When I started researching my family history, I had my eyes set on distant ancestors - those who came over on the Mayflower, or fought in the Civil War. I thought I knew everything there was to know about my recent and immediate family. But one day when casually talking with my mom, I learned there was more to her story than I thought.
A LOT more.
My mother was born on a plantation in West Tennessee. Yes, there were still plantations after the Civil War. Like many others, this one had a large home as the center piece. And it was run like a large business. The land was occupied by managers who oversaw every aspect of the livestock and crop production, and tenant farmers who leased the land from the plantation for a portion of their crop. My grandfather was one of the tenant farmers. He met and fell in love with my grandmother whose parents were a little higher up on the chain of command. And they didn’t think too much of my grandfather and his family. So they forced the couple apart. But not before my mother was conceived. She was born and raised by her father and his parents, just a mile or two away from her mother’s family. Every day she would ride the school bus past a house she knew contained a mother she believed didn’t love her and didn’t want her.
As time went on, she met my father, got married and had children (including me). Her father eventually remarried but was killed shortly after in a fire. It was about this time my mom was offered the opportunity to reconnect with her mother. Cousins and her half-siblings arranged a meeting where they hashed some things out. My mother finally learned the truth – that her mother DID love her and DID want her, but was prohibited from seeing her by her parents. Over time, all was forgiven and they grew closer and closer.
My grandmother was always around while I was growing up. She would spend Christmas with us, having long talks with my mother at the kitchen table. I thought nothing about it. I figured they were close like most mothers and daughters. While us kids were watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” or playing outside, they just sat and talked for hours.
My grandmother passed away many years ago. But learning about her and my mother’s story rewrote my memories. They weren’t just talking at the kitchen table all those Christmases. They were catching up. They were making up for lost time. My mother also got to know and grew close to her half-siblings – a sister and brother. Raised like an only child, she often dreamed of having brothers or sisters to play with. When it was possible, my aunt and uncle took photos of them as babies/children at around the same year and had them photoshopped together – the childhood photo they always wanted.
I was recently reading the New Testament of my Bible which has a lot of adoption metaphors. (Romans 8:15, 23, Ephesians 1:5, Galatians 4:4-5) When I compared these to other scriptures that tell us we are sons and daughters of God (Genesis 1:27, Galatians 3:26, Galatians 4:7), I made a connection with my mother’s story.
My mother wasn’t adopted. She wasn’t a step-child. She wasn’t a foster child. She was a full-blooded daughter who’s relationship with her mother was broken…and then restored.
Isn’t that The Bible in a nutshell?
God conceived and created us. Then sin entered the picture and severed our relationship. But God continued to love and want us. And He pursued us until we were reunited with Him through Jesus Christ.
Two things I want you to take away from this:
- Don’t assume you know anyone’s full story. There’s probably more to it and them than you will ever know. I hope this leads you to treat everyone with grace and love.
- You are a child of God. You may feel separated from Him. But He is out there and He wants to know you.