“I have this uncanny belief that love can take on many different forms in a life well lived… It’s up to us what we choose to fight for, respect, represent, and believe. When I was 19 I fell in love with a man 14 years my senior. Our relationship was the cause and effect of acceptance of who we were at that moment in time and so in June of 2007, we got married! We never really talked about kids and by the time we did, it was because I was peeing on a stick, at a friend’s house who had a hunch I might be pregnant. In January of 2009 we welcomed our son Elias into the world!
Our lives had been one big rollercoaster with the punches coming one after another. At 22 the weight and reality of the life I was living felt heavy. None of my personal friends had transferred to where I was in life and I found myself searching, for what I wasn’t sure. I spent a year or more pushing my husband away, exploring new careers, walking away from my faith, cutting off my hair and so many other countless things. We grew apart, the marriage fell apart and we started to go our separate ways. I walked away from my marriage vowing never to get married again.
As you could imagine I left my hopeful, devoted husband with lots of resentment, anger, and depression which he kept so vigorously bottled up, because he loved me.
Time passed and we both began to date and move on. In March of 2014 our world stopped. I wasn’t feeling lost, I had renewed my faith and my purpose felt clear. I had made the decision to get married again – to someone new. This new husband and I eloped and dove straight into youth ministry.
When news broke it felt that little by little every bottled-up emotion came pouring out in the form of custody law suits, nasty words, weight loss from stress and knock out screaming matches between my son’s father and me.
We were both in deep dark despair.
Our mutual respect and adult behavior had disappeared overnight. Our son Elias had learned to play the three of us against each other, was attention seeking and an emotional wreck. For months every time he would transition to the opposite household it would take him four days to reel in his emotions.
One Sunday I had attended church and I asked for prayer at the end from a stranger who knew nothing about us or our situation. In that prayer this stranger prayed eight words that stayed with me forever: Lord we pray for hearts to be reset.
I pondered on those words thinking of my heart, my ex-husbands heart, my sons’ heart, my new husbands’ heart and what my original desires were for our son’s childhood. We wanted him to be loved, feel safe, laugh a lot and change the world.
At some point in time all our hearts had been tender, accepting, hopeful and loving.
That very next week for our weekly parent-exchange I had prepared my heart to ask for complete forgiveness from my ex-husband. I wanted his heart to mend.
From that day forward all of our decisions were made based on us being a whole family. We canceled lawyers, court dates and dropped needless stress. We have celebrated almost every holiday together with our son, so he never has to feel split! We have had some of the best summer vacations together! Our very first family vacation happened by accident in 2016! It was the result of last-minute planning and finding the only beach house left in Atlantic beach on Memorial Day weekend! My husband and I invited both of our parents, his sister, and my best friends’ family. In on the excitement, our son looked up and said ‘mom I know my dad would love to come hang out at the beach with us.’ Without hesitation we called Scott and invited him too! It touched my heart deeply to see my son at 7-years-old, so free and comfortable with his life and have no hesitation about all of his parents being in one house, laughing and enjoying each other for a weekend!
Our renewed hearts allowed us to accept each other and put the love and value for the life we created together first.
Since our very first ‘family’ picture went public the comments I hear most often include ‘I don’t know how your husband allows that.’ ‘I don’t know how you’re able to hang out with your Ex.’ ‘I couldn’t see myself doing that.’ My answers to them all are always – Love takes many different forms in a lifetime, forgiveness is good for the soul and there can’t be limits on doing what’s best for my children!
Our family continues to grow and evolve. This year my son has gained another mom and a new older sister! Every day I see him growing closer to the desires that his father and I had for him on the day he was born. He’s confident, loving and strong; he puts love and acceptance first.
Back to my uncanny belief: Love can have many forms if you’re willing to re-new your heart and be open. Our family dynamics are unconventional to the average person, but we choose to go against what others feel is normal and lead our children with love, acceptance and forgiveness.
If you’ve found yourself trapped by unfortunate events or stuck in unforgiveness, take time to evaluate your heart. Make the decision to accept another for where they are and let love take a new form.
I’m 31-years-old and I feel like I’m finally getting it right! I witness daily just how blessed, loved, confident and strong my son and my 2 girls are from being surrounded by 4 parents who have opened their hearts and accepted each other all over again.”
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