Hey everyone! My name is Christopher and I’d like to briefly share my experience of my parent’s divorce and the ways that Give Her Wings had immeasurably provided hope for my life in a very dark time. All divorces are terrible for many reasons. First, it’s the tearing apart of two people who initially loved each other but let life’s difficulties creep between them. Second, the process of splitting up the things, kids, pets, houses, time, and money can be an incredibly dehumanizing process. It essentially drains the life from all involved. I happen to think that the divorce of my parents in 2011 was a particularly draining one that could have resulted in mental catastrophe for my brothers and me had it not been for my mother’s strength and numerous philanthropists the Lord had sent to us. Most notably, Give Her Wings.
I learned about my parent’s divorce in an abrupt manner. From the moment I was picked up after a movie date with my seventh grade girlfriend, my father broke the news to me in the most fantastically immature way possible. Before we said two words to each other, he handed me my mother’s wedding ring and said to me, “Your mother wants a divorce. I need you to tell her to stay with me.” As a thirteen year old boy, what was I to do? I was both distraught by the news and crushed by the responsibility that was placed on my young shoulders. Above all, my emotions were conflicted in two directions: relief and sorrow. It sounds strange to admit that there was relief accompanying the sorrow. However, there had been innumerable nights where my father did something that sent me to bed crying. Most of the time it was because of how mean he just had to be when he had a command to give such as “go clean the yard’ or ‘you need to do the trash!” It was emotional abuse most of the time, something my mother and I both had to deal with on the nights she’d come up to comfort me . . . never letting me go to bed upset. The thought of escaping that reality comforted me to some degree.
So as I sat there in the passenger seat of the black Silverado, in a silence so thick you could move your hand and watch it move about like fog, I tried to figure out what to do. How can a thirteen year old sift through such a wide array of emotions after receiving the most contentious news imaginable? I’ll never know, and it didn’t matter what I did anyway. My mother decided she’s had enough of the infidelity and no amount of pleading from me could stop her. I’m glad I couldn’t. Much like a Hollywood blockbuster film, the opening scene of this horror movie, from seat of the Silverado, set precedence for the remaining five years of the film; unfair responsibility placed on me and the predatory uncertainty we would come to know intimately.
Change became the only stable part of my family’s life. My mom, two younger brothers and I, between 2011 and 2015, had moved to a total of 18 different houses/rooms and 3 different schools. In many cases, the moves weren’t based on any sort of plan. Most of the time, they were the spurred by absolute necessity. Be it to gain leverage on a PFA hearing, to win a custody war, to satisfy eviction notices, or to simply have a place to go when our stability was taken from us by any number of new characters. The fact was change (and his companion, stress) were the two foes we used all our energy to deal with. I know that it drained me and I know that (with even more certainty) it constantly drained my mother’s mental, emotional, and physical energy. Still, she managed to escape that nightmare with her sanity and achieved her ultimate goal of making sure that Zachary, Nicholas and I didn’t become mentally compromised by the stress. Without her steadfast philosophy of the importance of caring for us, we would have certainly come out of this reliant on unhealthy coping methods like drugs and alcohol rather than strengthened by our afflictions. In fact, Psalm 66:10-12 phrases it best, “For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.”
Although the trials and tribulations from this divorce definitely benefited me in the long run, it would be irresponsible for me to write this acting like I enjoyed it now that I’ve come out stronger. In all honesty, it was terrible most of the time. Of the many times that my mother and I were distraught and borderline hopeless, one stands out in my mind the most right now. In October of 2014 I was promoted to a bus boy at my job and I worked every night after school except Mondays and Tuesdays through the months of September and October. I was trying to save up to buy a car from my aunt. I eventually saved up about $2600 through that time which is really good for a 16 year old still in school during the week. I was super excited because it was the most money that I had saved up ever and it also meant I had the money to buy my car for when I got my license! However, following a very prevalent theme of injustice and uncertainty, we received an eviction notice for the end of the month in October. We scrambled to find another house and my mom eventually landed on one that was $1500 per month not including any utilities. You must understand that this was way outside our financial scope. However, in the wake of necessity, it was our only option.
Somehow we got accepted to rent after my mom pulled a few strings but we needed the first month’s rent and a security deposit before we could move in. My mom was completely broke, my family couldn’t help and my brothers didn’t have jobs yet. So with the threat of homelessness stalking us, I used my money that I had saved up to get us in. Thank God that I had been promoted and been spurred to start saving when I did. Otherwise things could have been a lot worse. The whole time that we were moving our stuff in the 1998 Corolla, I was trying to figure out how we would be able to stay there. Our total household income was $1100 per month to pay for everything after I finished working that November 1. Sure enough, come Christmas time, we had already missed a payment and had the landlord knocking on our door again. The beginning of another hopeless situation infested by stress. This is precisely when Give Her Wings came into our lives.
I’m not sure of the exact way that Give Her Wings was introduced to our family . . . I believe it was through a concerned friend, but I do know that they came not a second too late. This moment in our life represented a time when there were literally no other options for housing. There was absolutely no way out from this mess and the bills were growing out of control.
When Give Her Wings decided to sponsor my mother as a Mama for the month and as a part of their Christmas initiative, it gave us the one thing we needed more than anything: hope. They helped us on a level that a lot of organizations tend to overlook. When they decided to help my mother with bills and buy a bed for my brother they helped lift us up on a financial level. But what my mom remembers most is their mental and spiritual contribution—thoughtful gifts to remind her of her intrinsic value regardless of her situation. My mother was lifted up by them by simply being treated with dignity. She talks more about the emotional gift than the physical gifts they blessed us with; simply receiving a addressed with “to the beautiful Carole…” gave her heart the encouragement it needed. Rather than constantly giving her heart’s energy away, she was charged up for once. It helped alleviate the tension in the household that reverberated down through us all; built up over the previous four years; the years where I was supposed to be a kid.
I wasn’t able to have a normal childhood. I never had a chance to “be a kid.” I never partied. I never went to the Friday night football games with friends or the homecoming parades or the preparatory activities for spirit week. I was too busy doing my best to keep my sanity and be the same quality of support for my mother that she was for me. This meant I worked a lot. All week through the school year and all through the summer months, when my friends had time off. On the Saturday nights my peers were at parties or football games while I was at work trying to help pay the bills. On the days during vacation while others celebrated familial togetherness, we had to fight over where we were going to be on the day: mom or dad’s. Give Her Wings has a special mission that needs more recognition. They do so much for Their Mamas, mine included. However, their manifest function to mend the tattered hearts of Their Mamas also has an incredibly empowering latent function for the kids. I am living proof of this.
A lot of the time, many people assume that because kids “should” be left out of adult business that they simply “are.” My Grandmother on my dad’s side used to say, “you shouldn’t be lending your mother money” or “you shouldn’t have to be in the middle of it.” In her utopian world, I wouldn’t have been. In the realistic and borderline dystopian world, I was. Ever since the moment that I stepped up into that truck. This stark reality accompanies a realization that when you help a struggling mother, you help the kids equally so. When you give your energy, money, or time, you charge these women with nothing but the determination to escape abuse, their kids, and the clothes on their backs, you also reverberate the energy into the next generation. The preceding statement cannot be overemphasized; there is real power in benevolence.
Give Her Wings is a special foundation. They are impactful. They are caring. Above all, they are empowering. After interviewing Megan for a school project I realized that God has some special things planned for them. Had it not been for their help in our time of greatest need, I may not be as successful as I am right now. In fact, we moved into a place that we could afford in July of 2015 and our lives have finally been stable. I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart for their benevolence in giving us the hope to push through those last few months of despair and giving my mom the gift of hope and dignity. Without their interjection, we might have continued our journey with instability and stress indefinitely. Thanks to them we are safe, stable, and content once more.