Remember as a kid when someone would yell ‘do-over’ if things just weren’t going their way? We used to play a game we called ‘pickle,’ where we neighborhood kids would run back and forth from base to base trying not to get caught by the ‘it’ person who had the ball. My big brother would routinely yell out for the ole’ do-over when he got caught and since he was older, the rest of us would oblige. But we kids felt a certain injustice to this concept, as we knew even at a young age that no action already completed could truly be ‘done over.’ The do-over is a certain misnomer, but wouldn’t it be lovely if we all could be trusted with even just one do-over in our lifetime? Would we use it wisely? What would you re-do? One definition I found for this term fits the bill perfectly…’To do something again from the beginning, especially because you did it badly the first time.’
I do not even have to think about what I would do over……
I met my husband Grant back in the summer of 1995. I was twenty-three years old and fell instantly and hopelessly in…infatuation! I recall using the love word on about our second date. I clung to him tightly and had no plans of letting go. I would quickly learn that Grant had been previously married and had two very young children, a daughter Meghan and a son Devon. They were 4 and 1 at the time. This indeed was news and I was a bit panicked at the thought. I had never dated a divorced man, and I certainly never considered becoming a stepmother one day. My little world was all about me back then. I was a Christian in name only, meaning I would have marked off the ‘Christian’ box if given multiple responses to ‘religion of choice’. I did not seek the Lord God, and I did not walk in His ways. I possessed a bible, but its pages remained crisp and pristine due to lack of use.
Grant would see his children every other weekend, and his love and devotion to them was very strong. I felt a bit jealous as I would watch him shower them with an amazing type of love that only a father can give. They too adored him. They would both climb all over him in a tangled heap of play wrestling and hugs. The giggles and laughter were contagious and I soon began to join in on the fun. The more I fell in love with him, the more I fell in love with his children. I began to picture a life with him, and them, but my heart was fearful over where my place in that might be. I was not their mother, and had no clue how to guide or direct them. Would they resent me if I tried to discipline them? Would his ex-wife become angry over my influence on their lives? This was completely foreign territory to me. As our relationship became more serious, my concerns only grew. I was operating on fear, which is what people do when they do not have faith in the Lord. It is a life of reacting, rather than expecting.
Grant’s ex-wife had already been remarried, and her new husband and she had approached Grant before about letting her husband legally adopt the children. Grant had apparently refused this request. There were tensions between Grant and his ex wife back then, and there were routine disagreements between them in regards to multiple issues about the children. That was hard to be involved in, and again I did not know how to navigate those waters. The topic of having her new husband adopt the children came up again, and Grant and I had many discussions about it. I was always there to throw in my selfish two cents..that this man was already there for the children, providing them love, safety, and security…and that they could be a family minus all of the tension and arguing over visitation, etc. My reasoning continued…after all, they really were a family already, and what difference would it make if they became a legal family?..I had this little picture perfect vision of them having their nice family, and Grant and I some day starting our own family as well. Maybe we could all come together from time and time and oh how peaceful it all could be. I felt certain that we would still know them and that they would know us. My head was stuck in some fairy tale cloud, and I just wanted my Prince Charming in the end. I saw no cause for concern in Grant letting go of his legal rights as a father, as it would never change his love for them. I was bitterly wrong in regards to the impact such a choice would have.
And so Grant reached the decision in his heart to let his children be adopted by their stepfather. Through it all, I encouraged and supported that decision, and reasoned with myself that it was best for everyone involved. I will always remember the day that the adoption became official. Grant wept bitter tears and I was unable to console him in any way. It was the first time I truly considered the ramifications of what had been done. Did he make the wrong choice?? I did not dare voice that thought out loud back then, as I had been the one giving him counsel to proceed. But as I watched his anguish, the seeds of regret were being planted in my heart. I felt certain that I would be all he needed to fill any void. What a prideful woman I had somehow become.
Grant and I married in 1996 and lived mere minutes from the children back then. As the years passed, we thought of them often and would inquire about them. Recent pictures of them were sent to us and we were so grateful for that, but all forms of communication between Grant and his children had come to an end. Their mother would share that she did not want the children to be confused, and so opted to keep Grant out of their lives. We had to respect that decision, as after all, they certainly did have a father and Grant had given his consent for this. But as the days and years passed, the pain of missing their lives was leaving a dark hole in our hearts. How did it ever seem like a good decision? Regret leaves a bitter stain, and I began to wonder if Grant had resentment for me in his heart for the part I played in it all. We did not speak of such things though. I was longing to know Grant’s feelings but I did not have the courage to go there.
In time Grant and I began to try and start our own family. What started out as months turned into years, and we were not getting pregnant. I believe the longing in a woman’s heart to be a mother packs more power than a mighty army of marines in combat. It is a longing that cannot be quenched, and a yearning so deep that all else pales in comparison. I knew that Grant was capable of having children, so I reasoned that something must be ‘wrong’ with me. I cried a river of tears during that time, and I even resorted to praying! It is hard to fathom my life without prayer now, but back then, it had become my last resort. I had so much to learn. I still recall those ‘wish list’ prayers to become a mother…those bargaining prayers of all I would do and change if I could just have a baby. But when my endless babbling would cease, I would sometimes sit in silence, and it was then that the Lord God would put Meghan and Devon in my heart. I did not know what to do with such thoughts. I would cry, laugh, sob, smile…memories would flood in of the few times I got to spend with them. I would envision Grant embracing and loving them, but this time I had no fears…no hesitation…no jealousy. God was showing me how perfect and superior His ways are, and how very far I had been from them. I was learning humility, and while painful, it was life changing. I had finally cried over Meghan and Devon, the way I should have years earlier. I had been completely blinded by my own selfish motives in regards to them, and the closer I came to God, the more this truth hit me square in the face. He was revealing my every motive in the decision to let the children go, and the truth of it all felt like it might crush me. I simply wanted Grant all to myself…period. I dressed it up with all kinds of good and pious sounding explanations at one time, but God stripped away all of that fluff in an instant and I was laid bare. I had missed a beautiful opportunity to be a stepmother to two valuable and extraordinary children. I let streams of gold slip right through my fingers with disregard for how rare and excellent the journey could have been. My heart screamed out…“DO OVER!!!!’
No, there are no do-overs. We all must live with the consequences of our choices, and God is not obligated in any way to ease the burdens wrought from our decisions. In fact, it is through living out the consequences of our poor decisions that we learn, grow, and are changed. What is crucial to know is that God is a God of restoration and hope. If we have a repentant heart for our sins, and choose to embrace Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, then we can be certain that we have become a new creation. He changes our heart, motives, and desires. He indeed makes all things new and empowers us to walk in His ways. He took away my guilt and shame over the decisions of the past, and put a new hope in my heart for what could lie in store for the future. I am not the same woman I was back then, and Jesus Christ is the one and only reason that I have anything to boast about today…and I boast about Him. Here is a sure promise that I claim for our lives with Meghan and Devon…’Do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up. Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.’…Isaiah 43: 18-19 I have prayed for years now that Meghan and Devon could find it in their hearts to forgive us for missing so much of their lives. That is a river in the desert type of miracle, but with God’s help, it is very possible. It is not too late to start a new life with them in it.
Do you have deep regrets from the past??….It is not too late for a miracle. Anything is possible if you will only believe.
Many years have passed and we have been blessed with three children of our own. God granted fertility in good measure! We have always told our children about their half brother and sister, and longed for the day that they could all meet and begin a relationship. Meghan and Devon are both adults now, and are free to choose for themselves if they want to know us. We have reached out to both of them and continue to pray that they can accept our love. We have lived far from them in different states for about twelve years now, but we will not let that hinder us. The prayers will continue….
And just last week a wonderful miracle occurred. My daughter Grace and I flew out to AZ from NC to visit with my grandmother who is dying. She lives in a remote area, but we had learned that Devon had recently moved back to AZ to a town not far from hers. We asked if we could see him and he agreed! I was a bit of a nervous wreck. Grace was truly excited to meet her half brother in which she had heard of for so long. My heart soared as we drove to get him. It was hard on Grant, as he stayed back home in NC with our boys. He was chomping at the bit knowing we were getting to see Devon in the flesh. I had not seen Devon since he was about 18 months old. He is now nineteen! I cried when I got a hold of him, and I cry even now as I type this. He is an extraordinary young man, and he offered such kindness and warmth to us instantly. He and Grace got along beautifully and were silly together, just like siblings do. His eyes are so much like Grant’s, and there is a tenderness to him that is endearing and wonderful. We are so hopeful at the possibility of seeing him more and more and having him as part of our lives. We as well have the same prayer and desire to know Meghan. Only the Lord could offer a heart so much hope, despite the choices of the past.
While every human being faces regret and loss in this world, there is a real God who is the only one to offer comfort and joy through any and all circumstances. There is no mistake that He is not ready and willing to forgive, if you are ready and willing to trust Him with your life. There are no do-overs, but through Christ, you can have a clean slate..without blemish. That beats any do-over…any day!! Trust HIM today. ….PSALM 103:2..”I have removed your sins from you as far as the east is from the west.”…AMEN!!
Here are some pics of the long awaited reunion.