Life Lessons

A Broken Family Does Not Mean A Broken Life

I believe things, whether good or bad, happens for a reason. We may not always understand why, as Alfred, Lord Tennyson once said:

Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.

I was not to question the Sovereign God why did I have to come from a broken family. But I’d be lying to you if I say I never did. Of course I did. It’s always easy to assume the answer to this query would always be in a human’s perspective like, oh because your parents’ did not work out or because of our sinful nature. Although both are undeniably true, I have recently, after twenty plus years, found out that everything has a greater purpose. And for what good purpose can come out from a bad beginning?

Such a perfect timing to write this post during prayer and fasting week— a meal short and away from this generation’s ultimate distraction a.k.a social media, I am quiet and in solitude with my own thoughts. And lately my thoughts are filled with what would make this world a better place to live. I figured this world needs more compassionate people. People who feel for other people. Thus, I went on my way to sail in the boat of compassion and found myself docking in relationship island as I was asked to pray for a broken family.

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As I unload my emotional baggage, I was immediately taken back to my childhood and started thinking what was it really like to grow up in one.

(Now I cannot promise that I didn’t stop in between paragraphs to cry as I recollect memories and emotions but I assure you that all have been forgiven and that by God’s grace, I am in a better place now.)

If my memory serves me right, all I can recall of when my family still lived together is when I was 3 years old and it was supposed to be bedtime but I couldn’t sleep or maybe it was my first night being deported from my parents’ room and I had to share a bed with my two older sisters and I began crying. As my sisters do everything in their power to shut me up, my Papa went in and carried me back to their room. The next thing I remember was my Mama picking me up at my school, riding a jeepney to somewhere not home. I didn’t know I was being shipped to another place that day. So this was probably “it.”

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It was as quick as a dream. I just woke up one day in my grandparents’ house in the province, enrolled to a new school with new faces and my Papa is nowhere to be seen.

I was never briefed on what’s happening with our family and why it was happening. All I know is that there was a strict reminder to the three of us, girls, to never speak about our situation to anyone and most especially at school as we were enrolled in a conservative one where stories like this will most likely get us expelled. But as we all know, secrets can never be kept in the dark forever. And if you have lived in a small town where everybody knows everybody, the truth will somehow make its way out.

During my time, people are not very open to the idea of broken homes. Kids will isolate you, adults will gossip about you, classmates will bully you. Fearing that I will never have friends, I indulged in making stories. I tell my friends, classmates, and teachers that my Papa is just working abroad when they get curious of not seeing him during releasing of report cards or school activities. Worst, I had to show off my new toys and tell my friends it was from my Papa even though they weren’t just so I could fit in.

But what do you know? People still isolated me, people gossiped, I was bullied.

One lie after another, I found myself rebelling. I was a good student but never a great one. I always find it hard to excel on anything as I easily lose heart when things get tough. I tried cheerleading, volleyball, Taekwondo, badminton, singing… but never pursued any. Growing up, I was this confused girl who didn’t know who she wanted to be.

Not long after, I was already cutting classing, lying about school projects, going out with friends to play billiards, drinking, smoking, then at a very young age I started dating boys. Soon, I was pregnant at 20 and the rest is history.

Blaming.

It’s hypocrisy if I tell you I never blamed my parents for all my mishaps. My young self felt very angry with them, with the world because it made me feel insecure, rejected, confused, broken, and incompetent. I spent my entire life searching for the good in the midst of this mess to only realize: I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul holds certain truths about our life. Though I have sailed through angry waves, I have chosen to steer to the right direction. I saw my life from a different perspective, my parents aren’t bad people, they just made bad choices. Though those choices may reflect on their children, it doesn’t mean those children should make the same mistakes. I am given full control of my life. I chose to go opposite. Stop using your situation as an excuse to do bad things in life.

Forgive.

The year 2017 is such a remarkable year for me. As our church urged every member to pursue intentional relationship, Mike and I decided to challenge ourselves with this. As Mike lead the rebuilding of relationship in his side of the family, I was also given an opportunity to finally say to my parents that I have forgiven them.

I forgive my Papa for not being present to all my birthdays. I forgive him for not fighting for me when I was bullied in school. I forgive him for not disciplining me.

I forgive my Mama for not always being at my side growing up because she was busy making ends meet. I forgive her for being angry at my Papa during their separation.

It took me 29 years to tell them that I forgive them and that all is in the past now. Please do not wait too long to forgive your folks. Do not wait for them to ask for it. Just forgive.

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Assume Responsibility.

How many people do you think will quickly apologize for their mistakes and will never justify it? Not many. In marriage, this happens all the time. One partner constantly sees the other’s mistake. It will always be hard for a human being to admit, my marriage did not work out because of me. I admire couples who go their separate ways quietly and would remain friends and coparent because they took responsibility for their actions. We won’t see that much during my day because couples fight and forget that their children are hurting, big time. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is, what matters most is who are getting affected.

There are moments that I wish my parents sat us down and told us what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Then maybe we would’ve heard the truth straight from their mouths. There are also moments I wish my parents didn’t fight even after they’d separated. Then maybe it wouldn’t be hard to have them together in one room and celebrate holidays together.

And for what good purpose can come out from this bad beginning?

God’s promises is fulfilled.

When I was young and when I get too emotional, I cry and ask God what would it take for my family to be whole again? I remember telling Him to just take my life if that would bring peace to them. Guess what? He did not take my life (just yet) and He did not answer my request of making my family whole again. Instead, He gave me my own family to nurture. And even though I will never experience what’s it like to have a complete family, I am at peace knowing my kids have one. They are given a chance to experience the things I didn’t as a child.  I may have been broken, but through Him, I am complete.

Eternal life.

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:17

Every time I go back, I am reminded that I had to rebel, I had to do foolish things to be able to realize that I needed saving. If not for my broken family, if God has given me a normal one, I would have probably been very much complacent and would have never sought God in my life. I’m not saying that you have to go through divorce or break your family to be able to experience Jesus but in whatever situation we have, God breaks us to make us. He can never mend what isn’t broken and He will never mend it the way you want Him to. Why? HE IS WHO HE IS.

Good stuff.

It’s always easy to imagine what could have been if we always base success on fortune. Sometimes I imagine what my life could’ve been if my parents did not break up. I imagine it the way the society would want you to picture it— an average family where the father works, the mother stays at home and bake all day, kids go to good school and comes home to play with their pet Labrador, then they go on vacations and take family photos. Oh those family picture will definitely be my Facebook cover photo to tell everyone my life is perfect!

Wait. Where are my adorable kids though? If that isn’t an imagination at all, will I ever marry my soulmate? What if I didn’t come from a broken family but had a broken family myself, will I still be who I am today?

If my parents hadn’t broken up, I don’t think my Papa will ever get to know Christ and wouldn’t be an instrument for people to come to know Him as well.

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If my parents hadn’t broken up, I don’t think my Mama will be able to pursue her dreams and be happily married.

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If my parents hadn’t broken up, my sisters wouldn’t probably have wonderfully talented kids and I wouldn’t be an aunt.

If my parents hadn’t broken up, I wouldn’t have a younger sister who loves my kids like her own (even when I wasn’t a very good Ate to her before).

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If my parents hadn’t broken up, I wouldn’t have another Papa and a brother who loves me like their own real family.

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If my parents hadn’t broken up, I wouldn’t probably need a good man in my life like Mike.

If my parents hadn’t broken up, I wouldn’t have good stories to tell.

I prefer to see the good despite all the bad things. Instead of dwelling in my what ifs, I choose to become a survivor of difficult times and write a new story.

Faith means  believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.

Philip Yancey

And it all made sense now.

—-

I write this not to give insult to my parents and my family but to actually reach out to other families who have gone through, going through or about to go through the same situation.

To the children of these families, may you be healed and find forgiveness in your hearts. Never think that you are alone or that you are unloved by your earthly parents. Know that God’s love for you is and will always be enough.

To the parents, may you be reminded that it is not God’s will for a man and a woman (husband and wife) to separate. If all things have been said and done, know that it isn’t too late to have good and civil relationship with your ex. If you are currently going through separation, I pray that it’s not to late to believe that in God, your marriage shall be restored. Lastly, to those who are thinking of separating, I hope my story somehow pierced your heart and will reconsider getting help before rushing to any decision. I hope you find in your heart that by breaking your marriage, you are also breaking your children.

My prayers are with you.

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