Unfortunately, I have spent a lot of time being afraid. As I sit here, I’m in a new place. An unfamiliar place….and the doors DO NOT LOCK where I am staying. So it’s like I’m camping out in the open, alone. Well, I’m in a house, but it feels like that to me. Even in the states, I have a big dog, lock all my doors twice, have a weapon in my nightstand, lock my bedroom door AND use a heavy metal doorstop on my bedroom door. Crazy, I know. Always have. People here in Italy have little fear. They act like it’s no big deal to have no locks. They look at me like I’m crazy. I always thought of myself having that sense of peace, but I’m not sure I do as often as I’d like to think.
And that leads me to follow up on my last post about my past. This will not be fun to read, so fair warning. You see, fear goes back a long way for me. Although I’m not sure I knew it at the time. It has always been a companion, maybe. It may have all started back in 1975 when our house caught on fire in Louisiana. We had just built a new house and I was just shy of being 2 years old. My dad had been drinking earlier that day and had been fighting with my mom about something; probably that. Long story short, there was an explosion after dinner. A spark from the AC unit landed in a bucket of glue that my dad was using to lay some flooring down. He tried to run but tripped up on that bucket of glue and ended up with 3rd degree burns over 90% of his body. My sister got me out of the house (she was 9) and my mom pulled my dad out. Thankfully I have no memory of that day. My dad “lived” for about a month after that at Brooke’s Burn Center in San Antonio, but later died 10 days before I turned 2 years old. We lost EVERYTHING. My mom had no plan B. I’m not much older now than when my mom lived through that, and I can tell you I’m not sure how she went on another day. Well, in some ways, I do. That fire forever changed our lives. I can only simplify this story, as there is enough to write a book. Seriously. But my mom was never the same after that. Who could be?
So, the years after that were so many years of sadness. My mom suffered from severe depression and tried to sooth that with alcohol and painkillers. There were numerous times she tried to commit suicide. I saw her with slit wrists. I found her after taking a bottle of sleeping pills and then having to get her stomach pumped (several times). I saw her date men that were abusive to her. Physically and mentally. I saw her cry EVERY year on her and my dad’s anniversary, his birthday, the day our house caught on fire, the day he died, EVERY holiday. She spent most of her life in pain and as I type this, makes me cry. It makes me so sad for her that no one was able to help her back then. She drank a lot and I remember spending many nights as a child at the local VFW or American Legion and then having to go to school the next day. Sometimes my sister would even have to drive us home way before she even had a license. But I don’t want to paint my mom as this awful person. She just had a really hard life and no support, really. And she tried the best she knew how to take care of me and my sister. She would clean houses and mow yards to buy me things. You know, I’m not even sure as a teenager that I once told her thank you. I was so hurt by all the other stuff she did. We were ALL so broken and lost and didn’t know how to find/have peace. During all of this time growing up, I was raised by my single mom and for most of my life we lived in Low Rental Housing on Wolf Street in Killeen, Texas. I go back now and it is literally like the movie The Blind Side. I’m not sure many I went to school with knew that about me or knew I lived in low rental housing, if so, I never knew. You see, I thought ALL of this was normal at the time. I never knew my life could be different. Until my DECA teacher in high school dropped me off after an event one day. I asked to be dropped off last and when he saw where I lived, he said nothing that day, but pulled me aside after class the next school day and told me “You know you are meant for more than this. And you can do more with your life.” That’s all he said, but as I mentioned in my last post, that was all I needed. It was life changing as crazy as it sounds.
During this difficult time in my teenage years, I am sure I had a dream from God. He assured me everything would be okay. He was clearly standing at the foot of my bed one night after me and my mom had been fighting when I woke up from a bad dream. Funny thing is, I didn’t even go to church. Or read the bible. Or know exactly who Jesus and God were. But I KNEW. I can vividly remember it even now about 30 years later.
So what does this all have to do with fear up until this point? Fear will tell you there is no future. That people can’t change. Fear will lie and tell you that you aren’t worthy of more. It will try and convince you that you’re not enough. Fear will make you constantly compare your life with others. Fear will tell you that every bad thing that’s happened was caused by God. That is SUCH A LIE!! I have so much more to share about this journey I’m on with God with you guys!! I can tell you though, that even when I didn’t know Him, looking back now, He was ALWAYS shining His light on me. Directing my steps. Protecting me, especially from things I thought I wanted. Providing for me and my daughter, as I was a single parent for most of her life. I can assure anyone reading this that as broken and messed up you THINK you may be, He loves you. He is waiting on you and will continue to do so. I know this as sure as I know that the sun rises in the mornings. And I also know the joy that comes from knowing Him.
This is only the start of this journey with God. I have many more valleys in this life that ultimately led me to Him years later, so more on that next time. It really is the foundation that gave me the courage to do what I’m doing. I’m sure He’s been waiting long before now for me to jump, but he just waited. He often waits and prepares us for the journey He has planned. Sometimes, as in this case for me, you just have to jump not knowing the outcome. That scares me to death. I gotta be honest. But again, fear is a liar. I know I was called here to Italy for a reason and I am coming to terms with the fact that there is not a timeline to the destination. Yes, I’m here in Italy. But I don’t know the next step until the next day. I may not get the answer I’m hoping for while I am here but I am okay with that. I keep expecting to have this ah-ha moment but it may not come. I do know though, that He is growing me. My goodness have I grown in 3 weeks. I am so far out of my comfort zone. I literally have to google EVERYTHING. Nothing here is familiar to me. But He has opened my eyes to notice the beauty in so many things. Kindness in people. Beauty in old things. How calming nature is. How you can be happy with so much less. On that note, I have to mention something from today before wrapping this post up. I am staying at an old Tuscan farm- way out from any town. Full of animals and gardens. And the people here work hard. They have a very simple life but they have that light in them that I’ve heard about and seen, just not often enough. They have this joy about them. The owner is so generous and even brought me fresh eggs from his chickens for breakfast tomorrow. They invited me to dinner at their house for a home cooked meal. They have little but still give. God has reminded me to be selfless. To be even more generous. He will always supply our needs. Phil 4:19
With that, be encouraged. Be brave. God makes beauty from the ashes. And as I head to bed, I can know that fear is a liar!!! Stay tuned for updates on my 3rd week here in Italy. It's been a fun one!!
Hey, everyone! I'm Angie and I hope you enjoy my blog about how and why a single woman in her 40's decided to drop everything she was doing and follow her God sized dream to Italy. I may be scared to death but I am FULL of faith as God gives me the COURAGE TO JUMP!