“Only child” was a term that resulted in insulting remarks spoken to me from classmates. More than a few of those sitting in desks nearby would assume that I was spoiled by allegedly getting everything I wanted, because I was and am an “only child.” For years as a child, I thought there was something wrong with me because I was this strange breed called an “only child.” Add to that the term ‘spoiled,’ and I was perplexed. Was I spoiled? What did that mean? As an adult, I’ve come to understand that we aren’t always what we seem. Everyone has a story–including my mother.
Being the only child born to Joyce and Bill was not my choice; it was the result of the arduous labor my mother endured in birthing me. She had suffered a spinal injury on a diving board at the age of 13. Hospitalized for months, and suffering a deadly infection at the base of her spine, she nearly died. This left her unable to deliver me naturally after she married my daddy many years later. After 36 hours of intense labor, she yielded to a Cesarean section. Doctors advised her to never have any more children.
No doubt I was loved as the only child they would ever have; yet I admit it placed within me a dream of a large family when I became an adult. Four children and nine grandchildren became the treasures that God loaned to me and my husband.
The “only child” position has created in me a longing for brothers and sisters. It’s no wonder I love the corporate body of the church–especially ours [though a bit prejudiced]. What I was unable to have as a child in my natural family God generously gave to me in my spiritual family. Today that family extends way beyond the walls of our church body. I have spiritual sisters and brothers, spiritual aunts and uncles, and spiritual children of all ages–some even from other countries. Each one is a treasure to my heart. What was considered a small, childhood family unit of three has been multiplied to scores of spiritual family members.
This plan God had for me as a child left me with a love for His Body that I cannot explain except to say that each one fills a void that was left in my heart. I hear people complain about their siblings and then wonder…would I have felt the same way? I measure what my response would be by the way I love each member of our natural family, each member of our pastoral flock, and the extended spiritual family members beyond. I believe I would do all I could to build a bridge of reconciliation. We need each other.