A Fish Story

There I was, swimming through life with no real direction or goal. At the sweet little age of 4 years old, piping mad, I filled a suitcase with clothes and marched into the kitchen. "Mom, step aside. I'm packing a lunch and I'm getting outta here." I figured some peanut butter and crackers would get me to the end of the block. 

"Daughter, did you take your clothes out of the closet? Why did you do that? Go put those back right now!" This was the only response to my cry for attention. Head drooping in defeat, "fins" limply swaying, I "swished" despondently back to my room. Alone again, I swam a little deeper into the darkness of my own little sea. 

I bit the bait of peer pressure in school. When I felt as if I didn't have enough stuff compared to others, I just stole what I thought I needed. There was something in me to want to be good and pleasing, but when you're so deep, it takes too much effort to swim up to the light of the sky. By the time I arrived at high school, the sea of deception I was in got so dark that I lost my way. Drugs, drinking, parties, and boyfriends -- all of it was doing untold damage to my soul. But I had put on the facade of a beautiful tropical fish that had it all together. No one could see that I was bleeding internally.

I swam into a wall when I got pregnant at 18. The waves of that storm nearly catapulted me onto the shore. Life for me was so incredibly dark and tumultuous I could no longer even see what direction I was swimming. When my child came to birth, the waters cleared for a time. Relieved, I set myself to raise him on my own. I wanted his seas to be calm and full of light, unlike the dark turbulence I had experienced. 

But my sea did not remain clear for long. More shiny, plastic baits appeared, luring me this way and that. The same story: drugs and promiscuity. "Why can't I change?" I wondered. I moved from one bait to another, hoping for something that would satisfy me. But I remained the same scarred, bleeding fish. My son thought this was just the way life was as I dragged him through my dark waters. 

I swam past a church and looked up. "Nooo way!" I thought. I never wanted to admit there was a God or that I owed any attention to Him. But the truth was that nothing else was helping me clean up my life -- not my own will-power, not pseudo enlightenment, and certainly no drugs or relationships I had ever encountered. Maybe I should give it a try. 

On Sunday we showed up for service. I was warmly welcomed, and even given a little money because my son and I were in a needy state. After a couple of months, I wondered where that initial warmth had gone. I tried harder. We started to go to the Saturday night service, and the Monday and Wednesday Bible studies. I started reading my Bible while in line at the grocery store. But I was still the same person. Somehow I couldn't escape the dark life of drugs and failed relationships.

Unable to love my son the way he needed me to, I dropped my now seven-year-old son off at the public school that I said I'd never send him to, and walked to the college I had no vision to attend, crying all the way. I cried so many times, day after day in this dark sea. It was turning into a sea of tears. I couldn't take it anymore. 

"God, if you're real, prove it! Why am I alive? If this is all there is to life, take my life! I'm done! I have nothing to live for." 

I didn't really want to die. I wanted to care for my son. But reality was that I was already dead inside. 

Soon after that, a friend told me of some people she'd met. Almost in fear, she whispered, "I found a school of fish. They live together on one of their farms. They eat their meals together. They gather to pray twice every day. They actually believe they serve God all day and strive to live as the Bible tells them to."

"Great," I said, "I'm moving in."

She cautioned me, "Don't you want to meet them first?"

I did meet them first. My heart knew that if they were who they said they were, there would be a place for my son and me. And there was -- a home, and men for my son to work with, a family to call my own, friends who wiped away my tears and sometimes needed me to wipe theirs. They helped me to see the hook under all those baits. 

The Fisherman's net came and gathered me up to safety. Now I'm married to a loving husband and our son has two sisters. I challenge you to come and see if love can heal your scars as it did mine.

--Jennifer

 

The Twelve Tribes is a confederation of twelve self-governing tribes, composed of self-governing communities. We are disciples of the Son of God whose name in Hebrew is Yahshua. We follow the pattern of the early church in Acts 2:44 and 4:32, truly believing everything that is written in the Old and New Covenants of the Bible, and sharing all things in common.

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