God's Brave Women - Mandy's Story
As I sit down to write this I am filled with anxiety, as I have no idea what to write about. I hardly think about myself as BRAVE (wait, who me?) or a writer per say. And to write about being BRAVE seems so strange to me, perhaps self-promoting, if you will. But then again, I haven’t always had a good history of positive self-talk, personal affirmation, or consistent allowance of God to remind me of all who HE knows I am.
So, here I sit. Thinking about what I believe BRAVE means. And I google “definition of brave.” The response that pops up is, “ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage” or “endure or face unpleasant conditions or behavior without showing fear.” Ah. Yes.
So basically, being BRAVE can look like facing or enduring something hard, painful, or unpleasant. And when I think about those words, I think about how many times over the course of the day (or my 4+ decades of life that I’ve lived), whether I’ve liked it or not – in situations that are hard, painful, or unpleasant – that I’ve been BRAVE. It’s Every. Single. Day. With varying degrees of difficulty or situation, it’s required me to make a choice that I often don’t want to make, for fear of some kind of failure or mis-step.
In discovering this, my mind is overwhelmed with varying degrees of bravery like: apologizing to a neighbor in-person over a misunderstanding; having countless conversations about puberty with my daughter; not having the answers for everyone’s questions; avoiding the food that isn’t healthy; getting out of an emotionally abusive relationship; moving to another state by myself; running a marathon; taking a chance on a relationship; acknowledging that I am adopted; seeking help for postpartum depression that included trying medication, medication succeeding, and then learning to live through withdrawal after weaning off said medication; caring for my widowed mom; accepting and being at peace with long-term responsibility for my high-functioning special needs sister and her amazing daughter; entering into the mess with friends when you’ve hurt them unintentionally. And then there’s always the unknown of life.
And, all of that used to bring me so much anxiety. But, it’s a new day. And it’s been a new day for a little while now.
You see, despite all of our circumstances and cards we’ve been dealt, there is this God. A God who loves us. A God who knows us. A God who knows what’s coming, where we are, and what we can handle. And a God that never leaves us alone.
"You see, despite all of our circumstances and cards we’ve been dealt, there is this God. A God who loves us. A God who knows us. A God who knows what’s coming, where we are, and what we can handle. And a God that never leaves us alone."
Currently, I am awaiting results from a DNA test. I decided before this past Christmas, that I wanted to take a huge step in being brave, and jump on the bandwagon of spitting in a tube and sending it off to a lab to have it determine if I have any known relatives in the United States. The thought terrifies me yet is met with curiosity and a feeling of potential belonging.
I have never known of any blood relatives besides my two daughters. And with that, I’ve never had anyone resemble me until my oldest daughter was born – and when I laid eyes on her, I instantly felt at home. Like I belonged. Like we belonged together. I didn’t know that I had missed that feeling of belonging for so many years until I was finally able to experience it and then knew it had been missing.
While I wait patiently for results, I am filled with anxiety, anticipation, curiosity, and perhaps some excitement, as I continue to wrestle with the processing of having been adopted. Yes, I am adopted. And yes, I’m in my 40’s and just beginning to unpack this reality that has been my life. A reality that I’ve basically chosen to ignore much of my life. According to myself, why would it affect me? I was only 6 months old and who remembers anything from that age? How could adoption possibly affect me? I would tell myself that “aside from the obvious fact that I am Korean and my adoptive parents are German and Dutch, I am no different from anyone else.”
But I was wrong. I am different. In beautiful and hard ways that are newly found to me. In ways that leave me wondering about the beginning of my story. Or any hardship unknown to me that my biological mother experienced. Or the potential of being unwanted.
And while I don’t know the results of the DNA test or the details of where my story began at birth or who I may find throughout this journey, I do know this today. I have always been loved and wanted by my adopted parents. I was an answer to prayer for them from a God who loves them and who has always loved and wanted me.
"I have always been loved and wanted by my adopted parents. I was an answer to prayer for them from a God who loves them and who has always loved and wanted me."
I hold tight to these truths as I push myself forward, continuing to unravel the person God has created me to be. And I know that truths can be hard. And painful. But truths do set us free. And they allow us to live up to our full potential of who God knows we can be.
Friends, this is what it looks like. This is what being brave is all about for me.
Mandy is in her early 40’s and has been married to Joe for over 13 years. She has two daughters, ages 12 and 9, and they reside in Huntley, IL, with their golden doodle (Harley) and two guinea pigs (Gilbert and Oliver). Mandy’s passion has always been loving and encouraging people, and she’s able to carry that out in her role in leading discipleship at Willow Creek Huntley. She loves creating opportunities for people to connect in community while growing closer to God. In her spare time, Mandy loves to travel, have dates with Joe, spend time with her kids, hang out with friends, read, and write. Connect with her over on Facebook @mandy.palsschneider.
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story!
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