Striding: Finding Your Joy in the Noes of Life

"Return home and tell how much God has done for you…" Luke 8:39 (NIV)

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Do you have a story? I'm pretty sure we all do. Does your story have value? Absolutely. Can your story influence others? Without a doubt. So why is it that we are often reluctant to share the hard moments of our lives with others? I think sometimes it’s because those hard times are often reminders of the firm noes we have experienced in our lives. I wonder if we have come to the point where we find joy in the noes of life.

I’m often asked why I finally decided to go live with my intimate life stories about loss, adoption, infertility, and our multiracial family experiences. It wasn’t an easy decision. I remember nights discussing with my husband about how this might impact our family. Ultimately, we made the right decision.  I think it’s because the hard moments in our life taught me the biggest lessons of my life. I’d like to think that when I share the grief I experienced with infertility that it will help another couple heal. I hope that when I talk about the hardships interracial families experience today that other families don’t feel so alone.

Many of the noes have been hard. A great example of this is when I applied for a job I really, wanted. Our son was young, and I knew that the job would not only advance my career but also give me time at home to be with him. I didn't get the job. I wasn't the first choice as I had hoped. I was second. Second didn't win me a prize. When the firm no came my way, I was crushed. What I didn’t know is that six years later I would oversee that position, unit, and team. Like many others, the joy came later.

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Our miscarriage was probably the most bitter NO of my life. We had sacrificed so much time, money, and energy with fertility doctors only to get a firm, bitter no. That no cost me my health, requiring surgery and our emotional wellbeing. That no was bitter. To rub salt in my wound my closest friends were pregnant at the same time I was. We were supposed to raise our children together. Our miscarriage happened right around Mother’s Day. I was at my lowest. What I didn’t know was that the way we would grow our family would be through adoption and not by birth. Meeting our son's birthmother that same year and witnessing the birth of our son the same month (and year) our birth child would have been born was nothing I could have ever envisioned. God knew that I would be a mother before my pregnant besties. I didn’t.  Today, I am a mother because I got a firm NO.  The heartbreak and pain didn't determine our future. Yet another firm no that lead to the greatest joy of my life.

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The noes of life can break your heart. For me, my twenties was a time where I experienced tough noes from God. At the time those noes broke my heart. Have you ever felt like that?  In the past, I could barely talk about those noes without crying. Recently, my Alma Mater, Nyack College interviewed me for a piece they were writing about my work in adoption

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That interview reminded me of those noes. It also gave me time to reflect on all the yeses I stepped into. I think that is why I love being a seasoned 40 something. I’ve lived long enough to see how those firm noes lead to the yeses of my life later.  I can honestly say I am joyful for every no because it lead me here. To me, the world will not change until we get real with ourselves about the pain, rejection, and losses we have experienced. It’s in those hard times that we truly understand our humanity. That we are all the same.

Finally, to answer the question; Why do I share my stories?  I share them because they shaped me, and I hope they will help others in similar situations. I have learned that God never wastes our pain. Only we do that. God has a great purpose and a beautiful future for all. Not despite our past, but because of it.

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