Charity is a virtue. In fact, theologian Thomas Aquinas (perhaps influenced by Bill and Ted) called charity, “the most excellent of the virtues.” The word charity is often synonymous with love.
Charity (Voth) is a member of The Arsenal.
And whether a virtue or a person, both are defined by love.
What I knew about Charity before I sat down with her to chat was that she loves her job, she loves her boyfriend Blaine (they are my vote for Arsenal prom king and queen!), and she loves her daugthers. She seems to love CrossFit. She seems to make friends easily. And she smiles a lot.
She loves and is loved, but her story is more than that. She has lost and been lost.
Loss & Lost
When Charity was nine, her dad killed himself.
“You didn’t talk about it,” Charity said. “You didn’t bring it up. He was 28. I was a kid so I don’t know all the details, but what I can tell you is my mom and dad were going through a divorce, my mom was dating my step-dad, my dad was an alcoholic and battling depression. We just didn’t talk about it. Even to this day, I only have a couple pictures of my dad. I talk about some memories now. Not having my dad probably bothers me more now as an adult. My dad is not here to see my kids.”
Her dad wasn’t there to see her compete as a gymnast growing up, watch her in her roles as the Anderson Highland’s mascot and a cheerleader, compete on the basketball court in junior high, or in the pool as a swimmer in high school.
After she graduated high school, she enrolled at Ball State.
“Nobody in my family had ever gone to college. My parents and even my grandparents worked in factories. I had applied for IU and Ball State. I decided I was going to go to Ball State and major in nursing.”
Charity lasted three semesters.
“You know Ball State used to have the reputation of being the party school. That’s pretty much what I was majoring in! I got put on academic probation.”
She had a cousin who lived in Florida, so she moved down there and got a job on the beach at an ice cream shop. She met a guy. She followed him to a community in Illinois where she felt isolated and alone. They got married. Moved back to Anderson. They had a daughter. They moved back to Florida trying to recapture the life they had known there. They moved back to Anderson. They had another daughter. Charity went back to Ball State and got a degree in nursing 14 years after she first enrolled. She got a job at Ball Hospital.
There’s a lot of life in that paragraph. I’m sure there were plenty of happy moments along the way. But there was also something Charity couldn’t ignore: her husband had been cheating on her.
“But even through his many years of extracurricular activities, I made a vow, I cannot get divorced.”
Charity had made the vow when she saw her parents go through their own divorce and the terrible aftermath that resulted. She told herself that she would never be a person who would get divorced or put her own kids through that.
Deserving to be happy
A co-worker told her that everyone deserves to be happy.
“I decided I wanted a divorce, and that was it.”
Charity got divorced and she felt guilty about it. The kids had to be shuffled around. Then there were the holidays. They were kids of divorced parents.
Charity had been depressed before her divorce, but things got worse in the aftermath of guilt.
“I slept a lot. I’d work and have the girls. Honestly I know, looking back now, that my girls suffered from it. Depression runs in my family. I think it just compounded into guilt and embarrassment. I was drinking a lot and not making smart decisions. I gained a substantial amount of weight. I didn’t run with people who motivated me, who were family-oriented. My mom finally told me to get my shit together or I was going to lose my kids. My girls are my world so it was then I realized I was going down the wrong path. I started to pay more attention to who I was spending time with.”
Charity credits her mom for being there for her.
“Mom understood there was nothing she could physically do for me. My brother and my stepdad did not understand it, they couldn’t grasp it. It was really hard coming off antidepressant medications. I cut the drinking and started paying more attention to the kids.”
Charity started running. Physical activity became her new antidepressant. She kicked the meds, lost weight, and reconnected with Blaine with whom she had graduated high school.
“I got to the point where I was getting bored of running, so I asked on Facebook if anyone knew of a CrossFit gym around Anderson, Muncie, or Pendleton. Megan White chimed in. She had just recently started at The Arsenal. I’m in way better shape now than I was in college or high school.”
“I am very thankful for The Arsenal. It’s helped physically just being in better shape, but mentally I can probably better deal with things now. I enjoy it.”
Strength in our struggles
Charity is now the Regional Supervisor for the Richmond Lifeline Base. She’s a flight nurse. She gets to ride in helicopters!
“It’s fun stuff. I’m on call 24/7 pretty much. If they would have any emergency issues or maintenance issues, they have to call me. I work for some very very wonderful people. They realize that I have a family life as well.”
Charity’s eldest daughter, Bailey, recently started college. As Charity experienced and as many of us experience, it is tough being 18 years old and deciding what you are going to do the rest of your life. Bailey floundered a bit after a semester at art school at IUPUI. She moved back to Anderson and attended Ivy Tech before heading back to IUPUI.
Like Charity, Bailey also battled depression.
“The doctor wanted to put her on antidepressants, but I was like, ‘Let’s work through this.’ Bailey took a liking to running, and that was her out. We try to do a lot of stuff together. We take the dog to the park and run there. If we find a log down, we’ll do box jumps. It’s just kind of making fitness fun. She enjoys it.”
Charity had been there. Bailey had seen it. Bailey had seen the mental and physical changes that came with running and CrossFit. Bailey followed in her mom’s footsteps by turning to physical activity to combat her depression.
In the depths of our struggles, we may not see farther than our own problems. But pain can shape us and help us help those we love the most. We may feel alone, but we’re not. Someone is always watching.
Charity’s journey uniquely prepared her to help her daughter.