Over the last couple of years, I have been working on a book entitled Finally Home. It is an attempt to describe the ministry my family is a part of called One7. To be honest, I don’t know when I’ll ever finish this story. I’m not even sure one book is enough for everything we’ve experienced over these past three years. Our main website is under construction at the moment, but you can find out more at the One7 Blog.
Finally Home (Chapter One) Copyright 2013 Chris Martin
She wanted to die.
Warm candlelight glinted from the razor-sharp blade pressed against her wrist. She possessed no reason to live. Loneliness and despair draped the girl with darkness no ordinary light could penetrate. Hope remained an illusion, a shimmering mirage across the wasteland of her defeated heart. It appeared for an instant, hovering within reach, but slipped through her fingers uncaptured.
Deep within the hidden chambers of a desperate soul, the awakened voice cried out. Invisible to the human eye, a spark flared, and then brightened.
A tear drop dangled from one eyelash, slowly traced the softness of her cheek, and fell into her open palm. More followed. Each one carried with it a glimpse of the life she never asked for. Paralyzing clutches of low self-esteem. Unyielding peer pressure at school. Parents incapable of demonstrating love.
The knife flirted with her skin as it tickled the surface. With a growing sense of urgency, the voice gained strength and momentum.
Tuyen suffered through more adversity during her fifteen years than most would face in a lifetime. Religious persecution in Vietnam forced her family to escape for the promise of freedom in America. They fled without looking back, nearly losing everything. She prayed the worst parts of her life would fade into distant memories.
The voice fought through one layer after another of her subconscious, ripping through the tangled mesh of past insecurities and failures.
While her friends sought after material things in life, Tuyen simply craved unconditional love. She longed for assurance that past mistakes would never compromise her worth. Boyfriends drifted through her world, leaving her delicate heart bruised and wilted like a trampled flower. Desire for unreachable happiness burned inside with desperate fervor.
A cruel, unimaginable life mocked her very existence. Breaking down resolve, it pierced the center of her being with barbed talons. Silent emptiness replaced the tender, innocent heart of a child with hardened resistance.
Fate’s most painful reminder proved to be her own reflection in the mirror. As time passed, Tuyen recognized the stranger staring back even less. Makeup failed to transform her features into a desirable appearance that demanded attention. Well aware of her limited beauty, Tuyen feared she would never fit in. Pretty girls walked the halls of her school every day, but none of them offered friendship. Their glances declared feelings that rendered words useless. She was unpopular. An outcast. Alien.
Tuyen cursed herself for not doing more to gain their approval. Changing her style and hanging out with the wrong boys had done nothing but attract more pain to her life. She often asked God why He didn’t make her more popular. Why didn’t He give her more talents, something to make her stand out from the normal crowd? Like impending storm clouds on the horizon, the unanswered questions continued to build.
Tuyen applied pressure and a small dot of crimson appeared. No longer merely a whisper, the voice sliced through the resistance, casting aside all thoughts of rejection and doubt.
She stopped and glanced around the darkened room as if awakened from a deep slumber. She frowned, having no memory of lighting the candle sitting on the bedside table. Across the walls of her room, ghostly shapes danced in rhythm with the hypnotic flame. The knife in her hand appeared like a viper that slithered onto her wrist unnoticed.
Tuyen shuddered. The cold, serrated edge chilled her to the core. Pulled by invisible strings, every hair on the back of her neck stood at attention. She balanced on the brink of uncertainty where the reality of life collided with the grandeur of fantasy.
Sweat beaded her brow. Shock tingled through her veins. Her pulse quickened. The possibility of merely existing in a dream entered her mind, but Tuyen dismissed the thought. The hardened steel kissing her skin anchored all perception to the realm of the living.
Unseen tears stung both eyes and she blinked them away. Panic fluttered inside her chest, but she refused to surrender. Tuyen wiped a clammy palm across her blue jeans and took deep breaths. She looked at her arm.
A small drop of blood revealed the evidence of her attempt. Invisible to her parents and friends, well hidden scars covered her legs from past moments of weakness. Defenses like a ready smile and forced laughter veiled the pain burning under the surface.
No one possessed the key that unlocked the inner chamber door. Certain the end result would only bring more pain, Tuyen built walls to keep everyone away. She didn’t want the pain. She couldn’t handle it.
Trembling, Tuyen placed the knife on a dust-covered Bible that lay unopened by her bed. A birthday present from someone at church, the book remained untouched. With so much homework and everything else life forced upon her, she had no free time. The weak explanation for not reading reminded her of the very people she almost left behind in the first place. The ones hurting her most created excuses for their actions.
On the rare occasion her father apologized for slapping her, he would argue that blind anger clouded his judgment. When Mom missed a parent-teacher meeting or forgot to help with homework as promised, she would blame a situation that came up at work. They always justified their failure to be the parents she needed them to be.
Abandonment morphed into guilt as Tuyen struggled to understand why nothing was ever good enough for them. She fell short of the unspoken mark apparently set for her. She would strive even harder to meet their expectations if she only knew what those were. Lacking her parents approval and living with the constant rejection in their eyes hurt the most.
After blowing out the candle, Tuyen flipped onto her back and gazed up at the ceiling. When she was younger, her father painted a galaxy mural complete with stars and a handful of planets. Two strategically mounted spotlights illuminated the scene. She longed to fly away, across the jewel-speckled canvas of night into the far reaches of outer space.
The idea of having her own planet thrilled Tuyen. She would abolish hate and declare love the master of everyone. No more pain. No more tears. Untouchable by the hurt she endured her entire life, Tuyen could finally move in a more positive direction. Happiness sounded so foreign to her, she found it hard to comprehend.
People just didn’t understand. They didn’t get it. Kind words meant empty promises unless reinforced with actions. She desired true, genuine love, not pity or wasted charity.
Tuyen glanced at the knife. The urge to use it moved on leaving her tired and very confused. She despised the thoughts that constantly jumbled her mind. They prevented her from cultivating meaningful relationships with other people. For anyone to see through her happy exterior and discover the aching, little girl inside frightened Tuyen.
Every day became a battle to survive her existence. She often wondered if staying in Vietnam would have been a better choice. At least there, she could be herself and feel accepted. Some family stayed behind and would have allowed Tuyen to live with them.
As comforting a thought as it was, she knew it would have been a mistake to remain in their country. Too many were being thrown into jail or even worse, murdered for no reason. The Vietnam soldiers hated Montagnard people and would do anything to make life unbearable.
Tuyen wished the answer would appear and she could stop trying so hard to figure everything out. Her life had been a journey through years of searching for acceptance and approval like an ancient quest to locate a brave new world. Just when the promise of discovery loomed on the horizon, darkness swept it away.
Not giving up was about the only thing she was sure of anymore. She would will herself to continue forward. Take each day one step at a time. Start slowly, and build momentum. That was the key. Baby steps. She could do it.
Tuyen wanted people to make an investment into her life and truly get to know her. As frightening as that sounded, she believed it was necessary. Physical and mental abuse took its toll over the years, forging walls around her emotions and feelings.
The day to tear down those walls and become open and transparent approached quickly.
That day would arrive much sooner than she anticipated.
While Tuyen is fictional, her story is not. She is a combination of many girls from One7 whom I have talked with. They all face the same struggles, heartaches, rejections, insecurities, and failures as Tuyen. Many have contemplated suicide. Most all have engaged in some form of cutting. They wear long sleeves and a smile to hide the unspeakable horror that lies just below the surface. They wake up each morning thankful to have survived yet another day in a life riddled with despair and often times, hopelessness. Tuyen’s life and story will be the thread that binds the pages of this book together.
One7 is a place for the broken to find healing, the lost to find hope, and the homeless to find shelter. The name comes from a verse in the Bible. Jeremiah 1:7.
The story starts with God telling a teenager that He knew him, and loved him, before he was ever conceived. Can you imagine how special we are to God that we would be on his mind before we are created? God then tells him that he was created for something important. Not to just settle for an average life, but to seek this awesome adventure that was waiting for him. We believe that all youth are called by God before they are born to do incredible things for the Kingdom. We also know that once a young person understands that God is calling them at a young age to make a difference in their world, there will be two major fears. The same two that Jeremiah faced. The fear that they don’t know what to say, and that no one would listen because they are too young. It is our job as leaders to equip youth to embrace and understand what God’s Word says to young people. Jeremiah, and many others, were young when God called them to make a stand for the Lord.
God is still calling our youth today, if they will accept His call and step out in faith, He will give them strength to embrace their destiny.
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Have a blessed day