When I Was Twenty-One

The poem that follows is one that I wrote at the age of twenty-one. Now, I am seventy, so a lot has changed in my life since that time. And, a lot has changed in the world, too. For, we didn’t have computers or the internet or cell phones or any way of communicating with others other than face to face, in letters sent through the US mail, or via a phone call. And, we had one telephone in our house, and one phone line, so we had to take turns.

I grew up in Akron, Ohio (USA), the third of five children born to my parents who also grew up in Akron. My father was an abuser of the worst kind, to all of us, and my mother was emotionally distant from us children. The only affection I knew growing up at home from my parents was the wrong kind. So, not only did I not feel loved, but I was being abused and taken advantage of on a regular basis whether physically or just mentally/verbally.

So, although I believed in Jesus, my understanding of His grace, and of his sovereignty over my life, were construed by being raised by a father who was a wife beater and a child abuser and yet religiously legalistic, too.

For, we went to the gatherings of our church twice on Sundays, every Wednesday, for extra meetings, too, and we were taught legalistic requirements. So, my dad was like a Pharisee, pushing outward forms of worship of God, while inside he was full of wickedness, and he made a practice of evil and utter godlessness.

So, my coping mechanism was to create an unreal world in my mind where I escaped from the real world. Yet, I knew it was wrong. And, yet I kept going back to it when real life was more than my mind could handle, and largely because my understanding of God was not complete.

And, I know that many people today cope with life’s difficulties by escaping into something or other, whether it be TV, movies, games, porn, alcohol, music videos, drugs, or whatever might be their “drug” of choice.

So, I am here to tell you that Jesus died to free you from all of that, and that his grace is absolutely sufficient for all that you need, and that you can trust the Lord, that he is all powerful, that Satan has no power over you, and that you can conquer whatever “demons” are influencing your mind.

You just have to believe that God is in control, that he delivered you out of your addiction to sin, on that cross, and that he will empower you to live in victory over darkness if you will just surrender your life to him, say “No” to Satan, and say “Yes” to God every moment of every day.

My World

By Sue (Thorn) Love
Spring 1971

My world is an unreal world
Where my whole life is a dream.
In a dream I escape from reality,
Where things are not as they seem.

Somehow this life is not lasting.
The joy that it brings never stays.
It is only there but a fleeting moment.
In my life it is only a phase.

For some reason I cling to this dream,
This world where all is serene.
I pretend that I’m happy and doing well,
When that really is not what I mean.

I know down deep that I’m doing wrong,
That I can’t keep running away.
I’ve got to face life as it really is,
But I must live it day by day.

“Oh God, help me in this dilemma
Of not knowing which way to turn.
I’m scared of the future and what it holds.
Oh, I’ve got so much to learn.

“Why must I be as I am,
Cold as if I were dead?
I want so much to live again,
But I choose my world instead.”

Life can be so beautiful.
That is why God made it for the living.
Life and death don’t mix at all.
Life is what God is giving.

I’ve accepted God’s gift of eternal life,
Which He so freely gave.
I’ve accepted His Son who died on the cross,
And who rose up from the grave.

I’ve accepted His love, as He first loved me,
And I truly love Him, too,
But somehow, I don’t have the faith to believe
That through God all things I can do.

I feel so inadequate, so unworthy –
I know that I’ve failed Him greatly.
I can’t understand the patience He has
Concerning a being such as me.

I guess you could say I’m an addict –
Oh, certainly not to alcohol or dope.
I’m just a dreamer, that’s my escape.
There just doesn’t seem to be much hope.

I must care something of the way I am,
Or I wouldn’t reach out like this.
I need to go “cold turkey” with this thing,
Or the purpose of life I will miss.

I can’t do it! That is my cry,
As in anguish I look up to God.
He says I can, and I say I can’t,
But He has got to be right – He’s God!

Oh, I want to believe, I want to reach out
And say “God, here am I.
Do with me whatever You wish.
From me, You’ll hear not a cry.

“I will be loyal to You and do as You say.
As my creator, You know what is best.
I’ll serve You in any way that I can,
As You give me peace and rest.

“Oh God, the joy I find in You is lasting.
It is not a momentary thing.
I need not pretend with You at all.
I truly have a song to sing.”

But that is not how it is right now.
“Susan, you’ve got a long way to go.
You’ve got a lot to learn in life.
There is so much that you should know.”

Oh, yes, I know that I need Christ
To guide my path each day.
I need Him to help me face up to life,
And to not keep running away.

When is this all going to occur?
When will I finally grow up?
When I decide, will it be too late?
Will my works be so small,
They will fit in a cup?

As you can tell by now, I need help!
I fear the future, life, and me.
I never know what they will hold.
I fear, if I look, what I will see.

Reality and life are all mysteries.
I’ve pondered them many times.
I put all my thoughts into words,
And those words I make into rhymes.

I guess you might say I’m kind of strange.
Maybe “weird” is a better word.
No one understands me, not even myself,
But God does, from what I’ve heard.

How He understands me, I’ll never know,
But He does, and I know that He cares.
That is why He loves me so much,
And all my burdens, He bears.

I must yield my life to Him.
It has to be now or never.
If I keep putting it off,
I know I’ll forget,
And I’ll live without Him forever.

Now it must be! Now is the time!
I can’t! But, I can! Yes, I can!
I must live for Christ or not live at all,
Or from heaven I’ll ever be banned.

“Smile Susan. God loves you,
And He has a plan for your life.
Just keep on fighting, and don’t give up,
Although it may be quite a strife.”

Please pray for me, all that do care.
I need your love, and prayer, and hope.
I’m trusting the Lord for my future now.
Through Him, life I can cope.

There is a long road ahead of me.
The way will be rough.
With Christ walking with me,
It won’t seem so tough.

“So, Susan, you must journey on
Away from your world of dreams.
Start facing life as it really is,
E’en though it may not be as it seems.”

“God, be with me on my journey –
My journey onward, instead of back.
Guide my being, human as it is,
So that in my walk with Christ,
I’ll not slack.”

So many words to say so little –
That is a quality not so rare.
It is one possessed by one, namely Susan,
Who the name of Christ doth wear.

God is real! Praise the Lord!
He is living in my heart.
I just trust that from now on
I’ll never more from Him depart.

I love God, and He loves me.
Isn’t that surely REALITY?


11 thoughts on “When I Was Twenty-One

  1. Sue, I’ll never forget the day you first shared that with me. We were sitting on the sofa in your living room and your mother was sitting in chair nearby. I was interested in you but we had not been dating long I don’t think. I believe you had shared a few other things you had written before this was given to me. As I began to read it, your mother made some comment about you bearing your soul to me or something like that. I felt surprised and honored to have you share something so deep and personal, as I recall. I also felt hope that our relationship might move forward, though I really didn’t comprehend the level of hurt and pain you had suffered to arrive at that place you were writing about, nor the struggles you had to even consider dating anyone.

    I know that day my interest in you went up dramatically. While I had my own questions and struggles about God and life, your deep trust in him and love for him even in so many hard times was something that drew me to you. I was a youth leader in my church while in college, yet your relationship with God was far deeper and more real even in your struggles. Now, almost 50 years later, I understand much better and thank God he brought us together.

    God loved that struggling girl so much he helped her all through a life that continued to have elements of what caused the original hurts in her, both from myself and churches – the ones who should have helped her and loved her with God’s love. Susan learned how much she needed to depend upon God alone and not man to meet her needs. And she has been teaching me by example and through God’s word the truths expressed in her poem, much like in some of David’s psalms, where he declares God is there for those who put their trust in him no matter how dark the night or fierce the storm.

    I know how great God is because I remember that girl back then and I’ve watched him take her and turn here into one of his bright lights that never flickers no matter what comes at it, while remaining humble and loving and vulnerable. God himself has loved me enough to share his heart with me as well, through his writings and poems and his children, and I want more of him because them and because of you.

    Thanks for sharing this deeply personal poem – I hope it encourages others as it still does me.


    Liked by 2 people

    • Rick,

      Thank you for sharing what was on your heart to share. Yes, I remember when I first shared my poems with you, and I do recall what my mother said, too. Even though I wrote the poem as though I was planning to share it with others, there really were not the venues for sharing such things back then as there are now. So you may have been one of a very few people who actually read it back then, which is when we had first started dating seriously.

      Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words, too. For all the good in my life, I give God all the glory and praise. I could do none of it without him. Without him I would fall apart. I know that all too well.

      Love you much! Sue

      Liked by 2 people

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