A story of redemption.
Wouldn't it be nice if that were completely true though?
I know. Not something you would expect to see from the author of the book that has that exact quote written on the cover of it. But hear me out though. When I had finished one of the many first drafts of this book, I sent it to a few people to read. After my best friend had read it, her critique of it was that there was no update about my mom at the end. I had kind of left the reader hanging about her. Mended is a story of my life, and because I was raised by a single mother, she understandably is a big piece of the beginning of the book. Not only was her parenting a pivotal aspect of how I developed, but I also share many details of her struggles through my eyes in the book. Even though her struggles deeply impacted my life, after I write about graduating high school, I mention her very little from that point on. Obviously I knew that I hadn't offered an update on her, but since my friend called me out on it (and probably so would other readers), I had to decide if I wanted to do something about it.
I decided I didn't want to.
I have several reasons to not share the update of her life. First, Mended wasn't her story. Mended was my story. I didn't write about her struggles and addiction to tell the world about my mom. Her story is so much more complex with a much larger backstory than I could have ever included in my book. I also don't even have the knowledge or emotional capacity to write about her entire story. It isn't mine. What I wrote about were the specific pieces of her story that shaped me, therefore becoming pieces of my story. The point of sharing those parts of her life were to share with the world that we all come from different backgrounds. Some of us had it good growing up, some of us had it very bad, and some of us had some kind of middle-line mess that leaves us even more confused than the black and white picture of good and bad. As we grow up, we get to decide what we carry with us. We get to decide which pieces of the story are going to shape us and how they are going to shape us. It isn't easy to intentionally decide those things, but it is possible. When I leave the reader hanging after high school with unknowns of my mom, it's because I had to make a decision to leave those struggles behind or to carry them with me. I had to leave them behind. Of course they have shaped me. They changed me and I am still working through ways to not let that part of my life define me now. But, there was a choice that I had to make to move out of my house at 17 with addiction, abandonment, and abuse as my companions, or with them as a piece of my past that I was going to walk away from. When you, the reader, are looking for ways that my mom's story went from broken to beautiful, I want you to remember that the story isn't hers, it's mine. The broken was me and the beautiful is what I have decided to make from it.
Second, not everyone has their happy ending, "story of redemption" if you will. I didn't want Mended to be the book where everything is cleaned up neatly and wrapped up for the reader. The updates on her aren't really providing any more other than fulfilling a desire to clean the story up and that isn't real life. There are several examples in the book that are truly beautiful redemption stories (that I really can't wait for you to read!), but there are also many, many times that things aren't fixed. There are addictions that never ended, relationships that were never fixed, and friendships that sadly ran their course. There is no sugar coating those things. The thing is, when our lives have been broken, no matter how hard we try to repair our broken glass to a beautiful stained glass piece, there will always be shards of glass that make it messy. There will always be broken pieces that can't be repaired and lost pieces that leave holes in the piece. It is part of our lives that we don't get to choose, but have to accept as part of our human existence. Pain and suffering are part of what makes the good times so beautiful. There is, however, one way to repair that messy, gapped, stained glass piece beautiful, and that is God. Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" NIV. Even though that fills me with hope, it does require faith though. The good that comes from our brokenness could not be according to our plan; it could actually be opposite of our plan. We may not even see the fulfillment of His good in our lifetime. The brokenness and the redemption isn't about just us. It's about those with us, around us, those after us, and all of eternity. Some days when my faith feels strong, I can accept that. Some days though, I wish I could see things work out the way I want and when I want. But don't we all?