What some intended for harm, God intended for good, part 1

My first born son is a high school junior this year.  It’s hard to believe.  I think back to the time when I first discovered I was pregnant with Jaren.  Yes, he was unexpected.  Yes, he was not planned and under my own limited human perception, unintended.  And even with all that, I was not afraid of my future or our future together; despite his father’s lack of enthusiasm.

Even my family was happy for me.  Until…

Yes, until.

Until about seven months into my pregnancy, they learned that my future son would be half of another race of a man that they did not know nor ever met.  Jaren’s father was mostly African American along with some American Indian.  They acted as if I had done the most horrific thing.  And although I was thirty-four years old and lived more than a thousand miles away, they began to scheme on ways to talk me into getting rid of my baby who had not even been born yet

Then the phone began to ring.  This is how coercion begins.  Mom’s sister called first.  I had not talked with my aunt or seen her in many years.  However, she is calling me not to congratulate me or support me or to ask me how I was doing; no, none of those things.  She was calling me to ask me to “give up” my future infant for adoption.  She was very persuasive in her argument.  Even though just months before she had supported my pregnancy and was a guest at a baby shower given in my honor by my family back home, race had now played a very big factor in my decision to parent my own child.  She thought it would be more difficult to raise a bi-racial son as a single mother.  Apparently raising a white infant is easier than raising a bi-racial infant, especially if the race includes African or a darker skinned race.

It’s not like I didn’t know how my family felt about race.  I remember as a teenager, my mother had a variety of cabbage patch dolls.  One of them was a black cabbage patch doll.  When my niece was a toddler, she would play with the cabbage dolls and carry them over to my step dad.  He would allow my niece to place them in his lap except for one.  Whenever she placed the black cabbage patch doll in his lap, he would throw the doll across the room and call it a derogatory name.  Not the n-word but other derogatory names.  My niece would go get the doll, give it back to him, scold him, and they would repeat this performance several times.

So I knew my family didn’t really care about my role as a single mother.  Neither was their concern that this new offspring that extended from our family tree would get adequate care under my supervision.  They were masking the truth.  They didn’t want to be the family with the daughter who got pregnant by a black man.  They wanted that branch to be removed or at the very least hidden.  If they could just talk me into getting rid of my new baby boy and hide him away through adoption, they would have succeeded; they would have won the coercion battle.

But God had different plans for my son and me.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.  Genesis 50:20

I don’t know where I would be if I had allowed my family to convince me that parenting my child was wrong.  I’ve thought about that many times over the years.  What if Jaren was somewhere out there in the world and I had no idea where he was?  It’s heartbreaking to think about.  Thankfully, I was stronger and God was louder and I am so very thankful I listened

God has been my source of empowerment and has continued to support and guide me all these years.  I won’t say it’s been easy as a single mother but most things in life are not easy.  But parenting my son has been worth it.  As for the racial aspects, I don’t think it has impacted my life negatively.  I would say I have benefited from the things I have learned as a mother of a mixed-raced family.  Sure, I’ve faced race issues but nothing that I have not been able to handle.  In fact, I would say my family has caused me more hardship about race than society in general.  All of which has helped me learn more about the human race and has increased my understanding and compassion.

As for my son, he is my life.  He has brought so much joy into my world.  He has raised my soul to another level of conscious learning.  I have experienced the greatest love I have ever known.  And I am so proud to have been chosen by God to be his mother.

Supporting Women

When I say I support women and their reproductive choices, I mean it, wholeheartedly,

Recently, I received a personal message from a woman, who was in the midst of a dilemma, in a group I follow in BabyCenter.com.  She had seen one my comments that I shared on a post where I touched briefly and lightly on all three of my choices.  She asked me to elaborate.

At first I was hesitant.  I waited a couple days before replying.  I needed to gather my thoughts.  Since I have made three different choices due to unplanned pregnancies with three varying outcomes that led to a multitude of emotional residue, I didn’t feel it would be fair to build up one choice as a better alternative than another.  I also didn’t want to convince or persuade her in one way or another of what she should or shouldn’t do.  That’s not my place.  It would be no more fair of me to glorify open-adoption then it would be to glorify single parenting.

I strongly believe that I have no right to evoke a thought that may persuade any woman to make one choice over the other.  However she decides to move forward in her pregnancy, she is the one who will live with her choice for remainder of her life.

I know what it’s like to have others pressure you into making a choice that is their preferred outcome.  It makes one feel insecure and inadequate.  When someone forces or coerces another person or tries to paint a picture that is not based on facts but on their own limited perception, it’s all about control.  It’s one person trying to take another’s power away.  For some, they want to create their version of the perfect outcome of someone else’s life, as if they are God.  While others are conveying  from a personal point of view, as if this had happened to them, this is what they would choose or maybe have chosen.  But the truth is, it’s not happening to them.  It’s happening to the woman who is pregnant and is faced with a choice about her future.

Who am I to tell another woman what is best for her.  I have no right to tell another human being that she should end the life that is in her womb.  Neither do I have a right to influence her to surrender her newborn infant.  And I surely don’t want to guilt someone into parenting.  My intent is to provide as much information as possible for a well-rounded image.  Not all rosy, not all dark.  Not all positive, not all negative.  But always the truth.

I will say that I do understand and sympathize with the women who have become anti-abortion or anti-adoption because of their own personal experience and emotional trauma more so than coming from a man or woman who has never experienced a similar circumstances or choice in their life.  Woman who have lived through these experiences and life alterations are biased because of their involvement.  As sisters, we may not want another woman or mother to have to endure the gut wrenching pain that becomes a part of the aftermath of such turmoil.  We feel it’s our duty to protect other woman from this heartache and emotional mind game.

I guess that’s why I wrote One Woman’s Choice.  And I’ve had people upset with me because I discuss abortion and they do not approve of abortions.  Others who didn’t know me or my story before reading One Woman’s Choice said they were sad when they came to the page that told of my signing relinquishment papers because they were hoping that I had decided not to go through with the adoption.  While others felt I glorified adoption as a wise, religious choice.

The three most important things that I want people to understand after reading One Woman’s Choice are these:

  • Men are equally as responsible for unplanned pregnancies as women.
  • No one has the right to suggest, force or coerce a woman to make a choice (aborting, parenting or relinquishing)
  • God is a loving God.  And despite what some think, even after abortion, God is a loving God.

Truth is, there are no easy answers, no common outcome.  The issues are too complex and every circumstance is unique.  And if we choose abortion or adoption,  the road to recovery is experienced in many different ways.  There is no right or wrong way to grieve or heal.  My experience may be very different than someone else’s.  It doesn’t mean that either one of us is right or wrong, or weaker or stronger; we’re just different in our human experience.

In the end, I respect woman enough to know that with honest feedback, knowledge (pro’s and con’s), and compassion, we are very capable of making a well informed decision.  And when all is said and done, I will be here to support my sisters as best as I can, no matter what choice they decide to make.

The Birth/Biological Family

My oldest son, Jaren was talking to his younger brother, Noah over the holidays. I heard Jaren say something about “my mom” and then in the next sentence he tells Noah that he went over to “our dad’s” for Christmas. I was thinking, “Really?” After he hung up, I said, “So your dad is our dad but I am your mom? Even though, I have done more for both of you than your dad.”

Explain that one to me?

Jaren was very apologetic. I told him I knew he didn’t mean it the way he said it but I wanted him to understand how it sounds and subliminally what it says. He said he doesn’t know what to say sometimes (when he talks about me and his dad to Noah). I told him I understand.

I reminded Jaren about the time our extended family met Noah and his family for the first time on the east coast. I said to Jaren, “Heck, when we were all down the shore with grandmom, she referred to me as “your aunt” when she was talking to Noah.”  I saw this funny look on Noah’s face. I didn’t say anything but I was thinking, “It’s not like he doesn’t know who I am.” Noah has always known that I am his birth/biological mother.

I have a friend; I guess I can call her my friend even though we haven’t met yet. But I feel like she’s a friend. Anyway, she has a blog and writes about adoption and exposes some real issues. As a birthmother, sometimes I feel like she’s linked directly up to my brain and downloading my thoughts. Other times, it’s like she can somehow see right into my heart and feel its emotions. Maybe that’s because she is a birthmother too.

I like it when someone else says exactly how I feel or have been feeling. It makes me feel less crazy.

For me, one of the hardest parts of processing and reconciling with my choice all these years later is how people and by people I mean, family, friends, co-workers and strangers view me as a birthmother. Yes, even my own family.

I remember that very moment when I learned exactly how my mother viewed my role as a birthmother. We were sitting on my back patio. Mom (who came to visit for Jaren’s 8th grade graduation) and I were having a conversation.  Then we got to talking about Noah’s family who also came to visit for Jaren’s graduation. She had commented many times over the years at how lucky and blessed I was that I was permitted to be a part of Noah’s life and how gracious his parents are. And I don’t disagree. I am very thankful. But also, mom wasn’t aware of any open adoptions.  She believed our situation was rare.  So we were having another one of those conversations and my mother emphasizes again about how blessed “I” was. And to be honest, sometimes it sounds like she thinks I’m a vagabond and they are royals. So I tell her, “Well, I think they (adoptive family and Noah) are pretty blessed to have me [and Jaren] in their life too.” I mean, I could have walked away entirely but I didn’t.  I think I’m a decent human being. My friends think I’m kind of cool and special.  And after twelve years of knowing Noah’s family, I’d say we have become fairly close, like family.

Mom said, “No, they are not blessed to have you. Noah is blessed to have you in his life but not the [name of family].” I knew right then and there just how she measured me up in this relationship. I was somehow less worthy; her own daughter. Not some stranger, not a friend, not a co-worker…her daughter.

This is the same mother, who praised me often for the wonderful job I was doing as a single parent raising Jaren.  Who said she thought it would have been easier to abort than to “give up” my child (which she has never chosen or personally experienced either choice as far as I know).  Who came to Texas to help me with my “choice” when I gave birth to Noah.   AND who couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t just leave behind my precious new baby boy, alone, in the hospital, without his mother.

I still have a hard time processing this.  The same person who promoted the relinquishment is the same person that now judges me to be the lessor of.

The sad part of all this is Jaren lost his brother too.   

I can handle people treating me callously.  I don’t like it but I realize it’s part of the territory.  That’s my penance.  But when others treat Jaren, an innocent child like a second class citizen because of my choice, it’s inexcusable.  When adults refuse to acknowledge that my two sons are brothers, when brothers can’t be treated like brothers for a few days every few years because people feel like they have to be careful of what they say or how they say it, or when family members consider the feelings of adults over that of a small child’s feelings is downright wrong!

But the part that REALLY bothers me is their father, who stated he didn’t want any more kids, who was MIA (as well as his entire family) during both of my son’s  birthing experiences, who became physically and emotionally detached when I was making these hard choices, and who never verbally objected to the relinquishment to me is somehow “our dad”.  And my mother [and other family members], who was the driving force behind my choice to relinquish, is somehow “grandmom”.  But the mother who was alone, scared, deciding the future of her two sons and listening to and believing the critical words, who has remained loyal to her second son and his family in their open adoption agreement, was stripped of all her titles.

I know why I don’t get to be mom, but tell me how does the rest of the family get to reap the rewards and keep their original titles, (grandmom, poppy, granny, grandpop, aunt, uncle) when that was the one thing they either initially refused to acknowledge or adamantly fault against.  And I’ve often wondered how Noah’s real grandparents and aunts and uncles feel about sharing their earned titles with these biological family members.

1999 Momma and boys

How is that for irony?  Please tell me the moral justice in that.

My Choice

If there is one thing that concerns me more than my own personal feelings from my involvement with adoption, it is how my son, Noah (an adoptee) may feel from his experience.  If I hurt as a result of my choice, then that is my punishment.  But if my child hurts from my choice, then that is my fought and often times, that is the root of a birth parent’s anguish.  It’s called guilt.

I fully understand that no matter how abandoned I felt from my children’s father, or how isolated I felt from my family, and how much pain I experienced as a result of my choice, it still doesn’t compare to the feelings that adoptees may experience at some point in their life, especially since they were not involved in the decision making.  The choice was made for them.

Another thing about adoption that troubles me is when I hear the term “gave up”.  I’ve read comments from followers on Facebook, blogs and community groups say things like, “She gave up her baby,” or “My mother gave me up,” or “I’m thinking about giving up my baby.”  Yes, believe it or not, unintended pregnant women still say this.  It’s an old term that some human being coined the phrase “gave up” as an appropriate term within the adoption industry many years ago.  I wish I had a copy of the legal documents from the 50’s – 60’s so I could see if that term actually exists in the legal papers.  I assume that what they meant is that the biological parent “gave up” their parental rights now more commonly known as relinquished their parental rights to their child.

Actually, per my legal documents, the birth parent(s) signs a “Placement Agreement of a Child” prior to the delivery and then after delivery, signs an “Affidavit of Relinquishment of Parental Rights to Licensed Child-Placing Agency.”

It does sound heartless for a parent to be able to choose to agree to give up or relinquish their parental rights to their child.  And often times it gets misconstrued as the parent “gave up their child” as if the parent did not want their baby boy or baby girl.  How else can a parent just sign away and terminate their rights?

You see most often, it is not about the child.  It’s about the parent feeling they are inadequate.  Often times, they have been told verbally or subliminally that they are not capable to parent this child.  As for me, I was parenting my first born son, Jaren.  I understood all too well the time, expense, energy and emotional toll it takes to parent a child.  Moreover, I had no relatives nearby and the biological father and his entire family who did live nearby showed no interest in helping me in any way support Jaren, so I expected more of the same response when our second child was conceived.

I remember watching the local news and seeing a story about some mother who killed her offspring’s as if a trigger went off inside her.  Unlike most people who were hateful and judgmental, I wondered how a woman, who had loved her children so much, could turn around and brutally kill her offspring.  What could have set this mother off?  What pushed her to her breaking point and made her mind snap out of control.  And that’s when I considered my options.  As much as I didn’t like the adoption option, I surely did not want to push myself past my limit and risk losing emotional control and possibly harming my kids.  No, I may have actually killed my children but I may have abused them.  And that is not a risk that I was willing to take.

Adoption is never easy for anyone.  I like being a single mother a whole lot more than being a birth mother.   That doesn’t mean I dislike being a birth mother to Noah.  It means that society is more socially accepting of single mothers than they are of birth mothers.  And I’ve shared with many women within the birthparent community and at my birth mothers support group who are filled with grief and sometimes guilt that it is an unnatural experience for a woman to let go of her infant.  For many of us, it goes against every grain in our body.  I imagine it is difficult to lose your child at an older stage as well, whether the parent was neglectful or not.

But what I can tell you for myself, I didn’t choose adoption because I didn’t want to be a parent to my second born child.  I chose adoption because given my circumstance at that present time, I wasn’t confident I could parent both of my children adequately as a single mother, the way they deserved to be parented.

Who knows if Noah’s life is better or worse than if I would have chosen to raise him with Jaren?  Personally, I don’t like to think in terms of better or worse.  I like to think Jaren and Noah both have had a good life but only they can say for sure.  I am certain once they have grown and matured into men, they will look back on their life and analyze it.  And I can only hope that when they do, they will look back fondly on the memories we have shared together as a family.

Most of all, I hope both of my sons understand and know that they are always loved and were always wanted.

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The Blame Game

I’ve had many conversations with my teenage son about the blame game and taking responsibility.  I think we all, at one time or another, have looked for someone to blame when something hasn’t gone our way.  We start pointing our fingers, “You’re to blame, and you’re to blame.”  It’s understandable, especially when the incident causes a ripple effect that sometimes creates added stress, hardship or disappointing consequences.

Most of us have seen someone driving recklessly on a freeway, rubber necking on someone’s bumper to urge them to move out of their way because they are in such a hurry.  The frantic driver will torture some other driver on the road, trying to bully them into getting out of their way because in their mind, if that one driver would move, they could get where they needed to be so much quicker as if the blame belongs to that one driver in front of them.  The truth is, more often, it has nothing to do with the car in front of them.  The frantic driver didn’t allow sufficient time to get to where they needed to be and the innocent driver just happens to be the subject of this frantic driver’s irritation and rage.

That’s what I call misguided blame.

A friend of mine relinquished her parental rights two times.  It was during the late 70’s to the early 80’s.  I don’t remember her telling me why she chose to carry her child instead of choosing to abort, as abortions would have been legal at that time.  She told no one of her pregnancy.  When she went to give birth for the first time, alone and scared, she was only fourteen years old.  She said the nurses were very cruel to her, which back then was not uncommon for nurses or society to harshly scold and blame women as the problem for unintended pregnancies.  They chastised her for getting pregnant and told her she should be ashamed of herself for sleeping around at such a young age.  But what the nurses didn’t know is that my friend was not sleeping around and was not to blame for getting pregnant.  You see, her own father was having sex with her.  He made her pregnant.

That’s what I call misguided blame.

I was visiting a birth mother’s community group page the other day and read a post from a new mother reaching out with her deepest emotions.  She was struggling as to whether she should go through with relinquishing her parental rights or not.  Many concerned individuals commented (from birth moms, adoptive parents to adoptees) with similar advice, “Do what you feel is right.”  I, too, did not try to convince her to parent her child or to relinquish.  However, one poster became very angry with her.  The poster was harsh in her comments that I felt were irrational.  She gave no consideration to this fresh new mom whose heart was heavy with a choice.  The poster tried to guilt this woman for wanting to keep that which was naturally given to her and was rightfully hers to keep.  Then she made assumptions about the hopeful couple and began blaming this new mother for the anguish the hopeful couple had surely endured while waiting to adopt and the grief that was surely to come.  But maybe, just maybe this poster herself has been waiting to adopt and now she needed to disperse her anger and bitterness towards this innocent young female as if this new mother was to blame for the childless couples who have no baby to hold in their arms and no child to parent.

That’s what I call misguided blame.

Likewise, just as the driver wishes to remove the vehicle from his path, and the pro-life campaigners wish eliminate the abortion clinics; there are also many birth parents who desire to eliminate adoption agencies.  Some birth parents blame the adoption industry for relinquishing their parental rights of their newborn baby.  And while I don’t defend unethical adoption practices, I know that the adoption industry itself is not to blame for mothers and fathers choosing to relinquish their parental rights.  Aside from the baby scoop era, women now-a-days have options.  Based on our unique circumstances and support, we can choose to abort, we can choose to continue our pregnancy for the next nine months and then parent or we can choose to give birth and relinquish our parental rights.

When I chose adoption, I had already experienced an abortion.  I had already experienced being pregnant, giving birth and parenting my first born child as a single parent.  I consciously made the choice to consider adoption for my second born.  The adoption agency or the adoption industry is no more to blame for me choosing to relinquish my parental rights than the abortion clinic is to blame for me choosing to abort my unintended pregnancies.

The truth is, there are too many people and politics involved to disburse blame at one target.  I’m not saying it is wrong to experience the blaming emotion.  But what I am saying is that sometimes, we don’t have all the facts.  Other times, we refuse to acknowledge our own misguided judgments.  And occasionally, we deny our own choices that resulted in the consequence.  We cannot control others who wrongfully throw blame at us but we can control how we choose to blame.  Blaming someone or something else can make us feel better.  I get that.  But when we hold onto the misguided blame and resentment, we become stuck in a place and our mind becomes a prisoner of our past.  If we want to heal and grow, we must be accountable for our part of the choice and the process.

Choice vs. Coercion

Coercion

  • the practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats
  • the practice of forcing another party to act in an involuntary manner.
  • a set of various different similar types of forceful actions that violate the free will of an individual
  • to induce a desired response.
  • the intimidation of a victim to compel the individual to do some act against his or her will by the use of psychological pressure

When I was younger, I would ride just about any ride in the theme park.  However in my later years, I’ve become more fearful and there are a few rides that I won’t get on.  The Titan at Six Flags Over Texas is one of them.  The Titan has been a big topic in our home.  My son, Jaren talked about the Titan frequently which was one of the only extreme rides that he had not conquered yet.  He studied and researched every aspect of it on the computer and would promise with optimism that the next time we went to Six Flags, he was going to ride the Titan and he wanted me to go on it with him.

Jaren did finally go on the Titan and actually on a day that I was not with him.  Sometimes our kids become braver when we parents aren’t around.  He was so proud of himself and actually, I was proud of him too for conquering one of his fears that seemed to haunt him on a regular basis.  Now that Jaren had the Titan under his big Texas belt and big bragging rights, he loved to gloat about his new found fearless attitude and began pestering me about going on the Titan.  He offered me every solution for my argument and tried to persuade and convince me that the Titan was not the bad.

I don’t like the coercion tactics, but I will admit that one time I did coerce Jaren into going on a ride.  As parents, we justify this behavior as trying to help our kids become more self-assured.  Six Flags had a 4D SpongeBob movie ride, where the seat rocked side to side or back and forth but didn’t leave the floor.  It’s mostly for special effects.  Jaren loved SpongeBob.  But for some reason, he was so afraid to try this ride.  I kept explaining to him that it wasn’t like the other scary rides.  Jaren did go on the ride reluctantly but to be honest, afterwards he still wasn’t crazy about it and was a little mad at me.  The experience was distressing for Jaren and I felt really bad.  After that, I never tried to talk him into going on a ride again.  I asked once or twice without any pressure and if he wasn’t ready to go any particular ride, we didn’t ride it.  Even if we brought some of his friends who wanted to ride something that Jaren wasn’t willing to ride yet, he would sit and wait and I sat with him.

One afternoon, while driving home, I was listening to Jaren pester me about riding the Titan.  As parents, we all have witnessed our kids from time to time beg or plead for something whether it is a toy in a store or a happy meal at McDonald’s.  It’s a side effect of being a parent.  But this time, my son was not pleading about something HE desired but rather about something he wanted ME to do.  He kept sharing his opinion while enforcing his views.  He had it in his mind that I would feel so much better if I faced my fears and went on the Titan.  He went on and on, trying to weaken me and hoping to convince me to go on the Titan until I became somewhat agitated by his attempts.  I finally told him that no amount of convincing from him was going to get me to do something I don’t want to do.  My life flashed quickly before me and I realized how many times, in my younger years, I had caved into someone else’s desires or wants and I suddenly saw a teaching opportunity for my son about coercion.

I explained to Jaren that there is a difference between motivating someone and coercing someone.  I said it is okay to motivate someone but he should never try to coerce someone to do something they don’t want to do.  I further explained that if someone does agree to do something solely because he convinced them, they may end up regretting it later and then hating him.  You see, at that moment, I thought about my son being on a possible date sometime in his near future.  And instead of him trying to convince me, his mother to ride an extreme roller coaster, he could be trying to convince some girl into having sex.  I needed him to understand that that is not okay.  I told him that you may ask someone once or maybe twice but if they refuse your offer, never try to convince or coerce them into agreeing otherwise.  No, means no.

This is what “regret” feels like; when we make a choice that we really didn’t want to make but allowed our self to be influenced or psychologically pressured into choosing an alternative outcome.

Sometimes our family or friends may need our encouragement or motivation to make a choice.  We may need to help boost someone’s confidence that may be damaged or lacking.  When we motivate someone, we tell that person that we believe in them and we know that they are wise enough and strong enough to make a decision.  In the end, we support their choice, no matter what choice they have chosen.

Coercion is the opposite.  Coercion is convincing someone to do what you think is right to do, not what they think is right.  Coercers are more concerned with their own desires.  Coercers don’t believe that others are capable of making sound judgments or good decisions and therefore feel the need to sway the outcome.  They will attempt to tear down the mental abilities of a person by reminding the person of their lack.  Coercers will play both protagonist and antagonist, focusing on the negative outcomes of a choice they don’t desire while promoting their own agenda with a more optimistic outlook.  Coercers only support one choice and that is their choice.

I have a favorite bible verse that I discovered a couple years ago.  It resonates with me and has helped me understand why we need to be true to ourselves, our decisions and our choices.

But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.  (James 5:12)Image

CHOICE OR MISTAKE (You decide.)

The Tree of Knowledge, painting by Lucas Crana...

The Tree of Knowledge, painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This may very well be an age old question.  Many wonder what the difference is.

I find it very interesting that the Bible speaks about a choice in the first few pages when God’s creating.  In the Book of Genesis, Chapter two, Verse nine, God creates all the trees, including the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Then man, called Adam, is created and God quickly offers the law of the land; God’s commandant.  God tells Adam that he may eat of any tree of the garden with one, and only one exception.  He commands Adam that he may not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  God also offers the consequence for breaking this commandment or rule.   (Genesis 2: 9-17)

God places this tree within the garden, within reach of the man.  God is the great creator, the all-powerful.  He could have removed this tree or planted it elsewhere so that the man would not be tempted but God chose to plant it within Adam’s reach.  That right there is what you call an option, and a choice.

Choice is about having freewill.  God gave Adam and Eve and all living things in his kingdom freewill.  If one has no freewill or no choice, then wouldn’t that be similar as one being a slave?  A slave can take on all sorts of forms.  A spouse could be a slave, a child could be a slave, a gender could be a slave, a race could be a slave, and a religion could be a slave.  And in my opinion, the master of any slave is not expressing love but rather control and power along with human domination and supremacy.

God is a loving God.  Right from the beginning, when God created man and woman, He created them out of love, to be loved, and to love and live freely.  He loved them so much that He gave them freewill.  Unless anyone has ever experienced a form of slavery or oppression, which personally, I have not, we may not truly understand or appreciate this precious and very generous gift.

Now with freewill, comes an option or a choice, a responsibility, and possibly, a consequence.  Adam and Eve only have one rule by which to live by.  Do not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Compared to the rules and regulations we have today, this one rule seems fair enough, wouldn’t you agree?

So the story moves on and now the serpent enters the pages and he whispers to Eve.  And apparently the serpent has the same freewill as Adam and Eve.  We know this because when God learns of the choice made by Adam, and then unravels the whole story and discovers the turn of events that caused His commandment to be broken, God begins to disperse His punishment to ALL THREE beings.  Even though the serpent didn’t eat the fruit of the tree, he is still subject to punishment, just the same as Adam and Eve.

When reading this scripture of this story of that time and place, I find it interesting that the author does not ever mention a mistake.  Adam, Eve and the serpent each made a clear choice, not a mistake.  They were aware of what they were doing and what the options were.  God makes it very clear to Adam that he broke His commandment.  God lets each one of them know that a choice was made, God’s commandment was broken and a consequence is distributed appropriately to each being.

A mistake is something we do unknowingly, by accident.  A choice is the power of choosing.  A mistake is when we did not intentionally choose the action.  A choice however, is an option that has presented itself and a choice was made.  Forgiving someone for a choice they made may be more difficult than forgiving someone for a mistake they made.

To provide an example to this concept, let me share this story.

I was raised Catholic.  During Lent, Catholics are not allowed to eat meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and every Friday between those two dates.  Considering I ate meat nearly every other day of year except during this time, I sometimes forgot.  I was informed that if I truly forgot, than that was okay because I did not intentionally choose to eat the meat.

Now let’s take it one step further, from making a mistake, to making a choice.  One time, I was eating a hamburger on a Friday during lent and halfway through the hamburger I remembered that it was lent.  I now had a choice to make.  I could swallow my food and finish the rest of my hamburger or I could discard the remaining food in honor of my Catholic Lent tradition: my choice.

Now, in the bible, we know God did forgive Adam and Eve and even the serpent.  How do we know this?  First of all, God did not terminate Adam or allow him to die as He had previously informed Adam would be the result of this action.  Instead, God gives each of them their punishment.  Then He clothes Adam and Eve before sending them out of the garden and into the world.  Those of us who are parents understand this gesture.  If we did not love or forgive our children, we wouldn’t provide anything for them.  God seems to know their needs before they even know their needs.  And isn’t that still true today.  God knows our every need.

We are responsible for our choices and we may endure consequences that we would rather not experience but the quicker we own up to our choices, not mistakes, we take responsibility.  When we take ownership of our choice, good or bad, right or wrong, we begin to learn and grow.  And just as Adam and Eve were guided out to explore their new path, we, too can move forward from any limitations or poor choices and continue on our path of enlightenment.

Thank you, God, for loving us, for providing, for forgiving and most importantly, for giving us the gift of freewill and choice.

Unexpected Mother

 
We shared our love so gingerly
As many times before
With smooth strokes and soft kisses
A heart beats for more.
 
My eggs were patiently waiting
They had a hungry need
You generously left your legacy
You deposited your seed.
 
I waited and I waited
For that special time to come
Until I finally realized
The deed had been done.
 
I called you and told you
We conceived our first child
The words that came out your mouth
Were now words of denial.
 
You loved me so generously
So many times before
How could you not love me
When God has provided us more?
 
I now have a choice to make
God, what should I do
This man that you created
I’ve learned is untrue.
 
He denies me his love
He denies his own child
What kind of life can I create
God looked at me and smiled.
 
Dear child, do not worry
About the one who refuses
For my love is greater
Then any man who bruises.
 
This child you have conceived
This child is My creation
This child you have given life
This child is a new generation.

1998 Jaren's birth

__ Written by, Karen Whitaker