A large poster of a baby inside a mother’s womb hangs on my living room wall. Beneath the picture is the scripture, “For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb” Psalms 139:13. This picture and verse remind me that I was meant to be born…and so was my son Nicholas. I believe this even though I was given up for adoption by my birth mother, and my son was born out of wedlock.
When learning that you’re adopted, it is possible to feel two ways: You may feel, “Wow! I was chosen. Thanks for picking me.” Or you may feel, “I was a mistake! My mother and father didn’t want me.” When I learned I was adopted, I made the mistake of believing that I was a mistake…and this false belief took me down a destructive road of grief for many years.
This false belief came in spite of the fact that I was adopted by a loving and caring couple. In my baby picture, I am being held by my new daddy— Harold Cummings. He and my new mom, Janie, had three years earlier adopted a boy named Kerry. This was the family in which I was welcomed. The foster care agency had called to say I was available, so at four weeks old my new parents dressed me in a cute, little dress and brought me home. They gave me the name “Merry Angela Cummings” which means “Happy Heavenly Messenger.”
I never dreamed I was adopted until my early adolescence when my parents decided to tell both my brother and me. I later found out that my birth mother’s name was “Deborah Ann Collins” and that she was 16 when she got pregnant and was living in Nashville, Tennessee. Then she moved to a group home for pregnant teens in Chattanooga and waited for me to be born. When I was born she gave me the name “Kimberly Paige Collins”—perhaps this was her way of placing value on me or sending a hidden message of love for me. I also learned that my birth mother had brown eyes and could play the piano.
The day my brother and I learned we were adopted we met at the swing set in our back yard and talked. At that time, in my young heart, I could not value myself as “chosen.” I could only think of my mother and wonder why she had not wanted me—and I felt hurt. A big wall of protection began to grow in my heart, built on fear of further hurt and abandonment. I determined to take care of myself and not let other people get too close to me.
About this time, a second devastating experience occurred in my life. I was sexually molested by a boy who was visiting in our home. This experience left its mark on my psyche—I felt dirty, and I could not tell anyone. It also left a long-lasting scar on my soul until years later when I let Jesus into my heart to heal me.
A Troubled Youth
My teen years were tough. Like other teenagers, I wanted to fit in, but I continually pushed people away who tried to love me. When on my birthday I tried out for the basketball team and made it, my mother brought a cake to school to celebrate. But I could not handle her trying to publicly celebrate my life. I hid in the school bathroom. Everything my mother tried to do to show her love for me, I rejected— because I thought, “She is not my ‘real’ mother.” As I rejected people, I soon became the object of bullying at school. This rejection from my teammates piled on top of my other pain, led me to want to end my life.
At Thanksgiving time, my English teacher gave a writing assignment, and the gist of my paper was this: “I am not thankful for anything. I want to die.” That ended with me in the counselor’s office, then off to see a doctor. Wanting to get help for me, my parents took me to a home for troubled youth where I stayed for four months. The experiences I had there introduced me to life in the real world. The first week I was there I had the scary experience of listening to a girl coming off an LCD trip. One of my roommates, who was only 16, killed herself by turning on the family car and breathing the fumes. I watched as her things were being removed from our shared room, and I wanted to die too. Confused and without direction for my life, I longed for something to pin my hopes on. When I saw a Motley Crue poster in the hospital room, I stared at the pentagram, the leather, and wild blond hair, and thought, “Though I have never heard you sing, I will follow you.” And I became a devoted follower for many years.
After the hospital stay, I was sent to a Christian camp. I became interested in Jesus and even prayed to invite Him into my heart. I began to read my Bible, share my faith, and got baptized several times. Yet, sin had its hold on me and the enemy of my soul called me back into darkness. So, back I went, following the Crue again.
By the time I was in high school I was a complete mess: an alcoholic, dope smoker, sexually active and a true hell raiser. My car had a stocked cooler full of different brands of alcohol. When I wasn’t sleeping in class, I was a trouble maker to the teachers. A few weeks before graduation, I moved out of my home and lived with different roommates as nobody wanted to live with me for any length of time. I was later being introduced to an older dude named Ricky. He was 29 and I was only 18. He could buy beer, so I invited him into my room. It didn’t matter to me that he had been married twice and had four kids.
Soon I found out that I was pregnant. I didn’t want to have a baby by a dude that was old, gray headed and already had four kids. I was selfish and totally controlled by me, me, me. So, I saved up $300.00 and asked my friend to drive me to an abortion clinic. When we arrived, standing outside the clinic was a local street preacher, holding a cross. And a woman ran alongside my friend’s car speaking to us through the window. I couldn’t hear what she was saying, but I realized she cared about me and the baby with all her heart. Her obedience to fi ghting for the cause of my unborn baby touched my heart. When the doctor came in and told me I lacked the necessary amount of money to cover the cost of an abortion, I chose the other option I had: I went home to my parents and confessed my pregnancy!
A Brown-eyed Boy
During my pregnancy I continued to drink, smoked cigarettes and a little pot, and had diabetes. Ricky and I moved out of town to be alone. My parents sent me material on adoption, but there was no way I was going to give my baby up for adoption. I could not imagine my baby wondering about me, missing his mother and searching for me all his life. I knew I had to choose to have my baby and raise him myself. In desperation and loneliness one night I prayed, “God, since you are making me have this baby, can I please have a boy with brown eyes?” After 38 really long hours in labor, on December 1, 1990 at 3:40 in the afternoon, my baby boy with brown eyes was born.
Although I was a drunk and never took my vitamins in pregnancy, my baby was beautiful. My mother drove to be with us, and over this precious baby she and I began to truly bond for the fi rst time. I named him, “Nicholas,” though I had no idea at the time that his name meant “Victorious one.” The God who watched over me knew. Today my son knows the story about his life, that God watched over is life, and he was wanted and loved by me, the Cummings family and his father’s family.
In the Cleaning Business
After my son was born, I still went through some really dark years. My mother was wonderful to watch over my son as I ran around with an awful crack cocaine habit and in abusive relationships. Eventually, I entered a treatment center that was able to help me. God gave me certain blessings that I did not deserve, but His goodness has made me want to serve Him. First of all, He got me sober. And second, He dropped a business in my lap. I had never taken business classes nor was I ever mentored by business people. It just happened. I was told in an AA meeting one day if you are truly grateful, you’ll do something to show it. Gatitude is an action. So I walked up to Lance after the meeting and said “What can I do?” He said, “Clean this place.” I did, and I became addicted to cleaning! One by one AA people started asking me to clean their houses. The next thing I knew, I was a business woman. I prayed and asked God to help me with a name. Then a thought came to me: “Compulsive Cleaning” with the logo “Somebody Stop Me!”
At Peace in His Arms
In my early twenties, my search for peace with never meeting or knowing my birth mother ended. I learned that she had passed away, and the state of Tennessee could not tell me where her grave was, so I could put flowers on it. A breakthrough for peace came when I was attending a Christian meeting. I was silently worshiping God, having blocked everyone else out. In the middle of my focusing on God, images of my birth mother in the hospital came into my mind. I saw her holding me and wrestling in her own heart about giving me away. I could see that she was hurting and that she loved me with a true mother’s heart. Then I saw Jesus come up to her bedside and stand patiently. (I cry as I write this because Jesus was there. He did not allow us to go through this traumatic event by ourselves.) Jesus did not condemn her for getting pregnant without a wedding ring. He had forgiveness, mercy, and kindness on His face. My mother looked at Jesus with a gift of faith. He did not rush her. He waited until she could build faith up enough to let me go. In her courage and faith, she was able to place me in His hands. When Jesus held me, she just watched Him with trust and reverence. She was at peace. It was as if she knew in her heart that Jesus would take good care me. As the image of Jesus holding me in His arms and smiling at me, I heard Him say, “My little evangelist.” With great approval fi lling my mind, I received it as His personal movie for me. I would replay it many times to remind myself that I am loved and was born with a purpose.
One day I won free tickets to a Geoff Moore concert. Just as music pulled me away from Jesus when I was 14, the Holy Spirit was drawing me in closer through music. At the end of all the singing, Geoff began to confront us with decisions about eternity. I knew if I died, I would not be ready to meet God because I had not bowed my knees and made Jesus Lord of my life. Yes, I believed in God, and He had had mercy on me and given me a better way to live. He had helped make me sober and even a better person. But that day I raised my hand in front of everyone to say that I wanted to make Jesus Lord of all my life. Jesus came into my life and I experienced a new birth. He took all my sin, past and present, and threw them away. He cleaned me and washed me with His blood.
The cleaning business the Lord gave me continues to thrive! It has been written up on the front page of the Pensacola Chamber paper twice. Wherever God sends me, I go, and so far that has included cleaning houses in three different cities. God has used me to clean houses for Hindus, Muslims,pastors, doctors, professional football players, lawyers and many more. And wherever I go, I get to share the simple story about Jesus saving me out of crack addiction and giving me this business. Jesus has a plan for your life too. No matter how hard life gets, Jesus wants to be your rock and sure foundation. For we are all born with a purpose, and we are loved by Him.