I have three young sons, ages 8, 4 and 2. Like most mothers, that means a lot of sacrifice and learning to put the needs of your children above your own. It encompasses crying when they are in pain as well as sharing in their most joyous moments. The nurturing instinct begins immediately when you realize you’re carrying them in your womb- reading to them, praying for them, being protective of them before they even make an entrance into the world. It’s an emotional connection that cannot be explained. I think it’s best summed up in one of my favorite quotes: “It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside of your body.”

I’m 34 years old, originally from Spearsville, Louisiana. I’m an attorney licensed to practice law in 3 states. I’ve never used drugs. I’ve never put my children in any danger. I’ve always been their biggest cheerleader. I’ve put my professional goals aside several times to ensure that their needs were met. After numerous transitions to various states, I’ve been the constant in their lives. When no one else was there, mommy was. Because that is of course what mothers do.

I’ve also been a victim of domestic abuse and psychological manipulation. I know what it’s like to experience injustice and the threat of your voice being silenced. I know the pain of living a private life that contradicts your public image. As a result, I recognize and value those things that are authentic and true.

If you’d asked me a few months ago what was the one thing I absolutely could never endure, I would have immediately said any loss of my children. I recall being at a diversity seminar several years ago and being asked to share what my biggest fear was. I stated that my biggest fear was raising my African American sons in a world where their voices would be unheard and they risked being treated unfairly. Fast forward to this year, when I had to endure the horrific experience of losing legal custody of my three children.

I felt hopeless. I didn’t think I could move forward. I wanted to inflict harm and physical pain on those who were responsible for my suffering. I tried to make sense of it but I couldn’t find any rationale. I was familiar with the court system. I knew the legal basis for removing children from a parent, none of which applied to me. I cried for days. I plotted revenge. The anger of the situation almost destroyed me.

The nightmare that was now my life seemed as if it lasted forever. And I only began to comprehend and appreciate the magnitude of it all when I accepted it as my testimony. I was put to the test because I was strong enough to endure it not because it was fair. I didn’t know it was possible for me to go through such an attack on myself and my children and maintain my sanity. My children mean everything to me. Anyone who knows me knew that fact. But unfortunately, the enemy uses what you love the most to attempt to destroy you and they work harder when they feel you are a threat to them. These are the people who will try to break your spirit simply because they need you to be broken in order to validate themselves. They throw stones and hide their hand. They discourage you from speaking your truth. They count on you to give up and then they’re confused when you continue to elevate in the midst of their attacks. Stay focused. The satisfaction of your enemy lies in you not being able to maintain the strength to keep fighting. Never underestimate the fact that your purpose can be manifested through your pain. And remember that everything works out in the end. If it hasn’t worked out, it’s not the end.