My Story | Shreds of Hope

My first year working at Wolf Mountain Christian camp was interesting, to say the least. I had never enjoyed children all that much, so working as primary child care provider for the staff kidsinfants was totally new and overwhelming. I didn’t have any real experience with little humans. It scared me! What if something bad happened on my watch?

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Strained health and tight finances prevented me from attending college, working a job, and participating in theater. While the child care job provided flexibility, stability, and time to rest, it didn’t come without its share of responsibilities and struggles.

I started out with one infant girl and soon realized how solitary the job could be. She didn’t talk, but of course she cried! Despite it, I began to love her with a depth I didn’t know possible. She taught me patience and gentleness in a way that only a young child can unknowingly teach.

During those first few months away from home, I began a long-distance relationship with my best guy friend. Though hesitant in the beginning, it seemed like the right next step. After all, we were good friends and talked all the time.

Throughout those initial six months, I took on two more infants, leading to a total of three baby girls by springtime. However, the incredible discovery didn’t occur until February. As I held the first child I cared for and looked at the wet snow fall from the sky, I realized I actually loved this job. That day in 2013 changed everything for me. A heart for kids blossomed.

As this passion deepened a slow healing commenced. My chronic pain remained intense and the valley thick and unyielding, but every day that I went to work, three little girls needed me. It didn’t matter how I felt or the amount of pain I experienced, they still needed me to help them. I loved being needed despite my physical weakness. They began to heal those cracks in my heart, making the valley just a little easier to endure. God gave me a gift when He exchanged my big theatrical dreams for little hands and feet.

While my love for these children grew, my desire to continue dating my boyfriend waned. He had done nothing wrong and always treated me with respect, but I began to doubt our relationship for various reasons.

By the end of May, I called my Dad and asked him for advice. I couldn’t separate my emotions from the situation and I really needed to because I wanted to make the right choice. After all, this guy had always been a caring friend! How could I feel this way? Dad gave me expert advice, and after two weeks, I knew what I needed to do.

I broke up with my boyfriend at the beginning of the busy summer season, and I saw firsthand how deeply I hurt him. Everyone had their own opinion, as everyone always does, and it was hard to be looked down upon, misunderstood, and disliked. While it grieved me to see him in pain, I knew I had made the right decision.

That same summer, I began to open up to others about my chronic pain. Before this, people knew I struggled, but I didn’t freely discuss it. I held in the discouragement, the experiences, and the tears. But in the summer of 2013, I wrote my first blog post, This is Vulnerable. Telling of my story opened doors in my heart that I never knew were shut.

As July came to a close, a young man named Ben, messaged me on Facebook and explained that he liked a blog post I had recently written. He had been reading my blog, even sharing some of my posts with his family. Though we had unofficially met plenty of times since he interned at the church I attended, he only began to know me through my blog. The pastor encouraged Ben to pursue me, and that Facebook message represented his first step.

Understandably, I was not actively looking for a relationship as I had just broken up. Ben respected that and never forced himself on me. Eventually, he asked if he could send me snail mail (real letters that travel in the mail!) to get to know me. I responded affirmatively.

Fall turned into a season of promise, both for my heart and my chronic pain story.

I was ready to share.

And so I did.

Still sharing,

Sierra Straightforward

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