Joy and Pain Over Generations



Three generations sat around the table last night:  

Our adopted son, Joshua; his grandparents, Mimi and Papa; his birth mother, Julie; his best friend, Jon, with girlfriend Megan; and Steve and I.

The occasion:  We were celebrating Josh’s 30th birthday—October 27.

As with any family, much joy, pain, hope and disappointment were represented at that dinner.

Mimi and Papa adopted Julie as a baby, not knowing  much about her.  As she became a teen, the usual teen identity search was magnified as it often is for adopted children.  Unfortunately, Julie’s struggle led to poor choices, including alcohol and drugs.  Her life has been hard—on the streets, in and out of jail, health issues.  She is fresh from prison and doing really well right now, living again with Mimi and Papa, caring for them.  She and i hugged, talked about Joshua, prayed together.

An early marriage gave Julie a daughter, who was adopted by Mimi and Papa to provide a stable life.   Six years later Joshua was born, and Julie was determined to raise him herself.  Eventually her addictions and life choices led to Joshua being taken from her, given to Mimi and Papa, and then to our family.

From the beginning Joshua provided challenges for us.  When he became a teen those challenges escalated into many poor choices and dangerous situations.  Most people observing would say Joshua had two possible outcomes for his future:  prison or death. (You can read his/our story beginning here.)

Yet here he is, turning 30.  A handsome young man. A good person, a good friend, a good son.  A responsible worker with his own landscaping business.  God’s grace is truly amazing.

But pain continues.  His marriage of 6 ½ years has failed.  Financial burdens are heavy.  A career path is uncertain.

Choices have consequences.  And those consequences often last many years, touch many people, impact generations.

Julie’s birth mother gave her up for adoption.  Mimi and Papa provided a loving home for her, but her choices affected her and many others: Mimi and Papa, her daughter and Joshua, our family, his marriage.

Joshua’s choices have also had far-reaching impact—painful and joyful.

So when someone says something like “It’s my life.  I can do what I want.  It’s no one else’s concern,” that is totally not true.  All of us affect others in our lives—for good or bad, for peace or pain, for life or death—by the choices we make.

Often those outcomes are hurtful.  Sometimes they are disastrous.

But sometimes our God does amazing transformations to redeem at-risk lives, to bring good from not good, to offer a future with hope.  As evidenced by the love and celebration at our table last night.

Pain continues—and Joshua has a lot of it right now.  But hope exists—and even abounds.  God says he is able to bring His good from our bad choices, from the hurt we inflict, from the reality of living in a fallen world.  His good usually looks different from what we hoped for, and never comes on our timetable, and is often a joyful surprise!

So here’s some good that could come from the pain that Joshua is experiencing right now:  As a birthday gift, would you pray for him as he seeks the next steps for his future, and especially that He would choose God’s path as he goes forward?  Thank you so much.

What about you?  Where have you seen choices bring widely felt consequences?  How has God redeemed some of those situations?

C2012 Judy Douglass

Related posts:

Chained and Imprisoned

Perspective at Any Season

Cupcakes for the Journey