, hair donation, or hair, and that’s basically all I thought about for a month.

One day I had gone with a friend to Orange Leaf. As we sat there enjoying our froyo a little girl walked in with her family. A little girl who had some pretty obvious side effects to the treatment she had been undergoing. After she got her yogurt she sat on the couch across from us. She was wearing a Rapunzel sticker. The beautiful bald little girl looked at her sticker, then back up and said “Ya know, after I get better I am going to have hair longer than all the princesses.” I felt the Lord tugging at my heart. I then realized that I hadn’t been in prayer about all these emotions and thoughts. I knew what I wanted to do. I knew what I had to do.

Soon after the selfishness set in I didn’t want to have short hair. I had spent so much time growing it out. Maybe if I just ignored it and distracted myself then I wouldn’t have to feel bad. I was telling a close friend about the struggles I was facing. She directed me to 1 Peter 3: 3-4. The NIV version states “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” If that doesn’t open your eyes to the earthly views we have on ourselves then I don’t know what will.

As a teenage girl I want to feel beautiful and all this time I was looking at myself from the outward appearance, the things that society defines as beauty. Instead I should have been looking to please His eyes and not my own. I decided donating all of my hair would not only give someone else a reason to smile, but it would give me a chance to find beauty in myself instead of what I faced in a mirror. I could no longer “hide behind my hair.” So I did it. I donated 22 inches of hair, leaving me with a small itty bitty buzz cut.

If the Lord has set something on your heart, do not go about it in a selfish way. Cherish it and He will provide great and wonderful opportunities for you. To this day, it is still the most magnificent thing I have ever gone through. Especially knowing that Christ held my heart and hand through it all.”

-K

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