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Kelly Kennedy

If you had told me 5 years ago that I would be nearly two years free of addiction, standing before a church, telling my story in a public confession of faith in Jesus Christ and getting baptized in recognition of that faith, I would have laughed. The road to faith was paved with trauma, a malformed brain, a therapist, a broken foot, a funeral and loving childhood friends.

I was once dead and dying. Helpless in addiction and alcoholism, hopeless in depression and suicidal thoughts, certain that there was no God and if there was, He was a cosmic maniac. I earned myself a staycation in a psychiatric hospital. Desperate for help, I reluctantly made a phone call that would change my life entirely. I didn’t want to call her, knowing she was a Christian counselor, but desperation screamed louder than reservation. I hoped she would leave God out of our time together and just help me process the grief I was drowning in. Our youngest child had been diagnosed with a rare structural brain disorder, causing seizures and intellectual disabilities, and I could no longer cope. For the next three years, my therapist patiently and consistently spoke truth into my life, even if I couldn’t understand it or accept it.

I was then given the best, worst Christmas gift ever: I broke my foot on Christmas morning, and it refused to heal for 8 months. Devastated, frustrated and in physical pain, my addictions increased beyond control. A few weeks into my new life with crutches, my childhood friend’s father, a pastor, died in Arizona. Though I didn’t know her dad personally, I crutched my way onto an airplane and attended his funeral mostly to get out of Chicago in January. At the funeral, feeling as desperate and depressed as I had years earlier, I listened to my precious friend, also a mom to a child with special needs, say “God is good. God is so good, even if. Even if cancer. Even if autism. Even if ... .” I couldn’t understand how she felt this secure. How could God be good even if? One day she sent me a sermon her dad gave on Psalm 23; The Lord is My Shepherd. I reluctantly agreed to listen, only out of love for my friend. I listened to that sermon, and then the next 7 in the series. I couldn’t stop. I wanted more. I needed to hear what was next, and then when I finished that series, I asked her to send more. And more after that. I spent 8 months listening to sermons, one after another, waiting for my foot to heal.

I was still battling my addictions. As my therapist said, I was “straddling two worlds,” and it was pulling me apart. But God graciously pulled me out in 2019. I am getting baptized today because Jesus saved me from my sin and self-destruction.

What I now know is that God truly is good, even if. Even if my child’s brain is malformed. Even if my bones break. God is good, even through addiction. In fact, God is good, especially if. These “light and momentary afflictions” were used to bring me to faith in Him. Though I wouldn’t have chosen these hardships, I really do rejoice in them now. Because of the difficulties, I was given faith through grace as I cling to the only source of strength that is bigger than my struggles. Bigger than special needs. Bigger than depression. Bigger than addiction. Because of this grace, I can show up for my children and my sweet husband in a way that I couldn’t when I was trapped in darkness. I am a new creation. I am not who I was before, and for that I’m incredibly grateful. God is good to me and used all the tragic and unexpected events for my good and His glory, pulling me from darkness into His marvelous light.