31 Lessons from 31 Years .
As I pondered over what I would do for the thirty one day blog challenge that rolls around every October I had several ideas. I aspire to it, but never quite knock it out. Never quite is said loosely. I’m very spotty about it. But I always want to participate in it. Just as a way to challenge myself. A goal if you will.
As I brainstormed over the possibilities of topic I thought about what this year is numerically for me. It’s my 31st year. It only happens once right? So I’m going to participate in the 31 days of posted free writes with word prompts for fun and I’m going to try to sketch out 31 days of lessons I’ve learned or hope to learn better from the thirty one years I’ve spent circling the sun.
Soo. That means I’m going to aim for 2 sets of 31 Days October blogging challenge. I know me and I know I won’t ever reach those numbers, but it’s the mark! Thank you for reading.
Thirty one years ago this past March I came early to my parents. Five pounds and one large head. My mom jokes about how big my head was despite my small body.
When my parents talked about the births of my younger sister and I they always speak joyfully. Almost like a holy hush comes over them and they are speaking about something sacred. There were things that happened wrong within the years of my formative family, but something very right also happened. My parents always spoke positively of being a parent. I can never remember my parents ever saying anything negative.
There were no laments over parental exhaustion.
There were no laments over dreams they’d never see because they now had children.
There were no heaps of guilt poured over my sister and I due to the financial costs we brought to the family.
Yes, sometimes there were very stringent expectations and hard rules but there was only joy spoken of as it related to my parent’s thoughts on parenting.
It was as if it was almost their biggest gift.
I think I know why.
My parents both grew up in homes with much dysfunction. Different kinds, but bountiful in situations that could have produced parental disasters.
But my parents met Jesus. For themselves and for real.
My parents first encountered Jesus after they were married and had moved to Virginia. There had already been fissures and storms within the context of their relationship. But Jesus had plans of grace for their new family.
He met my parents as newlyweds eking out a life in a small apartment, new surroundings, and new jobs.
They met Jesus because of a sweet woman who took an interest in them and brought them into her life. There was now hope for something better.
They changed, they were brought into a tight community of faith, they blossomed.
But they waited….
They didn’t have children for six years.
My mom has told me that she never thought she could be a mother. The deeply abusive wounds her own mother had inflicted on her made her forever doubt her ability to mother.
My parents had actually aborted their first baby prior to getting married. Not because they wanted to and not because having the child before being married would be frowned upon, but simply because my mom thought she could never really be a good mother. She had no confidence in motherhood.
I think that history of hurt and an ending of human life because they were without hope made the arrival of my parent’s first child so holy.
Perhaps for my mother it was because she never thought she would be. Or could be.
And yet on March 1st, 1985 she was.
Maybe for my dad it was because he never even knew his father’s name and lived in poverty as one of five fatherless children.
Redemption saved my parents forever, but it also redeemed their broken experiences with child and parent relationships.
Redemption gave them hope of family.
They were brave enough finally to try.
Redemption gave my mother the gift of being what she never knew. A mother who was loving to her children. A mother who cherished being a mother.
Redemption gave my father the gift of being a known father. A father who has been the most committed father I have ever seen in real life. My father was always known in his home. He was never chasing a hobby or trying to find a way to avoid his role as dad. He always seemed so happy to cross over the threshold of my parents’ home and be home. It seemed to be his greatest joy. Being with his wife and his two little girls. Every morning He prayed a blessing over us and leaned in to lightly kiss our foreheads. Every morning.
My arrival completely unknown to me was symbolic of the redemptive work of God in my parents’ life and the breaking of generational patterns. As was my sisters.
Redemption is what made my parents cherish being parents because they might not have been.
Redemption gave my parents two more gifts of life to nurture after they had chosen death for lack of faith.
God gave them life anyway. And twice.
So my lesson for day one, is simple. There is nothing so horrific, no beginning so bleak that God’s redemptive grace in the person of Jesus cannot intervene and change the course or the trek it was headed on for the good, forever. God specializes in giving us good when we have known bad and when we have chosen it too.