How Good Are You?

We know we’re sinners and need a Savior.
But after that, aren’t we pretty good?
After all, we haven't killed anyone—at least recently.
Sometimes we get to thinking like we're pretty good, at least when we compare ourselves with ourselves (which we aren’t supposed to do, for a very good reason).
Not that we don’t struggle with stuff, but you know....

Recently, I had a check on how I was progressing to be “like Jesus.”
God gives us those glimpses of our “real” self, and His love—for—us—as—sinners.

As most of you know, we’ve adopted our last son. 
He was our niece’s, who was in and out of prison.
We had delayed the adoption, thinking she might decide to be his mom.
Finally we moved toward adoption.
At the completion of the process, we were awarded birth certificates with Joey and my names as the only parents.
The former certificates were sealed away, not to be re-opened.
If you’ve been reading my articles over the years, you’ve read how we struggled with his obedience and well, everything, more than any other son, largely because of the drugs prior to and after his birth.

This same niece had two girls prior to our son, who were raised by Joey’s parents.
Their story was also wrought with trials and struggles, especially when Joey’s dad developed dementia then died, leaving Joey’s mom, their great-grandma, to raise them through their turbulent teen years and now beyond.
Then, our niece had two more boys—now three and eight years old.
One has underdone multiple surgeries for his cleft palette, more are expected.
Who's raising them? 
Joey's mom.

After visiting for a weekend, Joey wanted to adopt them.
I knew what that meant. I didn’t have energy. Didn't I already struggle with the one we had?
It was during this time, God was showing me I must depend upon Him for His strength, not on mine.
We prayed a lot about the decision.
Finally I consented.

When we told our boys, they were concerned and called a family counsel to advise us against it.
They didn’t have to remind me, I still lived it daily with our last son.
But I also knew if God was calling, then I must do it.
My condition for God was that Joey's Mom must be ready and willing.
With much prayer, we asked Joey’s Mom.
She was not.
I cannot tell you how relieved I was.
Did we not hear God right?
I think it was to test whether I was willing.
Like Abraham had to offer up his son, to submit to God's directions.
God stopped him before the physical act was finished.

In the meantime, we still struggled to bring our son to maturity.
When he was small, the motto, “Underwear goes on first” was heard  every morning  when he dressed, even when he was five.
Learning his letters and their sounds, instead of taking one year, took three. 
Discipline was constant. 
Consistency was demanded. 
Routine was essential.

We tried counseling.
He took a regiment of supplements to bring his body to optimum functioning.
After a year, all cash pay, with no change in obedience, but rather fighting over taking the supplements, in addition to everything else, we called it quits on the supplements.

Every day I struggle with anger over his lack of following rules, his deceit, his lack of progress or something that happens.
I often thought any pregnant mom who does drugs should be charged with manslaughter—because they have killed any chance for their child to live a normal life.
No amount of love now can change what they don’t have during a crucial time of development.

A family we knew decided to adopt one of these drug babies. 
When that child reached her teenage years, that mom wearied of her lies and disobedience.
That child now lives with one of their daughters.
And the mom has received counseling to live with the destruction that child brought.

I understand those feelings. I live those feelings. Daily.
Every day I stress over getting him up, moving toward school, then keeping him gainfully employed.
Before his permit, he told me how I should drive. (Most of it was wrong.)
When he was asked if everything was clear so I could switch lanes, without looking, he’d say, “Sure.” 
He asked to get his driver’s permit.
I would not even drive with him. (unlike all the other boys who spent most of their time behind the wheel, running errands with me).
I could not trust him. And I wouldn’t run the risk.

Each interaction brought tension, not always between us, but inside of me.
He talked repeatedly of “helping” friends in California.
I finally asked them if they really wanted his help.
They consented.
We sent him for the summer to work for them.
Of course, with many preliminary notes and warnings.

This summer I’m not angry every single day, my gut isn’t in turmoil trying to figure out what this request of his really means (because they all had underlying plans that I couldn’t even imagine.)

This past year, Joey and I prayed earnestly for something that would enable me to feel better.
I’ve been treated for adrenal fatigue for many years. 
The doctor had dismissed me, partly because of the distance, but the treatment had brought me some energy. 
We found another doctor who specializes with adrenal fatigue patients. 
He addressed the stress and how to minimize it, while dealing with the destruction done to the body.
I’ve felt progress.

But the summer is ending, and my son must return home.
He already has plans on how things will be different. 
I, too, have plans, big changes.
I do not look forward to it.
Joey believes he’s matured.
I can’t even hope.
I can’t even dream of being a good parent. 
What kind of parent is that?

How good are you?
Not very. If at all. No, not good at all.

To add to that feeling of inadequacy, we received news his “real” mom was out of prison and doing well.
I told Joey, "I didn’t even want to hear about her."
When we visited Joey's mom, she was helping her two boys at Joey’s mom’s house.
She had changed.
She had been saved.

How good would you be?
I should rejoice, but still held anger over all the destruction she had caused—that I still worked with—daily.
I am supposed to be the mature Christian who loves like God.
Being a “mature” Christian, only showed me I could never get there.

I realize AGAIN my goodness doesn’t come from me—it must come from God.
God's timing is so right.
She is helping her children at a time when Joey's Mom can't.
God is so good.

How good are you?
These things, on a daily basis, remind me that I am not good.
Any goodness must come from God, even after being saved.

I feel like the Apostle Paul, O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Romans 7:24-25.

It all must be from Him.
Philippians 2:13 For it is God Who is at work in you, both to desire and to work for His good pleasure.
I must depend upon Him, to not only do what's right, but will to do what's right. 
There's no goodness in me.
But He is good.
And in His goodness, He helps me to be conformed to His image.

And that drives me again to my knees before the cross in gratitude and dependence on Him.

Displaying all 2 comments

I ache with you, I don't know how you do it. Seeing my two adopted drug baby grandsons, I know something of what you are going through, and it is not good. I ache for these children and agree, their mothers should be punished. They have one damaged child after another, then leave others to pick up the pieces, yet Humpty Dumpty can't be put back together again. Mostly the new parents are left with a lot more questions than answers, and that's not good enough. My grandsons see therapists, but what good is that when their reasoning process is so off. We will pray for each other, love you, Sonya.

I write about what you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what Him.
               Sonya Contreras

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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