“Angel” had a baby this week. A beautiful, perfect baby boy with a full head of hair and face begging to be drenched in kisses.
But, the baby was born addicted.
Angel has been struggling for several years with drug addiction. I could go into the long story about how she fell into that hole. I could make defenses. I could point fingers. I could denounce bad decisions. But it won’t change the reality that Angel had a baby this week and the baby is addicted.
Immediately, Angel’s sphere of influence leapt into action. They lifted up prayers and they shared the struggle this beautiful baby boy is going to have to face in the days ahead as he is weaned off a drug and begins life in the throes of withdrawal.
Pushed to the sideline was Angel.
Angel, who is now a mother of three.
Angel, who upon learning she was pregnant immediately sought out a rehabilitation center because she didn’t want her baby born addicted.
Angel, who was turned away from them all because they aren’t equipped to care for a pregnant woman.
Angel, who was told the cold-turkey withdrawal she was planning out of desperation might kill her baby–and was prescribed buprenorphine.
Angel, who has battled her demons for years, who has struggled against insatiable hungers for something she knows is killing her and destroying her relationships, who has agonized through detoxes, and who has refused to look at her own reflection out of shame during relapses.
Angel was pushed to the sidelines as the prayers for her baby rose to a fever pitch.
What filled the void of silence where the prayers for Angel should have been were accusations and anger and hostility.
But what good do those judgments do? Do they heal her? Do they rebuild her into the mother we all wish she could be? Do they ease the pain of mother or baby? Do they change the reality of the situation?
It might be a little harder to see because the innocence has been stripped from her face from years of addiction and even more years of life and hurts and hardships. She is skeletal and her body paying the price of the opiates which have been injected into her veins, so it is harder to see the Child of God in her.
It’s harder to see that she, too, needs prayers.
It’s harder to see that she, too, needs healing.
It’s harder to see that she, too, needs mercy.
Yet, the God who gave us the gift of life and packaged it in the sweet face of an infant agonizes for Angel as much as God agonizes for the babies born shaking from withdrawal.
And the God who gave us the gift of mercy has called us to love the baby… and the mother, alike.
How easy it is to love the baby and ignore (shun?) the needs of the mother. Doesn’t this bring out our inner Pharisee? And again, All means all.