A Series of Tiny Choices

Recently I was asked by my pastors to share a “Kingdom Story” happening right now in my life. Below is the transcript of what I shared.

Fourteen years ago I was holed up in a former Sunday School room in a church basement in Iowa which had become my crazy little home. I was 22. I had no job. I was on food stamps. I was editing the divorce papers John drew up for us. I was pregnant and when it rained really hard worms slunk into my basement lair and wiggled their wet little bodies around the tile.

Turns out, this is the very place where my Kingdom Story of today really began to take shape—right down to the bats that flew above my bed at night and the burglar I caught in the dark of the church basement. This is where my Kingdom Story helps me understand my life now based on the plotline that was started long ago.

At the time, this is what was happening:

I was searching for adoptive parents for this baby I wasn’t prepared to mother. I received piles of portfolios of potential parents for my baby through the adoption agency but I also had other offers. A daughter of my parents’ friends offered to adopt my baby. Friends here at Emmanuel knew of a family wanting to adopt a baby. Lutheran Social Services said they’d do their best to place the baby quickly and keep it out of foster care. Even my sister and brother-in-law offered to parent my baby. So I had some thinking to do in my little church basement apartment…

At the time, this is what was happening:

My brother was in New York giving away his possessions. He resigned from his job and sublet his apartment. He did all the tidying it takes to move halfway across the country: close out bank accounts, forward mail, final goodbye coffee dates. And he was doing all of this for me. He packed up his Ford Ranger pickup truck and drove from New York to Minnesota to live with me and help me get back on my feet during my dark night. Despite all of his sacrifice, I still said no to his offer…

At the time, this is what was happening:

My mom was sending me care packages focused entirely on me, her baby with second-hand maternity clothes and plans for what we’d do after I’d place my baby for adoption. My dad was tending to his flower gardens in the sandy soil of Ham Lake, Minnesota.

And now…this:

I did end up choosing the family with the connection from here, Emmanuel. And when I met my daughter in the hospital on a stormy August morning I didn’t want to say goodbye. And so I didn’t. And my Kingdom Story is this: My faith is shaped year after year, day after day because of my tiny choice to surrender what seemed safe (a life as a birthmother) and choose the scarier, unknown path (a life of a singlemother). That tiny choice snowballed into Super Hero Motherhood, to gettting my Masters, to buying a house, to launching a business to letting God guide me to Darren—a man who wants to adopt my daughter—my Gloria—my choice.

And now…this:

My brother and sister and brother-in-law each get to witness this Kingdom Story working in our family and branching out to our communities in part because of their way of being during my Dark Night of the Soul. Today, Jennifer gets to extend the calm she practiced during my crisis to those that come to her in crisis in her congregation. My brother gets to expand on his powerful choice to leave all his safety nets to focus on a singular cause while he works as a union organizer in upstate New York.

And now…this:

My mom gets to beam the pride of Grammy-hood to her sisters and friends as Gloria—arguably the most precious addition to our family fourteen years ago—and learn how this Kingdom Story and work is right here and right now in the ugly mess of our little lives—a reminder that the most delicate plants are the first to spring from earth charred with fire. And my dad, gets to hold each wilted plant that arrives via mail order or buy all the end-of-season, root-bound perennials from the nursery knowing that bleakness passes, that there is life coursing through—that there is hope even when the sign of it is ultimately buried.

This story, my Kingdom Story is not finished. I’m in it. And you’re in it with me. You’re in the midst of Kingdom Stories all around you that you may not know are being written. But you’re a character in them, you’re a participant. How will you contribute to another person’s storyline? How will your way of being extend the energy of the Kingdom—of God’s miraculous work in this world? How will you choose to be in this world God loves so much? Will you abandon or embrace? Will you disregard or listen? Will you keep silent or speak? I’ve learned that Kingdom Stories are built on a series of tiny choices—not by grand gestures or big donations or remarkable sacrifice.

I wonder…what kind of Kingdom Story might you be in the midst of writing at this moment? What chaos or loss or hurt or injustice or joy or elation or witness will be the base from which you will choose to build a love story about the Kingdom of God right here? I encourage you to consider how your way of being is a contribution to the plotline in everyone’s Kingdom Story. My main characters—Gloria, Jennifer, Kent, Peter, my parents, Darren and Harold are co-authors and like any good “choose your own adventure” series I wake day after day anxious for the next chapter.

9 Comments on “A Series of Tiny Choices

  1. I recently came across a journal entry written when I was 13 years old that reflected a similar story to Tamar. I cry today because I can’t decide if not having the voice to share my story at that time would have shaped my life for better or for worse? Would I be weaker considering I would suck in all the healing I needed from the people around me? Or has my silence shaped my strength to persevere through all my life’s trials since then? Or is this not even about me and more about others who may stumble into my same past unless I use my voice to warn them of the trip hazard and try to change their course or remove the rocks? Thank you so much for this Claire!


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