In July 2012, I received an email saying my soon-to-be ex-husband had been awarded full temporary custody of our two sons. Two days later, my children and I were separated. My heart broke into a million pieces.
My sadness turned to rage, and I took on the victim role. Roots of bitterness grew deep, and I hurt many people (Hebrews 12:15). Intense shame and depression set in, and I slid into a hopeless pit. I lost all sense of who I was and my life’s purpose.
I had no one to blame but myself. Seven years of poor decisions caused by drug and alcohol addiction had led me into dark places where I had neglected my children. The court ordered that I would have supervised visitation, pay full child support, and attend family drug court for a year.
I set out to avenge my motherhood, but I was quickly overwhelmed because I didn’t know the Lord and I was fighting my battle alone. Four months into the court program, I failed a random drug test. The court took disciplinary action, but I didn’t have the courage or strength to follow through with the requirements.
My shame and selfishness kept me from taking responsibility and fighting for my life. I gave up and gave myself over entirely to my addiction and a life of lawlessness. I became homeless, revolving in and out of psychiatric hospitals and jail for years. My children were distant memories.
If you read my story in Issue 03/2022, you know that the light of Jesus Christ overcame the darkness of my life (John 1:4–5) while I was in jail awaiting a prison sentence. Right there, Christ made me new—He gave me a new heart, a clear mind, new desires, and a new will to live and love again. His presence and Word gave me strength, courage, and hope for future reunification with my children. My heart clung to the promise that with God, all things were possible (Matthew 19:26).
Then He stepped in and made a way for me to go to the Phoenix Rescue Mission, a Christ-centered facility providing solutions for people trapped in cycles of homelessness, addiction, and poverty. There, I committed my whole self—heart, mind, body, will, emotions—as a living sacrifice to God and renewed it daily (Romans 12:1). I laid my relationship with my children and their father on God’s altar. Only God could bring the healing we needed.
The first few months I was at the Mission, I wasn’t allowed to have contact with the outside world except through writing to approved people. Each week, I wrote my two sons. I didn’t know if they were getting my letters, but I continued to pursue them in faith.
Three months into the program, I received permission to call them twice weekly.
God planted the words commitment and consistency in my mind. Commitment and consistency were new ideas for me, but I’ve since learned they are critical components for life transformation.
A couple months later, my boys were approved to visit me. I loved those weekend visits! We would talk, laugh, and play games. I was grateful their dad allowed these interactions.
Eventually, I got a car and gained even more freedom. I felt hopeful and eager. I was ready to be their mom again and to have unsupervised visits. But their father said, “Not yet.”
This delay hurt, and I felt rejected. I’d worked hard and made significant progress.
But my addiction, actions, and brokenness had betrayed the trust of many, especially my sons’ father. It would take time to unravel and reshape the mess I’d made. I had to trust God’s timing and His ability to heal and change hearts. If I rushed the process, I might cause more delays.
“Commitment and consistency, Sheridan.” The Lord kept urging me to stay the course, to not react to my hurt feelings, and to keep my eyes fixed on Him. His plans were good (Jeremiah 29:11); I just had to trust them.
And then I learned my ex and his family, including my boys, were moving to Georgia. My heart broke as my reunification plan fell apart. “No, God!” I cried. “Why would You save me and change me, only to let my boys move away from me?”
I wrestled with my emotions for a hot minute but returned to the truth—God had a plan, and I could trust it. I saw that I had two choices. I could either succumb to the crippling heaviness of this news and the uncertainty of my reconciliation process, or I could “lean not on my own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5–6) and “be still and know that He is God” (Psalm 46:10).
Leaning on my minimal and faulty understanding had consistently led me to destruction. I had to remain committed and consistent in my relationship with God, no matter what my emotions were telling me. God knew the end of my reconciliation from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). His plan would prevail. “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21 NIV).
I was amazed at the peace in my heart. Before giving my life to Jesus, a circumstance like this would have taken me out. I would have played the victim card, used drugs, fought for my rights, and been depressed and filled with despair.
Instead, because of God’s presence, power, and promises in my life, I was able to receive this news without sliding into that hopeless pit. He had transformed my heart and mind and made me a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). This new creation was no longer doing old things. Praise God!
My sons often asked me when I would move near them. I wasn’t able to answer them definitively, and that hurt. I still had to complete the program at the Mission and finish three years of probation before I could go anywhere.
“Whenever God allows it,” I’d reply. I had to surrender to the unknown and trust that God was working behind the scenes to bring about His plan. And you know what? That’s all God asked me to do.
While I waited, I strove to remain faithful to the Lord. I started working in ministry, completed my probation, restored my civil rights, and returned to school.
God impressed on my heart to pay the child support I owed, including seven years of arrearages. I had no idea how to do this—the bottom line didn’t add up. I was already working two jobs and didn’t have enough money to meet my personal needs. But God soon blessed me with a promotion. “Commitment and consistency” kept ringing in my ears.
I flew back and forth from Arizona to Georgia to visit my children for the following year. Before too long, their father agreed to unsupervised parenting time. I burst into tears of joy at the news, and a year later, I moved to Georgia.
Today, my husband and I are coparenting with my ex-husband and his wife. Only God could restore such brokenness and bring forth such beauty (Joel 2:25). Only He could transform my messed-up self into a mother who is now part of the solution and not the problem. And only He could have softened my ex-husband’s heart to bring us into this arrangement.
You know, God can do the same for you. You have to realize, however, that transformation and restoration take time. It’s a process that starts with surrendering your heart, mind, life, and desires to God. It requires unwavering commitment and consistency to God and doing whatever is necessary to move toward your goal, no matter how difficult or long it takes.
Along the way, God will give you His strength, peace, and contentment for the journey. Trust Him.
Sheridan Correa is a biblical counselor who is trained in trauma-informed care. She’s a wife, mother of two teenage boys, singer, and avid runner who has been radically changed by Jesus. She joined the Victorious Living family in 2022 as digital content manager.