Some of my favorite lyrics come from the song “Weary” by Amel Larrieux. Larrieux soulfully sings, “This woman is growing weary of having to be so strong. Of having to pretend I'm made of stone, so I don't end up with no broken bones. I can't fight every battle alone.” Have you ever had a moment in which you could relate to these lyrics? My moment came at the age of 17. I was a senior in high school, and like my peers, was looking forward to graduation and closing another chapter in my life. While most of my friends were anticipating their next chapter, easing into adulthood by moving into a dorm room on the college campus of their choice, I was about to get a crash course—I was due to give birth to my first child.
I found out I was pregnant during my junior year of high school, and with the help of my mom, developed a plan to graduate early. This entailed going to summer school to complete 3 of my remaining 4 classes. That summer, I went to school half-day and worked a part-time job. I intended to keep this pace after I had my child, and I did for a short time. After I had my baby, I returned to school to finish the last 3 weeks of my high school journey. In addition to returning to school, I also went back to work. Maintaining a school and work schedule while simultaneously adjusting to motherhood was daunting. Some days I didn't know how I would make it through. I was exhausted, stressed out, and at times, felt like giving up.
During this time, I realized in order to keep moving, I needed to draw strength from something, or should I say someone, greater. I was really good at relying on myself, but in these moments, I knew I couldn't do it alone. I had always believed in God and prayed, but hadn't faced anything so difficult that it brought me to my knees, searching and calling out for Him. At first, I was ashamed to return to Him because I was an unwed mother, and thought He wouldn't accept me. Then I remembered one of the first Bible verses I learned—John 3:16. I repeated this verse to myself constantly, even when completing mundane tasks, like changing diapers. This verse brought me peace knowing that because I believed in Jesus, I would have eternal life. Me, an unwed mother, would be given eternal life? My mind was blown!
In order for anyone to humbly gain eternal life, much less an unwed teen mom, God faithfully made the ultimate sacrifice. He sent his only Son to live, and ultimately die. Every time I stared into the big, beautiful, brown eyes of my first born, a son, I thought of His sacrifice. I was awestruck to think of the unselfishness exhibited by God, and for that matter, Jesus. Not only did this sacrifice, and the glorification of Jesus, guarantee my eternal life in heaven, it also allowed me to receive the Spirit (John 7:39). During this time of weariness, I accepted the invitation Jesus shares in John 7:37-38,
“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them” (NIV). Knowing that I had the Spirit dwelling inside of me gave me hope, strength and courage to face each day. I knew on the days I was most weary, I could lean on God to get me through.
Stephanie Patterson is originally from Denver, Colorado, and has called Las Vegas home since 2013. She has been married to her incredibly supportive and patient husband, Gabriel, since 2008. Her blended family includes 3 children – 2 adult children living productively on their own (hallelujah!), and a spunky, creative pre-teen who keeps her on her toes. Stephanie became a mother at a young age, and in her late 30s, is finally figuring out who she is. What she has discovered about herself, thus far, is she loves to read, write, cook/bake, and nap. What she has always known is that her heart belongs to God, and she feels called to connect with people who need help seeing that God loves and accepts them as they are. Stephanie is looking forward to sharing her life experiences and hopes to connect with others through the grace and glory of God.