I started writing at a very young age. I would write as a way to release what I felt inside. My mother and father divorced when I was very young. I was too young to actually know what happened in my parent’s relationship to cause them to separate. To be honest, I didn’t know that my parents were married. I didn’t even know what marriage was. All I knew was that I loved my mama and daddy equally the same.
Be Seen and Not Heard
I spent the majority of my childhood with my mother’s side of the family, only visiting my father’s side every now and again. I would consider my mother’s family a traditional, African-American family with old school values. Therefore, it wasn’t uncommon for elders in the family to aid in care giving of later generations.
My mother and I lived with my grandmother. There were nights when my father would fall asleep in a chair in our living room. My father wouldn’t be there when I would wake up in the morning. I assumed he was working because I thought that is what adults did while children went to school. I overheard a little girl at school talking about her father being at home in the morning, that I began to wonder why my father wasn’t home when I woke up.
A child asking questions about “adult matters” was considered taboo. A phrase that I heard often growing up was, “Children should be seen and not heard.” For that reason, I didn’t ask anyone why my father didn’t live with us and no one told me why he didn’t either. Typically, television shows both parents sitting down with their child to explain in understandable terms that a divorce is happening. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for me.
My mother has other two other daughters that have the same father. My sisters and I are 20 and 22 years apart. I started to pick up on references made about “my father,” as I got older. Quite young, I began to realize that I was different.
I grew up close in age with two of my nieces and one of nephews. We would spend a lot of time together at my great-aunts’ house. Their fathers would come to get them, oftentimes leaving me behind. Then, there were times when my father would only take me and leave them behind. At that age, we weren’t mature enough to understand the complex dynamics of our kinship. Our immature minds could only understand that we were being separated. By the time my father started picking all of us up together from elementary school when I was in the 5th grade, I already began to feel the damage of being separated. I felt like a black sheep.
Jesus Loves Me
I began to internalize being different in my actions. I kept to myself a lot. My sisters had each other. Likewise, my nieces and nephew had each other. I didn’t fit in with my sisters because they had forgotten the immature challenges they faced during childhood and adolescence since they were older than I was. My nieces and nephew were younger and were too busy playing “make believe” to deal with our reality. I didn’t fit in with them either.
I am grateful for my great aunts sending my nieces and nephew and I to church at such a young age. In church, I learned that “Jesus loves me” and that He loves “all the children of the world.” Also, I learned that the Lord was my “Shepherd” and that “He was with me.” While all of this was too much for my adolescent mind to grasp, I was comforted when I was separated and felt alone.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Psalms 23: 1
I went to church one Sunday with my relatives that were visiting from out of town. Towards the end of the service, the preacher asked if there was anyone there that was hurting and needed Jesus. He said that He was ready and waiting to save anyone that was hurting. I didn’t understand a lot of what the preacher said before that, but I understood what hurting felt like very well. There was a tugging in my heart and a strong sense of urgency to get up and go towards the preacher. I got out of my seat unsure of whether or not I would get in trouble. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet the man that I had heard so much about…Jesus!
To my surprise, I didn’t see Jesus in church that day. Despite not seeing Him, the preacher assured me that He saved me and that He would always be with me. After church, my relatives told my mother that I had just joined the church. I felt so confused. My plan wasn’t to join the church; I was just trying meet Jesus.
Something changed that Sunday. I didn’t see Jesus, but I felt Him just like the preacher said I would. I felt Him when the adults would separate me from the other children. He was there when I was alone. Anytime an adult didn’t care for anything I had to say, He was there. Jesus cared and that gave me enough peace to get through my childhood.
I didn’t fully understand my salvation until several years later when I was 18 years old. At that time, I rededicated myself to the Lord and make a conscious decision to join a church where I would learn the gospel of Christ.
Maybe at one time or another in your life you have felt that God isn’t hearing you. He hears you just like He heard me many years before I even knew what that meant. When you feel alone, know that He is with you. He can use whatever you are facing to help someone. Hopefully, just like He used what I went through to help you.
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Grace and Peace