I Never Saw God Coming
By Ashlyn of Chattanooga, TN, USA
For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them. —Matthew 18:20 NRSV
MY OLD LIFE : I got pregnant at age 14, and 15 years later I am a single mom of four. Drugs, alcohol, pain pills, and prostitution controlled my life. I hope every day Children and Family Services (CFS) will come and take my kids. “Poor parent” is too kind to describe me.
My 14-year-old daughter cusses, parties, and smokes pot. My 13-year-old son involves himself with gangs. My 12-year-old daughter’s school suspended her for skipping classes. My 10-year-old is also suspended. Whatever bad things you are thinking of me, I deserve.
I could try to excuse my bad parenting. My dad is spending 26 years in prison starting when I was 4. My mom did adult dancing to pay the rent until she died when I was 15. But these are not the only reasons I am a horrible mom. Finally with all four of my kids in trouble, CFS took them.
The case worker suggested I get myself into counseling and into church if I ever wanted to see my kids again. She even told me of a church that could handle me and my issues—the Chattanooga Community of Christ. I found out others like me went to church there, so I started going.
MY NEW LIFE: To make a painfully-long story short, four years later everything is like brand-new in my life. I believe Jesus makes all things new, starting with baptism. Are you ready to read about a miracle in the life of the most undeserving mother ever?
My kids are now living with me. My oldest is graduating high school this week on the honor roll. She believes in God now. Thanks to Pastor Jared for involving my son in basketball—now he is not in gangs. My second daughter is completing her first year of high school and is working hard to forgive me. She is in church three times a week.
My youngest is in counseling and is becoming a fine young woman. Thanks to Nancy Munson, she has a great spiritual mentor. As for me, I am still trying to get my high school certificate. It has taken me three years, but I’m not giving up.
With the help of God, if I keep moving forward, I will soon celebrate two years free of alcohol and drugs. I completed anger management and parenting classes, and got my driver’s license and a car. I talk to God all the time. I am at church almost every day and even have my own “We Care” group in my home.
Horrible moms or impossible odds cannot scare off this ministry. They care when no one else does. Mr. Jimmy says where two or three screwed-up people gather in Jesus’ name, there God is, too. My messes don’t scare God, who sticks around making me new.
Prayer for Peace
Compassionate God, thank you for not giving up on us. Thank you for opening the hearts of people who might otherwise judge harshly. Thank you for your transformative love and peace.
Begin with quiet prayer. Ask God to help you detect some “sore places” in the body of Christ and God’s creation. Become aware of people who feel separated, wounded, or left out. Reflect on or write a short journal entry of healing words to at least one person who comes to mind. Ask God for words that will touch this person’s broken spirit like healing ointment. Keep this person in your heart and prayers today and act on any ideas that come to bring blessing and wholeness.
Today, God, I will remember that an abusive or neglectful parent may have been an abused or neglected child. I will work for equitable systems that change lives and bring peace.