It’s been said, “Life is a blank page. You must put something on it”.
But, what if you found yourself a minor character in someone else’s story?
Because of my mother’s fate, the script for my life was already written.
Believing that I had my own story to write – and breaking free to live it – that is my story.
A Mail Order Bride
It’s true, stories don’t happen by accident. They are planned.
Mine was planned by my mother — Ah-ma, a tender, fresh-faced seventeen year-old beauty who brought me into the world.
Ah-ma was a mail-order bride from Hong Kong, to a bus boy in San Francisco Chinatown. Ah-ma was the second of eight children back in Hong Kong. Because she was the second daughter, she was chosen by her parents to marry a stranger 10 years older.
Her parents sacrificed her happiness, for the greater good — to bring her family out of poverty and emigrate them to the land of opportunity.
They divorced when I was five.
The pressures she carried were then placed on me.
She constantly reminded me that I was all she had, that I was the one to take care and provide for her.
Ah-ma wanted me to live the same life she was given, to work hard for the greater good– to provide a life that was worry-free and make up for her sacrificed youth.
Who would want to break their mother’s heart and crush her dreams of a better life?
I Worked Harder
From the time I was thirteen, I worked to help support the family.
When it came time for college, I dreamed of becoming a writer.
“A writer? You’ll die poor. We’ll die poor. Is that what you want?”
I worked harder… and became a well-respected, successful engineer.
And I was miserable.
More Than My Mother’s Daughter
One Christmas Eve, I heard a preacher say, Jesus came to give us hope.
“Hope,” I wondered, “Where’s my hope?”
For decades, I lived on duty and guilt, fulfilling my mother’s expectations. I saw no hope in my future.
Is this what God truly wants for me?
In that moment, I knew that living someone else’s story just couldn’t be what I was created for.
I decided, then —
“I am more than my mother’s daughter.
I am my Heavenly Father’s daughter.”
Knowing she would disown me, I made a decision to break free from Ah-ma’s story, to start living mine.
Not every one gets to choose the life they want —
There is pain in making the right choice. And it’s worth it.
“For you created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
My frame was not hidden from you…
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
Your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”
~Psalm 139: 13-16
I entered today’s post in the The Million Miles Short-Film Contest!
I narrated and filmed my story from the streets of Chinatown, San Francisco– where I was born!
I would be really grateful, if you’d check out my entry, dear friends!
~ CLICK HERE ~ View My Film Entry & Vote For Me!
Thank you for giving me the courage to share my story!
You’ve encouraged me to be real, with the stories you’ve shared here on (In)Courage. Thank you!
Kristen@Moms Sharpening Moms says
Oh, Bonnie! My stars…I admire you so much! You prove that the right way isn’t always the easy way. You are brave, courageous, beautiful and so, so talented! You keep up this writing thing…it is who you are!
I can hear God saying, “Atta girl, Bonnie!”
I’m going to vote for you now! 🙂
Kelly Langner Sauer says
I would never have known, Bonnie. Wow. Thank you for sharing your story…
Thank you for sharing your story! I know I have just recently found your blog and started reading it through revelife…but you have touched me with your writing and spoken to my own heart. Thank you for living your story and writing.
deb @talk at the table says
um, wow. stuck on the wow for a bit. God bless you.
and some of this resonated with me.
I will set aside time later today to get back to this.
and is it okay if, without knowing, that I am sure your mother is proud of you.
Heather Sunseri says
Bonnie, you are courageous and beautiful. Your story brought me to tears. It is so difficult to step out in faith, and you, my friend have taught me so much with your story. God Bless You and thank you fro sharing that.
this is beautiful… i too lived by my parent’s checklist for YEARS… it was disasterous… now I’m trying to daily live God’s adventure for me too 🙂
Marilyn Yocum says
Finding one’s story is a lifelong journey. Your post sent me down excellent thought-paths on this, which I will continue on all day. Hard choices and every time we think we know what the ending will be, we are surprised again. Thanks so much for sharing this!
Kristine McGuire says
What an amazing, beautiful, and gifted woman you are my friend.
Bonnie, how amazingly beautiful! I just don’t even know what else to say, though I want to go on and on about this post! I’m off to see the film!
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I knew you as FaithBarista but had no idea. I have not had a story as gripping as yours but have dealt with the guilt of not being the girl or woman my parents see my as…….I understand just a little bit!
Beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story.
The expectations placed on us by parents or other authorities are so hard to break free from. Praise God for His mercy and grace! I’m thankful you did and continue to break free and carry out this amazing ministry of encouragement you have. Thanks Bonnie.
Gertha Cook says
A journeyed path. Your story will empower so many as you have me. Thank you!
Melissa Brotherton says
This is amazing Bonnie! How could you be anything other than a writer? God formed you for this. Thank you for opening up a painful and difficult chapter of your life to us. Your genuineness is refreshing and inspires that in me. 🙂 Good luck on the contest! I think you should win.
Gladwell Musau says
I loved your story…its a story of grace and courage…one which should encourage each one of us…to learn to break free from our past and become all that God wants for us. I am encouraged!
Thank you and God bless
I hope your Ah-ma learns to appreciate that she has a daughter who will fulfill her own dreams, and make your dream her dream instead of resenting that it didn’t work out vice verse.
Allison McLendon says
I just want to thank you for sharing your story. Inspired and encouraged by your words. I am headed over to vote for you:)
Wow, what a heart-wrenching yet inspiring story. What a good message for us as parents to not put our expectations and dreams on our kids and give them that burden. And also, a message to follow God, not to live for others.
Monica Sharman says
Engineer-turned-writer. You, too? 😉
Thank you very much for allowing me a glimpse of your story. Can’t wait to see more glimpses as I get to know you in the time ahead of us.
And what a gorgeous little baby in those photos there. 🙂
Sara Sophia says
You have so touched my heart.
Your courage and bravery to write out your own story is beyond inspiring.
Bonnie Gray | FaithBarista says
Dear Friends —
Wow. Thank you for being here to encourage me and surrounding me with your support! I can’t express how much this means to me.
It’s been rather emotional and healing writing and filming.
Thank you for steadying my heart with your words!
Simply touching and real.
Writing your OWN story
That took real bravery, Bonnie! Amazing.
Sandra Heska King says
Oh. Bonnie. Such a painfully beautiful story. I am touched by your courage to throw off the things that hinder and press on to enter into His story–your story–knowing that, really, He was the engineer from the beginning. And that, really, it’s all one story. Just a new chapter in a sense. For what’s gone before is a well of healing for others as you enter into their stories. I’m so very glad I’ve connected with you.
Thank you for sharing your story. I’m looking to live my own story right now, and yours inspires me. It also gives me hope that I can find the story God meant for me to live – and live it!
brett barner says
I commented this on Faith Barista, but I wanted to share it on here too:
Wow, very tremendous story. I have a deeper appreciation for your writing now (and I already was pretty fond of it to begin with). I also understand why you can tell that there’s so much heart put into your posts. Just
Bonnie, what courage that must have taken. Family pressure can be difficult to break free from. But God has a plan for your life and I’m so glad you agreed to His plan. In the process, you are blessing many, including me.
Blessings and love,
Beth Werner Lee says
Oh Bonnie, thank you! I am struggling to write out of my mother’s story too, but it’s a different trajectory. She was American born Greek and I’ve married an American born Chinese man. Mine’s a modern Persephone story. Don’t have a blogsite or I’d join your faith barista community. You bless me; God bless you!
Thank you for sharing this. And for the reminder that God created a story for each of us and that even when it is hard, He has us in the palm of His hand.
Michelle at Graceful says
I love this post, Bonnie. And I admire your courage.
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