Gigi Wallace is a graduate of the University of Washington and former educator in the Lake Washington School District teaching at schools including Bellevue Christian.
She is an Elder Emeritus at University Presbyterian and has been a Bible Study Fellowship facilitator for the past 7 years. She has been married for 39 years and has 3 married daughters and 5 grandchildren.
VALUE & WORTH
One of my favorite Broadway musicals is Beautiful. It’s about the life and career of Carol King. At one point in the story, Carol is asked to sing in a small nightclub. “Who would want to hear me sing? I’m just a normal person” she says. Her contemporaries are ready with an answer: “Normal people,” they say.
While I have never been famous, I know that I’m God’s beloved. My resume is quite “normal.” But it’s an honor to share a part of my story here.
I have been married to my husband, Chuck for thirty-nine years. I have three married daughters and five grandchildren (with one more on the way in October!) who affectionately call me, “Mor Mor.” The ones that can talk at least…the others get a lot of practice!
Gigi and family
Gigi and her husband Chuck with their grandchildren
My lifelong prayer is that I know I’m unconditionally loved by God and that I have the courage to grow from there.
I want you to know that while I’ll share some of the pain I’ve experienced in my life, I also want to acknowledge that my own emotional baggage has caused others pain that I have needed to ask forgiveness for, including from my own daughters. I believe it is important to be a good steward of my own pain and take responsibility for its impact on others. The primary example that I’ve asked my daughters forgiveness for was that I often expected them to be perfect for other people. I projected my own childhood story of rejection onto them and failed to own that they had a different story. I feared that they would be rejected from their community if they didn’t perform for others as that was my survival story growing up. They have endured some painful consequences as a result but the redeeming thing is that they know God as their first Parent, Redeemer, and Healer.
In his book, The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch writes that one of his major disappointments was realizing that a lot of middle age people never grow up or change. In other words, sometimes we try to feel loved and safe by trying to find our significance in everything but Jesus. Hopefully, I wasn’t the same person at forty years old that I was at twenty. And at sixty-three years old, I’m not who I was at forty. I’ve been transformed through my personal relationship with God and relationships with friends and family.
In order to understand my faith journey, I need to tell you about my family history.
My Family History
First, let me start with the positive: I’m okay! I’m not bitter. I have chosen to forgive. But forgiveness and trust are two different things. Forgiveness has helped me name how I was wronged, understand the message I received through that offense, asking God to give you the message of truth instead. While forgiveness is healing to our own bitterness and keeps us from perpetuating pain to other relationships, not every person can be trusted in a relationship moving forward. I believe I’ve grown from my past and my ability to discern the difference as I’ve had my share of prayer, therapy, and Anchor moments!
My childhood is reminiscent of OJ Simpson’s 911 phone call. In fact, when I hear that recording played back, it’s a little traumatizing for me. The events of my childhood felt so unsafe and frightening that I stopped breathing when I was ten years old. I had the tendency to hold my breath a lot out of anxiety. While everyone in my dad’s path survived physically, the effects of my dad’s unpredictable violent rages left a mark.
My mother was a renaissance woman and excelled at many things but was chronically depressed, never loved herself, and would often sleep until 3 PM. Both my parents were married three times. When I was about eighteen years old, I learned that the father I had known my whole life was not my biological father and that I was the product of an affair.
I’ll spare you the specifics, but my childhood was characterized by neglect, physical and emotional abuse, abandonment, and rejection.
My Faith Journey
Because of my childhood experience, I believed God existed but I didn’t believe God was with us on Earth, or that he cared about circumstances. I felt unprotected. If I had believed that Jesus really cared about my circumstances, I would have assumed that God was out for a smoke.
While I excelled as a student at University of Washington, one would have thought I was failing based on my anxiety and fear. I wandered into a Bible Study in my sorority and I was introduced to Philippians 4:6-8 — the familiar passage that instructs us to not worry about anything, but instead to pray about everything. In that moment, I gave all of my circumstances in my life to God and have been diligent about placing my circumstances, thoughts, and feelings with him ever since.
"Because of my childhood experience, I believed God existed but I didn’t believe God was with us on Earth, or that he cared about circumstances. I felt unprotected."
But while I trusted God with my circumstances, I still struggled to trust the truth that I was beloved and deeply valued by God. Even though I have a wonderful husband and beautiful daughters, I still looked to the rest of the world for my value because that is how I learned to survive growing up.
One day, my friend Leslie said, “Gig… every person in this world is a broken person. People can only love to the extent they know they’re loved by God. So why are you evaluating your value on someone else’s behavior toward you?”
I understand in this Anchor moment that God gives us a choice in where we find our value. But He knows we will feel the most whole and significant if God is our First relationship, our first Parent, Spouse, Friend etc…
I was recently at a luncheon where I asked the host where she would like me to sit by saying, “Where do you want me?” She held out her arms wide, inviting me to a hug and said, “Actually, I want you right here!”
This moment served as a picture of how God welcomes each of us. When we ask Jesus this question: “Where do you want me?” He stretches out his arms in an invitation for a hug and says, “Actually, I want you right here!”