What a week it has been. For Boston. For Waco and the Texas community. For Oklahoma City. As an Oklahoman, my heart aches for these suffering cities. We know too well what it feels like to be a city under attack. Today marks the 18th anniversary of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing. I remember.
Eighteen years ago, my life was shaken. As a seven-year-old, I didn’t fully understand the implications of a federal building in “The City” being bombed by one of our own. I knew when our teacher turned on the television, it wasn’t good. My friends cried. There was a lot of confusion. Oklahoma has never been the same. Little did I know then, that after living my seventh year of life, I would never be the same either.
I was just a little girl in first grade. But, even still, my security of life was rocked. All of a sudden, Oklahoma wasn’t a safe place to live anymore. Everyone was more cautious and suspicious. And everyone hated Timothy McVeigh. I don’t think we have ever gotten back the sturdy sense of security.
That same year, I got the chicken pox. Poor kids today get a vaccine for that when they are babies. They don’t get to experience the all-over body itching and carry the scars with them for life because they wouldn’t stop scratching. I remember them well. Red bumps covered my body. I’m sure my mother was driven crazy as I stayed home from school each day that week. I refused to wear clothes and I constantly insisted that I stay in the bathtub. As a kid, I loved taking baths. My mom limited me to only one a day. But, when I had the chicken pox, she filled the bath with oatmeal and I could take as many baths as I wanted. What child doesn’t love skipping school and playing in the tub all day? That’s what kids miss these days. I’m thankful I had that experience, despite my little itching body. I passed them along to my brother that week so he could share in the experience as well! Those memories and scars will be with me for a lifetime.
In first grade, another tragedy hit too close to home. My grandma Patsy passed away. I remember going to her house for the first time when she wasn’t there. And coming to the realization that she would never be there…ever again. At seven, my poor heart couldn’t take it. I couldn’t sort through the thoughts and feelings of losing my very best friend, my sleepover buddy, my grandma. Life was a bit of a daze for a long time that year. I completely fell apart. Physically my body fought depression. My mind was attacked by anxiety and anger and loss that I had never felt before. I yelled a lot. I lashed out at everyone. I thought no one else would ever love me the way she did. I lost my trust in the human race. I lost pieces of my ability to love. Humanity turned into my own personal enemy. My heart shut down that day. I refused to let myself ever get that close to anyone ever again. And I still fight with those feelings, maybe I always will.
A final life change happened when I was seven. I took a step of faith, and I decided to follow Jesus. No longer was he just my parent’s God, no longer was it an Oklahoman tradition to attend church on Sunday. I made a choice to make Jesus my own Savior. That year, after attending church my entire life, I wanted God to be my all. I wanted to obey Him. I wanted to give my life to Him. And I did. Jesus didn’t solve all my problems and magically take away all my pain. Yet, He did give me something to live for, a reason to go on. I didn’t fully grasp it all at that young age, but I’ve come to realize that the surrender of my life to Christ was a choice to do everything for His glory and to serve others everyday for the rest of my life.
Eighteen years ago I lost a lot…my security was gone, I added scars to my body, my grandmother died. That year impacted me probably more than any other. I am who I am because of the events that occurred that year. Pieces of me will never be the same. I’m still cautious and skeptical, cynical and pessimistic. I’m introverted and private. I’m stubborn and strong.
But, that year also did a lot of good for me. God took my heart, which I had given him. He held it in his hands. He loved it like no one else could. I can’t even imagine what my life would be like now, if I hadn’t turned to Jesus. I don’t even know if I would still be alive. I’m so thankful that He had his hands on me. That He chose me. Because when I was seven, the world wasn’t good to me. It took a young, innocent girl and broke her down, almost destroying her completely. But, my God didn’t let that happen. He gave me an opportunity to choose another way. He overcame the world for me. I chose Him. And because I chose Him, my life will never be the same.