About 4 years ago, my life was in a very different place. I had 3 children- 2 girls (ages 4 & 5) and a boy (age 2). My oldest child has a genetic condition known as caudal regression syndrome, a condition similar to spina bifida, and a heart condition. Her genetic condition left her missing most of her lower vertebrae and spinal cord and 2/3rds of her hips. Through a series of bad decisions, my husband and I had lost everything and were living in a motel. I had an incorrect view of who God was and felt trapped. I had no idea of where to turn for help and the only person I had to help me was an aunt who lived about an hour away.
Because I was so overwhelmed, I became extremely depressed. I became more and more isolated. I can remember sitting in the closet of the hotel room and ranting that if this was the life God had for me, I was done. I was going to die and lets just see if He could stop me.
Looking back, I have to smile because with what I did, I should have died many times over, but God wasn’t done with me. I had called my aunt to try to get my kids out before I attempted my suicide, but she was unable to do so at the time. I began trying to overdose on a drug that was all around in the motel we were staying at- methamphetamines. I stayed in my room all day long. I didn’t make any effort to even see or talk to my children. After several failed attempts at suicide, I was hooked on the drug, but I was still extremely depressed. I actually hated life more. After 6 or 7 weeks of use, I was so disgusted that I told my husband who had also been using that we were done with it. I was not going to have it in my house and that in those few weeks our lives had gone from bad to horrible. We had no jobs. We were nowhere closer to getting into housing, but the thing that really woke me up is that we forgot about my oldest daughter’s birthday. It was the day after her birthday when I made the decision that we were done. Because of the effects of the drug, I had to call for help. I called the police, and our children were placed with my aunt for their safety. Though what happened next would not be easy, God brought me through it. I lost my children, but I believe that that is what had to happen to make sure that they were safe while God put me back together.
I found that even without the drugs I had issues that plagued me. I had grown up and lived my life projecting a façade that everything was good. Even if things were crumbling, I was not going to let anyone in. I would figure it out on my own, and everything would be ok. I didn’t need others, and I especially didn’t need God. Even when asking for help, I would not let anyone know all that was going on. I needed for everyone to see that I was good enough and have their acceptance to be good enough in my mind, but I never felt I measured up.
I had a shame-based identity. I always felt like I was lacking in some way. I wasn’t a good enough mom. I didn’t learn as fast as others did. I didn’t have the right clothes or car or furniture or well anything. I think that if I had not gone down the path that I did, I would have continued to struggle and I would still believe that that is what I deserved for the rest of my life. My children would not have received the care and nurture that they deserve and they would have had to repeat what I had taught them- to live a life driven by guilt and shame. This is what I believe the Bible is talking about with generational curses. Many people come from some form of dysfunction in their family of origin. It is why it is so important that we have people to step up and lead by example and mentor the parents in struggling households. It is why I believe so fully in goals at Grace Like Rain. While I still struggle with these learned behaviors and mentalities, I have gained the knowledge to recognize when I started to look with old eyes and the tools to bring my focus back to an identity in Christ.
God brought people into my life at each juncture of the road. I was able to have a place to stay when I was pregnant and alone because I had friends that not only gave me food and shelter but a car to drive to interview and to make sure I got to work and to doctor’s appointments. When I was at the point that I could afford a vehicle and housing, it was a friend who helped me find and look at places in my price range and took me to buy the first car I had ever bought on my own. It was a friend who told my husband that there was a counseling center at his church with a great marriage counselor, which in turn, started to rebuild my marriage after I had filed for divorce. It was that same church with the marriage counselor in which my husband was baptized and where I was able to take so many helpful classes to help me recover from, not just the drugs, but past hurts that were tainting my decisions and financial classes to help me make better decisions with my money. It was in that church that I met godly leaders and friends in my small group.
Proverbs 11:14 says, Where there is no guidance, people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. (ESV) I had no counselors. No one to help direct me to recovery. No one to walk beside me and steer me in the best direction… until I reached a hand out for help and was lifted out of my miry pit. Imagine you were gripping onto a rope as you dangled over the ledge of a deep gorge. The gorge was so deep that you could not see the bottom but to fall would certainly mean your death. One person helping to pull you up would be nice, but really you would need a group, a group of people using their strength to hoist you to safety. This is why it is so important we have families that are willing to step in the gap for the parents of our struggling families. It is the greatest investment you can make to ensure that future generations grow up with freedom from debt, freedom from shame and guilt, freedom from a past that clings to your mind with every circumstance, choice and decision you make. I understand the commitment of time is valuable. It is the one thing that you can never get back, but I can tell you that in the life of the person you help it is the thing that will be life changing. One of the commands in the New Testament that is repeated multiple times is to help the poor, the widowed and the orphan. I cannot tell you how invaluable that help is.
Remembering back to the time you bought your first car or rented your first apartment, you had to have a cosigner. Someone with credit who said that they knew you could do it. That is what you are doing for these parents. You are encouraging. You are strengthening and mending, and you are saying that they can do it. They can do and be better. They just need some guidance. That is what we are asking from you. Help them to learn what you already know. Help their children to grow up knowing how to handle the challenges of life and help each one of them be able to see the love and grace of God, how He brought you to them to teach, encourage, pray and guide them to true health.