For as long as I can remember I’ve had ONE dream for my life. There have always been constellations of additions to the dream, floating like butterflies gently landing in my heart and then flitting away. All the while, leaving the core of who I am: I have always been a wife and mother.
Just like so many other girls of earlier generations I imagined what and who my husband would be. I imagined our home, our children and the way in which we would love one another. I imagined having a family. I never fully pictured the faces names or types of people they would all be. I simply always left the place in my heart open for the man who would be the man I loved and for the little people that we would bring into our life through that love.
Even as a young kid I can remember thinking it wasn’t ok to want to be “just a mother” as primary goal for my life. My parents were divorced and both deeply unhappy people. My father has been married and divorced four times now. My mother was single the entirety of my child and young adulthood. She did remarry while I was in college to a man who had three daughters of his own. From where I sat (very far from them in another state as well as on another planet emotionally) from my mother; it seemed she had settled for something less than she wanted. She and I have had a deeply strained relationship since I was 14 and I preferred distance and walls for my safety. They both still seemed deeply unhappy. My father even went so far as to tell me that I should never get married.
Thanks to all of that I kept my hearts desire quietly to myself and to a very few friends. I also wanted to do something in my life that would change the lives of other people for the better. I eventually found social work and felt that it was my vocational home. It’s core values mirrored my own. I felt I could do this work as a natural extension of who I was at the heart. I was excited. All the while keeping an eye out for that man who would join me on my journey.
I’ve loved three men in my life with all of my heart. The second of which I loved more than I thought was possible to ever love anyone. I knew exactly who he was, all his cracks and broken-ness. All his weaknesses and strengths. As many of his secrets as I could pry from his guarded heart. I guarded my own just as fiercely out of fear of having it shattered beyond repair . I left him out of fear that I would repeat the mistakes I watched my father make. I was desperate to avoid being a man’s “savior” or have a man try to be mine. There is only One Savior and that is Christ. Leaving him broke my heart but left me feeling I have somehow made progress; moved closer to the man I was meant to find. (Secretly hoping that it would motivate the man I left to become that man b/c I believed he could).
The man I dated after that seemed to be a nice man but was never someone I loved. He was someone, I freely admit, that I used to fill the empty space left in my broken heart. He was verbally and emotionally abusive. It was the quiet kind of abuse that sneaks into you and starts to chip away at all the strength that you build in your soul. For reasons only God will know, this is the man who became the father of the only child I have ever carried in my womb. This fact broke my heart from the beginning but only for the child I carried. I realized that the bad decisions I had made and the weakness that I allowed to keep me with the wrong man will now cost my child a debt she never asked for. She will be burdened for the rest of her life with all the weakness, cruelty and self- centeredness that the man who helped create her keeps in his heart. For me this is as close to an unforgivable sin as can exist in my world.
I left this man. I tried to learn to forgive myself for this failure. I enjoyed each and every second of my pregnancy. I reveled in how I was working hand in hand with the Heavenly Father to craft His child and work at making Good for her out of all of my failures. I prayed constantly. I watched excitedly as my belly grew (as well as the rest of me!) I loved knowing how strong my body was and how strong I knew my baby was. I loved the feel of her kick and the look of my nice round belly. I’d never felt so strong, so rooted, so connected to the creator through the work He was doing in my body and in my heart. My Father loved me back to health. We whispered to each other every night. I shared my fears and failings and He held me and shared His Love and Forgiveness. I shared my dreams for my little family and He shared His strength and His protection for us. I began to grow in confidence. This growth culminated in the birth of the amazing fighting spirit gift that is my daughter Abigail Grayce….
More to come
Hiding my face in my hands pressing my head against the window of the bus as the sting of tears burn fast down my cheeks. There was no point in trying to hide them from the other kids anymore. Now I was just trying to disappear into the vapor. I want to become part of the bus, the seat or to, seep out of the window like the fumes of exhaust str seeping in…a cloud of black filth and nasty that combined with the the motion and the overwhelming noise of the hour long ride between school and home that made me sick every day. That black cloud of filth and stink seems to be a reminder of who I am in the world and today I want more than anything to become part of it and float away.
Instead my head bangs against the metal frame of the window as my ears ring with the echo of the words that followed the spit that was now dripping down the back of my dirty brown hair to my neck. It was dripping down and I couldn’t bring myself to reach back and stop it. I couldn’t touch that nasty spit that was soaking into my skin the way the words had already soaked into my soul
“RETARD! CRIPPLED! FOUR EYES! YOU’RE SO UGLY I BET YOUR MAMA DON’T EVEN LOVE YOU! ” “YOU CAN’T EVEN GET ON THE BUS WITHOUT CRAWLING LIKE A DOG!” THAT’S WHAT YOU ARE! YOU’RE A DOG! A RETARDED, FOUR EYED DAWG!” “AWWWE LOOK! THE DOG IS CRYIN’ AGAIN YA’LL!
Then I heard it, that disgusting sound of someone choking up snot and spit and wadding it up in their mouth like a ball. Amid the laughter and taunting I knew what was coming next, I hoped I was wrong but I knew. Then I felt it. That ball of snot and spit landing in my hair and sliding down my neck into the back of my shirt and all I want to do was to disappear, to become the black vapor and disappear. The bus squeals to a stop and now it’s time to gather the guts to get up and walk off the bus. I have a choice. I’m a slow walker because it hurts so I can either try and hurry to be the first off to get away as fast as possible and risk more ridicule and pushing and yelling because my slow, stiff limping will piss them off more or I can sit and wait peeking over the edge of my arm to see when the last person is up and walking off and get in behind them. It means waiting a few more excruciating minutes but I decide to do it hoping it will end the torment with the spit that is now mixing in with the sweat dripping down my back under my shirt and making it stick to me.
I thought I was the last one off the bus and almost safe. I was wrong. One more boy got in line behind me. I don’t know his name. He’s older than me by a couple years at least. He lives on my street. I can see his house from my front porch. He is the one who spit on me…HE SPIT ON ME!… As I’m edging my way up the isle trying to move fast and narrow the gap between me and the person in front of me without tripping or losing my balance I feel him behind me. I hear him hissing insults at me. Then as I get to the last step I feel his hands on my shoulders. He pushed me hard and I fell off the last step. My hands slap hard on the hot pavement and I can feel the skin peeling away from my palms as he “accidently” kicks me in the behind. I have to push up with my hands and get my feet back underneath me by sticking my butt in the air making a great target I guess. I manage to get up and grab my bag of books and start trying to get home but he’s still behind me. He’s still pushing. Pushing with his words, pushing with his hands, pushing with his presence. As if his hatred of me could somehow make me move faster. I try to run to get away from him but it only brings more laughter and more taunting.
“AAAAAAWE LOOK AT HER TRYIN’ TO RUN! RUN DAAWG RUN! SHE CAN’T EVEN RUN! I BET SHE FALLS AGAIN! WHAT A RETARD.”
I crawled up the front steps of my house as fast as I could and ran in slamming the door behind me. I ran to the room I shared with my older sister and flung myself on my bed sobbing. The waves of tears came so quickly I could barely breathe. The asthmatic wheezing kicked in along with the sobs and the sweat and my shoulders rocked and heaved with each attempt at a breath. As I lay there with my face pressed into my pillow and my school bag on my feet I cried, I sobbed, I wailed until I had no tears left, until I had no breath left save the halting heaves like a baby after a temper tantrum. Between each halted heave I felt a question that had been pushing it’s way to the front of my mind for what seemed like all 10 of my years. I felt it pushing it’s way out of me as though it needed to be heard and so in weak desperation I asked God in a whispered scream: “WHY? WHY would you make someone like me? Why would you make someone so ugly, so disgusting, so broken that EVERYONE would hate them? Why would you make me so that everyone could hate me? My sister hates me, my father hates me, my teachers hate me, I have no friends, WHY did you bother to make me if no one will ever love me?”
As soon as it was out of my mouth hanging in the air, I heard the answer. It came back in a whispered yell just like my question: “I made you because I LOVE YOU! I made you EXACTLY the way I want you and I made you BEAUTIFUL IN MY EYES!” I turned over and laying on my side I curled up and swore I could feel arms wrapped around me. I whispered again: “How can that be true? How can anyone love me?” I heard back in a softer whisper “*I* love you, and one day I’ll show you why. One day I’ll tell you what all your tears were for. One day you’ll understand why I made you different and that being different is what makes you perfect and beautiful in My Eyes.” I lay there for a few moments knowing I was loved and finally feeling that someday this would all matter. Not bothering to question but accepting in my child heart that it was my Father, my Abba I had heard. I recognized His voice right away. I was not old enough yet to forget the sound of Him or to wonder the difference between His quiet still voice and my own. So, I sat up brushed away tears, and went to sit on the porch in the sunshine and fresh air to breathe and to wait.
I met God that day in my room, on my bed, in my hell, I met Him. He came to me and held me and dried my tears with the His breath of wind and warm Hand of sunshine. I knew in my heart that someday I would know the reason. One day I would use it all to do something, to be something, to change something that mattered to Him. I MATTERED TO HIM. Somehow, that’s all I needed to know.
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:13-16
There is more to this story. I don’t know for sure where God will take me on this journey but I know this is where it was meant to start. If you join me we’ll find out together where He’ll be leading. I have a feeling it’s somewhere great! Will you join us? I’d love the company. 🙂