From fairy tales to Freedom


You see, I grew up with only the fairy tales.

I grew up with the finger’s – crossed and the blown up Easter Bunnies. I grew up with Santa Clause coming to town, and the Tooth Fairy. Some of these are good and fine, and part of being a child– but fears and insecurities and dark thoughts, and … anger, rooted itself deep inside of me – I was choked from enjoying life.

All the believing I was doing, was simply in elementary things – which proved to be like vapors in a cloud.

When I reached, for what I thought had substance, it would only prove disappointing.

I moved away from my home in Arizona to NYC when I was shy of 19 years of age. As weeds in a garden, out of control, an eating disorder was silently taking over my thoughts working its way to destroy every bit of life in me.

I didn’t know what to do with temptations. Always thinking I was fat, thinking of eating or how not to eat, and work off every calorie I had eaten. My thoughts were like a circus spinning in a hundred directions in my brain, with laughing, scary clowns and music with confusion and destruction everywhere.

I had no peace.

There were goals, and ‘how to’ books, but I had no control over my life. I knew all the things I should do. But, I had no power to do them. I had no strength to untangle the knot my world was tied in.

In desperation, I walked into a room filled with people with similar struggles and I read a poster on the wall – one word, three large letters: G-O-D.

This marks the beginning of the rest of my life.

Somehow, on that day, in a basement of some church on a street in Manhattan I realized that GOD was the help I needed.

This time, I knew I didn’t need a diet or a special doctor, I needed a Savior. Not religion, but living Help from a Living God.

I had packed a Bible with me in my move from Arizona to NYC. Given to me by the Key Club boys in High School, back in 1979.

It was one verse in the Book of Matthew 16:24, that Jesus said it, “If any man come after Me, let him deny himself .”

God impressed upon my heart this thought, “Toni, you are destroying yourself with this destructive behavior. I want you to deny yourself of that – because I want to give you a life that is free and full.”

As I was learning how to eat without great panic, and ‘denying myself ‘ the destructive behavior, God had me focus on the next part of the verse: “pick up your cross…

And even though I didn’t understand what pick up your cross meant, God started helping me understand this to mean: not my will but God’s will be done.

He wanted me to have joy. Not to destroy.

God helped me heal and grow.

Follow Me.”  (Matthew 16:24).

Follow Jesus is what I began to do. I read His word. He unveiled Himself in His word. And through time, He healed me.

(Thank you, by the way, Key Club of Arcadia High 1979, Phoenix, Arizona. You have no idea what an impact that gift of a Bible would have on me. I never returned to my High School Reunions because I moved to the East Coast and kept having babies, but that’s a story all its own).



Author: tonirypkema

Wife to 1, mother of 11, daughter of 1. "The most amazing woman in the world." -Jared (son)

One thought on “From fairy tales to Freedom”

  1. Thanks Toni, always great to be reminded how wonderful our God is and how every day He shows us great and mighty things. God also gave me that verse when I thought there was nothing to hope for.

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