This week I wanted to do something a little different and share with you all my crazy, messy life story. This story is the hardest story I have ever told and maybe its because this story is what proves how imperfect me and my family really are. Or maybe it’s because this is the story that some of my actions helped write.
Although I am a B I G fan of celebrating the good times and focusing on the positives, i’m learning to rejoice in the hard times too because my God is faithful always and even on the hard days, He never stops loving me.
So it all started on March 6, 1998 when I, Claire Idelle Zaleski, was brought into a lovingly family. With two parents that loved me and two brothers that drove me crazy I could not have been more blessed.
You could say my parents relationship was almost like the ones you see on movies, marrying your high-school sweetheart. The photo on the left shows them at their senior prom and the right at the wedding. Ya, their relationship wasn’t perfect and they would have their fights but they made it work.
My mother would wake all three of us kids up every Sunday morning and get us ready to go to church; however, my father only seemed to join on the special occasions (aka holidays).
I knew how much church meant to my mom and disappointing her was the last thing I ever wanted to do. Naturally I got involved in youth groups and went every Sunday even when I was almost too tired to function because I had friends there now and it made my mom happy.
Life was good, life made sense.
Until my 6th grade year hit (2011) and everything seemed to have started falling apart… slowly, then all at once.
My dad was diagnosed with a mental illness called psycho-schizophrenia and he started doing all these crazy things that normal healthy people don’t do. He stopped taking the medicine that helped him because he didn’t think he needed it. Looking back i’ll never forget how scared my mom was but also how much she work to protect us, her children.
That year, at 11 years old my mom sat me down and told us that her and my father were getting a divorce. I had a million and one questions but I could never find the words to ask them for a really long time. Instead, I learned to push my real feelings aside… for a time at least.
I was so lost, confused and honestly just became angry. Growing up in a church I understood at a young age that humans have a right to free-will and God doesn’t force anyone to choose Him or follow the teachings of the Bible; therefore, it wasn’t God that I was angry at. It was the one person who had the choice to make, the freewill, my mother.
Ira Byock says, “Anger is a way of holding sadness at bay.”
I had really great friends at school growing up but not even they knew or could understand what I was going through. I didn’t talk about it or tell anyone because I didn’t want them to judge me or know I was broken and hurting.
So, I held it all in and started dating the star of the basketball team. He made me feel good, loved. He made me forget and push aside my real issues with my family, my anger. I loved him and he loved me.
I loved the Lord and still went to church. I had my values but my boyfriends didn’t exactly line up with everything I believed in. Boundaries would be crossed and I knew deep down God wanted my to walk away but… I loved him.
We were that on and off couple throughout high-school (“yuck… one of those” you’re all thinking, i’m sure lol) but once it got to our senior year I couldn’t do it anymore. I wanted and tried to get fulfillment out of him and i’ll admit, I did for a little while. But then I was always left feeling more broken and empty than the time before.
Just because you know you’re doing something because it is for the best, doesn’t make it easy.
On October 25, 2015, I decided to make the public announcement that I am have surrender my life and I am here to serve the Lord . It wasn’t until late December that I completely ended the relationship I once held so close to my heart and felt like I officially hit rock bottom.
I cried a lot and hurt a lot but God was with me every step of the way and I’m so blessed he gave me my mother who supported me through it all.
Without my boyfriend I thought I would feel so alone and insecure but that’s not what I felt at all. God brought over me this overwhelming peace that I cannot even describe. Even though my heart was physically hurting so bad at the time I still felt so blessed and finally spiritually whole, joyful and happy.
I wanted less of this world and more of God because He always left me feeling satisfied, unlike anything else in this world. With the Lord, I finally experience what true love felt like.
Isiah 58:11 “And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
During this time of singleness I really started digging into what it meant to be a strong woman of faith and I have used my mother as a major role-model. I started something called a “war room” in my closet and just used the space to eliminate the distractions from my phone or anything else and just spend quality time with God. (I got this idea from a movie called War Room and if you haven’t seen it yet then I definitely encourage you to make it an activity for this weekend!)
I would spend hours in my ‘War Room’ just reading, praying and talking to God about my feelings or anything under the sun really. I also started something called a ‘Prayer Journal’ during this time; which, is basically just me writing down my prayers. (If you’re an easily distracted person and always have a hundred things on your mind *like me* then you’d also benefit from this exercises too!)
Not only did I find this to be a great exercise to stay focused but it’s also been fun to look back at the last few years and see how God has answered my prayers and been moving in my life.
Now, in 3 weeks I will be starting my Jr year of college and can honestly say that I am officially at peace with everything that has happened in my life. It took awhile to get here and it is still difficult to tell people that I come from a split family or that my dad has a mental disorder. However, I am realizing more and more that people connect better, more intimately through their brokenness and that nobody’s family is perfect, even those that have parents still together.
One late night my mother and I discussed what all went down that year of 2011 and just gave me insight and shared her heart with the entire situation. Which I think helped us both to have peace about it all.
One fun little prayer story that I love to tell is the story of how my current boyfriend, Caleb and I came about. Someone that started as just a good high school friend and that I prayed for consistently in my journal for over a year I am able to call my boyfriend for almost a year and a half now. But i’ll save that story for a different day since this post is already pretty long.
Now I want to leave you with this,
Whatever you have been through and whether you think your story and testimony is “good” or not I want to tell you that it is. Sharing you testimony is simply telling what God has done in your life according to His Word at a specific point in time. It is giving thanksgiving, praise, and glory to God for what God has done and it is so important.
Luke 8:39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.”
I don’t know how or what God has done in your life and for you but I do know He wants you to share it. If you need to this weekend, sit down and write out a brief script of your testimony, something you’re always ready to share to whomever is willing to listen.
It doesn’t have to be this life long journey like mine was today, it can be short and sweet just make sure it has purpose. Point your listeners back to God and speak how he moved.
God is good all the time and all the time God is good.
God bless, y’all