MY STORY: Shaunda Mathieu
Updated: Apr 27, 2020
THE UNSTUCK CHAMPION
My story began in a small rural town called Evergreen, Alabama. The product of a teen pregnancy.
I was raised by my grandmother until the age of eight. Because of her help and sacrifice mommy finished high school on time and was the first in her family to attend college, pursuing a career as an accountant. She married my daddy too, contrary to what some may have said or thought about their rocky beginning.
They both were raised in church, but after they married and moved to Montgomery they grew much closer to the Lord and joined a holiness church. I felt like I literally lived in church.
I wrote more about those early years in my first book a memoir titled: Pages from My Journal. You should check it out. I had a stable home full of love, material things I needed, trips, and a whole lot of Jesus. Unfortunately I did not think that it was enough. Despite the strict upbringing and spiritual foundation I was given, I became pregnant during my second year of college and dropped out of school. There my folks were working hard to overcome the error of their youth and I chose to go down a similar tumultuous path. I brought a baby into their lives and had no means to take care of myself or her. Although her father was present in her life, I was bitter for a long time because he continued to matriculate through Alabama State University and obtain his degree. I was angry.
Meanwhile I continued to attend church. It wasn’t really optional in my home. I was shamed and put on what was known as a ‘silence’. Basically when on a ‘silence’ you do nothing short of attend worship service. You are not allowed to clap your hands, waive your hands, lift your hands, stand up, or anything that shows participation. I look back and realized that whole experience had significant psychological damage on me and was a huge blow to my self-esteem as though being pregnant and unwed was not enough. Regardless, I had the love of my family so I pulled through.
I continued to work different jobs and eventually decided to go to the military. I think I needed to get away from home and have an opportunity to prove that I was grown. That was a rough chapter in my life as well. I managed to get through Basic Training and school to work as a reservist once per month. In retrospect I met some wonderful people in the Army and grew up quite a bit. Once I moved back home the plan was to use the money from the G.I. Bill to finish school but that never happened. I worked full time for the airlines and eventually got my own place. As soon as I did that, guess who I allowed to start back coming around? Access to me was much easier now with my own crib. Needless to say, I became pregnant again. Seriously… this is the short, clean version. If you want all the grimy detail you really have to read PFMJ and that’s not just an attempt to sell a book. I’ll just say this: baby daddy was married… with a whole family. I was a side-chick before side chicks became popular.
Even with two children, my family still supported me and what seemed like out of the blue they informed me that they were moving to Atlanta, Georgia. Whether it was reality or fear driving my decision I determined that I needed to be close to my support system. I had also made a conscious change in my heart to leave the toxic relationship. Since he was already somebody else’s husband (and it was clear to me that he was not leaving his wife) there was very little chance I had of being with him. The hurt, pain, rejection, and reality of it all came crashing down on my 24-year-old self and that’s when I finally surrendered and gave Jesus a try. I packed up all of my belongings and headed to Georgia with my parents. I felt so defeated. I felt stupid. Leaving my job and my house was not what I wanted to do. Working for Delta, at least my children and I could travel to wherever we wanted to for free. I was unable to get a transfer so I quit. It literally felt like I was starting over.
Fast forwarding again, I can tell you that I began to have peace of mind and clarity in thought. Leaving Montgomery was one of the best choices I had ever made to date. I made a vow to God that I would be celibate and not consider dating anyone for a year. I almost completed that vow, but while I was busy loving the Lord and trying to be the best mother I knew how to be, I met my current husband six months after moving. We did not date for very long; quickly got engaged and married April 8th, 2004. My children were two and four at the time.
After dropping out of ASU and struggling in the military I had tried many things. I wasted a lot of federal student loan money because I could not stick with anything. I even attended court reporting school. That is actually what I was pursuing when Daniel and I met. I did not stick with that either. The only thing that was certain in my life is that I loved Jesus wholeheartedly and I felt so indebted to him for saving my life and turning things around for me. I started researching Bible Colleges and that’s when the light bulb came on. I actually walked across the stage at New Birth Cathedral in November of 2012 holding a Bachelor’s degree in my hand. That is when I understood what purpose felt like.
This is the cleaned up, polished and pretty version of my story. But the real life unedited version was laced with fights, jail time, child support court, new husband/baby daddy drama, deep depression, mood-altering drugs, failures, a cancer diagnosis, and many of the things that I am sure you may have dealt with in your life.
Today those two babies are now 21 and 19. My daughter is about to graduate with a marketing degree from Georgia State University, and my son is an Oprah Winfrey Scholar at Morehouse College, majoring in Sports Psychology. To this date I have not written one tuition check. God did that. I have two children with my husband who are busy middle schoolers. I am a State employee and am a three-time author of self-help and Christian fiction books, worship leader, public speaker, but most of all a loved forgiven child of God who is sold out for him. Is there anything too hard for the Lord? Absolutely not. And the best is still yet to come!
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