Steve’s passing was something I never wanted to talk about before. The man that got me through Shelva’s death and introduced me to God and gave me a future, was gone. I didn’t want to talk about it. In all honesty, I was mad at God. No, I was furious. The person who showed me God’s love was taken away from me, from his family, from everyone. When he passed, I watched as person after person turned their backs on God. I lied to myself and said I wasn’t doing that. Turns out, that’s exactly what I was doing.
A year after his death, I began to think about my future. I had only gone to LCC because of him and I had stupidly befriended the wrong sort of crowd there. They were there just to find husbands, I wasn’t. I dated a guy just because I thought that that’s what I was supposed to do. Some of the girls got into a scandal and I backed out and walked away. I got some serious hate from them and school wasn’t fun anymore. I ended up leaving and I was angry at myself. I had let Steve down. That’s where he wanted me to go, right?
Time passed and I just stopped going to church altogether. I stopped reading the Bible Steve had gotten me. I put it in the basement. I stopped talking to anyone from that youth group. I just put God in the back of my mind. I felt as though He had abandoned me. He took away Steve and I felt as though I had no one to talk to about my faith, which was just about gone. I told everyone I was going to church. I never talked about anything to do with God.
Almost four years of this went on and then I met a boy. A horrible boy, but a boy nonetheless. This boy noticed me and liked me. We went on a few dates and he asked if he could kiss me, I said no. He was hurt, but he still kept his interest. I was going through a lot of stress with school since it was my final semester. The play had just ended and I was preparing for graduation. The boy asked me what we were doing and I couldn’t answer him. He was annoyed and let my house in a rage. I sat on my pool deck and cried and I got a phone call from a coworker who just wanted to talk, but I was hysterical. I told her I was so mad at myself. I wanted to let myself like this boy. I wanted to feel something for him more than just a little tug on my heart. I wanted to let him kiss me, but my mind just wouldn’t cooperate.
A week or so later, we went out after my graduation day to a bar. He had missed it because of work, but he still wanted to celebrate. I didn’t drink and neither did he. We sat at a table and sipped our water until he asked if I wanted to go. He drove us around town until we came to a park. We went and sat on a bench and he told me that he liked me and wanted to try a relationship with me… BUT! (Of course there’s a but) my views on sex were off-putting. He could never be with someone who wouldn’t just give it up. We had been on 6 dates and I still hadn’t let him kiss me. He was annoyed with me and I began to cry. I got hysterical and I couldn’t figure out why. He just sat there and told me to just get it all out. Once I was done, I begged him to take me home. I didn’t want to talk anymore, but he did. So, we did. I told him that I was confused on my feelings. I didn’t know what I was doing or who I was. Here was a boy that was everything I DIDN’T want in a guy, but there I was, at a park thinking: Maybe I should change. Maybe I’m not the type of girl any guy would want. I told him I would never have sex before marriage and he told me I was stubborn and I couldn’t reply. I just sat there, with silent tears rolling down my face. He just kept going on and on about my faults. I’m not sure how long we were there, but by the time I got home, it was 4am.
The next few days were a blur. I didn’t talk to anyone. I went to work and then came home and cried outside.
One night, I sat outside and I prayed. I begged God to fix me. I told Him that I was mad Steve was gone. How could He have taken him? I needed him! Without Steve, who was I? Where was my faith?
AHA! Breakthrough moment in my life.
My faith wasn’t with God. It was with Steve.
I cried for days upon days and didn’t talk about it with everyone. I would get quiet and I would just pray. One night at work, there was shooting pain in my breast and my best friend jokingly said, “It’s breast cancer.” Even though I knew it was a joke, I started panicking. I’d had two bumps on my breast since March. I went up to the attic and cried and said a prayer. I begged God to keep me calm and relaxed, but there was just so much pain. For the last hour or so of work, I just had silent tears. I went home and told my mom and she said she’d make me a doctor’s appointment.
Since my house has such thin walls and my mother is the lightest sleeper on the planet, I went outside to pray and cry, which I did until about 2am. I went and got my Bible from downstairs and read some of Matthew. I was scared and I needed to read His Word. I kept thinking how badly I wanted Steve to be there. He would help me. I could cry on his shoulder.
The boy suddenly was disgusted with me when I told him about my breast issue and he was pretty much out of my life. He’d pop in now and then and just say rude things and hurt me. It bothered me. Here was a boy that I wanted to give my heart to. I just decided to cut him out of my life completely. I had lived 22 years without him and I could surely live the rest of my life without him. Goodbye.
I began spending time in The Word and when I would read the comments in the margins of my Bible, I realized that there was so much about Steve. Nothing about myself. Who was Shelley? Where was she? I decided that I needed a new bible. One that wasn’t Steve’s faith, but my own. I went back to church the Sunday after my second doctor’s appointment when he said I could have cancer. I walked into the warehouse and Steve’s father gave me the biggest hug and I started crying. He took me outside and we missed the entire service because I told him everything. I told him that I had shunned God because he had taken Steve and in the process, I had lost the very essence of me. I told him that I had come to realize that my faith was in the wrong person. I had always seen Steve as the one there for me. He was only there because of God. It was God working through Steve. Bob (Steve’s father) prayed with me and we cried together. He said I was not the only one who had left the church because of Steve’s death. I told him that my faith had never left me. I was constantly thinking of God and I would pray to Him, but it wasn’t like it was before.
The weeks of going from doctor to doctor, I began reexamining my life and realizing that I loved myself so much more when I was loving Him first. I apologized and apologized to God for being an idiot and leaving Him. He is all I never needed. Through all of the pain and suffering, if I had just leaned on Him, I would’ve been fine. I felt so dumb. I had slipped away from Him and had become complacent with my life. I was okay just being ordinary.
I don’t want to be the Shelley that just works at Dairy Queen and talks about God. I want to DO something for His kingdom. I want to go out there and be a Christian through whatever I do. If someone cannot tell that I am a Christian, I’m not doing it right, which I hadn’t been for awhile. Not fully and wholeheartedly as before.
There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of Steve. I started talking about him more now, though. The happy memories. How he changed my life before he died. All I ever thought about was how God took him away. I had stopped thinking about everything before then. What Steve had done for me. How he changed me. How he showed me a love greater than anything.
I feel like a fool for taking so long. I have thought of this many times, but it wasn’t until I had someone point out my so-called “flaws” that I realized those “flaws” were what made me me. They were my beliefs and I wasn’t about to give them up for some boy. And that’s all he was, just some boy. I need to stop blaming God for taking Steve, but thanking him for giving me the 4 years of knowing him. Without Steve, I would have NO faith. Shelva’s death would’ve destroyed me. Yes, there was Steve, but I’m not mentioning who really got me through it all, which is God. Without Him, I would be nothing. I could never imagine my life without Him so why had I pushed Him away? I may not have Steve, but I will always have Jesus. He died for me. I fail Him every day, but I am so blessed by His Grace to never be failed by Him.
Last month as I was coming back to my faith and trusting Him wholeheartedly and becoming myself again, I didn’t realize I was bringing my best friend with me. She would ask me questions and I had the answers! Me! I knew what she wanted to know and I was so excited to talk about them. I was excited to talk of Jesus’s love. We went to the store and she had been looking at the bibles and I saw the one that I had just bought not that long before so I checked to see how much money I had and I bought her one. I told her my favorite word in the English language is Grace. She joked and told me to name my daughter that. I went to work and after I got off, I called her, like I usually did, and she was excited about what she was reading. I was thrilled. Because of my anger, I had missed an opportunity to witness to her. How many others have I missed the opportunity? Too many. I used to pray daily for God to give me opportunities. I miss doing that. I have so many around me, but I never give them a second thought anymore. I have not only let myself down, but I’ve failed so many.
I know this sounds crazy that I’ve had some great epiphany in about 4 months, but it’s true. I honestly feel as though God has just erased those years I was gone and we’re back to the way things were, only better. I can only pray that I never loose my way again. I never want to shut Him out and only acknowledge Him when I feel like it, which was sometimes once a month at most. I have already screwed up enough in my life. It’s time I focus on my future. Someday I want to be a wife and eventually a mother. I will NOT do any of that without Him.
I hope all who read this can forgive me. I’ve been a horrible person before this summer. Something in May just clicked and Shelley is back. I want to be a Proverbs 31 woman. I’m not sure what I’m going to do in my life, but I God WILL be at the center of it all. God first, family second, me third, and then job. That’s how priorities work. Whatever I do in my life, I will be a Godly woman first. There is no other option for me. Even when I wasn’t completely right in my faith, I still couldn’t give up my beliefs. I love Him. It’s that simple. I’m just “Simply Shelley.” (Steve would call me this since there was a Rochelle that went by Shelly. We came up with nicknames and she called herself Nice Shelley and he asked me what I wanted to be called and I didn’t have an answer. I just shrugged and said, “just Shelley.” He tweaked it and called me Simply Shelley from then on.) Cause that’s all I am: Simply Shelley. And boy, isn’t she something? ;)