"Hopeprint is like my mom."

As we prepare for our annual Culture Gala, I have had the chance to sneak peek the footage of some of our Hopeprint families as they share parts of their stories. All of the footage was filmed completely separately. None of them knew what each other were saying. So it is particularly striking that one right after another, they repeated the same line:

“Hopeprint is like my mom.”

One was forcibly separated from his entire family across the ocean. Another had to leave her mother behind in the refugee camps. Another’s mother passed away when he was a high school freshmen.

“Hopeprint is like my mom.”

Many of you know that I have not conceived and given birth to a child as of yet, and the kids are quick to point our my gray hair to remind me that the notorious clock is ticking with each year. Just last week a dear sister spent nearly a half hour trying to convince me I needed to start prioritizing getting pregnant so I didn’t miss my time, and my heart would not hurt for the rest of my life.

“Hopeprint is like my mom.”

Ten years ago when I started spending time in these streets, I would get asked repeatedly why I don’t have children, and the African Mamas started answering for me, pointing to the dozens of children running in the yard, “Nicole already has one hundred children.”

I’ve said it at events, one-on-one conversations, groups… (it really is quite remarkable how many people like to question you about your decisions on children)… “I can love all of these children because I don’t have one of my own.”

But there is something that’s happening inside of me as I sit here and watch these clips. Something that leaps within me, and, honestly, makes me cry ugly tears for joyful reasons.

“Hopeprint is like my mom.”

I am not Hopeprint. Hopeprint is something so much bigger and more beautiful than any one person could even have dreamed. But I am still profoundly aware of some key moments in my life, where I made choices that conceived this thing we now call Hopeprint. I had the glorious and challenging opportunity to birth it, wean it, watch it walk, watch it run…

I believe somehow the God that cares for my brothers and sisters would have found a way to meet their needs without me, but because we took those steps, we got to be a part of it. We got to have these stories be our shared stories. This got to be my family.

“Hopeprint is like my mom.”

I’m not sure what kind of biological mother I would actually make, but I tell you what, this momma is mighty proud and overwhelmed watching the incredible people who call this their family. I’m pretty sure a life is not worth living if you can’t have the chance to bear witness to a story and think, “What if I hadn’t played my part?”

Oh who am I that you, my God, would delight to make this my path, and these my people.

Nicole WattsComment