Christina and her fiance, Josh.
I was raised by an incredible single mom here in Orange County. My father left before I was born. Sometimes I’m not sure what to call him because I never met him and all the words aren’t right… he’s not dad, father, biological father or parent. He was James Quigley… James was the flawed and selfish man who had a relationship with my mom and then fled responsibility.
Even though my mom has always loved me deeply … she has always been consistent and stable and selfless … I was still plagued by insecurity and unhealthy attachments. I would cling to my friendships and eventually to boyfriends… If they stayed, then I was okay and didn’t have to face the awful things I believed about myself. I believed the lie that I wasn’t worthy of love. I spent sooo much time and energy trying to regulate the way people responded to me. I would internalize when anyone was upset or angry because it meant they had found me out and were going to leave. Maybe you know what that panic feels like - that profound sense of urgency to avoid confrontation - that fear of being abandoned.
I craved attention from guys to feel pretty, desirable… something… it was this intoxicating rush of worth to flirt. At eighteen, I became involved in an abusive relationship. This guy would go into unpredictable fits of rage… yelling, throwing glasses, crushing cell phones, punching walls, and eventually breaking his hand in a fight… The part I couldn’t cope with, though, was the unpredictability. This went on for more than two years before the relationship totally disintegrated.
I was single for a little while after that… I felt free and empowered and in control. So much so, that I thought I could have a purely sexual relationship. I really thought I was having the time of my life… Of course, I promptly confused sex with love and desperately wanted this guy to commit to me. My heart would cling to every suggestion he made of a relationship, every act of affection. He made sooo many promises without promising anything at all. It took at least a year of this to give up hope.
Then I dove into dating. I was reckless… indulgent… self destructive… and desperately wanted to meet a nice guy. On the outside I was having fun, I was wanted, but on the inside I felt empty, a little depressed… even more alone and isolated.
It was right around this time that I met another guy at a bar. He was visiting from another country so we ended up spending a lot of time on the phone… A girl with abandonment issues starting something with a guy from another continent… That’ll work. Right? No… No… it didn’t... But this guy talked about God like He knew Him. During one conversation he prayed that God would reveal Himself to me and I surrendered in prayer. Something definitely changed inside me and I would like to say my life was transformed right away… but I spent at least that first year just getting to know Jesus… stumbling along the way… but really falling in love with Him.
I could have totally destroyed my life sooo many times out of this desperate, frantic search to be loved. But by the grace of God, He kept pursuing me with the truth. A friend invited me to study the Bible bringing me into meaningful, supportive friendships. It was in this weekly Bible study that I realized the Bible tells a complete story from beginning to end about how much God loves you and wants to be with you. It was in this group… this safe place where I could spill my guts… where the Holy Spirit revealed I had been living a life motivated by fear of rejection and abandonment. Every relationship had been affected… And He kept opening my eyes… pulling back the layers of internal dysfunction. The closer I got to Jesus, the more I understood about myself and the more I understood the issues that controlled me.
Through some crazy circumstances I found out that James, my father, died years before I started trying to find him. I mourned… not really knowing what to mourn and I felt newly abandoned. Like my father had chosen not to know me all over again… The guy who had prayed for me came out to visit a friend of his and there was nothing left between us… Then there was this nice Christian guy who took me on an amazing date and just totally disappeared. In a matter of months, rejection seemed to be converging on me. There was nothing left to do but weep and yell to God over my absent father and unmet need to be loved by a man. I remember it was on a Christmas night. I sat in my car and just let the pain pour out of me…
And the craziest thing happened… God took it. He took it all. None of it was left in me. I was purged of so much hurt, purged of anger and resentment… And without the pain, my hope wasn’t centered on finding a relationship… my goal wasn’t to find the guy who would love me or who would marry me – It was to serve Jesus. He saved me. He made me whole... like He always intended me to be. For probably the first time in my life, I didn’t need to have prospective boyfriends. The most important thing was to love Jesus back… the way He loved me.
It actually happened that I got so focused on serving Jesus that I didn’t notice the godly man playing the base in the band at church. When he first tried to get to know me… maybe… I ignored him… to pick up… trash. But I soon found out that Josh Pease is hilarious and charming and godly and we started sitting together during services. He intended to get to know me for some time, but when I gave him a cupcake for his birthday he asked me on a date. We’ll be together for two years in March.
I’ve learned so much from Josh. His knowledge and wisdom is absolutely amazing. He’s constantly teaching me how to be in a relationship that’s not based on insecurities… instead strongly founded on loving Jesus. It’s like there’s Josh and there’s me and God is at the center of everything bringing us together… growing us and changing us to be better people through our relationship. With Jesus I'm satisfied, so I don't need to look for a savior in another person anymore. I'm not searching for anything in anyone. There's no urgency or panic or desperation in my relationships.
Honestly… I think a lot of this has to do with not having sex. It’s really, really difficult at times… of course. And it takes a lot of strength not to do things the old way, but I feel sooo free and sooo healthy. Free to be with Josh for the right reasons… not for the attachment that comes with physical intimacy. I don’t feel overly vulnerable or insecure… he doesn’t have to stay for me to be okay. Even when we have conflict or disagreements, I still feel solid and secure on a deeper level.
It still hurts sometimes not to have an earthly father…but actually not that long ago, God showed me that my father was just a man… he was just a man…just a sinner like me… so I could really forgive him… And I pray to my Abba… my Daddy in Heaven. My real Dad…our real Dad… is perfect and forever.
Jesus healed me… And He continues to heal me…The closer I get to Him the more He fulfills all the deepest desires of my heart… As you may know, Josh and I are getting married this Spring… when we’ll be each other’s family… his dad will become mine too, Josh has a great dad… And someday, our kids will have a great dad. See how the healing is so much bigger than just us…
Now I live my life motivated by love and confidence… not fear. He shows me all the things that hold me back and He equips me to deal with them. Life with Jesus is a transformation from unhealthy to powerful. I’m capable of sooo much more with Him. Please, please know that Jesus has the power to heal you and bring you into a healthy, loving relationship… no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done… I know because I’m living proof.