I was so excited to go. I had everything picked out and put together, and in typical teen-girl fashion, I had my summer outfit down to a T. My new bathing suit, cute hat, sandals that matched... I mean, I was ready. Water park here I come!!! When you are a freshman in high school, all of these details matter because you never know when you might just meet... THE ONE!! My parents dropped us off and I was anticipating a whole day parent free, focused completely on the hunt...the boy hunt! As the day went on, reality was setting in... the boys were there to go down slides and all the girls were there trying to get the boys to notice them in their perfectly put together swim attire.
After not much action on the boy front, us girls decided to take on the mammoth water slide. I can't remember the name of it, but I'm pretty sure it had something in the title referencing death and mutilation. This particular slide required no tube and no buddy, it was just you and the slide battling it out to the end.
Although I was scared, I was not about to let that keep me from the best water slide in the park... I mean, it had a bleacher section at the end of it just so people could watch how terrified you were as you came down. THIS. WAS. HAPPENING!
Now, remember when I said I had the perfectly put together outfit? Well I did, it was a cute two piece number with flowers and little plastic claps that helped hold everything together up top. For a split second, right before I was ready to take the plunge, I thought to myself, "I wonder if a two piece was a wise choice?... Oh whatever, it'll be fine...." Then the instructor shouted "Keep your legs crossed and your arms crossed over you chest!" and with that, pushed me off to my death.
I started down the slide and it wasn't too bad... I could feel each bump where the slide was put together and with each bump it got faster and faster. This wasn't so bad... in fact this was awesome!!!! I was at full speed now, pretty sure somewhere around that of the sound barrier! I couldn't keep my feet together, nor could I keep my hands over my chest. The sheer force of the ride left me unglued and everything was falling about. I could see the end, the final drop. Honestly to this day I remember how exhilarating that last drop was. I tried hard to gather myself before entering into it but I just couldn't keep my arms tight.
I was laughing and screaming and just enjoying every moment of this awesome ride. I made it to the end, and just sat for a split second, taking in all that had just happened. When I looked up I saw the life guard motioning to me. I looked at the bleachers and I saw everyone staring at me. Some looked at me smirking, others looked horrified. As I looked back at the life guard he was motioning to the other slide. "What's going on?" I thought. And then the realization of what had happened on that final drop came to me as the wind brushed across my BARE NAKED CHEST!
Mortified, I jumped up and ran to the other slide where the lifeguard had been pointing and grabbed my perfectly put together top that was floating around in the water. My girlfriend ran over and helped me put it on. The plastic clasp had broken so she had to tie it in a knot to make it stay on.
I WAS MORTIFIED!!!!
I wanted to leave right that second but couldn't because my parents were not coming for a few more hours. I knew I was stuck, and I had TRULY been EXPOSED! Exposed like I have never been exposed before!!! Everyone (at least it felt like everyone) had seen what mother nature had given me, and if I'm being honest, what mother nature had NOT given me. For the rest of the day I felt like everyone was talking about me as I walked by. I was no longer interested in the boy hunt, I no longer cared about what I was wearing, and I surely didn't care if I ever went on another ride again. The embarrassment of that moment ruined my day, and to this day water parks are still not my thing. Little did I know this would be a foreshadowing of many exposures in my life to come...
Growing up I learned to cover up, smile, and pretend everything was perfect. What happened behind closed doors was no one's business, and never mind what was happening in your heart... that really needed to be silenced. If I could keep things looking pretty on the outside, acting like I had it all together, I would never be exposed for the person I really was on the inside. Why deal with that pain? If you didn't talk about your problems or pain, they didn't exist. I just needed to stuff all that and it would go away... Right??
I feared being exposed. I feared people knowing who I really was, so I played the game into adulthood. I got married at 23 because that's what people were doing. He was a great guy. I could check off all the boxes on the checklist I'd created for what a husband should be, and life was good for a while. Well... life was okay. Everyone else thought we were great, but at night when I was alone with my thoughts, I was miserable. Not because of him, but because of me.
There was so much unresolved pain I was dealing with, but again I just stuffed it. Fast forward four years down the road, and I just couldn't stuff anymore. I broke, and I broke hard. I couldn't live with who I was. Years of stuffing how much I was hurting came up with a vengeance. I did everything in my power to end my marriage. I hurt so many people. I hurt my ex-husband, and to this day the pain I caused him still haunts me.
I remember sitting on the side of the road hyperventilating in a panic attack thinking "What have I done?!" I couldn't get a grip on reality. My pain had taken over and was controlling all of my decision making. My ex and I were pastors. YES, pastors! This kind of stuff didn't happen to pastors, right??
I lost everything because of all my pain... because of the choices I made out of that pain. I was once again exposed. I wanted to run. And to hide. I felt like I would never be able to heal from what was happening. How could I have let this happen? How could I have hurt the people I loved so much? Once again I found myself in a pit of despair and hopelessness. Everything was gone. Everyone was gone. I had pushed it all away.
One night I sat alone in my tiny dark apartment, laying on the bathroom floor, sobbing. Then a voice in my head just said... "End it."
The voice continued... "If you weren't here no one would be hurt, and if you end it now, you'll never have to feel this pain again." Once again my pain was causing me to do the unthinkable. In the moment it seemed so logical. People hated me. I hated me. It would be better if I was just gone, so I got in my car and drove. I drove for a long time, thinking about how it could all be over. Sobbing and sobbing I sat at a stop sign, and there it was... my answer. A bus. One bus. If I moved my car at just the right time it would all end. No more hiding. No more shame. No more guilt. In one moment it could all be gone.
I sat waiting for the perfect moment, but right before I would make that fatal move, another voice came into my mind. It was a voice I hadn't heard in a long time. "I have a plan for you Karrie," the voice said. "I don't see you the way others see you, I see it all and I love you."
I felt ashamed for what I was about to do and yet in the same breath one flicker of hope sprung up in my heart. I had done so many unthinkable things. I had hurt so many He loved. I was not faithful to my commitments. And yet I knew He meant it.
I watched that bus drive by, knowing that 30 seconds prior my hopelessness was about to use it to end my life. But Jesus Christ broke through... with all His love and compassion and grace and mercy, like a ray of hope, He broke through and exposed me to His life giving words in that perfect moment.
Looking back I have so many regrets. One of my biggest was keeping silent about my pain. I was so scared of being exposed for who I really was that it kept me silent about how much I was hurting. No one could help me because I wasn't being honest, even with myself. God tried to reach in many times but I would push Him away, thinking "You can have all these parts of me God, just not this part!" When the lights were out and no one was around I knew that He knew. I knew He knew how much pain I was in, and I wish I would have been honest with Him and surrendered my pain before Him so He could fix what was broken.
The regret I have from holding onto that pain, and what I did because of it is something I will have to live with forever, but the good news is it's never too late! The road I ended up traveling dealing with my junk was long and hard, but He never left me. In fact, I felt His compassion for me grow with every step. He lovingly started to change how I saw myself and helped me accept His love. I can proudly say He has fixed what is broken, and He wants to do the same for you.
There are days when I catch myself going back to my old way of thinking, but then I hear his voice... "YOU are my beloved!" Don't believe the lies that say you have gone too far, don't believe the lie that says no one will love you if they know who you really are. These are not true and this is NOT the heart of Jesus Christ. Being exposed is never fun, but the healing that will come from you taking that first step will be the beginning of the hope you so desperately want. You can not fix yourself, you can not wish the pain away, and you can only ignore it for so long. Trust me, I tried!
It is ONLY when you allow yourself to be exposed before your maker, surrendering your heart to Him and allowing Him to come in and fix what hurts, that will you find your authentic self. Wouldn't it be great if your inside person matched your outside person? For the first time ever I can tell you this is true for me. And it can be true for you! I am NO LONGER defined by my pain or the mistakes I have made, I am defined by HIS NAME! Don't live in fear and in pain. It's not the life that was intended for you. Jesus Christ has a plan and a hope for your life. Expose yourself to His truth, to His love and watch Him change your name from defeated to overcomer!
Be ready to be FOUND...UNBOUND! Jeremiah 29:11
I love you all, Karrie
P.S. If you are in the Southern California area, please join us at our next event! I'll be sharing more about this part of my story and would love it if you could come hangout and listen.
Here are the details:
June 14th / 7:30pm 635 E. Palmdale Orange, CA 92865
See you there!