January's Fearless Feature comes from a person I can truly call my sister. We have known one another since we have known ourselves basically. Adrienne and I have been experienced so much life today and although I moved away, we have worked to still keep in contact and show love to one another.
I have always admired Adrienne's love for things and people. She truly has a heart of gold. She is one of the most hilarious and good-hearted people I know.
When God laid it on my heart to reach out to her and ask her to share her story, I was not sure how she would respond but I thank God for obedience because without any hesitation she said "Yes." Let me tell you, when I read her story, I was instantly floored at her level of openness and transparency. I told her that I don't even think that I am at that place yet.
Yall, this is a story you definitely don't want to miss. Read it. Then read it again. I strongly encourage you to share this with others that will also be blessed by her story.
To my love Adrienne, just saying thank you for your yes to God and me isn't enough. I pray God's boundless grace, mercy, and love on your life and those of your children.
I love you sis.
Let me first start by saying, I am HERE. In “my “book of life, I didn’t plan to be here. It was not on my agenda and far from my predictions. By here, I mean single and a parent of four. But I am here and have learned to embrace life’s unexpected turns. I could give a complete description of my encounters on this journey called Life, but I’d have to write a book for that. However, to give a better understanding of my story, I will present a peek into my life’s experiences. I hope to uplift anyone learning to build from the shattered pieces of life and reveal a few lessons I’ve learned in the process on how to prevent, adjust, and pursue.
The birth of my firstborn was one of the greatest joys of my tender adult life. At twenty-one, I held my beautiful pink baby girl. I had not prepared for the disappointment that would follow months later...divorce. A week after the birth of our daughter my ex-husband and I separated due to issues that later unraveled as an extramarital affair. As I tried to wrap my head around how we went wrong, I juggled the factors of our youth, immaturity, or ideas that maybe I just wasn’t enough? Regardless of the reasons, I found myself THERE --entering into a place unknown and beginning the journey of mom. During this adjustment, I often searched for answers to reveal my place in life (which I later learned was not a direct position of that disappointment). From patiently waiting to make decisions out of impulse two years later, I found myself about to step into another life-changing phase for me...a second marriage.
I laugh as I write this, 1) because I didn’t necessarily picture being so open about my life and 2) because I survived. Survival can be thought of as physical, but for me...it was mental. In 2010, I met my soon-to-be husband at a local restaurant where we both were employed. He had been there for a few years and I was new on the scene. It started with his attempt to pursue me. After deliberation, I gave him a chance. Let me get straight to it, I was head over heels about him and it seemed the same for him. We began spending time together and grew closer. As a child raised in the church, being taught and believing that premarital sex was wrong, I laid down my “know better” and began to engage in what I introduced to myself as “the norm." I later found myself pregnant with our son in 2011. Talk about mixed emotions! On one end, as the daughter of ministers and granddaughter of a pastor, I experienced shame, judgment, and disappointment of having a child outside of marriage and on the other end I was happy to share a life with someone who was as happy as I. His words marinated into my mind as he said with joy “I will never leave my son the way my father left me.” That December I gave birth to our son. As our relationship went up and down over the next six months. I decided to accept his hand in marriage the following year. I was heading into “my construction."
After we spoke our vows at the local courthouse we set off into the sun. Our marriage began. We were fairly fine in the first year. Besides the typical marital challenges, we were good. Later in 2012, I gave birth to our stillborn daughter who passed due to a rare condition, Trisomy 18. Although it took its toll on the both of us we seemed to draw closer and manage. However, on the night of our anniversary the following year, we went out and came home ending the night with an argument about why the 700 dollars he set aside for rent was missing. As I tried to play with the idea that he “lost it” I grew speechless and confused. That seemed far from the particular husband I knew. After our argument, he left home. With the assumption that he was going to blow off some steam, I went to bed. The next morning I opened my eyes to find I was in bed and home alone. After attempts to reach him, I gave up and waited for time to pass. Like any spouse, I grew concerned. I later heard from a relative that he had come by their place of work to borrow some money. I knew then he was alive and well and that something had changed. Due to prior experience with his brief disappearing acts, I assumed it was just another. However, his four days of absence was beyond my understanding. No money for the rent and no answers as to his whereabouts had me in a different space. I packed my things and went to stay with my mom and stepfather. A day later his call came in along with his explanation of just needing air while he stayed with a family member. So much of me disbelieved everything he was saying but naivety mixed with my hope for us left me contemplating. After several months of separation, we came back together…shortly before the birth of our 3rd child. After her birth, I was faced with the truth. While the music played on his phone I was curious to see what he was up to during those months of separation. I found more than I expected. Not only had he been unfaithful, but he also had a drug addiction. My heart sank.
Overwhelmed with emotion, I chose to discuss the too heavy issue with him in the morning. How? Why? Questions after questions and rage-filled my mind. Things started making sense. The next morning I told my husband what I knew. As he tried to explain, tears filled both our eyes. I began to tell him at the least as his friend, I felt he should tell me about his struggles. He proposed his willingness to seek rehabilitation. I was weary of it all and rejected the offer. However, those more familiar with marriage suggested that I at least try. So we did. He enrolled but about a month later quit. I had reached the final straw. We were back to square one. With no tears, no trust, no energy, no hope left, I filed for divorce. That experience was the most challenging of my life. After our marriage began its ending I sat in pain from the heartbreak. Although it was a choice I made, I was torn. I felt that my prayers, my tears, and my faith were in vain. I felt God overlooked me.
Fast forward a year and a half later after getting back on my feet, I began dating. This time I dated with “higher standards” (assuming that would be enough). He was mild-mannered, caring, and mature. He had no major issues and seemed suitable for my “list." After identifying some potential issues, afraid to go any further and be disappointed, I backed away. I was not at a place where I was following biblical instruction but I was not totally into trusting my feelings.
A few months later I met my youngest daughter’s father. He met my “standards." He too had his share of experiences and knew what it was like to survive. (Whew!! I just need a moment to break from writing this on paper...) We had a lot in common. Brokenness attracted brokenness and that’s what we were…broken. We moved into a home together and blended our families, his three children with my three children and his problems with my problems. Our insecurities together were a breeding ground for the destruction of any friendship. We both had not fully healed from prior relationships so we kept our safety nets. We began growing apart and later dealt with some issues from previous relationships. At seven months pregnant, I moved out. Burned out from the emotional strain of the relationship I became hungry for something healthy. The desire for health and peace led to the evaluation of my life. During that evaluation, I recognized the importance of my children and my peace becoming my primary focus.
SO LET’S GET IT!!!
My now 9-year old, 7-year old, soon-to-be 5-year old, and 2-year old have become the focal point of my journey. Presently, I have chosen to be single, saved, and SCARED. Lol. Aside from the jokes, I am at a critical and humbling phase of my life. As I have been living in my current home shy of 3 years I am embarking on a new journey, mentally, spiritually, and physically. In the process of relocating, I am still faced with the daily demands of life and children. I am a substitute teacher and during the summer an associate at a local store. Two fathers are present and amazing and the other is completely disconnected. So I understand what it’s like to co-parent and have to do it alone… Half and half.
As if working, playing taxi, and being a mom isn’t enough. I was in for a treat one afternoon. I had an off day from work and as most moms know, it really isn’t an off day. It’s just a day you have off to be on. I had planned to do some running around for myself, the household, and the children. I started on my journey at around 8 that morning and didn’t end it until 5 that evening. Exhausted from the day, I headed to pick the kids up from school. As I felt a small headache creeping up, I quickly and softly warned my children to refrain from all questions, bickering, or loud noises on the trip home. I was even thoughtful (and desperate) enough to ask and make my words sweet like candy to help them be compliant. IT DIDN’T WORK. Less than 2 minutes later, the sound of my middle daughter’s shrill pierced my sought after moment of silence. Shortly, my son’s loud words followed. I quickly reminded them of my words and silence resumed. Well, guess what?? It began again…the battle over how many sips of water each one of them was supposed to have! I was livid and shocked!!!! Not only could I feel the anger but strangely sadness came too. Not sad because I felt defeated but sad because I had to work up the energy to fuss. (I’m sure some of you will understand). Tears filled my eyes and what felt like heat filled my head. I slowed the car and began, “Stop it! Shuuuutt uuup! I’m sick of it! I asked y’all to keep it low until we got home. I told you not to argue and you couldn’t even do that.” As we approached a red light I continued..” LET ME EXPLAIN. I have had to run all over town trying to handle business for our house, for mommy, and for y’all but you can’t be obedient. Let me just take the time to count for y’all how many places I had to go today…1,2,3,” Until I reached 16. “SIXTEEN places and all y’all have to do is sit quietly for 10 minutes.” By the time I pulled away from the traffic light I thought of a final place. “NO SEVENTEEN PLACES!” “When we get home dinner, pajamas, and in the bed.” Sighs and whimpers filled the car. “I don’t want to hear it.”
As mothers, we are blessed with the gift of raising children but we are also faced with the challenges as well. So now that I’ve introduced my experiences and my current state. Allow me to introduce the lessons I have and am learning:
We as human beings are not always right. We don’t have life figured out and cannot see the biggest picture for our lives. There are times we minimize our lives into the eyes of what only we can see or imagine. But there is so much more. My biggest regret was not seeing myself the way God saw me in those moments, which I will never fully see. However, I am closer to the beauty He beholds than the deception from the enemy of my soul. We cannot rely on feelings alone to get us where we are meant to be.
We need to be connected. We need to be connected to a source higher/stronger than ourselves...God. If you will allow me to be completely transparent -- that would not have come out of my mouth (and meant it) a couple of years ago. I did not want to connect so much of my happiness with God. The lack of joy and love I saw in church and home mixed with my own desires steered me away from wanting to rely on God for that happiness. I assumed we were capable of making sound decisions and being happy without Him. Some negative encounters, bad experiences, or false portrayals of God can shy us away from the desire to fully connect with Him. God is God and His ways can be understood with our direct connection to Him. We have to rid ourselves of the image of “God” we saw or were taught and have to learn Him for ourselves. He is love. He has a plan for our prosperity, joy, and peace but we need to attempt to connect and trust Him. If I allow myself to be my only means of guidance, energy, or restoration…I will be depleted and mislead.
We should be organized. There is grave importance in making a schedule. We are constantly giving and getting caught up in the flow of things that we aren’t always intentional about how we spend our time. Organizing our time, not only for our daily responsibilities but for ourselves as well, will make a big difference. Making time to meditate, exercise, or just pat yourself on the back will add to your sense of well-being productivity. Taking time to take care of ourselves is essential. In order to give, we must have.
We must forgive. We must forgive ourselves and others for disappointments. Don’t allow anyone (even your kids ;) ) to snatch away your peace. In a perfect world…we don’t make mistakes or foolish choices. We don’t act off of impulse or get angry. We don’t hold grudges. We are perfect. But in this world, as humans...we are not. However, in order to live a life of peace and to truly be free, we have to be willing to let it go. We, as well as others, make some bad choices and can do some foolish things (sometimes more than once). But, we are HERE.
So regardless of the seat we are in whether chosen or given, we are still in the audience of life. We can regress or remain stagnant. Or we can rid ourselves of the weight that cripples, pacifies, or hinders us from our best selves. Let us make the best of today, not stress about the tomorrows, and walk towards our future with wisdom, hope, and love. We are here.