Ungraceful. Inelegant. Clumsy. Carelessly…
Yes, that is exactly how I have felt about my behavior since January. Life has thrown some crazy stuff at me lately. The gamete stretches from good to stressful at warped speed. What is the good, you ask? I am so glad you asked! I am engaged to a man that is far beyond the man of my dreams. I have never met someone who has endured this level of difficulty in such a short amount of time! To call my fiancé a ‘gem’ would be a mammoth understatement. I don’t think the rest of our lives will be long enough to properly express my gratitude. What I do know is that he is God’s gift designed just for me. He unknowingly stepped into the chaos of my life (some of which I was unaware myself). I promise to fill you in. The stressful points are common to some and uncommon to most.
I must admit that this journey had me questioning my sanity at times. Once I realized that the results were real on Ancestry, my perspective changed. Words really cannot describe how this news makes one feel. I questioned everything about my past for a brief period. But then again, there are times we simply must ask ourselves some tough questions. It was time to make sure my plumb line was correct for my own emotional and spiritual wellbeing. The following are some of the questions I have asked myself:
- What is DNA vs Identity?
- Who do I think I am?
- Who does God say I am?
- How do I know God is present in this chaos?
1. DNA vs Identity
We spend our early lives identifying who we are based upon who are parents are. Once we have reached elementary school age, our identity is influenced through friends and teachers. A child will notice invitations to birthday parties and sleepovers to determine how they fit. Receiving a birthday invitation validates our existence, this carries into junior high and high school as well. The crowd we run with not only affects how you see yourself but also how others, namely adults, see you. We look into the mirror to determine our self worth based upon current societal standards. During this time in our lives, we forget or never learn to look inward and truly know who we are. It is in our DNA and the behaviors which surround us. Some families truly celebrate their heritage while others celebrate culture, religion, and status quo. This still will never determine who we are. DNA tells us where we came from and possible inherited traits, behaviors, and health. DNA does not determine the value of self. What I have observed over the last few months in that more and more people are determining their worth on the DNA results. It is serving as confirmation for some and deep heartache for others. The shock that comes from an unexpected result is very real and very deep. And once again, we are looking in the mirror wondering exactly who we are.
2. Who Am I?
In part 2 of my journey, I mentioned that I would stare into the mirror and wonder where my traits originated. But God had other plans as to how I should look into the mirror. In 1977, at the tender age of 5, I accepted Christ as my Savior. My Memaw, my mom’s mother, would take me to church with her when I would stay the weekend and that is how I came to know the Lord. Discipleship did not enter my life until adulthood; however, I always knew that He was with me. After my mother passed away in 1983, I felt lost all over again but I knew He was still with me. The thought that ran through my head was, “Who am I without my mom?” I was only 11 years old and had all of the toughest parts of being a girl ahead of me. She had the foresight to tell me all sorts of things about life, for which I am forever grateful. It was HIM, because He was with me. My father had the biggest part in teaching me to love, forgive, and treat others better than I wanted to be treated. Although he never attended church or read his Bible, he was actually teaching me as the Lord Himself would.
He taught me to be kind, treat others with kindness and grace, and that I was to never think of myself as better than anyone else. To him, it was the golden Rule, but in the end I have always known it was my Heavenly Father speaking through him. My dad always pushed me to do better as well. He would be so disappointed when I would have a grade less than 85% for the six weeks or on a test. And yes, I would be grounded until the next report card. And yes, he would often let me off early. Being an only child had its advantages in that regard. He would ground me, yet we would still go to the movies. He was a softy in a hard crabby shell. He told me I was smart, capable, beautiful, and creative. He told me he loved me and other than my rebellious years, I always believed him. He passed away in 1997 when I was 24. That was likely harder on me than my mom. She had been suffering; his was sudden. It seemed unfair. It was then that God first told me that I am not an orphan. In fact, the Lord began to teach me that I was HIS child. At that point in my life, I began to get a glimpse of who I am.
3. Who Does God Say I Am?
- He says I am NEW! All of the old me has passed away and HE has made me NEW! 2 Corinthians 5:17
- He says I am reconciled! 2 Corinthians 5:18
- He says I am a Princess! Psalm 45:13
- He says I am an heir! Romans 8:17
- He says I am accepted! Romans 15:7
- He says I am a temple! 1 Corinthians 6:19
- He says I am loved! John 3:16
- He says I am free! Romans 8:2
- He says I am redeemed! Romans 3:34
- He says I am a branch! John 15:1, 5
- He says I am a friend! John 15:15
- HE SAYS I AM HIS CHILD!!! John 1:12
He calls us His own. He loves us. Why should I be lost in any conclusion about myself other than HIS? I am sacrificially loved by my Heavenly Father! It is not about WHO we are in the end; it is about WHOSE we are!
4. How Do I Know God is Present!
God being present is where we often struggle. This is also where it is difficult to convince a non-Christian of His existence. But if you have faith you can sense the things unseen and feel the things that are not tangible. God has been with me throughout my life. He was there when He called me to his own. He was there when He called my parents to their heavenly home. HE IS HERE!
I know God is present when I am at my weakest. His words have filled my heart when sorrow cast its shadow upon my soul. He was present when my car would not move at the green light and the 18 wheeler plowed through their red light at an obnoxious speed. He was there during every gift and every heartache this life has thrown my way. I could list so many different times that He revealed Himself to me, but I will conclude with the present experience.
I know God IS present while I process the DNA results of fatherhood. He IS present because HE was already here with me. Since the early 2000’s I have studied the different names of the Lord. It was this meditation which helped me to accept this new reality: Johnny “Chico” was not my biological father. It is as strange to type as it is to hear. A man named James “Jimmy” was actually the one who took part in my conception. Since both fathers are no longer living, God has made His presence real and upfront for me. Whether it was something a friend said or sent, or something I read at the right moment, He was here and holding me. When ever I would pray about how this could possibly be for my good, I would be reminded that He brings beauty from ashes. When the sobbing would ensue, I could feel His indescribable peace wash over me.
I now feel total peace over these results, but I know there will still be moments when the shock wave will rollover my heart again. I have so much to look forward to in getting to know my sister and all the blessings that will bring to both of our lives. At least now when I look into the mirror I know where I received my physical attributes. Finally, I know that WHO I am isn’t really the relevant question any longer. It’s WHOSE I am, that brings me the peace which surpasses all understanding.
Abiding Still, Rachele