They say you grow in wisdom as you grow in years. I would say that is very much my case. My life and journey have given me a wisdom that is evidence of the power of loving those that are hard to love. That was me once upon a time. Hard to love. But then Jesus showed up and I discovered love.
I would say my life is one that defies not only the odds, but defies many stereotypes. I am blue in a red part of my state. I am of Norwegian and Irish descent and have been blessed with two black grand-babies that I love and adore. I have a Christian faith and believe God cares deeply about people, but also for our environment. I am a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for 35 years. And although I grew up in an unstable and broken environment, I raised my family to feel stable and safe.
This is how I know one’s culture can influence, but it does not have to define. Through my own story I find things to celebrate from all cultures because in every culture you can find stories of hope and transformation.
In 1966 I became a teenager. I had witnessed the abuse of my mother by my father and felt that life would be better on my own. At 15 I ran away and one of my first acts of “independence” was to hitchhike my way to Madison, Wisconsin. That day it was snowing outside, freezing cold and I was terrified to say the least. During this rough season of life I did not know I had a very significant and divine purpose, and in searching for something to fill a deep void I found that my methods for coping were only putting me in more danger and unhealthy situations.
God has mysterious ways of pulling us out from under some very hard and rough places. For me, it was when I met my soulmate in 1982 while at a bar. He was beating someone at pool while I was drinking too much. While he had not yet discovered God’s amazing grace, God still used him to pull me out of my alcoholism. We got married, and had two beautiful kids and by God’s grace once again they have only known a loving and sober mother.
Now at 64 years of wisdom (lol), I have lived a life madly in love with God and I've been able to see my husband and two kids also find that same love. I have learned that a person, whatever their culture and background, is a person of value, with a story to be told. My story is that the challenges I faced in my youth made me a committed nurse, mother, wife and community member. Of all these jobs, my number one focus is to love people as God has shown an incredible life-saving (literally) love towards me. I don’t know what its like to come from a wealthy family, or to have a different skin color, or to experience discrimination, but I do know what it is like to be misunderstood and judged and broken, and I only hope that we, as a people, learn to love others unconditionally and know that every person from any culture is a life to be celebrated, known, and loved.
Recently, God placed me in a church community where I can mentor other former alcoholics and continue to serve the elderly community that I worked with as a nurse for over 30 years. I am also eager to learn more about African American history and heritage because its important to know other cultures and because my grandchildren are my world.
Melody Shadis, a retired home care/hospice RN, lives in Northern Wisconsin with her husband. Now, with two grown married children and two grandchildren, Melody is starting a new season in life. She is looking forward to pursuing what God has called her to do--serve people through Him and invest in causes closest to her heart.