I’ve written, and scrapped, two posts recently because I couldn’t figure out how to put my thoughts into words. The first one came out so vague that even I got bored reading it, and the second post was way too “holier than thou.”
However, I think I’ve finally been able to put it into words. I hope.
We recently had a series at church titled, “Who’s Your One?” It was about someone you know you need to connect with, all in the name of Christ. It may be someone that needs the hope of Jesus, it may be someone you need to make things right with, it may be someone in your family you need to minister to, etc. Someone that needs reached.
While I was sitting in church I knew who one of my people needed to be: Henry’s mom.
Several months ago, I asked our staff to pray with me about all our kids biological parents. I wanted them to pray about my role in their life and specifically for restoration with Henry’s mom. The dad and I have kept in contact, but not so much with mom. She was always in and out of treatment or jail and we never connected at all in court. There was this overwhelming sense that I was the bad guy, and that I worked with DHS to keep Henry. After all, I had all the advantage.
So, during this time I asked our staff to simply pray for her not to hate me. That was it. I continued to text dad and one day I felt prompted to ask him if she needed money or anything (she’s incarcerated). He told me a little money on her card would be great so I took it a step farther. I told him to please let her know she was welcome to reach out anytime.
One thing led to another, and the mom and I started communicating. Then, as the Lord often does, this sermon series started at church. So, I did what any good Christian would do….I decided I would pray harder for her. Maybe we could chat about church on the phone, but what else could be done? She’s incarcerated and I’m not. Our paths just wouldn’t cross. I could love her from afar, but should probably choose someone local to “witness” to.
Even as I type it, I realize how hypocritical this sounds. I had asked the staff to pray for our relationship, I was convinced she was “my one,” but I wasn’t willing to do anything hard.
So, one day I asked if she would like for me to visit. She was very honest that it made her extremely nervous and scared, but the answer was a resounding yes. I sent in my application to visit and added Henry to the list too. She was always too scared to ask me if I would bring him, but I knew she was hopeful. I think deep down she really never thought we would actually come.
My application was approved pretty quickly, and last Sunday I loaded Henry up for the 2 hour drive to visit. We went into the room and I really wanted to puke. So many questions were racing through my mind. Would she hate me? Would Henry willingly go to her? Would she judge me? And so on, and so on.
Instead, I walked in and there was just a mom sitting there. A mom who has had a terribly hard life. Made some terribly dumb choices. And walked a terribly different road. But still just a mom. She was desperate to hear all about Henry. She also wanted me to understand her past a little better. There’s a ton of regret and guilt about things that only time will be able to heal.
I’m not going to lie. I did not expect to leave the way I did. I went because I was convicted I needed to quit praying at arms length. I thought we would have a great visit, she would decide to totally lean on Jesus, and BOOM….life changed, dust off hands, walk out the door.
But, I’m the one that left completely different. I left LOVING this woman. I really did. I was sitting across from someone who’s life choices while pregnant are the reason Henry will have a lot of challenges. But the amazing thing is……I didn’t blame her one bit.
For 2 hours on a Sunday, I was able to catch a TINY glimpse of the love Christ has for me. There was no blame, no condemnation, no judging, nothing. Just grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
Will I continue the relationship? I hope so. It’s the healthiest thing I could do for Henry. Will there be a lot of responsibility on her when she’s released? Yes. It’s why I tried email contact with Anna and Grace’s parents but unfortunately had to stop.
There’s no perfect or easy solution. But I do know this. Sometimes God calls us to pray for people from our seat. And sometimes we have to do it while getting up and getting uncomfortable.