Depressed and pregnant and alone and scared . . . Angie had tried to kill herself.
After enduring years of abuse and yet another marital rape, Angie abruptly left a terrifying marriage taking her two young children with her. They slept in her car, eating wherever they could. When the trio was discovered spending a third night in a hospital parking lot, social services stepped in and her children were taken to foster care. After losing her children, and later learning she was pregnant as a result of her husband’s last assault — with no job, no home, no nothing — she lay down in the back-seat of her car again parked in the hospital parking lot, and slashed her wrists hoping to bleed out and fade away . . .
When Angie came to Killingsworth from inpatient psychiatric care she was an indifferent, lethargic woman. But as she lived among us and participated in the life of our community, we watched a resurrection. The hospital had helped restore her physical life; and, through the stability and support of the Killingsworth community, God worked through us to restore her hope and sense of self. Angie was alive again.
Her first job flipping hamburgers wasn’t good for her swollen ankles, so when she was six months pregnant, Angie began a nurses’ aid training program and graduated second in her class. A job was waiting for her after her baby was born. As she participated regularly in counseling sessions we began to see more frequent smiles and hear concerns about her children in foster care.
Her delivery date was the day she moved out of Killingsworth. A long-time Killingsworth supporter welcomed Angie and her new son into her home for a few weeks as Angie regained her strength. For months we received cards and pictures of the baby, then news of her job at a local nursing home, and pictures of her apartment. But after her son “Tom” turned 3 years old, the cards dwindled, then stopped.
That was fifteen years before this happened:
Sitting in a physician’s waiting room I noticed a women who kept looking at me, and finally, she called my name. It was Angie, smiling, and looking well. Seated beside her was a healthy, friendly-looking teenager. It was Tom who was there for a college physical.
While Tom was being seen, Angie and I visited. She told of difficult, but steadily improving years, of continuing counseling, of regaining custody of her other boys, of becoming active in church, and when Tom was seven years old she married a “goodhearted man” who adopted and helped raise all 3 boys. She proudly showed pictures of her older children now with children of their own. She grinned wide telling me that Tom was offered a scholarship to college in the fall.
Besides raising her children, what had she been doing? Going back to school for LPN training, working in a hospital, and several years later Angie began work at an elementary school as a teacher’s aide in a class of handicapped children. Hooray for Angie!
It was wonderful to savor the realization that an eight-month investment of time and care blessed by the grace of God had made a huge difference for Angie; and also for others: two children left the foster care system forever; a “goodhearted man” found a family; and, Angies grandchildren have a stable, happy grandmother. Then there are those scores of well-cared for patients in the nursing home, and the little ones in Angies classroom. That is a great return on an eight-month investment, just a mustard-seed investment. But Killingsworth is all about planting seeds, and having faith in God’s merciful capacity to give our lives back to us as a gift.