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As I Was Saying is a forum for a variety of perspectives to foster faith-related conversations among our readers with the goal of mutual learning, even in disagreement. Apart from articles written by editorial staff, these perspectives do not necessarily reflect the views of The Banner.

In Christian theology, we have all been adopted into the family of God. Despite growing up in a family deeply rooted in Reformed values, this was something I did not understand. In adolescence I became mentally ill with the onset of puberty. My life took a deep dive into chaos. Trauma, mental illness, and substance abuse became a perfect storm to separate me from a loving God. Yet God is always there. He would use that perfect storm to bring me back to him. “Then you will say, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in’” (Rom. 11:19).

Single motherhood was a time shrouded in fear yet intertwined with tender moments. Skin to skin, the soft smell of a newborn’s head, motherhood was a gift, and I held it tight. My son was born June 21, 2015. His little arms would startle out in shock at all the space suddenly around him. His tiny fingers shook from medication I had been advised to take during my pregnancy. It took weeks for the tremors to disappear. My daughter was born the following year, Aug. 4, 2016. I gave her the middle name Joy despite the turbulent circumstances surrounding our lives, I wanted to have only joy in my heart. The first night home from the hospital I nursed her back to sleep listening to the wails of my other child, disrupted by her crying. Hormonal, raw, I was aware that I was outnumbered. The ache inside me throbbed bigger than before. Post-partem felt like terror. My head was filled with graphic visions of all the ways the world could hurt: second-story windows, car accidents, bathtubs, choking. I was weary with exhaustion and tormented by these possibilities. The first few years I hung on by a single thread. “The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 43:18).

In January 2020, I let go. The world froze in the first wave of COVID, and my children were removed from my care and sent to live with my parents. I grabbed violently for anything to numb my pain, delving deep into my addiction. Consumed with shame, I could not fathom there was any other kind of existence. I blamed God, I cursed him, arming myself with sin. God’s light was there, but my darkness could not comprehend it (John 1:5).

Deep in my grief, I reached out to God in surrender. Shame gripped me tight, but God gave me the ability to feel it. He planted hope in my chest. Surrender facilitated my recovery: Nov 19, 2020. As I healed, I began repairing the relationships around me. It became clear that recovery was a full-time job and still a worthy gift I could give my children. God works miracles! While he had been working in my heart he had also been working inside my sister and her husband, who approached me asking for my blessing to adopt my children. Reconciling this new plan wasn’t easy, but his plan was bigger and better than I could imagine. Like childbirth, I leaned into the pain, believing now in a God who loved me and my children just as he loves the birds of the air and the flowers of the fields (Matt. 6:26-34).

Just as my children have been adopted into their new family, I also have been adopted into the family of God where I have experienced redemption and reconciliation. I believe the Lord has plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me a hope and a future (Jer. 29:11).

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