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I Am Second

posted Oct 5, 2011, 12:21 PM by Sarah Brehm

After a brief walk on the beach, I sunk onto my knees in the sand. With my finger I wrote two sentences in the sand: What do You want me to do? I am in Your hands. I stood, wiped the sand off my pants, took one last glance at my message, then walked away…


I think for most of my life I’ve been afraid to be who I am, to embrace my quirkiness and be proud of the person God made me. This insecurity started in middle school, those wonderfully awkward years where everyone was figuring out who he/she was while trying to cope with puberty.


I had discovered me—I was a dork who loved Christian rock music—but was unable to really express this. Sure my friends all knew I was obsessed with Skillet and other bands—I had an argument with my friend Claire during algebra class in eighth grade over who was better, NSYNC or P.O.D.? (Don’t worry, I soon converted her to Pillar and Relient K.) But what I liked wasn’t the mainstream, wasn’t the popular thing to like—and not just with Christian rock. I was the girl who read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter; who watched Farscape every Friday night after the football game; who had an obsession with Orlando Bloom; who dressed up as Queen Amidala from Star Wars during homecoming week; who sat in the back of class writing stories of her own. I knew that, for the most part, my classmates labeled me the awkward weird girl.


This was also the time that most of my friends started getting boyfriends. Of course, they never lasted long—anywhere from a few days to a few months. Boyfriends came and went at the lunch table. And I was very much aware that no boy was coming to sit with me.


So through the end of middle school and much of high school I kind of lived a duel life—I started going to lots of concerts—I went to my first Skillet concert for my 14th birthday. They were really my “gateway band.” Through them I discovered many more bands including Pillar and Justifide and Kutless and tobyMac and the list goes on. And my dad and I started running sound at Club Fathom. There was something so exciting about watching bands set up, listening to sound checks, and hearing drum tracks to your favorite bands before you knew they were in the studio. Concerts were such a blast! I could be myself and no one would care.


But while at school and church my self-perception was sliding downward. My insecurities blossomed into the belief that I was unattractive. I would stare at myself in the mirror and dream that my body resembled the idealized image of beauty seen in movies and television. For my friends, boyfriends continued to come and go. I pretended that it didn’t bother me, that I didn’t care, but deep down, every time my friends talked about dates and holding hands and first kisses, I couldn’t help but feel I was getting left behind. I felt like no one cared about me. I was fading.


I spent my 17th birthday in the doctor’s office listening to him diagnose me with depression. Depression drained the life out of me. Each negative thought felt like a weight being attached to me—the more I had the harder it was to stand. Trying to get rid of the negative thoughts was a challenge I usually never won.


With medication I slowly got better. I genuinely had fun my senior year, and I cared less about trying to seek approval through a boyfriend, mainly because I figured in college, along with a degree and a job, I’d also acquire my “Mrs.”


I did have fun in college. I moved to Wilmington, North Carolina and lived ten minutes from the beach! I made friends. I made decent grades. I ran through sprinklers at one in the morning and suffered epic sunburns from lazy beach naps. Recognizing that I had depression, anytime a negative thought tried to take over, I would cope with it and move on.


But towards the end of my junior year and beginning of my senior year panic started to slowly rise in me each day. Graduation was looming in my near future, and I hadn’t the slightest idea of what I was going to do on the day after. All my life, school had been my structure—I knew what the future held—more school. But the day after graduation was a big, dark, empty void. What was I going to do with my life? How was I going to support myself? I started to regret going for a degree in creative writing—what kind of job was I going to get with that?


Along with this other unhealthy thoughts returned. The voice in my head reminded me that I still hadn’t had a boyfriend. I concluded something must be wrong with me. Or maybe I was wearing an invisibility cloak. I cried myself to sleep several times with images of me, old and alone, passing by. It didn’t help either that I have a relative who constantly asked me where my wedding ring was. He told me one time: “Your parents are paying all this money for you to go to college. The least you could do is find a husband.” I played it off, but his words stung—I felt like a failure.


I started to get angry with God. I was uncertain of my purpose, and felt I had no value, no worth. Depression clawed its way into my psyche with its negative, vile comments. It turned into a vicious cycle that spiraled downward. I felt down about myself, which I coped with by laying around watching television and doing nothing. The lack of activity gave the voice in my head ample time to defeat me, which made me not want to do anything. And repeat.


The proverbial straw that broke my back happened on Halloween. I got talked into going to a party, but promised myself I would only have two drinks. Well, after four whiskey and cokes, I was drunk. And when I realized I was drunk, I got so mad at myself. No one had told me to drink more; no one pressured me into it. It was my decision to get another and another and another knowing the consequences.


When my roommates and I left the party I climbed into the backseat and burst into tears. At that moment I hated myself, and all I could think about were Paul’s words in Romans: “I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” (Romans 7:19)


A few days later the stagnation and frustration were boiling inside me. I went to the beach to take a walk. As I wandered the beach, listening to the waves crashing and watching the few surfers who braced the cold water I tried to remember the last time I was happy, genuinely happy, and I immediately thought of a Skillet concert I had attended the previous spring. Then I went back to high school to the time I spent at Club Fathom hanging out with bands (when I had the nerve to talk to them) and pushing faders on the sound board. Concerts and music were what made me happy. But how was going to concerts supposed to be my purpose?


After a brief walk, I sunk onto my knees in the sand. With my finger I wrote two sentences in the sand: What do You want me to do? I am in Your hands. I stood, wiped the sand off my pants, took one last glance at my message, then walked away.


On my drive back to my apartment, I had the local Christian rock radio station on. A commercial came of for a venue called the Lampstand Lightclub. They were looking for volunteers, and their next show was in a few days. My palm smacked my forehead. “Okay God,” I said. “I get it.”


Long story short, I went to the venue, which was at a local church and witnessed a fight. After one more show, the venue called it quits. But going to that one show re-ignited my joy. During my final five months of college, I stopped worrying about what people would think and dressed like a rock star, combat boots and all! I saw Skillet at home in Chattanooga, dragged my roommate Heather to a bar about an a hour away from Wilmington to see Decyfer Down, and drove to Raleigh with my other roommate, Ashlea to rock out to The Letter Black, RED, and Skillet. I was going to concerts again, and I loved it.


And well, it’s been almost two years since that walk on the beach and what am I doing? I run a website called Forte Chattanooga that focuses on the local Christian music scene here in Chattanooga. I get to go to concerts and review shows. I get to interview the local bands and talk to touring bands. The site is slowing gaining popularity. Bands have started asking me to be featured on the site, and at one show, I was snapping pictures and this person just turned to me and asked, “Are you the lady from Forte?”


And I fell like this is what I’m supposed to do, working to promote the music I love. This doesn’t mean that things are suddenly easier. I still have days were I have doubts and I worry about the future. But I just trust God and open my eyes to any opportunities available to further my website and my dream. The most important part in all this: I am happy! I have finally accepted who God has made me, and I am full of joy.


My dad always states that there are three important things to do (1) Love God. (2) Love others. (3) Love yourself. The third is the hardest, but you can only accomplish the other two when you truly learn to love yourself. When you’re happy with yourself, with who you are, with the person God created you to be, everything else just falls into place.


My name is Sarah Brehm, and I am second.
For more information on I Am Second, check out www.iamsecond.com
 Me and my friend Claire with Jeremy Camp (2003)
 Me and Claire with Rob Beckley, lead singer of Pillar (2002)
 Me and Justifide (2003)
 Me and the boys of The Benjamin Gate (2002)
 Me and Skillet (2006)
Me and Ben Kasica of Skillet (2010)
Me and Brian Head Welch (2011)
Me and Skillet (2011)