As I start this post, I realize that it has been over a year since I have written on here. I guess God has used this time in my life to keep me quiet externally so that I might grow internally - although if you know me in person, you know that I am anything but "quiet." I have felt Him speaking to me lately to write again though and tonight, when I couldn't sleep after a church service I attended, I knew that the time was now.
In the past few months and weeks, I have had various friends who have had their entire realities altered in deep and unchangeable ways. One of my friends, Erin, lost her 3.75 year old son in a tragic swimming pool accident. Another of my friends is dealing with separation from her husband and restarting life as a newly single mom. In trying to help them, I have realized that I needed to tell a story from my past in hopes that it might encourage them in any small way with what they are dealing with right now.
I went through a single pregnancy with my daughter Emelia. It is hard enough to be single with little or no family support - let alone being a single mom raising kids with little or no family support - BUT I think it is crazy hard to be single and pregnant. Not a lot of people have dealt with this. Especially not in happy, shiny Christianland. We say as Christians that we don't believe in abortion but what do we do when we see someone who is single, pregnant, and struggling? What do we say? When our eyes go to the enormous belly and then to the left ring finger (that's empty) - what's the next step?
Being single, pregnant, and Christian is a very lonely place to be. There are not a lot of sins that can be committed where you end up wearing them like a 30-pound weight around your entire body. There are not a lot of sins that throb moment by moment as a heartbeat inside of you. Having a baby out of wedlock, by yourself, as a Christian, is an all-consuming, never-ending, lonely and painful journey. Been.there.done.that.got.the.maternity t-shirt.
As I mentioned in my testimony earlier in this blog, I recommitted my life full-throttle to Christ 2 weeks before I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, Emelia.
When I became a born-again Christian at age 18, it wasn't exactly on my life's plan to get knocked up and have a baby (and no husband) roughly 10 years later. When I felt called into children's ministry at age 19 in order to save children's lives and lead them to Jesus, I didn't understand that my most important ministry would be to make the hard choice to save my own child and bare my sin to the public for 9 months+. When I recommitted my life to Christ in September of 2002, I really didn't schedule anything else on my agenda except sunshine & rainbows and skipping down the paths of life with Jesus as my bestest friend.
When I sat on the cold tile of my bathroom floor and the pregnancy test showed 2 lines instead of 1 - life as I knew it was OVER. It's hard for me to even fathom now how I felt in those moments. Disappointed. Discouraged. Dismayed. Now that I am married again and I have had a joyful, hold-your-breath-am-I-really-pregnant-Ohmygosh, pregnancy - it's difficult to look back at that time and face the regret that I felt while looking at that test.
I had already broken up with my boyfriend at the time because I knew it wasn't God's will for us to be together. When I went to the door of his apartment that night to tell him I was pregnant and his response was that he would pay for half of the abortion like we were going "dutch" for dinner, I knew that I would be walking the road less traveled - all - by - myself.
When I called my mom and dad (who lived 24 hours of drive time away) to tell them what I was facing and my dad quickly got off the phone and refused to talk to me for 3 weeks, I knew that any wishes, hopes, or dreams that I had for an easy solution to my "problem" had been stolen away like the innocence that I had so freely given away weeks earlier.
I made the choice to commit the sin that I did. I then repented FULLY of my sin and turned the stern of my heart DIRECTLY in God's direction. I chose willingly to come running back to God and into His arms of Grace. But once I was there, single, pregnant, and more alone that I had ever felt in my life, I came to terms with the consequences of my sin. On a daily basis, I grew (literally) more consciously aware of what it really meant to live with one's "mistakes."
If I closed this blog post now, we could all go and stick our heads in a collective oven of depression over what I was facing. Up until that point in time, being single and pregnant was definitely the worst thing that had ever happened to me. A lot of my Christianity had been based on being perfect. Trying harder. Doing more. Doing the splits for Jesus. One of the big reasons that I fell so hard after getting divorced at age 24 was that I hadn't prepared myself to ever make a mistake. Christians don't make mistakes!
You see, until I was single and pregnant with nobody but God to rely on, I had no idea what grace was. I had no idea what it meant to fall fully into the arms of Jesus, to surrender yourself to Him to the point that you simply don't care what happens to you or what anybody thinks about you. To wake up in the morning and rely on Him to get you out of bed. To go to work that day and count on Him to keep the smile mostly on your face. To go to bed at night physically alone and reach out to Him to satisfy the ache in your heart and psyche. I had given my heart to God many times before, but I had always kept a piece of myself away from Him, protected so that I could still be "in charge."
Looking back on that time and realizing how much I had to learn - instantly - to trust and rely on God for my every waking moment, I actually almost feel sorry for people who have never had to totally give themselves over to Him. When you can still get by on your own and you use God as an occasional pick-me-up and not your everything, you don't understand what a true relationship with Him really is.
I used to think that surrendering meant giving up . . . quitting; but in those moments of pure grace, I came to know and understand that surrendering to God and allowing Him to give you His peace for the next five minutes, and the next five minutes, and the next five minutes is what the Christian relationship IS. When Melinda-as-I-knew-her was smashed.shattered.stolen (scattered, diced, chunked, chopped) . . . I was able to surrender myself to God in a miraculous way.
At the time would I have ever in a million years picked being single and pregnant? NO. Would I ever change it now 9 years later? NO. God gave me a PhD in trust in those 9 months. God gave me Him in the form of a sky-blue-eyed little girl in these past 9 years of mommyhood. God gave me "ME" by teaching me that when I am all alone - smashed, shattered, stolen - that I am HIS.
Surrender yourself to Him today. Give him YOU. Give Him the last little bits of yourself that you are keeping in reserve "just in case" this whole Christianity thing doesn't work out in the end. Get to the end of yourself so that He can give you beauty for ashes and strength for fear. Stop fighting a meaningless battle with the perfect life that you were supposed to have and start living intentionally in the moment that is within your grasp.
I don't know how your reality has been altered. Maybe it wasn't by your own sin like mine was. Maybe it was something that just happened even though it shouldn't have. Maybe you did everything right and life still went wrong. Maybe you poured your heart and soul into something or somebody that was ripped out of your grasp against your will. I don't know what you're facing, but I do know 100% beyond all shadow of a doubt that you aren't facing it alone. I do know that Your Heavenly Father is right there by your side waiting for you to surrender yourself to Him so that He can carry you the rest of the way. I can tell you through my life and through my testimony of coming out of the other side of His grace that there is hope and healing and redemption to be had in your pain. Seek Him and Surrender.