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An Unexpected Path

November 24, 2020 THE MMA TEAM

I grew up in a believing home. Throughout my childhood, however, it was not always clear what we believed. Deeply rooted in a background of faith and church-going, one would expect our lives to look a certain way.  

Surprisingly, our family narrative seemed to fall outside the template of a traditional Christian life, yet God miraculously used this unexpected path to lead me to HIMSELF.

My mom and dad were both previously married. Each of their first marriages ended painfully; one from a death, the other from a divorce. They met and forged a union of their own based on more pain, guilt, and shame than anyone could measure. The stage was set, and I entered the scene.

For the first ten years of my life, I watched my parents search for identity and healing in all the world had to offer. My father, a gifted businessman and entrepreneur was consistently absent in my early years, but we enjoyed the finest fruits of a successful life.

Memories of being taken to preschool in the family limousine, riding in our family airplane, and vacationing on the family yacht still linger. However, those fleeting years of success were quickly replaced with adulterous relationships and unfortunate events that led to the end of life as we knew it. A hurting and broken home in dire need of healing remained, and I was right in the middle of it.

Riding the emotional, financial, and spiritual roller coaster growing up, left me searching for a better design. I had been taught about Jesus, and was confident that surely this was not what He had intended.

At the early age of 10, while my parents were separated, I felt the Holy Spirit move on my heart, and I confidently surrendered my life to Him. I was looking for something and someone that wasn’t going to change.

Over the next decade, my parents’ marriage was miraculously restored through the gracious work of God and unmerited forgiveness.

My love for God and trust in His promises were strengthened throughout my high school years. Once again, life as I knew it was uprooted my Freshman year when my father was sentenced to nine months in prison for his involvement in a fraudulent company.

During
those challenging months, I observed the tangible hands and feet of the church, and their care for us. I also watched my father’s heart forever be changed by the love of God.

During my most character-shaping years, I was an eye-witness to God’s mercy and abundant grace: God became a reliable Father to me.

After college, I met and married my husband. Since I had been through many ups and downs in my childhood, I prayed for God to spare me further pain. It became clear that because of His great love, he allows us to walk through whatever it is to bring us closer to Him.

Over the first decade of our marriage we lived in New York City, and I would once again let go of all that was familiar. As I became a mother, I grieved not being near family, and struggled to embrace the picture of life before me. With each tear, Jesus began to remind me that He is enough in all seasons.

When comforts are stripped away and the familiar exchanged for unknowns, that is when we are invited to know him more intimately. God is gracious, patient, and his ever-present love for me has been enough to see me through some of my darkest years as a believer.

Through it all, His truths remain: he promises to sustain, and his love endures. Our lives can be full of joy and peace, not because our circumstances match our desires, but because God is a faithful God who loves us enough to not let us chase after anything else but HIM. 

This world, and all it offers, will forever disappoint, but God promises to be the solid rock upon which we can stand when everything else is washed away. I have seen Him work in my parent’s life, in my life, and I pray He will work in the lives of my children.

Whatever it is that has captured our hearts, may we be willing to let it all go for the treasure that can be found in Him alone. I pray we can all look back at our stories with gratitude, willing to walk forward with open hands, fully surrendered to the One who held us together each step of the way.

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2 comments

  • Katie Rouse

    Nov 30, 2020

    LOVE!

  • Aunt Ann

    Nov 25, 2020

    Wow Shawna,, thanks for sharing your story. I’ve never heard it fully, and it is both beautiful and touching. I appreciate your authenticity and transparency, which are so needed in our world. Your heart, and faith in Jesus, encourage me! ❤️


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