Ten years ago, in 2006, I think we had the worst end of November.
We were leaving an arena in Hamilton – an arena I’m pretty sure I never visited again – when my mom dropped what felt like a bombshell. It uprooted a lot of things I knew to be true up until that point. It was the start of a lot of honesty in our family, and began a long journey of sifting through what had been true & what had been false in my growing up.
It was a hard November, and it left the image I had held so dearly of my father so completely shattered. Some of the wounds left that evening scarred over; some of the wounds were ripped open again; some of the wounds are still tender occasionally.
I know you can’t blame a month for all the crappy things that happened, but this past weekend, a Facebook memory popped up that had me reflecting on how Jesus turned what was the worst month into a month I now think of fondly.
Eight years ago, in 2008, it was another hard November – but this time, for different reasons.
I walked into the back room of our house and found my mom, smiling at our phone, and immediately yelled, “THAT FRED GUY ASKED YOU OUT, DIDN’T HE.” He did – Jarvis’ most eligible bachelor asked my mom out & it felt like a bombshell when I was 15 years old, but now at 23, it feels like a shining testimony to God’s affection for redemption stories.
This fella entering our lives uprooted a lot of things I thought I knew up until that point. Accepting Fred into my life gave Christ a lot of opportunity to extend me grace, because the ugliest pieces of myself that make me cringe were very much so revealed in that particular season of my life.
It was the start of a lot of honesty in our family, and began a long journey of sifting through what had been true & what had been false in my growing up. This time, it wasn’t a question of, “Was that part of my childhood true? Was that a lie I was told? Was this thing I grew up believing actually just a giant facade?” It was a journey of sifting through what had been true & what had been false about fatherhood. You never had to be good enough to make a dad stay, because if that was true, I had literally been the most unloveable version of myself & Fred still decided to get engaged to my mom & take on responsibility for three teenage daughters. They wouldn’t forget your birthdays, or send you a subject line email – but they would remember your favourite flower & get them every time you went through a break up.
And when Fred stood up on his wedding day & declared that he would never call us Sylvia’s girls, he would never call us his stepdaughters, we would always be his daughters – my hard heart didn’t know what that meant. I don’t even think I knew how to receive that kind of love, because my entire life with men had been so unstable up until that point. Now, I cannot get over what a display of unconditional love that was – that he would call us his own after all the ugliness we (okay fine, I) displayed, that he would take us home to forever be the dad we needed.
Because Fred was not the dad I wanted. I wanted my dad to step up. I didn’t want to move to Jarvis. I didn’t want another dad. But every single day, he proves that he is the dad I needed.
On that November night ten years ago, I was pretty sure I was never going to have a relationship with my dad that would ever be the same as before. But God is always faithful in the story He is writing – His fingerprints can be traced on so many moments from the last ten years, particularly in the bringing in of a dad who was the dad we needed. And ten years after that worst November night, He’s given me a relationship with another dad, which I couldn’t have ever imagined that night as we drove home in our mini van.
When do we ever see God’s faithfulness right away? I think it’s taken me ten years to appreciate God’s affection for redemption stories – how He takes the stories I have written off, how He takes the things my control freak self is clinging to & says, “Hannah, this is not outside my redemption – let me help heal you.” How He takes a month where the worst thing happened, and turned it into a month where the best thing began.
I really don’t think there’s any better illustration in my life of how God faithfully heals what is broken, & is very much so in the business of restoration & redemption stories.
Happy eight years of going steady, Mom & Fred. So thankful for the example you two set every day of following Christ, trusting the Lord’s plan for your lives, and unconditionally loving those around you.