Life in the Ole’ Shotgun
Recently, we had to put my mother in a nursing facility, which meant we had to sell my childhood home better known as the “Ole’ Shotgun.” We called it the ole’ shotgun because it consisted of three rooms and a bathroom. You could open the front door and see through all three rooms. So you could actually take a shotgun (if you wanted to) and shoot straight through the house. Getting rid of this old place is kind of bittersweet for me because God actually built me inside that ole’ shotgun home.
At three days old my parents brought me home to this ole’ shotgun on First Avenue in Columbus, Georgia. Inside I had four siblings ranging in ages from 7 to 15 waiting on me to arrive. Yes, all five of us slept in one room and my parents slept in the front room along with our living room furniture. It was close quarters, which meant no privacy.
My dad worked in the cotton mill and my mother was a seamstress who worked in our home. My dad was also an alcoholic, who drank nonstop from Friday until Sunday night every weekend and every holiday as well. Many nights he would be passed out on the doorstep or in the jailhouse until he could sober up. My mother was our backbone. She was basically our sole caregiver.
As soon as each one of my siblings reached the age of eighteen, they left home. At ten years of age there I was alone in the ole’ shotgun with my mom, who at that time was forty-three and my dad was sixty-three. I can remember feeling such loneliness and bitterness. I recall sitting on our back door steps calling out to God, crying and yelling, asking Him why he let me be born to this family and have to live in this old house with a dad who never told me he loved me or that I was beautiful–you know all the things a girl wants to hear from her dad.
Now I don’t know how I even knew to call out to God because my parents never took me to church. I did catch a bus a few times and went to the Baptist church a couple of blocks away which was my only recollection of church. I also remember sitting under our kitchen table with a radio blaring gospel music while I pretended I was a gospel music singer. That was always my escape from reality, under our kitchen table singing!
When I thought things couldn’t get any worse, my dad had a stroke that left him somewhat impaired and my mother became his sole caregiver which consumed her life. Many nights I would hear her crying herself to sleep. She became an emotional wreck. I was in high school at this time and could have easily gone astray, but I didn’t want my mother hurt anymore than she already was.
Eventually my dad had to be put in a nursing home and my mother’s days were spent with him at the home. During this time I began dating the love of my life, the first man to ever tell me he loved me. I started attending church with his family. Little did I know that God would call him to preach and that I would give my heart to the Lord and become a preacher’s wife. Yes, me–the little girl who grew up in an ole’ shotgun house on First Avenue in Columbus, Georgia. The girl who thought God didn’t care and thought He had stuck her in that ole’ shotgun and forgotten her, but He was actually molding her and preparing her for ministry. He was preparing her to minister to those who are right where she was: alone, heart broken, and feeling unloved by a father.
Ephesians 2:10 tells us, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” You see now that I have to tell that ole shotgun goodbye, it really is bittersweet because God built me inside that ole shotgun. He made Kelly Sanes the masterpiece she is. He gave me unique experiences so I can minister to others.
I don’t know what your ole’ shotgun (situation) may be. You may live in a mansion, but you’re going through hell on earth. I don’t know; just know you are not alone in your ole’ shotgun. God is there and He is working behind the scenes. God is creating a beautiful masterpiece and He has never left you or forsaken you. Remember, if God can use this girl who grew up in an ole’ shotgun, He can use you!!
Kelly Sanes and her husband Michael have pastored The Harbor Worship Center for 22 years. She has served in several areas of ministry through the years. Kelly is a mother of four and a grandmother to eight grandchildren.