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Baptism January 16, 2022

Patricia Neal

My name is Patricia. I was born and raised in New Jersey to teenage parents who came from less-than-ideal home lives. My mom was a single mom who tried her best to overcome her childhood traumas and instill a strong moral core in me. Although she had many stumbling blocks and setbacks on breaking generational curses of poverty, abuse and adverse adaptive behaviors, she tried until her death from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at 24.

At the age 6, as a result of her death, my life took a monumental shift in focus and core ideology. I was no longer Patricia the individual but Sabreen’s daughter the legacy. I was tasked with validating my existence through fulfilling her dreams and hopes. I distinctly remember asking one of my aunts at the time: if she loved me for me or because I was my mom’s daughter. My family’s actions at the time and through subsequent years lead me to the conclusion all love I would receive had to at least be actively earned and at best be conditional.

If I wanted connection, I had to be perfect. This thought mechanism led me to be a people pleaser and always strive to go the extra mile. You needed someone to move a couch, organize your closet, babysit, tutor, or take the overnight shift, I was your girl. While this made me successful in many avenues of my life, I was not content. My professional and personal relationships became transactional and the condition of loving me was I had to be the good man in the storm. It was performative heroism.   My actions were begging for others to pick me, choose me, love me. I continued investing in these patterns and pathologies for most of my life.

In 2019 this came to a head in my life, when professionally unfulfilled and personally adrift I was hit with multiple storms that converged into one. In the span of six months, my son was diagnosed with autism, and I was grieving the child I thought I would have, my short marriage was rocked by insecurities, and I grappled with forgiveness and worthiness, my daughter had a near drowning experience and had to be revived, there was a custody battle for my stepsons. I was a good man in the storm again but this time I became completely unanchored and angry.

I collapsed one day in the hallway, and I screamed at God. Is this what you want for my life? Just pain? I completely broke down. I prayed in my pain. When I came out of prayer, I knew God loved me unconditionally. I knew he was always with me and shielding me in every storm I walked into and through. My focus shifted from the pain to its purpose. I knew with everything inside of me he wanted more for me. In my brokenness I was worthy of his unconditional love. I made a commitment to him in that moment. My chains will not break my praise, my praise will break my chains. And it starts with finding my way back to Him

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 we are hard pressed on every side but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair. Persecuted but not abandoned struck down but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.