Can I take a moment to be transparent with you? Since this is my first blog, I want to start off by being as authentic as I possibly can. I am a single mother. It didn’t start off that way and it certainly wasn’t my intention to be one. I had been with one man for seven years and during that time, we welcomed a child into the world. Shortly after our son was born, he proposed to me and I was so happy. One of the things that I wanted so badly was finally coming my way. I was going to be married.
When I got engaged, I was 29. Ever since I was in middle school, I always said that I wanted to be married with three children by the time I was 30. I had come to grips that I wouldn’t have my two other children before turning 30, but I would be married and I already had one child. Since we had been together for so long, I didn’t see a point in waiting more than a few months after we were married to start trying for our second child. I figured I’d have the second child by age 31 which wasn’t too bad. And maybe in another two year’s time, I would have child number three by age 33. The truth is, at 30 years old, I don’t actually feel old and I still look like I’m in my early 20’s if I do say so myself. But every now and then it dawns on me, I’m 30!
During our period of engagement, I was excited for the obvious reasons and maybe some not-so obvious reasons. One of the main reasons was, I would get to live and lay with the man I loved and not feel guilty about it. We were finally about to do things God’s way so I just knew that he was going to bless our marriage. Everything had been going so well. People were blessing us left and right. My parents bought my dress. My aunt paid for the venue and told me that I could use the leftover funds to go towards any additional costs. My uncle paid for our limo, complete with a red carpet. The caterer was going to give us way more than what we were paying for. The makeup artist was my old instructor so she was going to give me a discount. Neither the decorator nor the coordinator charged us a dime. Of course it helped that they are both my aunts but it was still a blessing. We weren’t able to purchase a home like we initially wanted, but a two-bedroom apartment in the neighborhood we used to live in became available just in time. I just knew that all of this was God’s doing. There was one problem with my plan. It wasn’t God’s.
On August 27, everything came to a screeching halt and my world was turned upside down. Within minutes, everything I had waited seven long years for was gone. I was a 30-year old single mother. The one thing I had feared instantly became my new reality. I racked my brain trying to figure out what went wrong. What had I done? Was I being punished for living with my boyfriend and having a child out of wedlock? These were questions that I asked myself over and over again. I was consumed by guilt. When I first found out that I was pregnant, I was ecstatic, but I was also scared. As common as pregnancy out of wedlock is, it is still frowned upon sometimes. It took me a long time to let go of the guilt of having a child outside of wedlock and this situation took me right back. I really thought that God was punishing me. I was wrong. He wasn’t punishing me. He was protecting me. To this day, I still have no clue why my wedding was called off, but I stopped trying to figure it out a long time ago. As time went on, I started to see things that I would love to say I hadn’t seen before. Truth is, I saw them the entire time. I just chose to ignore. So no, God wasn’t punishing me. He was protecting me. He was rescuing me.
Several months later, I was having a conversation with one of my former classmates from my life coach certification program and he asked me something no one had ever asked me before. He asked me if the new me was still angry with the old me. During those months after our separation, I noticed a change in myself. It was almost automatic and involuntary. Certain things didn’t appeal to me anymore and I became interested in new things. I was becoming a new and improved version of myself and I was loving my new self, but when he asked me that, I realized that I never forgave my old self. I never forgave myself for being blindly in love and ignoring red flags. I never forgave myself for staying in a relationship with someone whose outlook on life was so different from mine that it caused constant conflict. I was so focused on becoming this new Melanie that the only time I would acknowledge the old Melanie was when I was criticizing her for being so stupid and ending up getting left at the altar.
It was time to put a stop to that. It’s never stupid to have a big heart and want to see the best in people. It’s never stupid for wanting to encourage people to be better. If you have ever been in my shoes or if you’re there now, show yourself some grace. Be discerning, but be gracious and do not be consumed by guilt. Guilt is one of Satan’s tactics to throw us off course. If we allow guilt to consume us, our progress stops. We no longer focus on God. The Word tells us that he will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are stayed on Him. If our minds are not stayed on God, then we have no peace. And what is the opposite of peace? Restlessness, confusion. Who wants that? Why spend all your time restless and confused, even when you don’t have all the answers, when you can be at peace? Seems silly doesn’t it? It took me a while to learn that and I’m still learning. But I thank God for my constant growth. He’s teaching me how to forgive myself. He’s teaching me how to overcome feeling guilty. He’s teaching me how things that don’t feel good are for my good. He’s teaching me how to love Melanie, both the new one and the old one.