My story is probably the same as millions of others in a lot of ways, but I would like to share it nevertheless. I’m not aiming to promote anything religious or to preach, it’s just what happened to me and what has changed my life – others will have extremely different experiences, these are mine!
I’m the third eldest of a family of six children. The only wish my Dad had was to have a daughter; my two elder brothers were both called Patricia before they were born!
I remember from about the age of seven I didn’t want to be me. I hated my name and I wanted to be a boy! I loved to play with my brothers and do all the things that boys did. But my Dad wanted me to be girly and I wanted to please him.
I had a best friend called Wendy. I heard my mum saying once that everyone thought Wendy was pretty and I was plain. Plain to me meant that people didn’t like me. I began to think that I wasn’t worth much; I was just “plain old Patricia”. How could I make people like me? I thought if I became like Wendy then people would like me. So I started copying everything about her; I didn’t realise I was doing it. It’s only as I’ve looked back over my life that I see it.
Apart from the fact my dad wanted me to be a typical girl he also felt that education was very important and that success in life depended on it, probably because he was brought up to believe that, and so I always wanted to do well at school because it made Dad happy – and I did enjoy school. I knew when I did well I was, as it appeared to me then, loved more. I tried to be everything my Dad wanted me to be. When it was my birthday or Christmas Dad would buy me an encyclopaedia or the latest dictionary. I really wanted the latest “Famous Five” adventure books, but I would never let on. I let Dad think I was always pleased with the book he bought me.
I was never allowed to give my opinion and I was never asked for it – “children should be seen and not heard” –if I did ever venture to say anything I was usually laughed at or told to be quiet. So I grew up deciding to just be quiet; I became painfully shy. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t blame my parents for anything. They brought me up in the best way they knew how, and they felt it was right.
At the age of eleven I went to senior school, an awful experience for me. It wasn’t easy making friends and my friend Wendy had moved away and gone to a different school. I felt different to the other girls and self-conscious. I had no self-confidence and I became more shy.
By the time I was fourteen I really didn’t like school; not the learning side of it, but the social aspect. All the other kids had groups of friends and I didn’t seem to fit in. On top of that I was a bit overweight, I was short in height and I was called “Little Fat Pat” and “Little Tank”. It was a painful time. I also had a very bad experience with one of my teachers.
During an English lesson we were asked to prepare a talk to present to the whole class. I was terrified but knew I had to do it. In fear and trembling I sat in front of everyone and gave my talk, it was awful! I wanted to disappear! The teacher’s reaction was even worse and impacted my life in a very negative way. He sat directly opposite me and said, “That was the most boring thing I have ever heard.” I felt devastated! Everything I thought about myself was true….worthless, boring, useless! After that I did everything possible NOT to go to school and I just “went into my shell.”
When I left school I attended college for a couple of years and met a guy there who I eventually became engaged to. It was a big mistake and the only reason I did it was because he said he loved me. It was security for me. The relationship was far from a good one, but I stayed in it for almost three years. One day I just decided it was time to end it. I don’t know why I suddenly felt that, but once it was over I felt a burden had gone from my life. Of course I now see that God was working in me.
About a week after this all happened I saw a photo of someone in the local newspaper. It was a boy, (Dave), I had briefly dated when I was sixteen. He used to deliver our bread! He was now in the navy and so the local news had picked up on this and run a story about him. I decided to write to him; I wrote to his Mother and asked her to forward the letter for me. Shortly after that we were re-acquainted and he invited me to church. I was happy to go along as I “knew about church”. However this was different to anything I had ever known. I had never heard that Jesus loved me or that He died for me; never heard about this thing called being “born again”, Dave tried to explain it all to me but I didn’t understand. I read the gospel of John chapter 3 every night for six weeks until one Sunday night at church I raised my hand and surrendered my life to God. A year later Dave & I were married!
I would like to say; “I lived happily ever after – The End”, but it didn’t work like that, life doesn’t does it? Yes I changed a lot in many ways, but I still didn’t feel good about me. I felt worthless, insignificant, and unimportant – even though I knew God loved me. I was so afraid of people; afraid they would look at me or speak to me!
So how did I get to where I am today? Oh I tried to be like other women. I’ll dress like her, laugh like her, pray like her (but not in public!), and even have my house like her! Of course it didn’t solve a thing; I was looking in all the wrong places. I needed to realise that God made me to be me! You can’t be someone else or live someone else’s life.
The change in me wasn’t a planned thing and I can’t pinpoint an exact time when it started. I was always asking God to help me. I’d pray and expect God to do this wonderful, magical thing for me, however it’s been a gradual change over many years. I started making friends and mixing with people more, I couldn’t really avoid it being in church! My self-esteem and self-confidence were virtually non-existent, but the deeper the friendships became the more the real me came out. Bible teaching and personal time with God helped me to see who I am. It’s taken years; I’ve had to completely change my thinking about myself; to have my mind renewed…the bible talks about this in Romans 12:2.
I’ve come to realise that God has made me His way. He gave me this body (although I’ve added a few pounds of my own); he decided my height, my eye and hair colour, my voice, the way I laugh. Psalm 139 is one of my favourite pieces of scripture, “For you created my inmost being………etc.” I’m now happy being me – I don’t want to be anyone else. I’m not afraid to speak to people now, although I’m still a little quiet until I get to know you. I love myself now and it’s ok to say that! Recently I went to a ladies’ conference and one phrase spoken there brought about another change in how I see myself. The speaker said, “You are the daughter of an awesome King”. WOW! It was one of those “God moments”, when He switched on another light. I AM the daughter of an awesome King!! I used to live a “Cinderella” type existence. I was “rags” inside. I used to think I was nothing and nobody – but to God I am somebody! He has an important role for me. I’m unique – there’s nobody else like me and I’m rich in Him!