Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
I grew up in a military family. My father was in the Air Force, and we travelled around a bit when I was young. We ended up moving to Arizona when I was eight years old. I have an older sister and brother whom I have always looked up to, but they were a lot older than me. My sister got married to a military man when I was eight and moved out of state. My brother graduated and went off to college shortly thereafter.
In the summertime, I would visit my grandparents in California. My grandfather was a Baptist preacher. My grandparents taught me verses, and taught me about Jesus. At home, my parents were believers, but did not attend church regularly. I was not involved in youth ministry and didn’t have friends that went to church, but when I spent time with my grandparents, I would go to church with them. Because of the time I spent with them, I had an understanding that God existed and that Jesus was His Son, but I did not have a relationship with the Lord.
I considered myself to be a good kid. I did well in school. I was involved in sports throughout elementary school and junior high. Like all kids I had big dreams for my future. I wanted to be a pilot in the Navy. However, the summer before I entered high school, my world began to change. My father and mother separated, and my father moved out. My mother took on two jobs to help support us. I was thirteen at the time. When school started, I began to realize that high school was quite different from junior high. I was having trouble fitting in with other kids at school and began to feel alone. So, I started to hang around people who were much older than I was and began drinking, smoking, and experimenting with drugs. At thirteen years old, drugs became a part of my everyday life, and I became heavily addicted to meth. Not long after, I began several inappropriate relationships. I was on a path of complete self-destruction.
Shortly before I turned seventeen, I was at a party with some friends. I ended up overdosing on meth that night. That night I lay on the floor unable to move. I could see and hear everything going on around me but could not talk or move. I remember crying out in my head to God to let me live. I woke up the next morning and never touched another drug again. Looking back, I believe He allowed me to have that experience because about a month later I because pregnant with my daughter, Megan.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was a senior in high school and had been “dating” my boyfriend, Bryan, on and off since the summer before our sophomore year. At first we thought we would get married, but as time passed he started to see someone else. At the time, I was five months pregnant. We did not speak again until I had our daughter.
During my pregnancy, my mother became my biggest supporter. My father had moved back into the house, and the two of them began rebuilding their marriage. I continued to live at home and finished school while working a full-time job. Being a teenaged, single mom was hard. Once Megan was born, my mother helped with babysitting while I worked and attended college. During this time, Bryan would come over and see Megan. We developed a schedule, and Megan would see Bryan and his family regularly.
Even though Megan had a dad, I felt she needed to have a full-time father figure in her life and I felt I needed a husband, so I began to date. I started dating a man in the military and moved in with him about a month or two later. At first, I thought everything was great. We had our own place. We acted as if we were a family. I always thought that we would get married, but things were never quite right. I was looking for this man to fill a deep void in my heart. I started to realize that I was willing to compromise myself because I didn’t feel worthy of being loved in the right way. I needed to figure out things for myself, so I moved out on my own and ended the relationship.
Things were tight, working to pay my rent and bills. I was blessed to have a great job that would cover my expenses. I began to realize that we would be alright on our own. Bryan and I started to get together and do things with Megan. We became friends again and eventually started dating. When Megan was almost four, we married. Just a few months after we married, I became pregnant with our second child, Samantha, and then just months after I delivered her, I became pregnant with our third daughter, Victoria. When I was still pregnant with Victoria, we decided that I should quit my job and stay home with the children.
Bryan began working for a new company, and they moved our family to Tucson. While we were there I began to be depressed. I felt like because of all the things that I had done in my past, I could never be a good wife or mother. I felt like trash, unable to be loved. Megan was in kindergarten, and Sam and Victoria were still in diapers.
At one point during this tough season, I watched a show on TV, and a woman was speaking about people who believe that their sins are too great for God to forgive them. I realized at that moment that she was talking about me. I started to think about what my grandparents had taught me about Jesus. I needed to ask forgiveness, and I did right then. This began my spiritual journey.
Since I was a young girl, I was always looking to other people to validate who I was. I did everything I could to please people, and I was incapable of using the word “no”. As I began to read the Word, the Lord began to reveal my true identity and started to change me from the inside out.
In 2005, I became pregnant with our fourth child, Chelsea. Bryan took on a new position with his company. It was a very stressful time for him, and our marriage began to deteriorate. He worked long hours and came home very late every night. He reunited with a friend from his past who introduced him back into a life of addiction. It wasn’t long before he decided that he did not want to be married any longer. I was in complete shock. At six months pregnant and as a stay-at-home mom, I did not know what to do.
I decided my best shot was to move to Texas and stay with my in-laws. Through this experience the Lord began to grow my faith. I didn’t understand why this was happening to our family, and I had thought that this would never happen to us. Even though I didn’t understand, I decided to trust Him. I started looking for a job, and He provided a work environment with people who were very encouraging to me. My mother-in-law watched the kids for me so I could work, and I learned how to support the kids and myself again. I came to understand that no matter what happens in my life, the Lord will always provide. The Lord began to teach me about true love and the meaning of forgiveness, not only for what I had done, but for what others had done to me.
It was a long road, and throughout it all, Bryan would talk to me about things he was going through and I would try to talk to him about the Lord. It took a long time, but Bryan did come home. We worked through what happened, and I forgave him. The Lord brought other couples into our lives to walk beside us, to hold us accountable in putting Him first in our relationship. Because we have put Him first, He has made our marriage stronger and also made our relationship with Him stronger.
I absolutely know that no matter what happens in my life, whether Bryan is taken out of my life or not, the Lord will always be there. He was a constant in my life when I lived and worked as a single mom, and I know that His grace will sustain me through anything that comes my way.
LOVE, Kellie Larkin