A Testimony of Hope: Lane
This past month, a vibrant young women named Lane shared her story at the youth centre where we both volunteer. Telling her story was not easy. And when you are speaking to a room full of teenagers whose initial motivation for attending is free food and video games, it becomes that much more challenging. But Lane knew her story was important and persevered to share it, despite frequent admissions of ongoing anxiety.
Lane narrated her childhood like highlights of a story book. Her early summers were filled with backyard air guitar, wet-toilet paper fights and a curfews marked by the first glow of streetlights. She spent those days with her two older brothers and recounted parents who were present and involved. Just like a fairytale. However, a move to a new community changed this Hallmark image. Sometimes fairytales leave out the convoluted path through the dark forest. And the new town was like that dark forest for her.
At the age of eight, Lane dealt with her first set of school yard bullies who made verbal attacks on her weight and intelligence. Her older brothers also met a new crowd who brought with them alcohol and drugs. Her parents became less available, both working the night shifts. And when they were home, they were travelling their own dark paths through addiction and aggression. The stress was too much for one family. When her eldest brother was taken away to a youth detention program, she reached out for help with a neighbor. But her efforts backfired. Her mother threatened her to keep silent on all matters related to her family. And so she did. Through the bullying, the isolation, and her own struggles with mental health.
When Lane started middle school, she desperately needed someone to listen. She found imperfect friendships online and manipulative friendships at school. They offered connections but not solace. By grade eight, Lane had developed an eating disorder and began cutting to cope with the growing burden of her secrets. When a friend committed suicide in grade 10, she hit her breaking point. She did not want to be next.
Despite the less than perfect nature of her friendships, they each had an important part in her journey. Her online friend became her push to talk with someone face to face. Her school friend brought her to a youth group at church. And with both these connections, she bravely reached out the youth pastor, Tom. The first time Tom and her met, not a word was shared - only nervous laughter. But they kept meeting and as her life was revealed, Tom encouraged her to seek further help. She started counselling and that led to a formal diagnosis of an anxiety disorder. She received regular support through this organization and began healing. She attended church on her own will, and God became more than a story from her kid’s bible. The church became her safe place, her haven, her refuge.
Looking back on her life, there were so many moments that she can now say, “That was God.” But during her days along the dark convoluted path, it was never that clear. Now that she is living on her own, her relationship with her mother is healing. She has learned to love herself again, completely. She has forgiven and pruned away the fear and unfruitful habits of her past and is now able to serve others. The youth center, where she first attended as a lost middle school student, is now where she serves with her whole heart and soul. She has finished college and has huge plans. Her dream for the future: to open a youth home for teenagers who feel lost on their own dark path. And if there is a person to do it , it will be Lane.
Lane ended her story with honesty. “I’m going to continue to have bad days, but it’s so much better than it used to be. My story has made me who I am today.” And because she was vulnerable and shared a piece of her life, a chain of healing began that very night for another youth. Another girl, with a story much like her own. Lane now has an eternal hope through God and spills over with a contagious joy that inspires others daily.
What's your story of hope? How has it changed your life and the lives of those around you?