She was but a few days, weeks maybe, old. Her soft skin and tiny fingers weren’t even a memory yet, more of a dream still. I had carried her, given birth to her, held her, loved her and now she was gone.
And I was looking for meaning.
I know he was well-intentioned this man who I shared my new dreams with. I know he and his family cared deeply for me. They had supported me and loved through a process that made me a woman…a mother…brokenhearted. I shared with him that I wanted to become a social worker. That no one would be able to help other birthmothers the way I could, having walked their road. I was excited. There would be meaning to my emptiness. There would be a reason for all this heartache. (There were MANY reasons I had chosen adoption…mainly wanting the best for my sweet baby girl…but mired in heartache and feelings I didn’t know what to do with I couldn’t grasp those reasons I needed my own. Something that I didn’t give away.)
But there in the face of my excitement came these words, “You don’t want to do that. You don’t want this to be what defines you.”
Those words. Changed. My. Life.
From that moment on I began to run from being a birthmother. I pushed away feelings of love for my daughters. I carried anger and resentment towards their parents. And while I was fairly open with people about the girls I still wore shame. I was busy filling my life and my heart with things to help me forget I was (am) a birthmother.
He was right. I didn’t want to defined by this moment…I didn’t want to be known as the woman who slept around, who kept giving up her kids, who despite being smart made dumb life decisions over and over again. I didn’t want to be a movie of the week kinda girl.
And then, I met Jesus.
(I know it almost sounds cliche, doesn’t it? But the overwhelming, redeeming love of our Savior is never cliche, so stick with me!)
As Jesus began to work in my heart, I started to soften and see my life through a different lens. Yes, I had made many, many poor choices in my life, BUT God had a plan for two little girls, for two families to be complete, for my life to have meaning.
And when I learned to lay them down at the foot of the cross. God began to move in me.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to h
im are radiant; their faces are never covered in shame. Psalms 34:4-5
We’ve all made poor decisions,we all live lives marred with sin (sometimes mine was just more noticeable than others), we all need the grace and love of Jesus to help us put down our old ways and seek Him to become different, better women!
My sweet, amazing oldest daughter is 15 today. I knew her when her fingers were tiny and gripped my pinky, now those fingers play the piano and write beautiful poems. Her little legs that once kicked my belly button from the inside now make her a force to be reckoned with on the soccer field.
And I’m sure her eyes, so deep and beautiful are still gorgeous and carry a hint of an impish spark (after all she is related to me!!).
This past year, God took this busted up girl who spent much of her life running from herself and offered a tremendous dose of grace. I’ve gotten to know my amazing, loving, funny daughter via facebook, texts and letters. We have an amazing relationship that is hard to define, but is exactly what we both need. When I wrote a blog last year for her birthday I wrote to her, reveling in the memories of what it was to “know” her. This year, I know her and I’ve been able to tell her I love her (and receive her love). She has healed places in my heart that haven’t seen sunlight or hope in, well, 15 years. Through words of a very wise, very caring young woman (my daughter!!), God has offered me healing and hope.
But, do you see that if I was still running there would be no healing? The truth is God has a plan for us — to redeem our pasts (and our sin) and to use us in ways for His kingdom that we couldn’t ever imagine. But, not one ounce of healing, not one ounce of redemption can come when we refuse to set it down. When we try to ignore our pasts (locking it away) it leaks out like a dripping pipe…slowly eroding our hearts, our hopes, our dreams and changing who w
e are. When try to run from our pasts it is like trying to run from your shadow on a sunny day. Our pasts are what make us.
Oh, but they do not have to define us. Our past, our sin, our shortcomings only define us if we choose to let them. If we choose, instead, to be defined by Christ it changes everything. Christ takes that past and allows us to see where God was in it and how it can be used in the here and now. For me, part of God’s plan allows me to share my experiences as a birthmother with people (other birthmothers, pregnancy center volunteer trainings, and more). And for me, part of God’s plan was healing…a little at a time. I will never be the mommy who raised my two little girls (they have incredible mothers who God chose for them), but I do get to be a friend who loves them, prays for them, cheers them on and loves them in a special way that few will ever understand!
And that my friends is what Jesus’ plan for me looks like (well, part of it…).
What do you need to set down? Is God calling you to come to terms with your past (your sin) so that He can use it for His glory?