I am writing just a few blocks from the very place God did a miracle in my heart in December 2003. A redemption miracle that would change my life in more ways than the pages of this blog could contain. Doug and I were here to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. I had a strange sense that this milestone would mark the beginning of a very different season than I had expected and frankly, had looked forward to!...
Life had become easy for me in many ways... My three children were growing up and were no longer underfoot 24/7. As a stay-at-home mom, I suddenly had the days to myself while the kids were at school. Should I go back to bed after I got them on the bus... sleep in, read, shop without distraction, work out at the gym or attend Bible Study with no worries that a nursery worker was going to pop her head in the door and pull me away? I was free!!! Doug and I met for long lunches several times a week or sometimes we'd stay home and enjoy romance that had always been confined to late night hours when the kids were safely tucked into bed! (enough said....) Such luxuries made me feel guilty some times... but most often I pushed those feelings aside and decided that I was entitled to these care-free days. I'd paid my "dues" by putting my life on hold for over 11 years!
Honestly, my self esteem had taken a major hit in those 11 years... I never felt that I was the greatest mom in the world. It's really all I had ever wanted to do, and I adored my children - but somewhere along the way, I'd lost touch with myself. I began to wonder who I was and why God couldn't seem to use me for more than nose wiping, shoe tying, and sibling referee... But, much to my surprise, I discovered in my new found freedom, opportunities and a new passion to speak... to share my story. These came to me in a most unwanted, unsought out way --
When I was 17 years old, lying on the abortionist's table, I made a promise to myself that no one apart from Doug, would ever have to know what I was about to do. When I got up from that table, got dressed, and walked out of that clinic, I pushed it all as deep into the crevices of my soul as I could. This worked beautifully for many years and I mistakenly believed that I had triumphed over what would prove to be a devastating decision. That decision became a haunting one after Doug and I married. Thoughts of what I had done began to creep up in unexpected places and I found myself increasingly unable to push them back down. Years later a friend compared such battles with pain to ping pong balls floating on the surface of my heart. I try to keep them all submerged, and yet God relentlessly pops them back to the surface -- forcing me to finally "deal" with them.
Dealing with them, I had done... discovering a God of such forgiveness and grace that I could not have even imagined! But speaking them was a different matter all together! After all -- my pristine reputation was on the line... with my church friends; with my family; with my mom; and with my future children and grandchildren. It made me physically ill to imagine what such "exposure" would mean!
There are certain moments in life that you remember with absolute clarity... as if they'd happened just yesterday! Every detail of the moment down to the pit of your stomach! I'm not talking about national moments like Sept 11th or the challenger explosion. The moments I'm referring to are clearer still, because they are those personal moments when God speaks so clearly to your heart, it is as if you've heard audible words from Him...
I had one of those moments in March of 1991. I was attending our church that Sunday morning that met at the old YMCA building in New Bern, N.C. My infant daughter, Sarah, was just weeks old and I'd snuck out the side door, down the hallway and into a vacant classroom to nurse her. I squeezed my post pregnant body into one of those old style school desks and propped her up on the desk facing me. I had developed a habit in just a few short weeks of staring at her... she was a beautiful picture of God's grace in my life--- the most undeserved gift this woman could ever hope for and I simply could not keep myself from staring in wonder at her again and again.
It was at that very moment that God barged in and interrupted my thoughts.... "Tell your story! Tell our story! Tell my story!" Surely I had misunderstood! But the words replayed in my head again and again, like a skipping record player - "Tell...Tell...Tell!" I knew that it was the Lord's voice speaking, because with the most terrifying words I'd ever heard came peace! And before I even knew what had happened, the same spirit that had spoken to my heart, gave it courage to respond! Suddenly the fears of my broken reputation slipped away! My reputation was of no account! It was God's reputation I was called to lift high... not my own!!! In portraying myself to be someone I was not, I sought to make myself look good. In being "real", I might look bad, but in contrast, God is shown to be the incredibly good God He is! I would tell!!!
I went home and actually wrote it down! All of it --- my failed attempts at perfection, my sin and it's cover up, my silence and self protection... and Jesus blood that covered it ALL! In finally writing it down and reading it back to myself, I realized that the story was actually so little about me and so much about Jesus! I was finally free to be "real"... because of Him!
Don't misunderstand me in thinking that my "God" moment made my story somehow easy to tell. I had a lump in my throat, my heart was pounding, and my hands were shaking when I handed a copy of it to my pastor the next Sunday. I have no idea today where the original copy of my story is and that pastor might now even remember it, but it was my first step... and it was a big one!
That was almost 20 years ago and I can't even count how many times it's been retold since then! First to strangers, then to friends, then in front of a video camera to be reproduced a few thousand times, then to large gatherings of mothers... and, yes, even to my own mother and now to that little girl I was staring at all those years ago... Even as I type now, I wonder how I feel about pressing the "publish post" button and sending it out into the cyber world for who knows how many to read!!! But in the end.... It's God's story! My God --- who can do immeasurably more than all I could ask or think! To Him be the Glory!