Every Saturday morning she made pancakes. In her nightgown and purple slippers, my mom would breakdance on the kitchen floor as we waited for the pancakes to bubble. It’s a memory that often brings a smile to my face.
Growing up, my mom was fun. She knew how to laugh and have a good time…even when life was really busy. She would always crank up the radio on full blast and jam as we drove to school. She ate bowls of cereal for dinner and would sing some kind of crazy song to wake us up in the morning. She vacuumed incessantly and could often be found chasing us down to smother us with kisses.
Even though she worked day and night, somehow my mom still made every day seem like a good day. But her specialty was holidays. I remember countless pictures of me, surrounded by friends, blowing out candles on a birthday cake. Skating rinks, pool parties, twister parties…it was always a memorable event. She also had a love of gift-giving, especially Christmas gifts. She spent so much time planning and picking out the perfect gift. She would lie about it, hide it, and even disguise it on the big day. Her joy made Christmas amazing, no matter what was under the tree.
Of course my childhood wasn’t one big party, I’ve just purposed to focus more on the ways that God took care of me even when times were tough. Sometimes I think it’s easy to look back on life and remember the tragedy, focusing on the hard things, the broken hearts, and the times I felt alone. But these aren’t the only memories. They are just the loudest. For most of my life, I have allowed the destruction of our family through divorce to define me. I allowed those circumstances to determine the color of the lens through which I viewed life.
I lived a life full of fear. It began with the black racer that slithered its way under the gate while my 7-year-old body clung for dear life. But it didn’t end there. I’ve been afraid of nearly everything, from darkness to being alone. Fear so crippling that I didn’t function as a normal adult. Fear that destroyed nearly every relationship I have ever had. Fear that became the insecurity that first began in self-mutilation and would carry me into a decade of self-destruction.
I spent years making up lies and stories that would make my life better than it really was. By the time I graduated from college, I was so lost in lies I wasn’t even sure what was true anymore. Somehow it became my escape from who I thought I was: a girl never good enough to be truly loved. If I could just make things all right in my head, then things would be all right in my life.
I spent years wishing for the families that my friends had, not because my life was so horrible, but because there is something in a child’s heart that knows what a family should be. There is something inside that says, “I would give anything to be whole.” And I can honestly say that 33 years after the destruction, there is a part of me that still longs for this to be right.
As for my parents, I still don’t know what happened and I won’t bother trying to point fingers. Neither of them were bad people. Both loved me, it was just never enough. The brokenness defined me until I reached the absolute rock bottom (more about that later). In the bottom of that pit I learned that while I couldn’t change the past, I could change the lens. I could choose to see myself as God sees me. Choose to focus on what God was doing despite the circumstances. And become diligent to document what God had done in each part of my life, looking for ways that HE had shown His glory.
This meant seeing the blessings, like praying grandmas, a VERY unique day care that provided excellent care for my sister and I, always having enough to eat, the continual voice of God in my head through Sunday school and youth events, no STD’s or teenage pregnancies, and for continuing to place amazing Christian friends in my path who walked through the hard life with me, daily challenging me to stay above water.
While I don’t mean to diminish the obvious effects of divorce, as an adult I must DAILY choose to live past these scars. I must give God the opportunity to redeem, restore, and heal, surrendering it all to Him.
Read the rest of the story here…
Join the conversation…What was your childhood like? Do you have a favorite memory? Something you wish had been different?