Almost a year ago I said goodbye to Autumn for the last time. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, and I cried for months after, and there are times that it still catches me off guard and I feel my heart break. Just last week the lady at the bank asked about her and it kills me a little to say that I have no idea where she is. But it's the truth. I had to choose my budding family over the relationship she and I had spent half of her life creating, when she decided it was a good idea to become a threat to my family. There comes a time when safety trumps years and I had to choose my marriage and my unborn child over a young lady who didn't know how to accept the love I was offering.
Because of this situation, I learned so much about God's grace and can't help but think that my broken heart is just a sliver of what He feels all the time. God's grace is offered freely to us, it is a gift, but we have to accept it. He will not force it on us. I imagine this as a beautifully wrapped present under the Christmas tree (even though Easter is the holiday we celebrate for this). It doesn't matter how beautiful the wrapping paper is, if we don't open it and accept this gift as our own, it will continue to sit there, it isn't going to throw itself in our lap and say open me, it will just wait until we are ready, or go unopened our whole lives, it's up to us.
This lesson is actually why Adah's middle name is Grace. It was the biggest lesson I learned while I was pregnant with her. I never really understood grace until then, it was just a church word we use a lot, now it is real to me, and something I cherish as one of my most prized possessions. It finds its way into everything I teach and do. God's grace is so incredibly powerful, we will never fully comprehend it, but I think any time we try to love someone unconditionally and they throw it back in our face and say no thank you, we get a glimpse at just what Christ was offering at the cross.
Today, I'm actually not sad, I assumed I would be an emotional mess today, thinking about the anniversary that isn't happening. But those 9+ years were not for nothing, even though I don't know where she is or what she is doing. God used that experience to help shape me into the pastor, mother, friend, and spouse that I am today. I will always pray for her safety and happiness. I pray that one day she will realize the gift of grace is waiting for her to open and that she will remember that she is not too far gone for the love of Christ to reach her. And I will always be thankful for the time we had and lessons I learned because she was in my life for a season. Autumn may never get to know my daughter but my daughter is being loved more fully because I knew Autumn. It was a match made on paper but blessed in Heaven. It may not have ended the way I had hoped but I am better because of it! There will always be a special place in my heart for Big Brothers and Big Sisters and the idea of mentoring young people who need a help getting a good start in life!
This is how I choose to remember Autumn and our time together. I'm working in my heart to not let the end of our relationship define the years we had together that were great!
To Autumn: Wherever you are today. I hope you feel the love and prayers that are surrounding you!