"The past is the past and many of us need to learn how to leave it where it belongs. We all have the right and ability to lead lives that are completely independent from the dysfunction we may have been taught as children"
There are many things I know for sure, now that I have grown up and matured in Christ. I know that I didn’t have much choice about how my life began. But the choice became mine when I grew into an adult. I was also given the gift to choose how my daughters life would begin and continue, until such a time as she begins to make her own choices. Even though I made many mistakes in her earlier years, grace was there to cover us both. I happened upon this diary entry and felt to share....
9 June 2003 (Nearly 3 years old!)
You are quite tall for your age with curly hair that has blonde streaks in it. You have beautiful golden skin (boy mummy is soooo jealous!!) and deep green eyes with a twist of hazel (you actually get those from you mummy and your Grandmother). You love everyone and everyone loves you. In fact every five minutes or so your telling me that you love me. AND I LOVE YOU TOO BABY! Your definitely a very happy little girl, and people say that you are extremely advanced for your age. You love singing to Jesus, and your always bugging me to go to church. These are the things that make me happy the most as you were born out of faith and I hope you live by faith all your life. You can have the most intelligible conversations and I just love the fact that I can communicate with you so easily. Every time your not around I miss you like crazy. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about how much I love you. You are the most important person in my life and I look forward to seeing you grow up to be a beautiful person inside and out. Always remember that God loves you so much, and so does your Mummy.
The greatest gift we can give our children is the knowledge of Christ himself. Once they become aware of who this amazing King is, He is given an open door to slip right on into their hearts. We have the power to teach and enlighten, and thus give our children a more promising start in life. And who doesn't want that? Its all about choice. We have the opportunity and the power to choose the best path for ourselves and our children. From here on in its a journey of unconditional Love.
My daughter really was exquisite. Babies are amazing aren’t they? They have the ability to light up your entire world with just one look, that one little smile, custom made to take your breath away. It’s no wonder that women get clucky when they are around other peoples new born treasures. Even men get a softer look on their face when they are around little babies. I for one never felt this way about other people's babies. I was decidedly indifferent, in fact most of the time I was a little uncomfortable as you know what happens when a woman holds a baby; (especially if she doesn’t have any children of her own) People start ooohing and ahhing and “Oh Rebecca, you would make a perfect mother, when are you planning on having children – not too late in life I hope?” As if you didn’t already know that your biological clock wasn’t pounding ever so loudly in your ear. That not so subtle expectation and pressure from other mothers, or even worse – grandmothers, to pop out one of those little darlings was what got me running for the door every time. That and I didn’t know what the all the big fuss was about. Babies just cry and poo their pants. Everynow and then they bless you with a cute expression, but lets face it, its probably just wind anyway. Yes, I think it was safe to say that I didn’t have a maternal bone in my body. Until my girl came along….
I remember the first time something came out the other end of Faith. I say something because it didn’t look like anything I’d ever seen in my life. (Come on ladies you know what I’m talking about! – all that black and green looking tar!) We were in the hospital when it happened (Thank GOD!) and thanks to me burying my head in the sand and avoiding prenatal classes, I didn’t even know how to change a nappy let alone deal with the mess she left behind. I made my way over to the nurses station and said “Excuse me, but my baby has messed herself and I don’t know what to do”. She turned around and said, “The nappies are under the crib” and I replied “Yeah I know that but what I’m trying to say is that I don’t know how to do that”. I still remember the look the nurse gave me. Like I was some stupid little girl who had got knocked up one night and had no business having a baby. Actually I was 21 years old and I may have been stupid for not going to those prenatal classes but I sure as heck wasn’t in that category. Well I guess with all humility I must admit that it was only the age thing that she got wrong. Everything else she was probably assuming was true. I was highly embarrassed when this revelation hit me, and it did my pride in a real whopper but there wasn’t much else I could do at that exact point in time.
I remember those first few days and weeks so vividly. God must have been walking beside us every step of the way as taking my baby home to an empty house and having no idea what I was doing, was probably not the best way to start such an important relationship. I had my mattress on the ground, and my newborn baby sleeping in a cane washing basket right next to my head. I couldn’t stand the thought of not hearing her breathe. The greatest thing I struggled with during these times was the cold faced reality that I was walking this path alone without the comfort of a loved one by my side. At times I would cry quiet tears as I didn’t want to show weakness – even to a newborn baby. I remember many times sitting on the side of my bed, just wishing for someone to just hold my hand or rub my back or tell me everything was going to be alright. I guess I was just exhausted and craved comfort and reassurance. My God, my Father was awesome in that place, and I believe I would never have made it through those desperate times if it weren’t for Him. When times became too intense I would pick my baby up, turn on the stereo and sing quietly along with Hillsong, “Power of Your Love”. Those moments were so special, and I believed Faith felt the Holy Spirit ministering to us during this time just as much as I did. Her early days were filled with the sound of praise and worship because that was the only thing that fortified my life.
Well I feel like I should say something Godly or spiritual right about now just to be consistent, but well the truth is, babies are just like that. They look all innocent and helpless but I tell you the truth!! They can turn your life inside out if you give them half a chance. Give them an inch and they will take ten thousand miles. I’m just kidding (well sort of). All humor aside, children are an amazing gift from God and it is my understanding that they come not just to be taught, but to teach. It is amazing what you learn from a child. Jesus said “Let the little children come to me, Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these”. Mark 10:14. Why is this statement so true and so significant? Because the younger the child, the less likely they have been tainted by the world – or our stupid mistakes. Because lets face it, children often follow by our example. They represent innocence and have the ability to reintroduce us to that concept. They can let go of that which offends them and forgive those who hurt them in a drop of a hat. They have a kind of faith that ensures entry into the Kingdom of God. Their hearts are pure and their minds are empty vessels. We as parents have the ability to fill those little minds up with whatever we choose to and our children have the ability to demonstrate pure love, forgiveness, grace, innocence, and a heart that is desperate to please. Its no wonder why God points to children as an example that best represents His heart and His kingdom.
My baby girl always did and still does represent Christ to me. I know she is not perfect, especially as she grows older and is more subject to the world she lives in but she has many holy qualities that speak louder than any of those impositions. I can’t pretend to know exactly what God has in store for her future but whatever it is it will be glorious as her life has been dedicated and set apart unto the Lord. She belongs to Him and it is with this knowledge that I rest.
Like my mother before me, I became a solo parent at age 21. Around this time I had started to become painfully aware that my life was in inexplicably hurtling down the same dead end track as hers. I seemed to be replicating her every experience, despite my considerable efforts not to. Ironically, the one thing I thought would never happen was a repeat episode of ME. Not because I possessed a magic wand, but because I was told that due to some internal damage to my reproductive organs, it was highly unlikely that I would ever have children. While a small part of me quietly died at this revelation, I was also extremely relieved that an innocent child would not suffer at my hands. Seriously. That's how messed up I was.
I won’t go into the details of how I got pregnant, but I pity the Doctor who gave me the news. My fear was debilitating and unprecedented. I had only one example of motherhood in my life, and look how that turned out! To make matters worse, I didn’t possess one tiny maternal bone in my body. This story does end well I promise, but we'll get to that in a little bit. For now I want to explore a phenomenon that many women in my position experience.
My life was turned inside out and up the right way when my daughter made her grand entrance into this world. But isn’t it like that for everyone? No matter what we tell ourselves, as soon as that baby pops out something divine takes place and we forget why we were so afraid. (Until the car ride home and then it all comes flooding back!!). The birth of my daughter had an all consuming effect on my life. For the longest time, life really didn’t mean anything to me without her. This may sound all very poetic except that its NOT, and was a very unhealthy way of living. The belief that this baby was my reason to keep living was both unfair on myself and on her. This expectation alone on her life would have given her massive psychological issues. I know this because it is exactly what transpired between my mother and I. My life was never meant to be built on, and sustained by her life. I had my own life that God had given me. Even though I had become a mother, I was still His child and He had a plan for me that went well beyond raising this child on His behalf. It was selfish and weak and love is neither of these things. There was a balance to strike and a correct way to understand my position in her life and hers in mine. Love was essential, but the kind of love she needed to grow up into the woman of God she was destined to be, was not a selfish love that placed a demand on her life. And so the work (in me) began...
My greatest fear and most intense challenge turned out to be my greatest achievement that was pivotal in helping me to grow up into the woman that I am today. I am not perfect, but I no longer see myself as being anything other than what God wants me to believe. Enough time has been wasted on believing things about myself that could not possibly be true. If it were true, then we would be shaped by every single thing we did wrong. We would even be shaped by every single thing our parents did wrong, and their parents before them. If it were true then my daughter would have a life worth of disaster ahead of her to look forward to. And I know for a fact that she doesn't. All of her days were preordained before even one of them came to be.
Today I no longer look at her as being my reason to live. Now I look at God as my reason why I am alive and why I continue to rise and shine. She is free to be whoever God has called her to be now that I have learnt how to take up the reins of my responsibility and hold them well. The fear of being an inadequate mother has also dissipated. I know that I have made mistakes and I will probably continue to stuff up every now and then but I have no truthful reason to believe that I’m only capable of raising my daughter the wrong way. The past is the past and many of us need to learn how to leave it where it belongs. We all have the right and ability to lead lives that are completely independent from the dysfunction we may have been taught as children. That is the essence of being an adult and making sound choice. It is also the gift we received when Jesus sacrificed His life for us on the cross. Every single one of us have this right, but not many of us exercise it. Every single one of us have access to this gift, but not all will receive it. What if anything, is holding you back?