God bless the messy road that made me who I am.
I am in awe of how each season of our life prepares us for the next. Sometimes it’s our wrong choices and mistakes. Oftentimes it’s another’s wrong choice, but it affects us. The messy roads, the product of wrong choices can make you feel like you are less than. While others seem whole, you may feel that you are merely half. Yet, that is never true. When I look at my life, I can see so clearly how each season and choice (both good and bad) have made me who I am today—and I count it all joy, my friends.
I was that kid born out of wedlock. My mom was sent away so as not to shame the family name. Thanks, mom, for choosing the high road: not abortion, but birth in a “Home for Unwed Mothers” situated far out of town.
After my birth, mom was still confused, trying to hide the secret of my birth. She placed me in temporary foster care for a year. After being in three different foster homes, the third wanted to keep me since they did not have children of their own. Thank you to those families, but especially to the third family who gave me their hearts, only to have them broken when they had to say good-bye. I think of you often and have prayed for you throughout the years.
I am genuinely glad that my mom also took the risk of taking me home with her, at the time facing humiliation and shame.
I am grateful for my aunt and her family for taking the two of us in. I gained a big sister who has always treated me like her little baby doll. I saw strength in my aunt through the years as a woman who never judged, but loved unconditionally. Thank you, aunt, for going against your dad’s wishes and allowing us to be part of your family. You placed unconditional love above secrets and shame.
When mom met my new daddy, it was love at first sight for both of us. He just kept showing up on my aunt’s doorstep everyday. Mom was beautiful and had several suitors, but my dad didn’t give up. I understand he even babysat me once when my mom had another date! After that she realized just how serious he was and that he wasn’t going anywhere. Thanks, daddy, for choosing me to be your little girl. Even after you and mom had my four siblings, you loved us all the same. You were the gentle, loving father I so needed. Because of you, I learned how to trust. Even though you were not the first father in my life, you were the best choice of a daddy for the rest of my life.
Thank you… You placed unconditional love above secrets and shame.
My granny, who inspired me all of my life, taught me how to be a granny. She was always happy to see her grandchildren, never too busy; even when we popped in unexpectedly she would cook up a meal in minutes then sit down to play a game. Her hugs were magical and she would say, “Bless your little heart.” Again, I never felt any different than any of her “real” grandkids. It was never even brought up until she called me to her side as she was dying to tell me, “you are my granddaughter, like all the rest, and you will receive the same as all the others.” I had the privilege of being in the hospital room when she reached her little hands in the air, smiled and mouthed the word “Jesus,” as she was carried to her heavenly home. I know I will see her again and thank her for teaching me to be a loving granny to my seventeen grandchildren.
Then there are my siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles who all loved me just the same. We have embraced life to the fullest, had many adventures, endured hardships, but always, always, loved unconditionally. There was never a discussion that I was different, because I wasn’t. I was born to be in our family. I am not half, I am whole. I am not a stepchild (who ever came up with that term anyway?).
After all is said and done, I can look back and see the many times hurting moms and kids have been placed in our path. Over the years, we have had extra kids in our home for short seasons. Our daughters enjoyed having a little brother for a year, a baby girl for a year, and grieving teens living through death and divorce. I have been part of adoptions and families reuniting. Some of my beautiful grandchildren were born prior to marriage; they too were born on purpose. I have mentored moms who faced the same choices my mom did, adoption, and single-motherhood. I have encouraged blended families to be whole. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a source of help and love in these women’s lives.
I was born to be in our family.
Why? Because deep down inside of me, I am that child, that mother, that granny. I know the benefit of being whole, not half.
I just don’t understand why a child would ever be called a stepchild, a half-sister or an accident. Every child is a whole and perfect gift, placed where they will grow and be nurtured. If you have that opportunity for a day, a year, or forever, embrace that child as a gift. You are part of their beautiful journey. Give them your best so they can be their best. You can make a difference. Model grit and grace.
I know the benefit of being whole, not half.
I love my life. Every part of this journey has been used for my good. The situations, the wrong choices, the right choices… They’re all good. Each is a part of me and who and where I am meant to be. Thanks to all who have been a part of my journey.