Meet my young friend Kyle. A few months ago, I had the honour to be interviewed by Kyle for a Grade 12 English project. The project consisted of him interviewing someone “interesting” and figuring out a theme for their life. When Kyle asked if he could interview me, I was shocked. Me…interesting?! Umm, ok. Wow.
As Kyle will explain in his essay, we first met when I was a leader for a student trip to Guatemala. We got to know each other quite well through the trip preparation process, and then the seven days in Guatemala. He eventually started affectionately calling me his “Gautemama”. I love it!
Through the questions Kyle asked during the interview, he came up with a theme for my life. Transformations. What a great theme! His teacher was so impressed that Kyle ended up with a 95%! Awesome! His teacher also asked if she could use his essay as an example for future classes. I am so proud of Kyle! He is an amazing young man.
Here is the essay Kyle wrote:
By Kyle Vanderstelt
When I first met Linda Goodall, it was at a meeting for a mission trip I was going on with our church. Linda was going to be a leader on the trip and was getting to know all the kids at these meetings. At first I wasn’t sure about her. She was loud and outgoing, not like me at all. As the meeting continued, and as we embarked on the trip, I realized that there was more to Linda then met the eyes, and the ears. She shared her story with the team one night and it opened up my eyes to a whole new perspective on the world. Linda wasn’t always this loud, outgoing person with an infectious happiness about her. She had been through a lot and she had come a long way to be where she is today.
If one were to rewind seven years, they would find a completely different Linda. A Linda who did not want to get out of bed some days, for whom each day was a constant battle to keep going and do her duties as a mother of three children. A Linda for whom her darkest thoughts consumed her and her mind worked against her. Linda battled depression for years. It was something that had been with her for years but had really hit hard after her third child was born. Some days it consisted mostly of Linda hiding in her room and from everyone. . .
She pulled out of it because of the urgings of her friend Christine. Linda came to church, and after attending for two years, she became a Christian. She leaned on God and He helped her pull out of her slump through counsellors and relationships, friends like Christine, and her husband, Kevin.
If one were to rewind even further back, they would see another transformation, the younger high-school and College-girl, Linda was a character. She had several relationships with guys, partied, drank, and did drugs. She explains her lifestyle in the following way: she sought relationships because of her “feeling alone and wanting to be loved.” This led to drugs and alcohol which were “an escape from reality and the pain that [she] felt inside.” Linda says that she always loved her parents, but she felt her parents never understood her. The fact that they did not realize the signs of someone being high, or under the influence of other substances did not help her. It did not help her stop the downwards cycle she was in. Now Linda realizes that these feelings of yearning for love and feeling lost were early signs of depression and a future struggle that would knock her almost completely out of commission. Like a typical teenager, at the time it was happening, she brushed it off and ploughed through. She never stopped to consider what the root of the problems could be.
The many relationships and substance abuse were ways of searching for the love she yearned for. She wanted to be understood. When she met Kevin she found understanding from him. She found someone who loved her for who she was and cared about her. Kevin helped her transform from a life of partying to a more settled life. Later on in her life, in the midst of her deepest depression, her friend Christine helped her transform her further. Linda’s life was still a search for love to fill that void in her. She had the love of her husband, but she still was searching for something. She found this at church where she came to know God. She felt His love in her. After becoming a Christian, Linda began to improve, eventually recovering, becoming the woman she is today. She says that some days are still tough but she is able to keep pushing through them because she has friends, family and God by her side.
Linda’s life has seen two major transformations. She transformed from a life of partying to a married life, from the life of a nonbeliever to the life of a child of God. She has battled through many things: guilt, shame and substance abuse. Later on, she battled through depression. The Linda that I have come to know and love has not become the charismatic, joyous, bubbly person that I know and love overnight. She has taken a rougher, tougher path. Now she is on the other side of her struggles and transformations. Her story is nowhere close to being finished. Maybe there are more transformations in store for her. But she has become better through her struggles and has become a person who understands more about herself and life.
I am so proud every time I read Kyle’s essay. It’s incredible how perceptive he is. I love how he said that my story is nowhere close to being finished. That’s so true. God is definitely still working in my life and continuing transforming me through my struggles and experiences. I’m excited and look forward to where He will lead me next.
And wow! I mean, who ever gets a chance to see their life through the eyes of a 17-year-old boy?? Amazing. 🙂