Grace Flows

dadandbabyLet me tell you a bit about me.  I was raised in a land Far Far Away … that’s the way all good stories start, right?

I am an MK—a Missionary Kid.

My family wasn’t just in church “every time the doors were open.”  No, the church literally met IN my house.  I knew all the Sunday School answers, but never knew God.  I wasn’t just in the youth group, I helped start youth groups.  I did well in school.  I was never in trouble; I never fought—except bitterly with my sister like brothers and sisters tend to do.  Just a normal kid.

In the country where I was raised, the standard greeting man-to-woman and woman-to-woman was to touch your right cheek to theirs and make a kissing sound.  Even still, I graduated high school without ever so much as holding a girl’s hand, much less a real kiss. Anything beyond that was up to my imagination.

To be clear: I’d read every book I could find. I’d had the “Growing Up” class in fifth grade, but never had “the talk” with my parents.  And as a good Christian kid, I certainly never talked about SEX!!  It was not ever “suitable” topic of conversation…except, of course, every day at school with friends.

I knew for sure sex was going to be in my future.  And lots of it.  However, I had decided if True Love really does wait, then I’d be extra-‘Christian’ and even wait for that first kiss until I was engaged.  I prided myself on knowing more about sex than anybody else without ever having done the deed—and my friends would actually ask me for advice.  I was more than happy to help them with their issues while at the same time holding myself up as the model of how to refrain from those very activities before marriage.

I held myself up on that True Love Waits pedestal clear into college…into my third year.

Let me say that again: I held myself on that pedestal.

But things had changed a little since I had arrived in Arkansas for college.  On April 19 of my sophomore year, I finally stopped fighting God and actually gave my life to Him, with the words “no matter the cost.”

Two days later, the extent to which I meant “no matter the cost” was tested: I received word that my dad had been shot and killed in front of our house overseas.

In the years since, I’ve learned two important things happened within those first few days—I was completely unaware of these things until much later.  First, when I gave my life to the Lord, I received a big target.  The powers of evil and darkness described in Ephesians 6:12 had no reason to oppose or discredit me as long as I was not surrendered to Christ.  Their goal was simply to keep me from Him.  However, now that I am rescued into life with Him, the best the enemy can hope for is to discredit me to keep others from drawing closer to the Father because of me.  Second, being forgiven and saved from an eternity separated from God doesn’t automatically cancel strongholds and points of access for the enemy which I had built and maintained within myself—that’s where even Believers need to EMBRACE GRACE more than they are often willing to admit.  Those two things collided into disaster in my life in December of 1999.

I found a new life of freedom.  Freedom that comes from being a Christian, also but compounded by the new “freedom” (what I later learned was actually lack of direction and accountability) found after the loss of my dad who I had previously worked so hard to please.  I was re-learning who I was in Christ without an earthly dad, but never learning new habits or strategies to deal more effectively with the growing sexual urges.  Along with being a legitimate Follower of Christ, I also found great pride in my “innocence.”  I never learned to place the sexual part of myself under the authority and direction of Christ without pulling it right back.  The enemy really liked the pride and self-reliance in this area of my life.  It was an open door to their influence.  All it took was one very normal December night at the lake with a friend, and just another ‘normal’ talk to help with a friend’s issues.

When I say she was a missionary “cousin,” I mean that her parents were also missionaries—it’s the term MKs use to identify fellow missionary kids.  We were close by other people’s measure—she was a friend I had previously shared many long, personal, often intimate conversations. MK’s are known not only for being able to bond quick, but deep. We didn’t hang out regularly.  I was a “Big Brother” to the sorority she was part of, and we knew each other well.  So, as close as we were, but weren’t, it was no secret to her I had never kissed a girl.  I found out later how much that was amazingly attractive to her…we had never discussed any attraction for each other.  I thought of her as a friend, but nothing more.

On the other hand, that night, in the guise of needing to talk to me about a problem she was having, she thought she’d show me how attracted she was to me—and kissed my neck.  That felt good.  My 21-year-old, never-been-kissed body really liked what it felt.  My idea of being in control of myself went out the window when I found myself a passenger on a runaway train of feelings I had never felt without so much as a clue how to put on the brakes.  I can’t say if I were in the same situation today that it would’ve ended different because I made no attempt to stop it at any point…until it was too late.  Even then, I decided it was too late so I might as well enjoy it, so I did.

Once.

Looking back, there were so many things I allowed to happen that just paved the way for that once with her.  But my inexperience of anything remotely close to physical closeness with a girl, and most especially my pride, really set the stage for it.  However, immediately after we finished our time together on the side of the lake, I knew my life had changed forever, and not just because I had experienced a woman’s body.  I knew—in a way I cannot explain, deep within, without a hint of doubt, I knew she was pregnant.  Immediately.  Without any question.  My world was rocked, but I tried to stuff it out of sight inside.

When I got back to my dorm room that night, the very instant I stepped in the door and it closed, I heard the audible (to me) voice of God ask, “Do you see where you are without Me?”  … and I broke.  I spent the next hours weeping in the shower, crying before God.  I left the shower a different boy…taking the steps, for the first time, to becoming a man.

The following week was finals week, and we left for Christmas break.  I had already planned a semester away from school to figure out where I was in life.  I had taken no break in the year and a half since my dad had been killed to reflect, heal, and figure out where God wanted me in this world.

Since my “Shower Experience with God” I had learned to pray about everything.  God was providing.  I had settled an hour from school, in Little Rock.  A house, a job, a mentor at church … more importantly, He was putting me to sleep at night and waking me each morning.  We were close.  I enjoyed lots of time with Him.  I was just waiting for the phone call I knew I would get.

The girl I had been with at the lake that night had traveled back to Asia to see her parents over the break, so the call came in the middle of the day in early January—the middle of the day for her that is.  It was two in the morning in Arkansas.  It was not the kind of call you want to wake up to, but I listened as she cried and told me she had taken an ungodly number of pregnancy tests before finally telling her missionary-doctor dad, who confirmed a baby was on the way.  She was beyond consolation.  I just listened and told her “I’m sorry,” and that I was open to talking about what we should do.

We knew each other well enough for me to know her relationship with God was superficial at best, maybe even non-existent.  And it began to show immediately in the way she would speak to me.  Everything was suddenly all my fault and I needed to take care of it all, and yet she didn’t know the extent to which she ever wanted to see me again.  I just prayed.  A lot.  Things were difficult between us.  It affected friendships we had in common.  The sorority she was part of for sure found out the story, but not the details, and it put incredible strain on my friendship with so many people associated with them.

For the next month, my friend, the mother of our child, would call—sometimes daily—just to talk, and it was clear she had no idea what she was going to do.  Ideas from getting married to running off to nowhere in Alaska with a relative, to giving me full custody of the child, to terrible things she would hint at but never talk about with me directly.  Trying to talk and plan someone else’s life from twelve time zones and a whole continent away was emotionally taxing, to say the least.

Then March came.  She called and it was just quiet.  She allowed bits of silence where before she had always had the need to fill every silence.  I knew something was different, but she didn’t keep me wondering.  She said, “Aaron I prayed to give my life to God.”  And grace flowed.

FLOWED.

In very short order she had found and made full arrangements to go to Gladney in Fort Worth, TX.  They arranged for expecting mothers to have a place to stay, help find a job, and pay for expenses with the understanding the baby would be given for adoption after birth.  By Texas state law, the baby has to be a certain number of days old before he/she can be legally given for adoption, so the option to change your mind is there.  However, with us there was zero question this was the direction God was leading.

God never missed a beat in providing through Gladney. We found out we were to have a girl.  Then the adoption process began.  There are three types of adoptions.  We chose the type where we could choose the parents.  So, Gladney gave us access to an unlimited supply of profiles of possible parents.  The mother and I looked at them separately from each other, but agreed we wouldn’t choose unless we were both in agreement.  Only one profile stood out to me.  The same thing happened for her.  It was the same profile.  Also, while it was never stated anywhere in the profile, we both independently felt that these people must be missionaries.  Then came the day we spoke with them for the first time.  They coordinated with Gladney a time where we would meet in the office since they were to call internationally.  There was unspeakable joy and excitement as we listened to them break “the rules” to tell us that yes, indeed, they are missionaries.  But not just missionaries.  They are missionaries with the same mission organization that both the mother of the baby grew up with and that I had grown up with.  Our baby girl would be a missionary kid just like we had been growing up.

Time flew by quickly.  The end of summer was approaching.  It was decided in order to avoid possible difficulties during delivery, and especially for the sake of the adoptive parents flying in internationally, we set a date to induce.  September 1 arrived, the day of our daughter’s birth…and I was late getting there.  I was emotionally crushed as I raced from Arkansas at a snail’s pace through DFW rush-hour traffic.  But God had a plan even for that.  As I rushed into the room, waved in by smiling, excited, pointing nurses, I walked into the hospital room to find an estranged friend there from whom I had mourned a painful separation—and she was holding my daughter.  Everything went into slow motion.  I crossed the room and saw her look up.

Of course being the father of the newborn, everybody knew the first priority was to let me hold her.  And unthinkable happened: never before that day had I ever been looked at with such admiration, respect, and love as I did when this friend looked at me and said, “This is your daughter!” and handed my baby girl to me.  It was an incredible moment of healing for both of us.  We remain friends to this day; even now, both of us having married other people, our families have spent great times together.

We were all present that afternoon in September when we met in a church’s chapel for a short, private ceremony to officially give our daughter to the new parents.  While they legally had to remain within the United States for a specified time, they already had tickets to return to their country of service.  It was the last day I saw and held my daughter.  However, from the still, quiet, painful moment at the lake in December in 1999, it has always been clear: she was never meant for me.  She was meant for this couple who had tried for years upon years to have their own child.  After giving up hope they applied at Gladney and were told because of their age and international circumstances they likelihood they would ever receive a child was slim at best.  Pain.  Their profile had even been given to us as an after-thought.  God knew their desires.  He knew my need.  GRACE!!

I met my wife two years after my daughter was born.  Two days after we met, we went on our first date.  As I drove her back to her parents’ house, I told her about my daughter.  (I tell ya, I’m a great first-date, huh?!)  God knew the kind of woman I needed.  This September first, my daughter turned thirteen.  This August third, my first son turned two.  Grace.

“And we know that ALL things are worked together for the GOOD of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose in Christ Jesus.”  {Romans 8:28}

Written by Aaron Hood

2 thoughts on “Grace Flows

  1. The most amazing and touching story of Gods grace,faithfulness and ability to stand by us when we do something out of a mistake. What strength it takes to place a child up for adoption but, also what a testimony it creates to people who do not know Jesus! Am so touched by this story in so many ways – Thank you!

  2. This is a “Jesus Apple” “two-fer” for me: I almost skipped over this post; and, this verse is a confirmation of a promise that the Lord has been bringing to my attention during this exact season. Thank you for your courage and humility in writing this, this gives me great HOPE for *our* imperfect family!!

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