“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 who 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. Someone that needs to be 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 I was the bad guy and I worked with DHS to keep Henry. After all, I had all the advantages.
So during this time, I asked our staff to simply pray for her not to hate me. That was it. I continued to text the 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. 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 and I was convinced she was ‘my one,’ but I wasn’t willing to do anything hard.
One day, I asked if she would like me to visit. She was very honest 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 throw up. 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 she was 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 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 arm’s 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 whose 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 for 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. Sometimes we have to do it while getting up and getting uncomfortable.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Tamra Norman. Follow her on Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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