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I was an unwed mother.

<sigh>

Actually, it wasn’t quite as straightforward as that statement implies.  The truth is actually much messier.

I wasn’t married.  At least, not to the baby’s father.

I bore the child of a man I didn’t love and never did while still [albeit technically] married to a man I once loved but didn’t still.

Only God could have turned that vile, sinful situation, which I know was displeasing to Him, into the beauty that is my son.  And only God could have used that beauty to open my eyes to the joy which is now my life.

When I look into that mirror now, I see a living, breathing, glorious example of a second chance.  The second chance that He gave me to come back to Him and to grow in my love for Him. Deep in my heart, I know that this was neither the first second chance I was offered, nor will it be the last.  I’d like to say I’ll never need another but I’m too honest for that.  *I’ll need another.  And one after that.  And, I imagine, one more after that.  Repeat from*. Until I die. Then I get one more.

There were those in my world who could not fathom the beauty which began to erupt from the ashes of the life I had made for myself.  They still cannot.

His father was too young, and hadn’t been taught, to accept his responsibilities.  What did God do?  Demonstrated to me on a daily basis that I have one of the most unimaginably kind and accepting sisters in the world.  For all practical purposes, she was my partner and my son’s other parent.  What an amazing journey we have taken together!

One set of my son’s grandparents wanted nothing to do with “that child” (until it was too late, but that’s another blog post).  So, what did God do?  Another couple (paternal godparents) stepped up and ASKED to be Oma and Opa.  They were able to set aside their own conservative and devoutly religious feelings and open their hearts and their arms to both my son – and his mother.  Without judgment.  What a rich and undeserved blessing they have become.

My choices had pulled me far from the church I had discovered as a young adult.  They would draw me further still.  Even after God’s gift of beauty, I sank.  Full of despair and pity and pain.  Searching for belonging in places where I had no business; I closed every door God opened.  Finally, He “snuck” in a back door I didn’t know I’d left open.

As far in disrepute as I’d fallen, as many poor places into which I’d gone…I never lost sight of the beauty He’d given me in His gift of my son.  He KNEW a piece of my soul was seeking good things for my child.

So…He sent me to a school.  The school happened to be in a church.  The church just happened to be one of those beautiful, welcoming churches that look for the good in everyone.  A church whose minister encourages second chances.  Finally, I flung open a door through which He invited me to walk!

The “Godincidences” which pepper that stage of my life are simply too many to mention and I’d never remember all of them.  Perhaps I’ll write an essay on them (food for thought).  Suffice it to say that they were liberal and obvious messages of welcome home from my God!  After all I had done, He was glad to have me back!  And, though I know now that the people I feared I would find do exist – those who would write me off because of my past – I found so many more who choose to walk with me as I face the next stages of a life lived with Christ.

The mirror has been a symbol of many things in my life.  I have often looked into it expecting to see something beautiful and seen only darkness, misery and pain.  Well, and fat – but that’s a recurring story – one I’ve not quite gotten a handle on yet.

When I was in despair, I looked and saw the truth of what was there – darkness and ugliness.  I was searching for a way out.

When I began my walk with God, the reflection started to change.  What was ugly and dark began to shine with beauty.

Now, when I look in the mirror, I see a living, breathing, glorious example of a second chance.

Now, I am more than an unwed mother.  More than an adulterer.  More than a failure.  I am, more often than not, happy to glance into the mirror and see a beautiful child of God.

The next step to which He is calling me?  I want to hold the hands of people who can still see only darkness and walk with them as they fling wide the doors of joy which God has put in their paths.  I want to watch the light come back into the mirror with them.  I want to be like the people who walk next to me as I learn to live a Christ-filled life.

Who would I give a second chance?  Anyone God would give a second chance…talk about a door left wide open!!

The image above is part of the People of the Second Chance‘s Never Beyond series.  This poster was introduced here:  More Than Your Mistakes.   People of the Second Chance is a scandalous awakening of radical grace in life and leadership. We exist to overthrow judgment, liberate love and live a life that rebels with grace for everyone.

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