Touched By An Angel…Sort Of

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I think there is a little part of each of us that loves cheesy TV shows, sappy movies, and corny characters. There has to be – how else have sitcoms lasted this long?jenna-lane-2.jpgJenna Lane’s life has never been short on drama – if not less than idyllic – and according to her recollection, it all started when she was six years old. She has many memories of her mother screaming, often for things Jenna could never comprehend. And one day, after frantically following her dad to the end of the driveway as he got in a car to leave, she begged him to not go. Scared that she was the reason he was leaving, she promised she would be good and not do anything bad ever again. Like many parents the world over, her father knelt down beside her and promised her that this had nothing to do with her; he would always love her and always be there for her. Matthew, her little brother, was 4 at the time, and all he could to express his shock and frustration was to kick his dad and run away, leaving Jenna there to beg her father to stay. But for reasons she was too young to understand, he couldn’t stay, and as his car backed down that long driveway, Jenna ran behind it screaming and pleading for him to not leave her behind. But he was gone.Turning around, she walked back into the house and asked her mother why he left. Her answer dripped with venom.”Because we’re not good enough. He didn’t love us.””But he just told me that he loved me,” she tried to reason with her mother.jennalane.jpg“Well if he loves us so much, why is he leaving?” she retorted. “He was just trying to get you out of the way so he could leave.”From that moment forward, life was never the same. Years of physical and emotional abuse followed Jenna, as she tried to live with her mother. Clearly, she was too sick to be able to take care of her children properly, but love from a child runs deep, and for years Jenna would put up a front to not alert her teachers or caregivers that there was a problem in their home. Despite her best efforts, her mother’s attacks were relentless, random, and above all, intentionally hurtful. As she grew older, she would try to leave, but her mother would threaten to kill herself and the guilt weighed so heavy on Jenna that she agreed to stay, despite the hurt.Night time was the most painful time: it was when all the comments and hurt would torment her mind, questioning her worth and self esteem. Being told, time and again, that she was useless, worthless, and unwanted, finally took its final toll. At the age of 17, her mother kicked her out of the house, to make way for her new boyfriend.For the first little while, Jenna couch surfed, trying to figure out what to do, working to be able to stay in school and fighting off the lure of suicidal thoughts. And one night it happened: she was touched by an angel. Well, sort of.It was actually the TV show on in her aunt’s den, where she was sleeping on the futon. She was trying to do her homework and trying to fight back the tide of pain and feelings of being unwanted everywhere she went. The lead character came on the screen, and although she can’t remember the context surrounding what the character said, she remembers what she said, because it changed everything for her.jenna-lane3.jpg“In the end, everything will be better. And if it’s not better, it’s not the end.”She was faced with a decision: to choose who she would become. Would she be a victim, or would she chart the course of her future? She decided then and there, that she was going to pursue a higher purpose in her life, and she was going to work towards being a part of the solution, not the problem.Believe it or not, that is exactly what she did. Jenna finished school with great grades. She has traveled and she is planning on continuing her education. But most importantly, she had the courage to recognize her own worth, despite what circumstances tried to tell her.Today, Jenna has talked to thousands and thousands of high school students, sharing her story and inviting them to the same hope: the hope that purpose brings. Jenna is a part of our staff that works to get us into high schools across the continent and we are proud of who she is.At the end of her story, Jenna has one final thought she shares with the students:When I look back and see myself standing at the end of the driveway, there is one thing I wish I could have told that little girl: that you are loved. And no matter what happens, your life will always be valuable.I couldn’t agree more. Thanks, Jenna. The world needs more girls like you. You are a valuable part of why we do what we do.To find out more about our teams, where we travel, and how you can help us to continue to reach young lives, check out

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: February 10th, 2011