An ambulance screamed by my windshield. Turning down my street, a fire truck and police car were aggressively pulling out of my driveway. Immediately, my heart began to go into high gear.
I stopped my car, stepped out and looked quizzically at the sheriff. “Ma’am, your daughter had a baby girl inside the house,” he said. “The paramedics just took them to the hospital.”
It was one of those moments when the mind doesn’t have the ability, because it has no information, to make sense of the order of those words, your…daughter…had…a…baby…girl…inside…the…house.
“My daughter isn’t pregnant. What are they talking about?” I said to myself. As I stood there in those brief, few moments, my mind went into overdrive trying to put the pieces together. “This makes no sense. This makes absolutely no sense,” I said over and over. Suddenly, in the corners of my mind, with bits of information I rarely let myself access, a mental picture came into view. It was of my daughter, Brittany, pregnant, despairing, confused and alone, in the bedroom in our house that she rarely came out of, due to the fact that our relationship had gone so cold. All at once, it was entirely possible. My daughter just had a baby. I was now a grandmother.
Initially, there was horror that my husband and I could not have known that Brittany was pregnant. She lived at home with us, yet just how defective our relationship had become remained unclear until now. Suddenly, our dysfunction was painfully clear.
We had been praying for years, ever since we had become Christians ourselves, that God would reveal Himself to Brittany and save her. But now, it seemed by her devastating distance from us, that she was devastatingly distant from God, too. Brittany was untouchable.
Twenty-eight years ago, when Brittany was born, I could have never imagined that I would have a severed relationship with my only child. I knew from the moment she was born that I wanted to be the perfect mom. I spent every day with her at school throughout elementary and junior high, often helping in her classroom. As she entered high school, I still saw her there every day because that was also where I worked. I often met her between classes in the hallway to give her the books that she didn’t want to keep in a locker.
Brittany was a class act student. I couldn’t help but think it had something to do with my determination in raising her. She had been an amazing violinist since childhood, received straight A’s, and played on the softball team. As she was growing into an admirable young lady, I was just so pleased with our wonderful mother-daughter relationship. It was everything I had hoped it would be.
Everything changed when Brittany left for college. Not right away, but gradually, I began to realize that maybe my “mom-zilla” mentality throughout her years of growing up wasn’t actually benefiting her. Because my husband and I both catered to her every need, she never really learned how to function in life without her parents by her side. At first, she still came home every weekend, and I would do her laundry. She would beg us to go to dinner with her on Sunday evenings so she wouldn’t have to go back to her dorm so soon.
But when she moved back home, we noticed Brittany pulling away. She no longer joined us at the table for dinner, and when she did, it was awkwardly silent except for the times she would offer an “uh-huh” or “fine.” I began to see everything between us unraveling like a loose thread on a shirt. She was still present but we were pulling apart at the seams. The more I wanted, the less she would give. My heart ached for it to be different – for it to be like it used to – but she wouldn’t budge.
And thus began my depression.
No longer being the one that Brittany turned to, I fell deeper into despair. At this point in my life, I did not have a relationship with God. I began to meet with many therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists. I was prescribed all kinds of meds. Some worked, some didn’t. But I couldn’t seem to fight this despondency.
After another rough session with my therapist, I walked out of her office. I was tired of taking pills. I was tired of being depressed. I was tired of the way everything was spiraling into a pit of gloom.
As I arrived home that day, my husband was sitting in his usual chair.
“That was my last appointment with my psychiatrist,” I said, choking back tears.
“What are you going to do?” He asked, knowing that if I had an answer, it was a decision I had made in the moment since I had walked out of the psychiatrist’s office.
I looked down at him from the balcony, exasperated. “I need God.”
“So do I,” he responded. “But if we are going to do this, we aren’t just going to go to church on Christmas and Easter.”
That following Sunday we decided to attend Rock Church. It also happened to be Easter. As soon as I entered the building, I couldn’t keep my body from trembling. I knew something was different and that my life was about to change.
At the end of the message, when Pastor Miles asked those who had prayed to stand, there I was, standing—and right beside me, was my husband. We both surrendered our lives to Christ that day, and so began my transformation. I never wanted to go back to my old life. I was hungry and wanted to know Him. We got plugged into ministry and a LIFE group right away. It was incredible how supportive our new church family was.
But the more freedom I experienced, the more apparent to me that my daughter lived in bondage. My heart ached for her, and I longed for her to know the love of God like we now did. However, I knew that if I pushed her, it would only cause her to separate even further. I had just hoped that she was noticing the change in us.
Because nothing else was working, I knew I had to surrender her to God. If her life was going to change, it could only be through Him. I prayed every day. “Lord, have your way with Brittany. Please bring somebody into her life that will bring her close to You.”
I gave it all to Him and removed myself from the equation. I put all of my trust in Him.
So it wasn’t really making any sense to me, that a year after I had left Brittany in the hands of God, I would find out that she had a baby. However, in the days that followed, there was not an ounce of anger in me. I was not afraid. I felt peace. I knew God was with me. I just wanted to be there for my daughter. Like I used to be.
I waited at home that night. I called the hospital, but they told me that Brittany did not want any visitors. My husband, Terry, was five hours away attending the men’s retreat, and I desperately wanted him to be here, but when it was difficult for him to arrange rides and rental cars, I agreed that he should stay up there. I knew that God was supporting him through the men that he was in fellowship with.
And so, I spent the entire night praying.
The next morning, I called the hospital again. I just told the nurse to ask Brittany if she needed me to bring anything for her.
I heard the phone being exchanged and then her voice. “Mom, can you please come?”
“Of course, sweetie. I’ll be right there.”
I entered the sliding doors and was greeted by the sterile smell of the hospital. A rush of love filled me as I embraced Brittany. “I am not mad at you,” I revealed. Tears filled my eyes as I met my granddaughter for the first time. She was named Emma. Her little body lay still in the incubator in the NICU. She looked so precious. I laid hands on her and prayed for her.
The next two days were spent on my knees.
But then we received yet another, bigger seismic shock.
“This is Child Protective Services,” the voice said on the phone. “Brittany and your granddaughter have both tested positive for meth in their system.”
It felt like I was being hit from all angles, but when I should’ve been knocked out and cast to the ground, I wasn’t falling. I was swaying, but I could feel God helping me stay standing. Again, I cried out to Him.
I became the emergency caregiver for my granddaughter. Brittany was ordered by CPS to move out of our house. She would not be allowed to live with Emma.
And so another dilemma. Where was Brittany going to go? Who could we ask to take her in? We prayed more.
After visiting Emma, I walked into the waiting room. There was Terry, tears filling his eyes. “I found a place for Brittany. One of the ladies from our church is opening her door to our daughter.”
God just continued to astound us. With every obstacle that was being thrown our way, He was answering our prayers. Love and generosity were being poured out on our family.
Since I was now Emma’s caregiver, I was able to speak with the chief of neonatology. I asked him to tell me frankly; I wanted to know what they were looking for.
He said, “Emma’s brain scans and lab work have all come back normal. She is a miracle.” He explained that she didn’t look very well when she arrived at the hospital, especially since she was born at home without any help, didn’t arrive at the hospital until hours after being born, and Brittany had never had any prenatal care. All he could do was shake his head in amazement.
I knew it was God.
I was getting through every day with the power of God. I had faith that He was in control. He had taken circumstances that were intended to destroy us, intervened, and turned them into miracles. He was fighting the fight. It was so clear.
Nine days after Emma was born, I was at the hospital with her in my arms. I knew my husband was at church, and that there were many people praying for us. All of a sudden, I began receiving text messages that Brittany had surrendered her life to Christ. I hadn’t even known she went to church that day, but texts kept pouring in. “Brittany is here!” “She stood up!” “She gave her life to Jesus!”
God’s perfect plan was unfolding right before my eyes.
A few days later, Brittany and I talked while she was holding little Emma. She gazed at her daughter with enamored eyes as she said, “It is only by God’s grace that this sweet girl is here today. Mom, when I found out I was pregnant, all I felt was lost and alone. I was extremely terrified.”
“That’s understandable, Brit.”
“But really, despite knowing that I was pregnant, my addiction controlled so much of my life. I continued to use throughout my pregnancy. My mind was so filled with chaos and despair that I tried to convince myself that if I kept using, maybe my problems, including my pregnancy, would all disappear.” She wiped a tear from her cheek. “I thought that God would not allow me to give birth to a baby that was being exposed to meth. But I was wrong.”
I choked back tears that mirrored Brittany’s. “God wanted her here for a reason. And He is using all of this for good. You’ll see.”
“I do see it. It is only through Him that I was able to stop using drugs after giving birth. I know I am going to have to fight extremely hard for Emma, which begins with my sobriety.” She looked up, confident. “I knew that God was capable of changing lives because I saw it in you and dad when you gave your lives to Christ.”
“And now we get to see Him change yours,” I replied, smiling from ear to ear.
Emma was in the NICU for 18 days. The day that Emma was discharged, the chief of neonatology talked with me for a long while. He couldn’t do anything except shake his head. “She’s a miracle. The day Emma arrived at the hospital, she was suffering from hypothermia. In most cases, this wouldn’t be good, but in actuality, it’s what saved her brain. I don’t know what to tell you.”
“It is God,” I told him. “He has been with Emma from the very beginning. She is His miracle.”
Within the following weeks, we enjoyed meals as a family around the table. Brittany joined us, now, as well as Emma, who swayed in her swing next to us, and it was no longer awkward. We had meaningful conversations about all kinds of things, including Brittany’s new involvement in the church. She dove right in to volunteering in ministry and digging into the Bible and prayer.
As I passed the dish of potatoes around the table, I recounted what we discovered earlier that day. “I am just in complete awe of God. I can’t believe the meaning behind Emma’s name, and the fact that we chose that name and didn’t even know that in Hebrew, her name means ‘My God has answered.’”
For three-and-a-half years, I prayed God would bring somebody into Brittany’s life that would bring her to Christ.
It was Emma.
My God surely has answered.
*This story is a true account of a dear friend of mine.
**This story was originally featured at sdrock.com