this is me.
Over this past month I’ve had the unpleasant but necessary experience of being challenged. The challenge wasn’t about school or work, how I look or the way I talk, it was more about who I am at the core. What makes me tick. I was questioned as to whether or not I am authentic. It is difficult for me to really put my finger on how this questioning made me feel. I can say that I felt misunderstood, defensive, hurt, and embarrassed. Mostly though I just felt very convicted that if I’m am not fully sharing what is going on inside of me with people through my actions or words then they are probably receiving a false sense of who I am and what I am about. This did not rest well in me.
This self-doubt and examination lead me back to a paper that I wrote my first year at Multnomah Bible College. I was a fresh eighteen years old, so please forgive me if my writing was terrible… I’ve left out some of the most intimate details of the piece but I wanted to post this story about myself. In reading this I am often reconnected with some of my deepest pains and at the same time, what I would consider to be, one of my most glorious moments. Here it is, hopefully I am better understood through this blog (and the two people that read it… )
I am a Mother
One’s identity can be found amidst overwhelming chaos and seemingly unbeatable obstacles. At a very young age, I gleaned this information from first hand experience. The confusion began the summer of 2002. I was about to enter into my junior year of high school with academic, leadership, family, and spiritual responsibilities weighing heavy on my young shoulders. Anticipations of prom, spirit week, college scholarships, and visions of high school glory were shattered when the little stick showed two pink lines. I was pregnant.
In a matter of seconds I had become another statistic for the masses to devour. Little did anyone realize the intense drama that was playing out in my naïve, immature, 16-year-old mind. Can I raise a child on my own? Is this unborn child meant to be with another family? How will I tell my parents? What will people think of me… Amidst all of the tremendous stress and devastating questions was a little voice telling me what I need to do. God was speaking to my heart.. He was whispering to me as I felt the first movements of life deep inside.
I began my pregnancy with the end in mind. By the time I broke the news to my parents I had specific goals laid out and a detailed plan of action already playing in my head. Naturally, they were both shocked as they sat there, staring at their ashamed young daughter opposite them in a chair, weeping. Although they were distraught and mortified at my behavior, when I told them my strategy they were pleased at the obviously well thought-out presentation of the options before me and, eventually, the decision that I had come to on my own accord.
The first option that I had considered was to keep my baby. In the past my judgmental heart and prideful spirit had poured out condemnation on any girl who chose to keep her baby. What did any of those girls have to offer a child? However, this time I was in their shoes. I was the young mother. This time I was the one who wanted to keep the most precious possession that God had ever entrusted to me. Yet I would only be seventeen and not even done with high school. There was no way in the world that I could ever provide for a child without immense amounts of financial, emotional, and physical assistance from my parents. I wasn’t willing to put my parents through that. Keeping my child was not the best choice.
The only other morally sensible option for me was adoption. Adoption can be a tricky thing. Some feel pity for adopted children and some feel deep sympathy for the parent giving away their child. Either way you look at it, someone is going to hurt intensely. I feel that until individuals experience adoption first-hand in their lives, they can never fully understand the incredible amount of love involved. My younger sister is adopted, so I understood.
I chose adoption. My decision was to relinquish my child to someone else’s love and nurturing. In my eyes, I was making the intentional decision to renounce my motherhood responsibilities. Eventually I knew I would deliver a child but would not be that child’s mother. I would provide a warm, healthy, incubator for this kid to grow in but that would be the extent of the relationship. I had become a human oven, preparing a glorious meal for someone else to enjoy.
The pregnancy wore on and on. The days were long and uncomfortable as I prepared my body for the upcoming labor and my heart for the rapidly approaching heartache. Externally, my body was rounding out to a perfect little ball directly in front. Internally my son was playing soccer with my ribs and boxing with my bladder. I was beginning to fall in love with this little burst of energy inside my womb, someone I had never seen or touched. I knew that he could hear my voice, so I began to sing to him. I would play the piano and sing for hours on end, and in response he would roll around inside of me in what I like to consider his own little dance. These moments were precious; my meager attempt at passing a part of me into him.
Finally the day came. A woman can never really prepare herself for the oncoming of labor. Sharp pains roll up from below the enlarged belly and cramping overtakes all sense of reason and, eventually, manners! My labor lasted for thirty hours. Thirty hours is a long time to labor for something that I wasn’t going to reap any benefits from. The nurses were wonderful. My mom read scripture to me as I gritted my teeth and clinched my eyes tighter then ever before. Sweat poured from my face as I cried out in pain. Then suddenly it all went away. I received my very first epidural! I lifted a prayer of thanks for modern technology and continued to push.
He emerged at 12:08 in the morning, all seven pounds, eleven ounces. He screamed and yelped and I did not touch him. I demanded that he be taken away with his mother, but when they did I was overcome with the most intense feeling of loss that my body physically ached from the pain of it. I sobbed. I was a mother and my child had been taken from me. This defied nature. There are no words to describe the extreme loneliness.
Finally his parents left for the night and he was brought in to me. I sat there in my hospital gown and stared down at this little thing I had played a part in creating. He was so perfect, so soft. His tiny nose, cheeks, hands, and feet were all faultless. Beautiful dark eyes occasionally squinted up at me, and I was astounded at just how much they seemed to resemble my own.
I was with him for twenty-four hours. The time was spent simply embracing the one thing in the world that I could ever claim as a purely wonderful and flawless creation. The bond that we developed will last me a lifetime. If I never see him again I will be content. The time spent together meant more to me than anything. During that time I fell in love with my son. A forever kind of love.
Love moved the pen the following morning as I signed the adoption paperwork that detached me of all responsibility for my child. My mom clutched my shoulders and wept. My lawyer explained everything to me for the hundredth time, assuring himself that I was fully aware of the ramifications of signing these papers. I knew full well what I was doing. I was giving away my own flesh. I was offering my song as a gift to another woman. I was walking away from motherhood. In love I signed.
The paper did have more to it. Not really feeling the need to share it all. I think that my point in all of this is just to remind myself that there is depth to me regardless of people who may interpret me as shallow or “harsh.” I do also know that people’s interpretation is important. After going through a situation like this my automatic response to people who judge me is to say I don't really care what you think, you don't even know me. So I suppose finding myself humbled by this all over again and also remembering where I’ve come from will help guide me where I’m headed; always on a journey, hoping that I learn my lessons the first time. Remembering to be low because Christ made himself low enough to die on a cross. Nothing I have ever done or given up in my life is more sacrificial than that kind of love…