NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Cheryl Green is a soon-to-be-published author and, moreover, a living miracle, having survived disability, emotional and physical abuse, poverty, homelessness, parental mental illness and racism.
Green is the author of “Child of Promise: One Woman’s Journey from Tragedy to Triumph,” with a foreword by Bob Dole, former majority leader in the U.S. Senate. The book is slated for May 1 release by Broadman & Holman Publishers, the trade publishing division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
She will add that achievement to her Ph.D. studies at Yale University, work with the Dole Foundation for the economic independence of Americans with disabilities and her role today as president and CEO of Green Oaks Mental Health Foundation in Dallas.
The circumstances of her early years, however, gave no indication of a basis for successful adulthood. Born, in her own words, “a sight to behold,” Green was diagnosed with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, a condition in which her legs did not develop properly before birth.
“It was a shock to everybody,” she told participants March 15 in the National Seminar for Church Librarians, sponsored by LifeWay in Nashville, Tenn. “My lower limbs were malformed to the point that they just looked like a ball of flesh.”
Much of her childhood was spent in hospitals for reconstructive surgeries and examinations by medical professionals, who, she recalled, seemed more interested in her impairment than in her as a person.
Both of her parents suffered mental illnesses. Her father proclaimed himself to be God’s anointed one and engaged in abusive behavior. Her mother’s paranoid schizophrenia rendered her unable to work and led to an attempt on Cheryl’s life. Ultimately, her father lost his job, and the once-middle-class African American family became homeless.
“Circumstances set me up to believe a lie,” she said. “I thought my future depended solely on my own abilities.”
While still a teenager, a school classmate invited Green to a church youth group event. That proved to be the beginning of a deeper relationship with God.
“I had some questions for [God],” she recalled. “Why did you create me? Why did you create me like you did? Why did you create me with these parents? Do you love me? If you love me, why don’t I feel it?”
She said two Scriptures changed her life — Jeremiah 29:11 and John 9:1-3. Faith in God, rather than in herself, put her on a better life path.
Green and her mother are now close friends, and she manages her mother’s financial and medical affairs. She was able to confront her father about his past abuse, but he died before their relationship could be reconciled.
“It is a daily struggle to leave the past in the past,” she admitted, adding that when she began to trust God, “I realized that I needed to choose to let go of the burdens before God could take them away.”
While she also acknowledged “not many people blossom in adversity,” she added, “I am triumphant, not because I achieved earthly success, but because abuse, loneliness and despair were not powerful enough to destroy or embitter me. In my long sojourn, I have discovered God is never far away.”
Child of Promise: One Woman’s Journey from Tragedy to Triumph will be available in May in LifeWay Christian Stores and other retail outlets.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: CHERYL GREEN.