Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Guest post - testimony: Beauty for Ashes


As the youngest of six children, I often felt invisible.  My mother was impatient and critical.  I grew self-protective and decided being a wife and mother was not for me.  Later, I made a habit of only dating casually, but when I noticed a man at work in my late twenties, my attraction was greater than my defenses.  To my surprise, he reciprocated my interest.  Within a few years, we married, and soon thereafter, had a son.  At thirty-two, I found motherhood the greatest gift of my life.  

Yet, our marriage was difficult.  We argued loudly and often.  He threatened divorce.  I turned inward to keep the peace, and considered leaving, but how could I trust myself to make a better choice?  How could I separate father and son?  

Despite the discord, we stayed together, even hoped for more children.  We tried for years and saw an infertility specialist, but to no avail.  I never cried out to God because I didn’t believe in Him.  I did muse, however, if He existed, He certainly knew how to taunt me, for how could I know the longing to have a baby if I hadn’t been given one, then denied another?  Having done all I could about infertility, I became distraught and heart-broken.  My husband and I grew distant.  I focused on preserving our family, but giving up on more children was excruciating.

I was run down physically and prescribed a medication later taken off the market for deadly side effects.  Within a few doses, my mood became so dark, I decided to stop taking it.  The next day, panic and psychic chaos seized me.  After hours of tortured thinking, I decided to end my life.  This resolution brought peace, and in that quiet, I heard a voice that sounded like mine say, “It’s not your time to go.  You need to stay for your son.”  I knew this was true but didn’t like it.  The torment returned, and for months, anxiety and depression plagued me.
 
That spring we moved and a flyer came to our house about classes at a nearby church.  One dealt with depression.  Despite no faith in God, I went and listened to scriptural teaching that eerily matched my experience.  In class, I bowed my head in prayer.  Eventually, I revisited that desperate morning and came to believe the voice that told me to stay was not mine, but the still small voice of God.

It was a revelation and relief.  The veil of depression lifted.  I was filled with gratitude and hope.  I attended the church that held the class and heard about ministry opportunities.  I didn’t know what that meant, but signed up for Crisis Pregnancy Center training, certain I had much to offer women in crisis over unplanned pregnancy since I knew the crisis of pregnancy unfulfilled.

Yet, nothing I knew mattered.  The first day of class, the center director explained the CPC was a ministry of Jesus Christ.  I didn’t know what that meant and cringed inwardly at “Jesus.”  (God was one thing, but Christ was too narrow.)  He also said if anyone was abortion-minded, there might be better places to serve.  I was more than abortion-minded; I was firmly pro-abortion: it was the only issue that guided my voting.  Despite these conflicts, I stayed.

Week after week, I listened and read about abortion.  I ruminated over what I learned, ashamed of my prior willful ignorance.  One day at a stoplight, the story of a woman who’d reluctantly had an abortion but bitterly regretted it haunted me.  Through tears of humility and shame, I cried over and over, “Lord, why did you spare me?”  I wouldn’t have hesitated to have an abortion.  Why did I not suffer that fate and this woman did?
 
Our marital struggles continued.  Good Friday, my husband confronted me about my selfishness.  Despite the urge to point out his faults, I could not refute him.  The self-protecting heart that had warmed to let him in had grown cold as stone.  Later, his parents came to dinner.  Unexpectedly, he told his father, a minister, I was curious about baptism.  I thought he was mocking me.  Angry, but also distraught, I listened politely, hidden behind the smile I so often wore.

The night before Easter, I prayed with our son at bedtime.  “Amen,” we said together, then my son added, “God, please put a heart in mommy’s chest.”  I left the room, stunned.  Later, my husband confront me again, this time, annoyed because I hadn’t prepared an Easter basket as I had in years past.   I explained that in my budding faith, I was unsure about bunnies and jellybeans.  Confused and upset, I barely slept.  At daybreak, I drove to the store and shopped to fill a basket.

Back home, I stared out the window in despair.  The conflicts with my husband kept escalating. No matter how justified I thought my actions to be, life was not adding up.  “I may as well give this Jesus a try,” I heard myself say.  “Nothing I’m doing is working.”  I knew I couldn’t bargain with God, and in that moment, felt something give way - the wonderful terrible surrender of having held on too long with belief only in myself.  There was nothing left but to trust in Jesus.

I called my father-in-law and was baptized that morning.  A few months later, I shared my story with a college roommate who’d remained a dear friend despite living hundreds of miles apart.  She had planted a seed for Christ in me years before with her open profession of faith, and her joyful and transparent nature.  Through tears, she said she’d prayed for me unceasingly by name, often with prayer partners, for nearly two decades.  What faithfulness! 

Choosing Christ is forever life-changing, but doesn’t magically erase the consequences of one’s actions.  Our marriage is still challenging, but as God has transformed me, I grow in appreciation and respect for my husband.  We had no more children and giving up that hope was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but the gain in that loss is beyond anything I ever imagined.  God does give beauty for ashes.  


Thank you so much to commenter ioweenie for sharing this. It is so encouraging to hear of the transformation that happens in fellow Christian's lives. Testimonies are such a joy to read, they are hope to the weary and confirmation to those in the fight. If reading this moves you to desire to share your own testimony, please email me.

7 comments:

  1. According to Rollo Tomassi, women can't really love men.

    A woman is worth less than a man. No, not worth less, just worthless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And you left this comment here because...?

      I'm afraid you're lost. This is hardly a blog for bitter, whiny men. There are plenty of other places for you. My comment section is a place for winners and over comers, those seeking truth, and those who contribute something of value.

      Delete
    2. Hi. You are right, I apologize. I take my word back.

      I won't bother you again.

      Delete
  2. Thank you so much for sharing this! What a blessing and what courage. You may not birth more children, but you can have many, many more children. I find myself parentless right now. My Father passed, my Mother has rejected me. What I wouldn't give for a kind hearted Christian women to Mother me a bit. What I wouldn't give for a Christian girlfriend in real life.

    How much more is the longing in a child's heart that comes from horror at home.

    I don't know if you have heard of the show Duck Dynasty, but the family is amazing in sharing their testimony. The oldest Son shared that while his Father and Mother were not Christians a neighbor used to have him over for cookies all the time and pray for his family. Her prayers (and others) spawed three Christian generations of a family.

    We are all family in Christ Jesus. I will pray for you my Sister. Thank you again for sharing your heart and may God use it mightily for His Glory.

    God Bless you!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you, Carlotta. I have just become familiar with Duck Dynasty. In fact, last evening, trying to fill my time to ward off anxiety and aimlessness (my husband has been working 5000 miles from home since January; our son is going through very dark days), I found the Robertsons and laughed, smiled, and nodded my head in joy with them. It gives me pleasure to know you too are watching and finding family, Carlotta. I read your kind words to me at AG as well, today. I am so blessed beyond measure to have a beloved sister in Christ (my angel who has and still prayers for me daily) and my own bio sisters. My heart aches with longing for you too. Even after my coming to Christ, my liberal, feminist friends and I have remained dear friends, respectful and loving to each other, supportive of our mutual struggles and triumphs (I think they look at me as a curiosity!). I pray that you do find someone physically nearby who will be this sister to you. You (and SD, kind enough to invite me to post) are fondly and prayerfully in my heart. Be well, dear one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much. Btw youtube has them preaching up a storm. Just put in their names.

      It is hard to be apart and go through hard times. I will pray for you and yours.

      Delete
  4. SD, thank you again for the opportunity to share. I would also add, coming to Christ doesn't take away the challenging circumstances of life, but it does enable us to reframe our pasts and strive to understand God's purpose and plan for us, especially in our struggles. Since I'm still so stubborn and self-protective, when I encounter the same struggle old struggle, yet again, with my husband, or son, (or mother, God bless her, still confounding me at 93 years old!), it's God trying to teach me something about me! Thank you again for your encouragement and openness.

    ReplyDelete