About Grace Desired
My name is Beth Hairston. I have been blessed in many ways; but, especially with my three children: Erica, John, and Jessica (Jess). They are all three very unique with many God-given qualities and talents. They have taught me so much about life, and how very thankful I am for the opportunity to be called, “Mom”. I am truly thankful for my family and love them very much! My passion is teaching, writing, traveling, and making meaningful relationships; but, most importantly, I desire a deepened relationship with my Savior.
I am a broken person, who has chased after many idols, even of my own making. I tend to acknowledge my regrets more than my rewards. The following is just a little bit about me to help others understand where I have come from and the path I have chosen.
I was sexually abused as a child by my step father for many long years. Growing up I learned to suppress the feelings, of being dirty and bad, deep inside of me. I had no idea that they would one day “resurface” with a vengeance. The pressure I began to feel deep within me was like a beach ball being submerged under the water. Then, before I knew it, the beach ball began to explode up to the surface.
As a child I learned how to cope with my fears, shame, and guilt by being a “good girl” so that there were no excuses to deserve what I received from my step father. I participated in sports and had plenty of church activities to keep me busy. I did what I was told to do by my parents and teachers for the most part. I also tried to anticipate what I thought might be expected of me to do, as to alleviate any future problems.
These were pretty good coping skills for a child; but, as an adult, it began to create a lot of problems for me, as well as others. There are times I try to please others too much (which can backfire). There are times that I “blow up” with anger, or am petrified with fear. At times I become very co-dependent and rely on hiding behind others in order to “feel” safe. There are times I lack confidence and become very inconsistent with my emotions. Sometimes I despise myself and begin to spiral into despair.
There is definitely room for improvement in my relational and communicating skills. Some people see me as a fun, outgoing person; yet, others see me as a desperate person wanting approval and love–being too needy. I have been told I can be a chameleon. I could change if I thought I needed to be something different to please another.
Over the years, I have been blessed by teaching at a public school. I teach children with learning disabilities, and I love it! An advantage of being a teacher is that we have summers off. I have worked at a summer camp for many years; in fact, this summer will mark my 30th summer at the camp.
It was during the summer a couple of years ago that a long time friend, David Bennett, asked if he could be totally honest with me about something he had observed over the last few years. I said yes. He proceeded to tell me that each summer that I had returned to camp he thought it looked as if I were dying.
Wow! I had felt like I was dying inside; but, I did not know that I was looking like death as well.
Soon after my “wake up call”, I began wandering around. I felt lost. I was lost. What path was I supposed to take? Now that there was confirmation that I looked the way I felt. I felt as if I should do something; but, what?
My husband, Sam Hairston, had researched and found a church that taught reformed doctrine. We had been attending Redeemer Presbyterian Church for over a year. I have never been one to stand out at church. I have pretty much been a back row worshiper. I obviously lacked passion for His truth–because there was definitely a lack of knowledge.
As time went on, and due to the good leadership at the church, I began to understand more of the Bible–the truth of His Word. The senior pastor, Tom Gibbs, has a vision and a passion for furthering His kingdom by being compassionate toward His people. The church has a vision and passion as well. Together, the community of the whole church has a passion for wanting to further His kingdom within our city and beyond. For the first time since I was in high school I had begun to love a church.
At church it was spoken that the broken (being me) could be energized by the “grace of God“. Week after week, I began to hear that Jesus was for the brokenhearted. Tom preached, and I heard that Jesus could be my champion, and that I could be made new like the “Oaks of Righteousness“. I also heard that God took delight in me. I thought, who me? A broken and scarred sinner who is full of shame, guilt, fear, and contempt. How can that possibly be? I was a skeptic!
At the time, Pastor Tom Gibbs, and his wife Tara, believed something else. They had noticed the back row worshiper and her family. I was told that they had prayed for us prior to their time spent with me. I suppose they wanted us to become the front row family.
Anyway, they began to play an integral part in my life. They dedicated much of their time trying to help me see that His grace and love is the reality of my faith & hope; thus, I would learn that I have really received His grace for my past secrets. They helped me to begin to understand that my shame, guilt, fear, along with my contempt were unnecessary–because Christ took all of that away when He was nailed to the cross. The path was becoming more clear. I was to begin my journey learning that God desired me for who I was…even if I was broken.
FYI, my husband Sam has a good analogy for our brokenness. We are “broken” like the misfit toys; but, Santa was able to use these misfits to bring joy to others. God can also use our brokenness to bring joy by furthering his Kingdom–even to others through us.
During the time spent with the Gibbs’ couple, they suggested I read a book and complete a workbook. I began this part of my journey in November of 2009. The author they recommended was Dan Allender and his book was “The Wounded Heart“. The pastor began giving me other homework along with the workbook; for instance, locating verses where I found that God delighted in me & loved me…and of course much more reading.
I began to realize that God was actually “wining and dining” me. God longed for my attention. I began to feel God’s love, and it was the kind of love that I subconsciously craved for years and did not know it. Many, many months went by, and little did we know that a volcanic eruption (in epic proportion) would follow after the completion of the workbook.
BTW, I stalled the completion of the workbook for about six months. It was very painful to recall the memories I had suppressed. I began to have nightmares. I had no idea of the emotions that were surfacing to the top (like the beach ball). These were emotions that I had harbored within my very soul for years.
My “season” of confusion, self-hatred, and fear became too complex… even to the point of a deep despair. I began to become so frustrated that I cut myself a couple of different times. Of course I never really wanted to die; but, that I just wanted to get the horrible shame, guilt, and fear out of my body. At one point, I even resorted to cutting “Father love me” on my arm. I was desperate for that prayer to come true. I was crying out for help!
My “season” of emotions turned into “seasons” gone bad; kind of like a really bad reality TV show.
I believe God puts people into our lives for a reason. I definitely believe God brought the Gibbs’ into my life for a reason.
As mentioned before, my husband Sam, did lots of research to find Redeemer…he also researched and was able to find one of best counselors in the state. The great part was that he, the counselor, practiced right here in the city that I live in.
The amazing counselor Sam found for me was Clifton Fuller. After my initial visit he told me that I was going through what they call PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). He told me I was experiencing great pain and suffering that I had endured from the battle fought during my childhood abuse. Clifton told me that my battle scars were quite different from those who fought in wars with guns; but, both cause fear and trauma.
Clifton definitely has his work cut out, along with my family, for having to put up with my nightmares–some of which I create on my own. Nevertheless, Clifton and my family have not given up on me. Clifton has helped me so much with my past, and now my present. He has begun to work with me to mentally “put on the full armor of God” so that I will feel protected from whatever obstacles that may be thrown in my path. This armor also allows me to stand on my own with God’s protection, rather than always wanting to hide behind another.
All this being said, with continued help of my counselor, church community, and my family–my “season” is finally changing from a cold, dark winter into a beautiful, blossoming spring. I have only begun to tap into the real truth about my Savior. I am finally beginning to understand that my weaknesses are found sufficient through His grace–which gives me strength to move forward.
My desire is to become more thankful for what I have received, instead of being upset about what I think I should have gained. I also desire to know that I am protected and secured by His grace. To become healed of my past, and present, shame, guilt, and fear. To know that His grace will give me hope! Through faith I will be assured that His promise of mercy and forgiveness are very real, even if I cannot see it. I want to have a deep passion for His truth.
Why choose grace? Because, I know that God has plans for me. I am not who I was. I have been made new. Grace was desired, and now grace I have received!