I recently had the good fortune to meet with a group of young women and talk with them about teen pregnancy and single motherhood. This topic is one that is near and dear to my heart because of my own experiences as a single teen mom.
As I spoke with the girls, I could not help but reflect on that period of my life. As I look back on those years, I cannot help but to acknowledge the pain and hardship that I felt as I made my way through life as an eighteen year-old mother. Yet, as I reflect, I also feel gratitude for the beauty that my children have brought in to my life, and appreciation of the transformation that I began when I first became a mother nearly ten years ago.
Becoming a mother at such a young age was incredibly difficult. I was lonely much of the time, as I often felt stuck between the two worlds of motherhood and adolescence. There were many times that I felt lost and scared, unsure of how my life was going to unfold. And I was often overwhelmed by the adult-like responsibilities I had taken on myself when I decided to become a parent. Yet, becoming a mother at such a young age was by far one of the most incredible things to ever happen to me. I experienced for the first time a love that I was sure would make my heart burst. A pleasure never known to me until I took delight in the tiny person that is my son. A sense of pride, confidence, and self-efficacy that stemmed from turning worldly obstacles into personal triumphs. And a rewarding fulfillment that could have only come from journey that I had embarked on with my son.
Do you have any journeys like that in your own life? The kind that feels nearly unbearable in its pain? The kind that you aren’t exactly sure how you accomplished what you did? The kind that taught you some of the most valuable life lessons you have ever learned? The kind that, despite the hardship, you would never ever trade for the world? I am willing to bet that in one way or another, you do. In fact, you might even have more than one.
However painful those journeys may be been, or still are, for that matter, I am willing to bet that they are also some of the most meaningful experiences you have ever had. They are so meaningful because, in the face of hardship, you have flourished. Your light shone through the darkness because, at some point, you decided that it would. You decided that you will not be overcome by your hardship, and instead you persevered through the best and the worst of your journey.
These journeys are so meaningful, not only because they have shown us what we are made of, but because they have helped us transform into the beautiful people that they are today. As you reflect on these journeys today, I encourage you take time to appreciate the hardship that you overcame. But more importantly, embrace who you are because of them, and cherish the unexpected blessings and beauty that they brought you as well.