By: Kate Rose Lee, KSL
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of speaking at an event celebrating women. It was there that I met Sara. Her story of forgiveness and love is so rare that I felt it had to be shared. She was gracious enough to allow me the honor.
A few short weeks after giving birth to their third child, Sara's husband Ben dropped a bombshell. After seven years of marriage, he was leaving her.
Just two weeks after leaving, Ben called Sara. He wanted the children to meet his soon to be new wife, Lindsey. Somehow Sara managed to agree.
Later that week, after meeting Lindsey and in spite of her grief, all Sara could think was “if she had not been ‘the other woman,' if she had been someone I had met on the street, I would have loved her.”
In the beginning Sara felt she had to compete. Lindsey was not only beautiful and smart, she was talented. Sara's friends and family would tell her to stand her ground, to make sure Lindsey always knew who was boss where the children were concerned.
But one night after her children were asleep Sara sat rocking her baby. She looked down at his face. He was so innocent, yet he had been born into a situation full of turmoil. As a pre-school teacher Sara had taught many children from divorce. She thought of the many things she had witnessed these tiny little ones say and do.
“My mom hates my other mom.”
“I need two report cards because my parents don't talk to each other.”
And perhaps the most heartbreaking was a four-year-old girl who was making a Mother's Day card. This little girl looked almost fearful as she quickly rushed to Sara. “Please don't tell my Mommy that I made one for my stepmom too.”
Sara understood that most of these children loved both parents. It was the parents that did not get along.
As Sara continued to rock her baby she realized she never wanted him to feel like those children did. She wanted her children to see love, not hatred. There was already too much of that in this world. Sara, similar to many moms, had always said that she would do anything for her children. Suddenly she realized that she could. Sara painfully decided that she would forgive and try to love Lindsey for their sakes.
Soon Lindsey and Sara discovered that the children were a common ground and they spoke often about them. Over the next months, Sara and Lindsey's conversations went from a sentence, to a minute, to minutes and then to hours. Somehow Sara and Lindsey had actually become friends.
I asked Sara how that was possible and this was her reply.
“The more I got to know Lindsey, the more I truly loved her. I then began to see her amazing qualities and how they would not only bless my life but the lives of our three children. Lindsey is a great woman. We all make mistakes, but I do my best to leave the past in the past. Our mistakes don't define us. In divorce we are always looking for where to place the blame. When we simply forgive we allow ourselves and those around us to become better than any mistake we may have made in the past. This didn't happen overnight - it was a process. I knew what I wanted and I was willing to put my pride and hurt aside for my children. That's what mothers do. We put our children's needs before our own."
Because of her choice, Sara's children never have to choose which set of parents they sit by at events. They all sit together. Their children make two Mother's Day cards. They are also held accountable if they say something to one mother about the other that is rude or untrue. The four parents are solid in their commitment to each other and to their children. Because of this, their children are happier.
Sara's decision has not only healed her own family, but it has begun to heal others as well.
A friend of mine who is a stepmother attended the event where Sara and I both spoke. Sara’s story of forgiveness and love made such an impact on my friend that, at the recent graduation of her step-daughter, when her husband’s ex walked in the door, my friend did something she nor her husband’s ex had ever done in the entire time they had known each other. My friend bravely stood and motioned for her to come sit with them. For the first time in 10 years, all of them sat together as a whole
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