Sara-Torbett-Sunflower-1024x750A few years ago, after a season of multiple losses and life changes, I sat in a counselor’s office, processing with her all that had gone on in the last number of months. I’m a firm believer in seeking out wise counsel instead of rehashing things ad nauseum with my husband or friends – it’s a kindness not to drive them crazy along with me.

This particular counselor, however, wasn’t that great. It can be tricky to find a counselor who is a good fit, for sure, and this wasn’t a good one. As I shared some of the challenges, she told me firmly that my problem was this – I had been born to the wrong family.

Pardon me?! Seriously?

I never returned to that counselor.

I am not the victim of some cosmic mistake. The truth is not one of us, since the beginning of time, has been born into a perfect family, but most of us are born into families that are perfect for us. We are families made up of flawed but beautiful people, all with our own challenges and struggles and joys and successes, and all trying to figure out life as we journey through. Genetics aside, had I not been born to the family I was, I wouldn’t be the person I am. We love each other, and do our best with what we have and I can’t imagine life without those who share this lineage of grace.

In 1996, I visited Haiti. There I got to know and hear the story of a young man the same age as myself. We had been born only weeks apart. Our mothers had been pregnant, hands on bellies, feeling kicks and flutterings at the very same time. These two mothers were separated by thousands of miles, but the distance between their circumstances was even more expansive.

When I came into this world I was named for both of my grandmothers and family members came to celebrate in the hospital. My parents welcomed me home, and watched me sleep at night, amazed by the tiny breaths of a newborn babe with such promise. This birth story has been recounted to me multiple times throughout my life, always with joy, and most times with tears.

My new friend’s story was quite different. The details of his birth were a bit of a mystery, and he had been found, new to this world, left alone in a cemetery. Possibly to die or in hopes that he would be found. He was rescued from the graveyard and grew up in an orphanage, as many other children in that country have.

My friend is not the victim of a dreadful cosmic mistake. Despite the circumstances, my friend’s life was not accidental or hidden from the One who created him, and who had purpose for his life.

It both haunts and baffles me to consider why I was born in a sterile hospital, to nurturing parents, in Canadian prosperity and my friend was not. Neither of us did anything to deserve our circumstances. Neither of us were more lucky or valuable. What I do know is that we are each uniquely created and called to do what we can with what we’ve been given, where we are at, and to give thanks in all things.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been exposed to some of the saddest stories of families not being able to care for their children, and worse than that, either harming or placing children in harm’s way. But not one of these children is a mistake – each one of them was knit together in their mother’s womb, before being born into a broken world.

Friend, you may have been born to tough and painful circumstances, and for that I’m so very sorry. I wish with everything in me that no child ever had to experience neglect, abuse or grief. Know this, and hear it well – despite the ways others have failed you, you are not a mistake. You are created, celebrated, chosen, and beloved. I believe that the words of Psalm 139 were written for you. You are known and loved, and there has been a purpose for your life from the beginning of time. Sweet Girl has a t-shirt that reads “I AM MADE OF AWESOME”. I wish I could hand one to each one of you, because it is entirely true.

Live loved, friend. You are not a mistake.


PS – even though this experience was a dud, I still do recommend seeking out wise counsel! My friends Juergen & Janice at ACT Associates in Waterloo, ON are lovely people that I highly recommend!