Mid-September 1991 my sister and I were born. Being twins has been the best part of my life hands down. We started our lives in a house down a mile long dirt road with my mom, dad, their two best friends— Uncle T and Auntie D— and their son, B. B was born 13 months after my sister and I. We were best friends from birth. At that time our little family was no longer little— the two families went different ways, fortunately, we change that later in the story.
When I was two, my sister was diagnosed with epilepsy. At the time I was too young to grasp what that meant. It took until I was in my teen years to appreciate the amazingness this diagnosis brought into our lives. I don’t know what life would have been like with my sister minus epilepsy but I wouldn’t wish it any different. Although I am thankful for how life has been there have been a few tough times that has come about because of this.
We grew up in a home that was incredibly God-centered. When I was itty bitty, my parents planted a church which entailed us going to church every Sunday. That continued on even through today even though we no longer attend the same church. We celebrated Christmas and Easter for the real meanings of the holidays.
When we were 4, we moved into the home my parents live in now. It was the home I accepted Jesus into my heart and the place that my parents raised me to be the best me possible- a woman of God. I was incredibly fortunate; my parents are the most loving welcoming amazing parents any child could ask for. There were times I didn’t like their parenting styles. Looking back I have to say, I sure hope I can raise my kids 1/2 as well as my parents handled raising me. Because of this, my family life growing up was incredibly loving welcoming and my parents loved each and every one of my friends with the truest hearts you could find. Even today, childhood friends come back to town and want to see my mom and dad. I wish you all could fully understand how incredibly sweet and caring they are!
Anyways, I spent the first 12 years of my life being the happy-go-lucky, Jesus-loving girl I was naturally. I didn’t question my faith I didn’t worry about people’s thoughts. I just lived life as happy as possible. This changed when I started questioning my faith. Asking the hard questions were not easy for me and when I did, the answers were not what I wanted to hear.
I had been going to YoungLife all through middle school, every year we got new leaders and with my self-centered mindset, and not realizing these ladies were graduating college, I blamed my awkwardness for the constant change in leaders. I would ask myself questions such as: “They didn’t like me” or “Why wasn’t I someone they wanted to get to know?” I started to become so hard on myself, depression reared its ugly head. This is when I started slipping in my faith.
With my depression, I felt incredibly lonely and sad all the time. I had a tendency to over think and let the anxiety dictate how I would live out my life. I started to blame God for not being the person that everyone believes Christians to be— the girl I used to be. No matter what I did, I couldn’t clear the dark cloud fogging my mind.
As I was trying to navigate this new difficult feeling, I started searching for a distraction. With that, I would find conversations with people online. I met some great people, some odd people, and some people I should have never said hello to. I relied so heavily on these friendships—started to see them as easier and more manageable than face to face interactions. I struggled to see why I didn’t have any friends at school. I had 3 other girls at school who were my lifelines. They were one of the top reasons I made it through that time in life. I love them dearly!
As I made it into high school, I was still chatting with people from all around the globe online- from Washington to New York, to London. I had friends in every corner of the world. I met one guy in particular. Let’s call him X. I fell into immediate puppy love with him. I did not see a single flaw, other than he lived on the other side of the country. We would email and AIM chat for hours, then we stopped talking for a year and a half. My parents were concerned about my safety, as they should be. So he and I stopped talking. I was heartbroken.
9th grade was already hard, then the unspeakable happens.
My sister and I were home from school; spring break, I think. As I was working on a puzzle, I looked up from the curiosity of what my sister was watching on TV. The sound was incredibly realistic. I remember it vividly. It imitated gurgling. It wasn’t the TV. My sister was gagging, unable to breathe. She was seizing. As I told you all earlier, she has always had epilepsy but her type of seizure resembles zoning out, not physical seizing reaction. I immediately went over and made sure she was not choking on saliva or anything. At this point, it became an out-of-body-experience. I remember calling my parents. Luckily, they worked relatively close by. Neither of them answered the phone. I called everyone I knew— anyone who could help. Oddly I didn’t think about calling 911. Finally, B—yes the same B from the beginning of the story— answered and came running to my house, helping me call my parents and his parents. We did everything we could to get a hold of somebody.
At this point, my sister was finally coming out of her seizure. I was giving attention to her while B continued to get a hold of my parents. I asked her questions making sure she was aware of where she was. Then my heart-shattering moment. “Do you know who mom and dad are?” “Yes,” she answered quietly. “Do you know who I am?” “No.,” she said defensively. She didn’t know who I was.
After she came to from the seizure she could only say those two words: Yes and No. This moment right there was the moment that I have never been able to shake. I have this extreme fear of being forgotten. My sister, who I have known since BEFORE birth forgot who I was.
*Side Note* I know this was a medical issue. I know that she had just had a short-circuit in her mind. It doesn’t mean it wasn’t a hard thing to hear.***
My parents finally came home and brought my sister to the hospital. I spent the rest of the day with Ben and his family. I was too shaken up to go to the hospital until right before she was released. Even today I struggle with living my life fully due to the fear of not being there if she has another seizure episode.
Continuing with my story. 9th and 10th grade passed, I began questioning my faith. Those hard questions I was avoiding asking, I was asking them. Why would a God that loves the world let something like that happen to my sister? I didn’t want a God who wouldn’t take care of every one of his children.
11th grade came around and I started part-time school at the local community college. It was great having the freedom of being in an adult setting while only being 16. I reached out to the guy I had fallen for a few years prior. I was curious where his life had brought him. Two years felt a lot longer at that age. We hit it off immediately. We dated for 1 year as he continued school on the east coast. He graduated, moved to Washington, lived very close by to spend every waking moment with me. I loved it. This man wanted to spend all this time and give all his attention to me. Through this, I made choices that I still live with today, leading me through some of my deepest temptations and bad choices. After about 2 years or so living in Washington, I started seeing little parts of our relationship that had become unhealthy, on the verge of abusive. There were so many parts of my relationship with X that I wish were different. Looking back on it, I was incredibly oblivious to the things that I hope my future daughters never have to deal with.
With the relationship seeming to be long-term, I chose to attend a local university so that he and I would not have to be far, also so that if anything happened at home I would close enough to be there if anyone needed me. I thought the school was perfect. There was an amazing campus, a great business school, and close to home. I joined some Christian groups even though I didn’t believe a word they were saying. I still was searching for something, anything to fill the void my anger towards God created.
I was having a conversation with a friend of mine and I have no recollection of the entire conversation other than one statement she made:
“If you hate or are angry at God. It means you believe he exists. And the wonderful thing. He is the only one who can handle these feelings towards him. Lift them up to God and let them out. Yell if you must. Talk it through with him.” I thought she was crazy. but then it truly began to sink in. I do believe in God. You’d think, at this point, my habits and lifestyle choices would change. Again, I could not have been more wrong.
This statement turned my attention back to Christ. Maybe all of this Christian stuff is true.
After 5 years the relationship along with the heartbreak, being cheated on, and bending my life to suit all his needs, ended– abruptly and painfully. I became clear to the level of unhealthy that X and I had become, so one day I decided that I couldn’t do it anymore. This was another reason why, at the time, I hated God. I was crushed, although it was my choice, I believed no one would love me like X did. I believed no one would give me the feeling he did. I could not have been more wrong.
I had already been a year into my Bachelor’s program when X and I broke up. This was the beginning of my hardest part of my story. I lost all self-worth, I believed that I wasn’t worth anything to anyone. I started talking to a handful of guys and then I met Y.
Y was a man who I would have never reached out to if I had met him on the street. I would have never gone on a date with him. That is… until I met him through a dating website. I met up with him at a local casino and we drank… a lot. That night led to 3 years of bad choices and life lessons. Looking back, I truly did learn more about myself in those 3 years than I have at any other point in my life.
May 2016, the 2nd biggest life event happened to me. I came home in the morning after spending the night at a friend’s house after a baseball game. There was a huge piece of plywood over my door.
INHABITABLE: Please contact local fire department or police
department for access to space. Unsafe to enter.
My first thought was “What did I leave on? What did I do?” I ran to a neighbor’s house and found out that the fire started in the unit above mine. I had no fault in the fire. I spent the rest of the day trying to gain access to my condo unit and working with Homeowners insurance for all I had to d I finally made it back into my unit and grabbed a couple of belongings: my guitar, Vitamix, and a few odds and ends such as my computer and important documents. Everything was ruined. Except for a handful of items. Thankful that my guitar and a few other items were safe I packed up my car and drove back to my parents’ house. At the time, I didn’t realize that it would be over a year before I had any of my things in that unit again.
That night I drove home, still in a chaotic panic about what do with the happenings of the night before. I accidentally fell asleep on the couch– in the middle of the night making my way up to my bed.
Not being fully aware I had fallen asleep in the first place, I hear my dad calling to me “Hey Ellie, we need to talk.” he came into the space that would be my room for the unforeseeable future and asked a question. “Did you have anything in your car last night?” “No, I don’t think so.” “It got broken into.” I sat straight up and looked him dead in the eye and collapsed. All I could say to dad was “My guitar.”
This moment was the exact second that my life completely turned a 180. That moment was when I finally gave it up to God. I gave everything to him. I couldn’t be lower than I was in that very moment. That moment I decided it was time to dedicate my life to following the God of my life.
I dated people on and off throughout this time, always ending back up in Y’s arms. Finally, the day came that I had to end it. I had been fighting with God about how I felt like I was doing the right thing but ti was very clear that God was not having it. I gave this up to God as well. I left. I ghosted. I fell off the face of the earth- Out of his life. It was the best choice I could have made.
I had been speaking with my pastor and decided it was time to make the full-blown commitment to God. I got baptized. I promised myself at this point that there was no going back to my old lifestyle. I wanted to live as a godly woman who follows the guidance of Jesus Christ. I stood on the edge of the lake, told my story, and got baptized. I was a changed woman. That water changed me… or so I thought.
I quickly fell back into bad lifestyles and even started talking with Y again. I told him it would be different that I wasn’t going anywhere. I believed it. I thought I could make it work and maybe even help him grow his faith in God. That was part of the job of a Christian… Right? Wrong. God does not want us to sin to bring people to God.
I decided that after a few months I could no longer be the girl that he was asking for, signed up for E-Harmony and stopped interacting with Y once and for all. After a few dates, I didn’t think I would find anyone who was more than just looking for a fun time. Then I met him. This guy who seemed pretty great. I thought that maybe God wanted me to be with him. Wrong yet again. We were better as friends. The mutual feeling ended with immediate breaking up and then the oddest statement was made. “I need you to meet M.”
M was his best friend. “No way J, I am not going to date your best friend. You’re my ex. Why would I do that?”
“Ellie, trust me, you two will hit it off.” I delayed meeting M face to face for a few months. Then I decided that I might as well meet him. We met, dated, broke up, then although I was determined I would never date someone after they left, we got back together. November 2017.
I had made God an important part of my life. Everything felt like it was falling into place. I was content.
Out of nowhere the winter of 2017/2018 brought a lot of struggles for me. I had the worst depression season I had ever dealt with; I felt lost and alone; I didn’t know what to do. I started a Devotional with my mentor and decided that it was going to be a year of God.
That is where this blog comes in. I am here to share my journey with you all. There will be times of stumbling there will be times that I don’t know how to move past mistakes but I hope each of you reading this reaches out and leans on me for support!
I learned that when trying to do life all on your own, you will fail. When you try to do life with your community there to hold you up, you will have a joy-filled life. But mostly, when you live a life with God by your side you will always have a safety net to catch you when you fall.