Tasha Cobb’s song Break Every Chain could be the soundtrack to Siobhan Howard Davenport’s narrative. The chains of dysfunction, addiction and low self-esteem that were passed down to her from her parents could have kept her bound to the narrative that tried to fester in her life. However, with a lifeline from her grandmother and a commitment to God, her narrative is one that can go down in history. Siobhan Howard Davenport is an author, speaker and philanthropist who specializes in the areas of marketing, poverty solutions and writing. Siobhan Howard Davenport was born in Washington, DC but raised in Lumberton, NC. She now resides in Potomac, Maryland.
Let’s take a look into how Siobhan’s life changed when someone made a commitment to God on her behalf.
Tell us about your childhood.
My paternal grandmother brought me home from the hospital because my parents were the dysfunctional trifecta – unwed teens, emotionally unstable and addicts. My grandmother became very ill when I was in kindergarten and had to be hospitalized. Unbeknownst to me, she promised God that if he saved her life then she would not only return to her Catholic church but she would raise me in the faith. While she recovered for a full year, I lived with my cousin, who had children around my age. Once I reunited with my grandmother, we became fully immersed in our church and I attended my parish school. At ten, I became an alter server, who assisted the priest and read from the lectern during the service. In my hometown, I had many older relatives, who formed a village in helping to raise me. I was a happy child, in spite of having my birth parents sporadically in my life. This was until my mother was tragically killed in a car accident when I was in fifth grade. My grandmother shielded me from their problems.
What would you say was the narrative that was expressed to you based upon where you grew up, how you grew up and the messages you received?
Our love of God was at the center of our lives. My grandmother instilled in me a love of people and to treat them as I would want to be treated. She led by example. Although we lived off her retirement pension and had limited resources, I would join my grandmother in her service to others by driving the elderly to their medical appointments, bringing food to the sick and shut-in, and providing clothes for those in need. At fourteen, I became a volunteer at my local hospital, where I was the only teen asked to work on the geriatric ward. I would commune with the elderly patients, feed, and read to them. Through my high school’s service curriculum, I worked with mentally and physically challenged children, who enriched my life and reinforced my commitment to serve others. Although I didn’t know it at the time, the one thing missing in my life was the love from my father. Therefore my service was selfish and was more about my need to feel loved.
How did that narrative play out in your decisions, actions and feelings about yourself?
My mantra was ‘Love me, please!’ and underscored all my interactions with others. I saw myself as small and insignificant because my earthly father did not show love for me. I forgot that I had a greater Father in heaven, who loved me unconditionally. I never learned anyone’s motivation before becoming their “best friend”. I thought that no one could possibly want what I have because I didn’t value my own gifts. I also didn’t appreciate the blessings of abundant love from family and true friends that God provided me. My efforts to reach out to my father included giving him money and buying gifts for Christmas and his birthday. These gestures were never returned and left me feeling used and distrustful.
What was the catalyst or main event that made you say that narrative needed to change?
During the final two years of my grandmother’s life, my husband and I relocated her from North Carolina to be near us in Maryland. She had advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as emphysema developed from a lifetime of smoking. When my grandmother was dying, I contacted my father to let him know that I had called in hospice for her care. His response was to ask me when did I plan to sell her home so we could split the profits. From that moment, I closed my heart to him and unknowingly to the world. I vowed never to speak to him again, which lasted until he died thirteen years later.
What is the new narrative in your life?
I have completed a two year journey of forgiveness for my father and for myself. I have released the feelings of inadequacy, pain, and anger. I no longer define myself as a fatherless daughter because I have a greater Father in heaven, who loves me unconditionally. I am free to love others openly and honestly without fear because the only love I truly need is from God.
How does this new narrative show up in your everyday life?
I have learned to practice gratitude and appreciate all of my blessings both big and small. God has broken the generational chains of dysfunction, addiction, and low self-esteem in my life. I am truly blessed to have a loving husband, two beautiful children, strong friendships and a good career. I start my morning with praise. Now that I value myself as I child of God, I serve Him and others out of this spirit of wholeness. I pray before every decision and trust God to direct me onto the path He has prepared for me.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to create a new narrative but didn’t know how to do it?
The beauty of creating a new narrative in your life is that it’s possible for anyone. I released 44 years of negativity that I didn’t realize I carried with me daily. First, I started with prayer and meditation. It was important to be authentic with myself although it was difficult. I had to admit that I was regularly attending church but I wasn’t practicing love towards my father. I harbored feelings of resentment and anger that were poisoning my relationships with those I love. Once I could admit that, I prayed for God to release me of these negative feelings. I committed to surrounding myself with positive messages and chose books and television programs that reflected this. I deepened my connections with like-minded friends to hold me accountable. And most importantly, I recommitted myself to God. I truly feel his love and acceptance of me, in spite of not having my birth parents in my life. I feel worthy and blessed just for being alive.
I must say as this #ChangeYourNarrative Blog Series continues the narratives keep getting better. Siobhan’s story impresses upon me the need for “praying grandmothers”. Our success and elevation is due to the sacrifices of those who love and nurture us. Thank God that her grandmother understood the notion that committing her life back to God would then break the generational curse. And that this commitment would eventually release Siobhan to live free of bondage. Even though the trifecta of teenage parents, emotional instability, and addiction tried to attack her youth, we know that the holy trinity changed her narrative.
Thank you Siobhan for sharing your narrative with us! Siobhan can reached via these social media platforms
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Until next time. Sweet Dreams and Dream Sweetly. Change Your Narrative. Change Your Life