Hey guys! Today Brooke from Pure and Noble will be sharing her story! Brooke is an incredible blogger and woman of the Lord. I followed her when I first started blogging and I am so honored to become her "blog friend." Her story is so powerful and I hope you all will take the time to read it and soak in every word. I know often times I skip over posts that are long or ones that don't have pictures, but I really encourage you all to read the stories for this series. It's such a cool way to get to really know each other on a more personal level and understand each others' hearts. So.. enough rambling from me!
Hi, my name is Brooke Fish. I write a little blog called Pure and Noble, but my most important jobs are wife, Mommy, household manager, sister, daughter and friend. I am a believer in Christ who struggles with anger, control and the approval of man. (Whew…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.) When Bonnie asked me to share my story with her dear readers my first response was, “Yes! Of course!” But my excitement was short-lived as I realized that I had not shared my story with someone very important – my Dad. So thanks Bonnie for the graceful nudge that I needed and your extreme patience with me.
I’ve shared my testimony before in a program called Celebrate Recovery. At that time, I asked God to show me what to share, where to go and how to begin. He led me to Hosea. I had read it before, but not like I did in preparation for this. As I poured over the pages I realized...I am Gomer. I am Israel. I have prostituted myself in a number of ways: drugs, alcohol, materialism, control and anger, just to name a few. Hosea 4:1-2a says, "Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel! The Lord has brought charges against you saying: 'there is no faithfulness, no kindness, no knowledge of God in your land. You make vows and break them; you kill, steal and commit adultery...'" That was me. But before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you a little bit about how I got there.
My parents have been married for 40 years. Amazing right? They are loving people that have always told me and shown me just how much they love me. My Dad is a very strong, sensitive and affectionate man who is extremely hard working. My mother is a tender southern belle that has had Multiple Sclerosis since her early 20s and although there have been times of remission; much of her life has been plagued by this disease. I think much of my anger issues have stemmed from this. Anger at God for letting her have this disease and anger at the MS for taking away the Mom I needed and had always wanted. Although my Mom has always been independent and determined, she was never able to do the Mother/Daughter things that I dreamt of like going shopping at the mall, going for walks and having deep, meaningful conversations. Instead there were wheel chairs, handicap parking spots, bottled up emotions - for fear of being a burden - and other irrational fears.
I grew up in North Carolina. Every Sunday was filled with church and a drive to my grandparents' farm where we spent the day with our entire extended family. Although I never had a personal relationship with Christ, I felt very comfortable and safe with this family ritual. We all loved each other very much and some of my fondest childhood memories were at my Grandparents’ with all of my cousins. We played Charlie's Angels and Dukes of Hazard, made homemade ice cream and later in the day I could often be found in the pack house building something. How could you not love that, right? But, that all changed in the 4th grade when my Dad was asked to open a women's shoe store in Texas. (Insert the beginning of my materialism here!) I remember lying in my bed at night crying to my Mom wondering if I would have any friends in Texas and being terrified that no one would like me.
My early years in Texas were filled with making new friends and being boy crazy. Typical girl stuff I guess, but I so desperately wanted people to like me that I pretty much did whatever I thought would make them happy or make me look "cool." As this behavior continued, and my Mom and Dad worked hard to have a successful business, I began smoking, drinking, doing drugs and having inappropriate relationships with boys. As retail shops began opening on Sundays, every day was now a workday. Going to church came to a halt. I didn’t really care either; I had zero relationship with God and just saw it as an opportunity to sleep in late. My friends and boyfriends quickly became more important to me than anything else. But in order to be sure that everyone liked me (parents and teacher included), my grades never slipped and I maintained the "good daughter" status with my parents. I quickly became very good at manipulation and secrets. By my Sophomore year in High School, I had lost my virginity and had progressed from smoking pot to snorting speed and doing ecstasy.
At fourteen, I began working for my Dad at the shoe store and was now expected to pay for any extracurricular activities and begin saving for a car. I am extremely grateful for all that this taught me – the value of a dollar, hard work, self-sufficiency, etc. And, I am also very aware now that this independence bred my desire to control, a need to grow up way too fast and a false sense of maturity. My parents viewed me as the mature, pretty daughter with street smarts and my sister as the book-smart, good girl. They never came right out and said those things, but their praises and discipline reflected exactly that. I tried very hard to live up to their expectations! I worked hard and maintained good grades all while getting expelled for drinking at a football game, going to jail for being out past curfew and skipping last period to go get high. I think my parents saw a lot of my rebellion as growing pains and a wild side, that my Dad also had while he was growing up. Unfortunately, my "wild side" continued into college and beyond.
My lifestyle remained the same for years and my desire to control MY life was exacerbated by the loss of our family business and home, my parents’ bankruptcy and an unwanted pregnancy. Even though I was only a freshman in college, I thought my parents were unable to protect and provide; that was up to me. I was sure there was no God. How could God let one family go through so much? Why would He give my Mom MS? How could He take away our livelihood and strip my Dad of everything he had worked so hard for? And how could I be pregnant when I was so clearly not ready to be a Mom? It didn’t make any sense; especially if God was suppose to be this loving, all-powerful being. When I found out I was pregnant I had become so self-sufficient and self-centered I didn't even ask the father what he wanted. I wanted an abortion and that was that - end of discussion. I was so sure that “God” had made a mistake, that I would be a horrible Mother and that abortion was the best thing for me and the baby. I had the abortion in the fall and quickly buried all memories and feelings associated with the act because I was so sure I had done the right thing.
My drug days finally came to an end after one very humiliating night of partying where I did things I never thought I would do. The next day was awful - full of pain and an over-all uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I didn't want to talk to anyone or even get out of bed. Looking back, I can see that the Holy Spirit was very much at work, but at the time, I was unaware and uninterested in all things relating to God. I just knew the drugs had to stop - not the drinking and having a good time - just the drugs. They had become too much.
I was jumping from job to job and relationship to relationship. I kept partying, began working out compulsively, and when things spiraled out of my control, I told myself I was worthless and began hitting myself. Hosea 4:10 says, "They will eat and still be hungry." Gosh, that was so true for me, nothing satisfied me and yet, it was very important for me to maintain the appearance of having it all together and for others to like me. Then something totally unexpected happened, I became re-acquainted with a friend from college – Adam Fish. Adam was so different from me – extremely talented, quiet, introverted and really funny (although, I’m pretty sure I’m funnier.) As my relationship with Adam deepened I began feeling safe. (I think I kind of knew he was the one.) I started sharing things with Adam I had never told anyone. It was Adam who opened my eyes to my anger at God for my Mom’s MS. And through Adam’s search for a relationship with the Lord, I found one too. Little by little God began to chip away at my heart and reveal things to me about myself through marriage, friends and the pregnancy of our first son, Jude. It wasn’t fun (not at all like partying) and it sure wasn’t pretty (something I had wanted to be for so long) but, God was at work! I even went to Celebrate Recovery at our church (once) and quickly decided, nah, that’s not for me.
When I found out I was pregnant with a child I had planned, I was both excited and nervous. Then I began having strange visions that completely terrified me. They were like nightmares, only I was awake. I remember actually dropping to my knees in prayer for the first time ever and reading my Bible every spare second I could find. I even took a road-trip to Austin to visit my best-friend and would sneak away to pray and read my bible when she was doing other things. I was consumed. I was so desperate for answers to why this was happening and how I could make these visions stop. Eventually, I found the courage to tell Adam about my visions. He and others in our community wondered if there was any correlation between my visions and my past abortion. I seriously doubted it because I never even thought about my abortion. It wasn’t even a part of my testimony! They all suggested I go see a counselor. So I did – once. Are you seeing a pattern here? I was so terrified of what others would think of me; I wanted to pray it away and fix it for myself. I was so sure I could handle this on my own. Hello, desire to control!
Things got really bad after Jude was born. Not only was I a sleep deprived new Mom, I was carrying around the baggage of my abortion. The damage of that baggage began to destroy my marriage and me, but the worst were its effects on my son. I felt so completely out of control as a Mom. I wasn’t able to control how long he slept, how much he ate, or at times, when he would nap. This drove my crazy; I felt completely inept. I was sure I was doing something wrong. But it didn’t stop there. I was so crippled by the fear that God would take away our son as payment for my past sin that I tried to control and protect his every move as well as my husband’s when he was caring for Jude. My fear often came out as anger and rage. In an effort to gain control of my life and the situations that played out daily, I began hitting myself again and fighting with both my husband and our one year old son – who couldn’t even talk back! I was believing the lies that I had told myself before my abortion – I was a terrible Mom; God had made a mistake in giving me this child and on and on. Looking into my son’s eyes and seeing the hurt and confusion caused by my outbursts, I finally hit rock bottom. In the spring of 2007 I submitted to the Lord and began Someone Cares, a post-abortion recovery ministry offered through our church. God used that ministry and the women in it to change my life – literally! God gave me freedom from my past through His love, grace and mercy. I began to see my past and all my mistakes as His story of grace in my life. My eyes were opened to the anger, fear and lies that were wrapped up in my abortion and the manifestations of those symptoms in my life. I knew I wasn’t “cured” but life was so much sweeter than it had ever been. I knew I could move forward in His peace and truly find joy in life and motherhood.
I wish I could say life remained simple, blissful and manageable, but without struggle there would be no growth. The Lord brought new challenges into my life that continued to painfully refine me and were forcing me deal with more of my junk! In an effort for my husband and I to serve and grow together, he suggested we both lead a small group in Celebrate Recovery. Through much prayer and the counsel of others, I arrived back at CR. It was time to look at my relationship with my parents, deal with our family bankruptcy and let God heal me yet again. I am happy to say that this time I came more than once! I kinda had to since I was going to facilitate a group and go through the program at the same time. As I worked the steps of CR and related to the struggles of others around me, God revealed more past hurts and coping strategies. Through God’s word, Celebrate Recovery and community, I have been given the tools I need to become aware of the red warning light on my dashboard and deal with my hurts before they hurt someone I love.
Proverbs 29:18 says, “When people do not accept divine guidance, the will run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.” Daily I lift up my cross and cast my worries to God. Some days are much better than others, but I think my family and my community would all say that they see His joy in me. The Lord has traded my trouble for hope (Hosea 2:15) and has restored the years that the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25.) He has traded my ashes for beauty (Isaiah 61). I have been redeemed!
If you have a story of trials, hurts, regrets, guilt and pain, please know that there is no condemnation in Christ. He promises this in Isaiah 54:4, “Fear not, you will no longer live in shame. Do not be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth...” You don’t have to be afraid; there is hope in Christ. Just like Hosea, God is telling His love story through each of us. Thank you for letting me share my chapter with you.