Crowned One | by Stephanie Sparks
My name means “crowned one” yet for most of my life I was unable to grasp that. I walked around in my younger years filled with the need to apologize for everything. The way I looked, the way I spoke, the way I felt and yes — I even apologized for just being born. No one really meant to make me feel bad and in fact, if not for a grandmother who loved and encouraged me, I’m not really sure what I would’ve become.
I have always been smart but that didn’t seem to be enough, so I began to hide it and as many do — I started to make the wrong choices in my life. By the time I was 16-years-old, I had quit school, tried to OD due to the guilt that plagued me for a bad decision made one night after drinking far more than a tiny kid should’ve been able to consume and stay alive. There were six months of terrible choices that affected my life and changed my course.
My mom asked me to leave her home at 16 — and I moved in with my boyfriend who, at the time, was only 17. I mean, who rents a place to two kids and trusts we will be mature enough to handle life? Yet, miraculously we did. We worked and we paid bills, just like the adults we were always expected to be. Then I got pregnant and lost a child. It was one of the most painful times in my life. Even as a youngster myself, I knew I could do better than what I had seen. It wasn’t long before I was pregnant again — and at 18, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. I also married my boyfriend who, to this day, is still my husband. I know it’s grace that has kept us together because it hasn’t been easy, but we just never gave up — even when most thought we should.
I got pregnant three more times after my daughter — and one was giving birth to premature twin boys that I held onto as they breathed their last breath, after only a few short hours on this earth. It crushed my soul. The grief was unimaginable and the blame I cast upon my own shoulders was far greater than any burden I had carried up until that point. I felt worthless and guilty and I was sure my marriage would end. Still, I would rise and put one foot in front of the other and take it day by day, not knowing what I was supposed to do other than breathe and love the little girl I was already a momma to.
I would tell her all the things I once craved to hear as a child and explain to her that she was unique and wonderful and had purpose — that she was perfect just the way she was. I realized as I told her these words, I couldn’t just speak them to her — I would have to model them for her. It couldn’t be a "do as I say, not as I do" situation. It hinged on me to instill confidence, and it was up to me to show her how she should live and think of herself. Then, I became pregnant again. I would have another precious daughter who brought a healing and joy back into my heart. She was the laughter I needed in my life. My first daughter had taught me how to care and see past my own small world and insecurities. This child would end up showing me how to embrace life and stand passionately for everything I believed in. These two daughters were part of a bigger plan that helped to redeem a lost childhood and a broken past.
Now, they are grown and married to men who love them. While I am happy for them, I am most proud of the fact that my girls have become women who know who they are. They are kind and compassionate, never judging or tearing down another person — especially women who have overcome their own trials in life. They are productive members of society and I know when my time on earth is over, they will survive and yes — flourish without me.
I am now 50-years-old and I can say that while it hasn't always been easy, it is always worth the struggle. The pain forged a fire inside of me and has given me the ability to love others without judgment (most of the time, I’m not perfect). The trials created character — it built me up — not break me down. I have learned to stand my ground for what I believe to be the good things. I have volunteered with human trafficking victims, worked in animal rescues, and cared for the downtrodden. I do the best I can now to care for an aging mother who still feels I was the reason her life was so difficult — and a stepfather who is one of the most decent men to ever walk the earth. I have made peace with, forgiven and said goodbye to a father who was incapable of giving me the kind of love every child deserves. I am an overcomer and I am a warrior. I love deeply, fight fiercely, and I am confident in who I am. I learned a long time ago to not just LOVE myself — but to LIKE myself. To be the friend a friend wants to have — especially to myself. I will never escape me, so I must accept me! I embrace others, especially those different from me because that is where I am stretched to grow and learn. None of us are to be exactly the same. This world wouldn’t be nearly as beautiful if every woman was just like me. In fact, it could be very scary or either very dull — but not nearly as interesting and fun.
I now know who I belong to and I am truly the daughter of a King — and without a doubt, I can live up to the meaning of my name... “Crowned One.”
Stephanie Sparks lives in Kingston, Georgia