An Essay Award Submission by Lori Miller
Over the last several days I have been in the company of human beings who have, either deliberately or accidentally used the word “broken” to describe a home that is absent of one parent. Did you not see me sitting there? Or perhaps that was the point. I have felt the silent sting of your convicting comments regarding what you would assume is the state of my home, but I can tell you from the inside out that my home is quite beautifully intact. I can tell you that away from your prying eyes and pointing fingers I live in a home woven together with the thread of great love and boundless grace. I did not plan to raise my children as a solo parent, but life in all its grittiness has dealt me an altogether unexpected card and my response is quite simply to accept the challenge and to achieve what for others would be impossible. I know what it is to be broken. I know what it is to get up every day and live life raw. The destruction of my marriage left me gutted, questioning the very Creator of the universe with pointed angry questions, “where are you God when marriages implode and dreams blow away and why can’t I find you when my days are gritty, long and dark?” But there is opportunity in brokenness, and so with dignity, courage and a sprinkle of grace I wake each morning and live in the face of fear and struggle. In my brokenness I am becoming and in my becoming I am giving my children an unforgettable gift, the freedom to do the same.
Has my divorce affected my children? Of course it has. It would be naïve for me to deny that the absence of their father in their day to day lives has not left a scar. But scars tell a story. On one hand they serve as reminders of dark times when life did its best to break and bend. But on the other hand scars reflect a will to survive, they are proof indeed that after pain comes healing. My children and I have been beautifully broken but our home is not. I watch my incredibly handsome and impossibly charming boys succeed in athletics and academics in spite of the challenges they face, and I sit in wonder as my strong, smart, heartbreakingly beautiful and gifted daughter navigates adolescence with dignity and grace. Your labels do not define them. Within the bricks and mortar of our home there are innumerable precious moments that give me just a glimpse of the people that they are becoming. The priceless handwritten notes they leave me, “I love you Mommy, thank you for everything you do for me”, the twenty dollars from a birthday gift left quietly beside my coffee in the morning, “I want you to have this Mom, a gift from me”, the sweet kisses and sincere prayers from deep within the heart of a child, my child, that child from a “broken home” growing into greatness. I believe that they will be lights in this world because they have been broken; they are brilliant exploding stars full of light learning to live life out loud and in doing so inspiring others with their resilience and strength.
Do not misunderstand my words. There are days when I would like nothing more than to have someone to share both the load and the delight of raising these five amazing human beings. But the absence of such does not make us broken. I have seen plenty of suffering children living in the brokenness that lies hidden in a home intact.
Solo Mom Lori Miller lives in Atlanta, GA with her five children; Noah age 17, twins Hannah and Logan 16 and twins Luke and Jacob 12. She is a full time Salvation Army officer and occasional blogger who finds great joy in the creative expression of writing.
Cover Image via Shutterstock.com