There were times in the past when life seemed pointless. It was in those times of tremendous pain and grief that I learned how to hold on, sometimes by the thinnest thread, to life. I believe that looking back sometimes helps us appreciate just how fierce we really are. I have been thinking about the past over the last two days, due to a conversation I had with my youngest daughter on our Sunday call.
We were talking about the decision I wrote about in an earlier post that I made to adopt her and her three siblings when I was age 21. I think she wonders if I ever regretted the choice I made, because she believes that she would never have made the same choice. I told her that I had no regrets and that I was pretty sure that if I had not chosen that path, I would probably be dead today. She was shocked to hear me say that, but it is true.
On self-reflection, I realize that I did not make a lot of wise decisions when I was younger. I flew by the seat of my pants, just living life as it came. At age 19, I married my first husband, a man who had no job, and he and I would live six months with his mother and six months with my mother. It never dawned on me that living without any means of support wasn’t a sustainable lifestyle.
Every day was filled with drinking beer and playing Bid Whist, a card game. I had no filters on my drinking, so I ended each day completely drunk. Every night ended with a fight with my also drunk husband. Because I had been put in the hospital for seven days and had some surgery after being beaten during the summer before my senior year in high school, I fought back when I would be hit. I was not going to let someone else beat me without fighting back!
I thought this would be my life until I died, so I did not expect to have a long life, and I didn’t care if my life was cut short. I loved reading books and I had dreams of one day becoming a college professor, but I just did not believe that dreams came true for people like me living in chronic poverty.
I did not have the level of faith in God that I have today, because I had not attended church since I had been baptized at age nine, as my mother was very anti-religion. She would say, “I believe in the s-u-n, not the S-o-n, because if the sun falls out of the sky, everything will freeze and die.” But something in my spirit seemed to keep my little bit of faith in the S-o-n alive, and I just could not buy into Mama’s theology.
Then, my sister died unexpectedly, and I found myself with four little children to provide love, care, and, for me, a way out of poverty. The only way that I knew that I could achieve it was to believe the lessons about God’s love for me that I had been taught at my church and by a group of white Bible college students when I was nine years old.
Today, when I look back, I can see the times when God intervened to save me and help me, especially when I was at the end of my hope. I could write my own set of psalms of gratitude for the deliverance, faithfulness, and love of God. I know from experiencing my spirit leaving my body and falling into the darkness as my first husband squeezed my throat that truly the body dies but the spirit lives on.
So, I have learned that when life seems pointless, we must have something or someone to believe in and hold on to, so that we can have hope for a better future. Life has shown me that someone is the S-O-N, Jesus Christ the Lord.