By: Tina Cook

It is strange - the things I remember. Moments burned into my heart forever, while others have faded with time. Ingrained in me was a belief that I was different from other people. As a young girl, I saw no path before me. I simply took a step, then another and another and another. I was always moving…rushing toward someplace, but I did not know where, until one day, I turned around and looked back. I saw that each step I had taken was a choice -- to go left, to go right, to go forward or at times backward, and sometimes not to even go at all.

Those steps led me a great distance from anywhere I would have ever imagined for myself! All those choices had me so far away from the rural farm where I was raised, that 30 years passed before I circled back to the heart of where I began. What I have discovered is that until I faced THAT girl in the light of who I had become, there was no real hope to escape the web that had me bound. The Light had many hard but truthful tales to tell me; things the enemy had hidden from me or perhaps simply gussied up to deceive me. But underneath it all, were many treasures…my hopes and dreams of long ago yearning for life. Untangling myself from those grave clothes was no easy task! To be frank, had I known how hard it would be and just how tightly they were wound, I probably never would have even tried. Oh, but God…! God had such compassion and desire for a relationship with me that He revealed things to me slowly and gently. Over a year had passed before I began to realize what a long journey was still ahead of me. By then, I would not dare give up or give in because I had too much equity (aka: hard work) built up in my life. I had traveled too far out of the wilderness to turn back! So, I trudged forward to the unknown through many tears and much frustration.

My eyes were really opening to some big truths! It was difficult to swallow that when the enemy could not defeat me, he had become satisfied to distract me. He had done that subtly until I was caught in his trap. After that, it was easy for him to bind me even further through discouragement. But just knowing these facts was not enough. Next, I had to figure out how to move past them. This is where the rubber hits the road, so to speak. This is also where it always seems simpler to quit. Just study Exodus. You will discover that the Israelites’ journey out of Egypt into the Promised Land took 40 years when it should have taken only DAYS. It seems clear to me that getting people, places, and things to let go of US just might be easier than getting us to let go of THEM! But, like the Israelites, after many years of wandering, I was ready to let go…to become…to BE who and what I was created to be! I clung to many scriptures, quotes, songs, and positive affirmations. Perhaps key among them was embracing that I was a new creation: the new had come…the old was gone! (2 Corinthians 5:17) Another gem given to me by my special mentor, Turney McDowell, was “Time takes time,” which I hated hearing because I wanted things to change fast and NOW. But they were happening right on time at a pace I could handle, so they could become a strong foundation that would sustain me.

Today, I still do not always see a clear path before me. But I do know the someplace I am headed toward. I truly believe with all my heart that only the details of my life are different than other people. Every day, each of us has a choice between right and wrong…between love and hate…between life and death. The sum of those choices becomes your life.

The day I realized THAT is the day I became a woman.
By: Tina Cook
Director, Athens-Limestone County Family Resource Center

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