I was once told that faith without forgiveness is meaningless. The two go hand in hand but in some cases; possessing the strength to exercise both is easier said than done. Today I want to introduce my readers to Ms. Shantel Brunner. Sadly, her motherhood journey began with a sexual assault. However; the love that she has for her son and the faith that she has in God allowed for her to heal, forgive and let go. To say that I admire her bravery would be an understatement. Here is her story… #MomsLikeHer
$38,000. What would you do with that dollar amount? Down payment on a house. Travel the world. Buy a car. Invest in stocks. Put away money for your child(ren). Pay off debts and student loans. $38,000 is a huge amount of money. Its also the amount that my son’s father owes me in child support currently. Between the ages of 3-14, he has only paid $200 towards the care of my son.
Within the next month or so, I will be closing that case against him and moving on, chalking $38,000 as a loss.
To understand why, we must go back to the beginning. Child support was never my end game for him. Jail was. You see, I was sexually assaulted by a high school ex-boyfriend after a night of drinking. I was in the process of passing out, blacking out from too much alcohol intake when he thought it was the perfect opportunity to “get me to see why we should be back together”. It was the summer before my junior year of high school. I was only 16 years old. 3 months later, at the encouragement of my mother, I went to press charges which led to the Police Officer telling my mother that I was lying about everything because our stories didn’t match up. Yes… the pregnant victim and the lying assailant didn’t have coinciding stories. Where the victim should have been the vindicated, it was the villain. I was crushed.
Jail was the end game. His paying child support was not.
Eventually, my mother, still believing the police officer over her own daughter, removed her support from me. I was going to school, going to work, and being a full-time teen mom. I didn’t go out. I just did what I was supposed to do. But without the backing of my mother, it made things difficult. By this time, my son paternal grandmother was in the picture and wanted to help in every way she could. Her efforts tried to redeem the sins of her son, who’s whereabouts where and still are unknown. So, I let her help us. I mean, it was the least she could do, right?!
Fast forward 14 years to the present and I have a teenager. A teenager who eats everything in sight and wears men’s clothes, complete with a size 11 shoe. He wants to play basketball when he gets to high school. He’s already talking about driving. Then there’s me: college dropout who works 3 jobs just to pay rent… and his biological father is out here, running free, and living his best life I assume. My son, Jacen, despite knowing all about how he came to be and everything else after that, has expressed wanting to have a relationship with this man. I was beyond angry. I was bitter. Why wasn’t it just enough being just me and him? He expressed that it wasn’t about me. When I brought up the $38,000, Jacen’s reply: “ITS JUST MONEY MA!” Angrily, I stormed off… but then it hit me. I’ve been using the potential of this man owing me this sum of money and never being able to get ahead in life as reparations for what he did to me.
Money was never the end game. But it would have been a nice bandage to a gaping wound.
Even if he would have made every $81 weekly payment, he still would have been my assailant. He still would have been Jacen’s father. I would never have the rest of my teen years back. At this point, it is indeed just money… money from him. Money that I don’t want. Money that Jacen may or may not even need. Revenge is the Lord’s. He will repay as he sees fit. As my relationship with God grows, I realize that I need to forgive him. I need to forgive all parties involved and I need to let it all go. I’m not that 16-year-old victim. I’m not that 17-year-old teen mom, nor am I that 19-year-old who needs help with her son. I’ve gotten him this far without monetary support from his father. Jacen may not have the top of the top, but he never lacks.
Forgetting what happened to me will never be the end game. Forgiving his father for it and letting go is the end game now.
I pray that whatever comes of this be in the best interest of Jacen… for he is all that matters. But as for me, closing this case will be the beginning to healing, forgiving, and letting go.
This post was submitted by Shantel Brunner, hair stylist and beauty ambassador. If you are interested in sharing your story, please send all submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Entry must be 1000 words or less. Thank you.