My entry into the world was inauspicious at best. Born in an impoverished neighborhood in our nation’s capital, I was conceived —so my mother would tell me—to keep my parents’ marriage together. Then she proceeded to tell me how the doctor who delivered me committed suicide and my father left us just a few weeks later.
That’s a lot to dump on a little kid.
Needless to say, my mother had low expectations for me. Though I was our high school’s French Club president and had competed statewide in French, my mother made me drop French IV so I could take Typing II. “If you can’t do anything else, you can be a secretary,” she would tell me. Gee, thanks, Mom.
When I came home from school sad because I didn’t make the drill team, she said without missing a beat, “You didn’t actually think you would make it, did you?” (For the record, I was a cheerleader for two years. So there.)
My looks, it seemed, were the only thing she really appreciated about me. They would be my saving grace in her eyes. “This is my daughter,” she would say to the gas station attendant. “Isn’t she a knockout?” Again, I appreciated my mother’s high aspirations for me.
People around me always seemed aware of my lowly state. Though I was a geek who devoured books like a silverfish on steroids, people distrusted me because of my family. I was one of them. In fourth grade, I was put a year ahead in school because of my precociousness. When my new science teacher saw my last name on the roll, he told me coolly in front of the whole class, “I had your sister. I know what she was like. I don’t expect much more from you.” Mothers would warn their children, “Don’t play with her. You know what her family is like.” One little old lady in our neighborhood would try to pry all the family secrets from me in exchange for candy and presents. I was 8.
At one point, I found out that I was descended from Irish nobility. That felt good, till I went on to read that our reign ended when my ancestors partied for days on end with a competing clan whose sole purpose was to get them drunk and kill them. So much for that.
As an adult, I learned that my father didn’t leave because of me. He left because because of extreme dysfunction in his relationship with my mother. Then, years later, he sent me a newspaper clipping: an obituary of the obstetrician who had delivered me. He had recently died. Not only that but he was a medical pioneer who established the link between administering oxygen to newborns and blindness. Phew! So I didn’t destroy the world in my first six weeks of life.
All that stuff hung over me like a cloud for a long time. I breathed failure, and it smothered me. But then I died. That’s right.
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.—Galatians 2:20
And I didn’t just die; I was born again.
Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. . . . Unless someone is born of water [the natural birth] and the Spirit [the supernatural birth], he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”—John 3:3, 5
And I didn’t experience rebirth through faith in Christ so I could continue to remain oppressed under a looming cloud of failure. When I was born into God’s kingdom, I truly became the daughter of a King. And Jesus could never be accused of having low aspirations for me.
“I assure you: The one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these because I am going to the Father.”—John 14:12
My God has great plans for me.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”—Jeremiah 29:11
He who made me will not give up on me because He who began a good work in me will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. (See Philippians 1:6.) He promises the same to you if you believe in Him.
My hope, however, is not limited to this world. He assures me that I will someday reign with him like a true descendent of nobility. (See 2 Timothy 2:12, Revelation 5:10 and Revelation 20:6.) Because I am a coheir with Christ, He has gone to prepare an unimaginably amazing place for me.
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.—2 Corinthians 2:9
In the eyes of Jesus, my human bloodline no longer makes a lick of difference. It’s the divine blood that I have claimed for the redemption of my sins that matters now. So go ahead and give me grief about my lowly beginnings. Yes, I was born in a slum. Yes, my great-grandparents were first cousins. So what? None of that matters now because now I know I was born for greatness. So were you.
5 thoughts on “Born for Greatness”
I love you Cheri Henderson. You always make so much sense. I myself never had a high esteem of myself b/c of my Mom. It wasn’t exactly a situation like yours. But I was called every bad name there was except the “F” word. I felt stupid & never had any kind of confidence. I did poorly in anything I did except ballet. That was a gift & a form of prayer & worship to me. That’s when I became interested in reading the bible. God has strange ways to help get us closer to Him. My family didn’t read it & my Mom thought if I read it I would become a fanatic. Needless to say I did it when no one was around. For years I loved my Mom but it was strained. I always tried to please. Finally, she was put on a medicine that helped her meaness & God gave me a 2nd. Chance with her. The Lord showed me He was & would always be faithful to me. I had to learn to do the same by trusting & obeying. The last few years of her life were such a blessing to me. My 2 favorites in the bible are Joseph & David. God bless you my dear. You are special to Him & to me. 🙂
Miss Barbara, I just love you! How it warms my heart to see how with God, nothing is impossible. I wish I could have known you in your dancing days!
See my reply…
Wonderful writing, aren’t you glad you took typing?
Thank you for the witness. For me, it is hard to speak of my past. You have courage.
Many times people will say there is no God because of suffering. I say suffering brought me to God.
My past is over and I enjoy God’s blessing in my life today. When I think of the dark past and how I am now blessed – My God is great.
Amen, amen and amen, Dan! I thank God for the work He has done in both our lives!
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