Last year I wrote and self-published a book about my life. The book, entitled My Mothers Footprints: A Story of Faith, Calm, Courage, Patience and Grace, was written for two reasons: (1) because I found it very cathartic to process, through writing, some challenging times in my life; and (2) I wanted to help other people who might be struggling with the things I had experienced. Basically, I wanted to let them know they are not alone.
I got the idea to write the book from a tattoo I had placed on my hip five years ago. The tattoo has five words and five footprints. Each word represents a trait my children have bestowed upon me, the footprints signify the journey of life. The first word, faith, represents my oldest son who arrived in my life just shy of my nineteenth birthday. Nick’s arrival taught me to have faith in myself. My mother’s faith in me at the time taught me to have faith in myself. I would like to say the situation taught me to have faith in God as well, but that is not the case. Faith in God came much later…and, like the tattoo, step-by-step.
Faith is a very individual and very personal thing. It can take a long time to develop. At least that is my experience. For me, my pregnancy at age eighteen was the biggest challenge I’d ever faced. I was raised Catholic, and my parents had very Catholic responses to what needed to be done about the situation I was in. My dad was sure adoption was the only route for me…my mom thought I needed to pray. My response to both was, essentially, “I got myself into this, I will get myself out of it.” That being said, I have never, ever regretted the decision I made to give birth to, and raise my son Nick.
In the process of that decision, and consequently in the life I have had mothering him, my faith has developed. In myself, and in something far beyond my comprehension, in God.
For me, God is a feeling of inner peace. It is something I feel in my heart. It is a deep sense that I am not alone in the ups and downs this life offers. He is a feeling of reassurance that my life has a plan, and although it unfolds in twists and turns I cannot begin to understand or predict, my life is in very capable hands. Part of this peace has come to me through reading, yet the book isn’t the one you’d think. As I said, faith is different for everyone.
There have been times in my life when my faith has been tested. The second half of the book I wrote takes the reader on the journey my son and I experienced when he fell into abusing alcohol. During those times when it’s hard to have faith, or to believe in something larger than myself and my problems, I am so glad I understand that God works in ways I don’t always “get.” I don’t know where I would be without my faith.
Right now I am very conflicted about whether my next step (after I achieve my undergrad degree in June) is to go on to graduate school, or to pursue my new love of writing. There are several other thoughts I would like to develop into books…on the other hand, I chose to return to college (for the umpteenth time) in 2009 to pursue a degree in counseling, which I cannot do without a Masters degree. My ultimate desire to to help young adults and their families along the road to recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
Just like other uncertain times in my life, I have faith I will be guided in such a way that the answer will reveal itself. That is the beauty of faith.