The fall has always been my favorite time of year. Something about the crispness in the air, the brightness of the leaves, the thought of harvest and rest all rolled into one. 22 years ago today, I was given another reason to love the fall, we call her Autumn.
I think about it every now and again. 14 years old. What a young age, to become a mother. To be tasked with caring for a child, raising, loving, nurturing a child, while being a child.
There is no sordid story, no tragic misfortune; it was simply young love and poor choices that were blessed by a gracious God to become my dearest Autumn.
Some years and many blessings later, now as a school counselor, I see children, the same age that I was during that time. It's surreal for me to think of them staying up changing diapers or cradling colicky babies, but that was my life. My beautifully, imperfect life. Thinking back there are moments that stand out, but to be honest, much of that time is a blur. To quote Crystal Paine, I was living fully entrenched in survival mode, with very few glimpses of the life that could have been. But now, as I have moved into full adulthood raising more children and caring for thousands of others, I am grateful every day for the experience of my imperfect life.
The quest for perfection is such a futile endeavor. One that most moms, young and not so young alike, can get caught up in on a daily basis. We search for validation and connection, as a way of knowing that we are doing the right thing. But for a teen mom the challenge is so much greater. Whether you were in Christ before your pregnancy, or began your walk after the birth of your child, there will be many times when by simply being, you feel unworthy, judged, guilty or ashamed. As a teen mother you have an incredible challenge of loving and caring for your child, growing and developing as a young adult, and hopefully preparing for a future that will support this bundle of joy dropped into your life, your beautifully imperfect life.
Just as life typically does, in comes the irony. Just as you think you are unlike anyone else in the world. Just as you worry that you've seen too much, done too much, wasted too much time, made too many bad choices. The very things you think separate you from the rest of the body of Christ, in fact make you connected so much more. Your beautiful imperfect life, filled with missed opportunities, second chances, spilled milk, and spoiled dreams, is in and of itself, a testimony to God's grace for us all. In the moments when misguided choices could have gone so terribly wrong, God gifted me with a child, whose birth showcases in perfection, the love he feels for me.
My middle name is Grace. I've never thought much about it, didn't love my name or hate it, it was just my name. Having a, shall we say, interesting first name makes it easy to ignore the middle. But as I sit here today, I am grateful for my name. I am grateful that even though I make mistakes on a daily basis, I have a natural reminder of how regardless of my imperfection that God loves me in spite of it all. And he loves you, too.
Today, as I reflect on being divinely chosen to be the mother to my four gifts from God, on the day that commemorates my move from child to mother, I am eternally grateful for God's grace and for our first born expression of it that we call Autumn.