It feels weird to finally be doing it. I’ve felt the tug for years but I never really knew what to share until now. In fact, two years ago, I was starting up a non-profit with some friends and wrote the following blog post as a contributor. It was supposed to be the first of many, except that it wasn’t. It was the first and the last, until now. I’m going to post it again to start this thing off and then I’ll dive into sharing about my family now and our experiences with infertility and pregnancy. We are starting a new journey into trying to become a foster family and hope to adopt and the main purpose of this blog is to write about that experience, but I’ll also be sharing other stuff along the way as well.

For now, here’s that original first post…. See ya’ on the other side!

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I am typically hesitant to say that God said, says, or is saying anything that isn’t already in the Bible, so the stuff I write below is what I feel like He’s been saying, but I’ll be the first to admit that really, who knows?! I do feel like He’s been speaking to me though, and here’s my take on some of our recent interactions:

God: Write.
Me: Write… what?!!
God: …….

(Fast forward to a few minutes, days, or weeks later…)

God: Write.
Me: Write… what?!!
God: …….

(Repeat.)

Soooo… here I am. A little lost, honestly. After many months of going back and forth in my head about what to share, I’ve decided that some context might be helpful- that way when I figure out what it is that I’m supposed to be saying, you’ll have some background to help makes sense of it all. I am usually pretty private and don’t share this stuff openly so I figured the internet was a nice, safe place to start. Ha!

Here we go….

Looking back, I remember about 4 interactions I’ve had with my biological father, and two were as an adult. He and my mom split up when I was a baby… I was about 7 months old and my older brother was just turning 5 when they separated, so whenever I say “parents” in future posts, I’ll be referring to my mom and my step-dad because I have no memories of my biological dad and my mom together, co-parenting. I’m sure I’ll share more about the things I’ve learned from his absence down the road, but not today.

It was my step-dad who was physically present as a father figure in my life starting from the time I was about 4 or 5 and I want to tell you about him.

In many ways he was extremely selfless. He and my mom both worked really hard and always provided for my brothers and me. We always had whatever we needed for school or whatever extra-curricular activities we were involved in, and that didn’t come without sacrifice. Money was often really tight and I don’t remember him ever buying anything for himself… only for us.

He was hilarious. When times were good, there’d be a room full of family and friends with cramped cheeks, buckled over from laughter.

He loved God. He loved music. He sang beautifully and was in our church choir.

The best thing I can remember about him is that I never felt like he was my step-dad. Even though we weren’t close emotionally, he raised me and was the only man I ever knew to try. Growing up, he never treated my older brother or I any differently than he did my younger brother, who was his biological son. I have never felt any less connected to my younger brother than I did my older even though we had different fathers and I really feel like that’s a gift he gave us. It actually never even occurred to me that there was a difference between my two brothers until I was an adult and I love that so much. I really believe that if he’d treated my younger brother differently, it would have created division among us siblings and I’m so thankful to him that that was never the case.

Sadly, my step-dad struggled with a chemical imbalance, mental illness, and depression, and because of this, it was impossible to feel safe with him or close to him. My entire childhood with him, this was the cycle:

1.The doctors would figure out a combination of medicines for him to take to keep him balanced.

2. He would take them. They would work for a while, but eventually, his body would adapt and they’d stop being effective. Or they’d work so well that he or the doctors thought he could stop taking them, or take less of them and they’d try that.

3. There’d be a huge blowup…

Me with my step-dad when I was a senior in high school. I’m sure there are other photos out there, but this is the only one I have of us together. I was on Homecoming Court and he escorted me during the half-time show. I remember feeling awkward because it was unusual for us to spend time together alone, but I was thankful to have someone to walk with me that night.

He wasn’t physically abusive in terms of actually hitting anyone for a long time but he was very scary. There was a lot of screaming really horrible things, a lot of intimidation, and a lot of breaking things in and around the house. Once, for example, he threw a dining room chair through our front bay window onto the front lawn.

There were several times growing up when these blowups would occur and then we’d leave home in the middle of the night for days or weeks at a time, or longer. Usually we’d go to stay with friends or family. Once we went to a shelter for battered women and children. Or maybe twice? I can’t remember, but I remember that sometimes, staying with strangers in a strange place was easier than bearing the shame that came from facing family and asking for help again. There were a few times when he left instead and we got to stay home while he stayed with family friends for months at a time.

It was really heartbreaking because I know he hated that part of himself and just wanted to be well. He didn’t want to treat us that way and would do anything anyone suggested to “get better.” He took the medicines the doctors told him to. He asked for and received prayer for healing a gazillion times. He went to counseling. He met with pastors. He stayed involved in church. He admitted himself to in-patient treatment programs for long periods of time. Still, the cycle repeated itself. Sometimes we’d have months or a year without a huge blowup but even then, we were always on edge wondering when the next one might occur. And sadly, it always would. It went on until those blowups finally escalated to the point of physical abuse and arrests. After almost 20 years, that marriage ended and with it, any interaction I would have with him.

I remember being really scared when he was out of control. Mostly scared for my mom because she was the one facing him, but she was always so strong. I don’t remember being afraid that he’d hurt me… at least not until later when I was a teenager.

I remember being embarrassed because everyone on the whole block heard and saw when my parents fought and it must’ve looked really crazy.

I remember that when fights would start to escalate, my older brother and I would put our shoes and jackets on and start to gather our things we’d need for school together in bags because we knew we’d be leaving again, usually late at night, and we might need to get out quickly and not come home for a few days.

I remember him saying sorry after we’d see him again. And I remember being so eager to forgive him. I knew he didn’t mean to do those things. I knew in some ways he had no control. And as I got older, I also knew that in some ways, he did.

And I remember Jesus… always with me during those scary times.

I remember that I would go sit in my closet, scrunch myself into a ball underneath the hanging clothes, and I’d pray. I was never praying to some far-off distant God, He was always right beside me. I could feel Him. He was present. He comforted me. He calmed my heart. I knew that He loved me.

I knew that even though I had one father on earth who helped make me but didn’t care enough to ever get to know me, and another who tried to raise me but didn’t know how to love me, I also had one in Heaven and right beside me who loved me perfectly, and I was never alone because He always met me in the midst of my brokenness.

This is the Jesus I still know.

He is still the loving Daddy I’ve never known in a man, and He’s still the God who meets me when I’m broken.

P.S. My step-dad recently went home to be with the Lord and I am so thankful to know that he is now finally free from his sickness. He tried so hard for so long to beat it and I know by God’s grace, he finally has…

I can just see the clouds full of angels with cramped cheeks, buckled over from laughter.