I’ve told you before, court is a scary place. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about check out this story!) I wonder if they generally keep the lights low on purpose. Or whether they don’t put cushions on the seats to save money or to intimidate people.
Fate is served up on a regular basis in the courtroom. The daily specials include everything from jail time, homes, money, and custody over kids and pets. I would guess that most people who go to court are facing minor traffic violations or petty crimes but when it’s your children on the chopping block….now that’s a whole ‘nother thing entirely.
I absolutely HATED going to court with Canaan. Crazy part is, I was the one who dragged him to court. It was heart wrenching for me so I can’t even imagine how Canaan must’ve felt—how scary that was for him.
On the one hand, I feel a terrifying remorse over the fact that I tried to strip him of his parental rights. On the other hand, I did what I honestly felt was right in my heart, regardless of how emotional and misguided it might have been. It was the only thing I knew to do and if nothing else I know exactly why I did it.
If I could go back, I’m not sure that I would make a different decision if I knew it would land us at this exact place in our lives again. Honestly, I can’t figure out if I’m right or wrong about feeling that way. I go back and forth about it. But what I am most grateful for is that I don’t really have to figure out if I am making all the right decisions, big or small. Whether it’s choosing toilet paper or taking your son’s father to court the Lord promised to make it all work out for our good. He has kept every word of that promise.
That doesn’t mean go through life making choices all willey nilley as if every decision is like choosing toilet paper. However, we don’t have to get held up torturing ourselves over whether or not something we did was REALLY right or REALLY REALLY wrong as long as we are doing what we truly SINCERELY believe is right.
Before taking Canaan to court, I did my best to exhaust my other options. There weren’t a lot to choose from. I tried to convincing Canaan that he needed to be a better father and man and that I knew what he needed to do and be those things—that didn’t work! (Can you believe it?!) Playing tug of war with Jai literally and figuratively wasn’t working. I tried ignoring it. That didn’t work. Canaan wanted me to give Jai to him and THAT wasn’t EVEN an option for me. What else could I do?
I talked to my friends about it. I talked to my family about it. I talked to my pastor and my professional colleagues who do a lot of non-profit work in family services. I was advised to take it to court. And that’s exactly what I did.
And while I am extremely grateful for our parenting plan and the relationship my son has with his dad, the months that we were in court debating over parental rights nearly took me all the way out of the game. What was even worse is that I wasn’t even sure that I was making the right choice and I really REALLY wanted to.
Let me tell something to you! I love Jesus and I believe in the power of prayer but I don’t at all consider myself a Super-Deep-Spiritual-Saint-That-Goes-Marching-In but I promise you this happened in REAL life:
Laying on the floor in the fetal position had become a place of solace for me. The comfort of my bed felt contradictory compared to what I was going through internally. Every evening I tried to get back in my bed. I couldn’t stand the contradiction so I found my way back to the floor night after night. It was hard and cold but at least it was familiar.
My mind couldn’t rest anyway. The thoughts and fears kept coming. And coming. There was no off switch, no system override. I just wanted it to be over.
As I slipped deeper into my pit, all the church I sat through over the course of my life rushed over me.
I missed my Daddy so much. He would’ve protected me. I suddenly realized, that I was agonizing over the loss of my dad while potentially putting my son through that same pain. It was too much to bear. The floor wasn’t low enough.
Consciously, I thought to myself, “This is what hell must be like.”
Unconsciously, I thought, “I think I want to die. I won’t have to go back court or write research papers or buy groceries or explain to Jai why he can’t see his daddy.”
Hysterical, I said a little prayer: Lord, I really did what I thought was best but if I am wrong about this….don’t let me win.
Almost immediately a Still Small Voice lead me to dig my Bible out of the mess that was bedroom.
I looked at it. I had never used it like this before. I had NO IDEA where to begin. I went to the passages I could remember. The Lord’s Prayer didn’t seem fitting. Maybe something about the woman with the issue of blood. I was a woman and I DEFINITELY had issues.
I turned to Genesis 16, seemingly for no reason at all. There was Hagar. A pregnant woman cast out and abused by the father of her unborn child (and his wife), roaming the desert in search of relief. I could relate.
And right there, tucked away in a little passage which I had never heard a preacher reference, was the key to my liberation.
(NIV) Genesis 16: 3-4 So after Abraham had been living in CANAAN ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar and she conceived .
(NIV) Genesis 16: 8-10 And he (the angel of the Lord) said to her, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?”
“I am running away from my mistress,” she answered. Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress (who lives in Canaan) and submit.” The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.
Literally, Hagar was instructed to GO BACK TO CANAAN AND SUBMIT!….You KNOW I fell apart!
What in the HeLck?! (I’m not sure you can say ‘hell’ to Jesus.) Who was Jesus talking to like that–using the S-Word at a time like this?! I thought I was getting punked–Aston Kutcher never popped out of my closet…
Submit?! (Double Yikes!) I know Jesus probably has a sense of humor but this took the cake…
Was I in the right story?! Did God see Abraham and Sarai Canaan mistreating Hagar ME? Did he see that she I was helpless to defend herself myself? Did He see she I had no support in this situation? Did He know that Abraham and Sarai Canaan were was wrong?
In bitter tears and sorely confused, I called my attorney the next morning. “Next time we go to court….give Canaan whatever he wants (barring full custody of Jai).” She thought I was crazy. I thought I was crazy too. We argued about it for a moment and then she conceded.
Clarification: I am not saying give in to everyone whim and agenda of your child’s other parent. What we actually need to do is submit (my apologies for the strong language!) to God in reference to him or her. I can’t tell you how that looks in your life. For me, it began with letting go of the false sense of control I had over the situation and then shutting the heck up with my opinions, emotions, and “suggestions” for a whole year!
Man….let me tell you, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. It was also the beginning of one of the greatest miracles I’ve ever seen the Lord work on my behalf! It took some time but BOY oh BOY did the Lord work a 180 on my co-parenting situation.
I recognize that sometimes it’s absolutely necessary for people to go to court. I’m just not certain that was the case for Canaan and I. Regardless, here’s what I know for sure:
(1) The fastest way up out of the pit is to go down into humility. When you lift yourself up, life has a way of pushing you down. Down. DOWN! But when you humble yourself, the Lord lifts you up and not one thing in earth, heaven or hell can stop it.
(2) God is a gentleman. When ALL HELL breaks out in your house He will stand at the door and knock but He won’t barge His way through. Submission opens the door and lets Him in on His terms.
You (your effort, your ideas, your resources) + Anything = Negative Everything
God + Anything = Everything
(3) Relationships are more important than being “right.” I may have been “right” according to my friends, my family, my collegues and even my pastor (at the time) but it almost cost my son one of THE most important relationships that he will ever have. This doesn’t mean they were “wrong” either. Which brings me to my next point.
(4) God is more concerned with JUSTICE than He is with who is right or wrong. When things are done God’s way everybody can have justice in the end. “Right” and “Wrong” are usually the least important factors in exchanges between imperfect people. When you use these two factors to settle disputes between people somebody will ultimately lose (in my case we all almost lost) and it doesn’t have to be that way.
(5) Beware of being in relationships with people whose name comes straight out of the Bible. You never know how it may affect your life! You have been warned!
Stay Wonderful! 🙂