Sunday, July 27, 2008

Who am I? - "At The Well."

I am actually writing this on November 10th, but I'm dating it back to July 27th. Are you wondering why? Read on.

I'm writing this in response to this week's "At The Well" meme. The question asked was, "Who are you?"

I almost chose not to participate in this meme. There are so many things going on in the world right now that burden my heart and prompt me to pray and to share serious matters with my readers. I've been writing about things like the results of the election, and the need to repent, and the problem of false assurance. These things matter a great deal.

The trivial details of my life just pale in comparison.

I was afraid to have such trivia on the front page of my blog. So that's why I fluffed the date on this one. It will be buried in obscurity. Call me weird, but it's the only way I could bring myself to write this.

Who am I? I was a daughter and sister first. Daughter of a man whom I believe was unsaved, but who called himself a Christian; and of a believing but very downtrodden, emotionally abused woman.

Sister of my sister and brother, who bear scars like mine.

I was also privileged to be the granddaughter of some really great people. My grandparents were flawed, of course, but oh how much I owe to them and their love for the Lord and for me! I hope you'll take the time to read more about them here.

I've already shared about my experience of being unsaved for many years...completely self-serving, unloving, prideful...while thinking myself saved, and the fact that during those years I knew my Bible well and spouted a lot of good stuff to others. (God was so unimpressed!) I've shared how He held me even while showing me how incredibly hostile my heart really was toward Him. And I've shared how He finally brought me to Himself.

I haven't talked much about my family, though.

I have been married to John for 18-1/2 years (give or take a few months...I didn't feel like doing the math). We met at church in Tampa, Florida and were married there. At the time I was a Location in Hillsborough County and the state ...Image via WikipediaSpeech Pathologist (my Master's Degree was earned at the University of South Florida). I did most of my work in nursing homes and hospitals, doing speech/language/swallowing therapy with people who had had strokes or other debilitating conditions. My husband was pursuing his Computer Engineering degree at USF while working full time as a computer technician. Our firstborn came along in 1995, and God granted my lifelong dream of becoming a stay-at-home mom. (The career track never appealed to me.) Shortly thereafter my husband graduated, and immediately was let go from his job because his degree made him overqualified.

His job search (and job find) led our family to Marshalltown, Iowa, where our next two sons were born in 1997 and 2000. Location in IowaImage via WikipediaNow, you have to try to imagine what a shock it was for this Florida girl to move to Iowa in the winter. I was 31 years old, and I had never seen snow in my life (except for a light dusting on a trip excitement over that dusting made the locals laugh). We moved to Marshalltown the day after a blizzard. LOTS of white stuff, everywhere! I had also never experienced Fall, except for one trip to see the foliage in the Blue Ridge mountains back in the '80's. So my first Fall in Iowa was a thrill.

It was while we were living in Iowa that the problems became evident.

Our firstborn was an extremely bright but quirky child. Our middle son showed some unusual traits that, with my training in Speech Pathology, caused me to wonder about autism. But he was developing normally for the most part, and the pediatrician laughed at the thought of him being autistic. I abandoned that thought myself when he grew into a very sociable, talkative toddler. By this time I was expecting #3, and was extremely exhausted. I slept a lot during that pregnancy, more than I should have. But I honestly felt as if someone slipped me sleeping pills every day. I simply couldn't function as well as I needed to. By God's grace, my children didn't suffer any harm during one of my involuntary naps.

Then came early 2000. Autism descended on our home, right about the time youngest son arrived (an unrelated event, of course). My precious middle son disappeared, and was replaced by a screaming stranger whose hands flapped before his eyes, who no longer communicated, who only screamed, and screamed, and screamed.

He'd seem to do better for a while, and then things would get really bad again. There was no escape for me, no rest. No sleep, even at night. Just screaming for months on end. I wrote some free verse about that time here, so I won't go into it again.

During that time I descended into a pretty significant depression that lasted for years. I can honestly say I spent years just hanging on by my fingernails. In addition to autism, Phillip was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder (the reason why he fluctuates so incredibly), and my oldest son began unravelling until we had to seek help for him. Turns out he has Asperger's Syndrome and ADD.

Those were very dark years, and much has faded into a blur of non-memory. But so much of the trauma was of my own making, because I retreated further and further into myself instead of learning to trust in God more so that I could love more. It's only been relatively recently that the depression has lifted and God has been making changes in who I am. I have a long way to go, but I'm learning to love Him and trust Him as never before.

For what it's worth, that's my story.


Chelsey said...

I'm glad you joined us today At the Well and gave us a glimpse into who you are! :)

LAURIE said...

Betsy, thank you for sharing today AT THE WELL and certainly I agree that it is never about us but only about Jesus Christ but thankfully He has given each of us a testimony and that is what I see in your post - that God has brought you thru alot of things and in the midst of it all - God has been with you - molding and making you into the beautiful vessel that you are today. Without sharing this - others cannot be encouraged by your testimony. So for that I am grateful that you shared about yourself today. -God bless, Laurie

momstheword said...

I'm glad you posted. This is why we post, the fellowship and encouragement we get from one another in the Lord! Thank you for sharing about your precious children and your life's journey. BTW, your ASL is probably better than mine! I have forgot some of it which is why I am taking a refresher course.

LauraLee Shaw said...

Betsy, yes, there are so many problems in the world, but when others share their incredible, magnificent faith through excruciating pain and trials, it moves others toward that end as well. So much power in a person's testimony, and girl, yours is phenomenal. I, for one, have been moved, challenged and encouraged by hearing your story. Wow, how glad I am to know you more...could learn so much from you if we talked more often. What a blessing you are.

Patty Wysong said...

Okay, Betsy--you really need to change the 'About Me' in your side bar. You need to REMOVE the word 'just' in that first sentence!!

God is so good! Praising God with you for carrying you through those years.

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