When I was a young girl, I would dream of someday being a wife and mother. I would lie in bed at night and think of my future family. I wanted a big family. And a husband who loved me completely.
I would also lie there at night, thinking about the first time that I’d tell my future husband I was expecting. He would come home from a long day a work to a white house with green shutters. I’d have a candlelight dinner waiting. I even knew what I’d serve: baby back ribs, baby carrots and baby peas.
I would be glowing—not from the candlelight, but from the “joy of expectancy.” My husband would glance at me from across the table and cock one eyebrow. I would nod enthusiastically. We’d embrace, and then we’d head to J C Penny’s to pick out our first baby outfit! It would be perfect.
But what really happened, years later, was quite different. I was riding home from the doctor’s office with my mom. We were both silent. Tears stained her cheeks, and stained mine also. As we drove, I saw a familiar car heading in the other direction.
“There he is,” I said, pointing.
My mom turned the car around and we followed him to the McDonald’s parking lot. There was another girl in the car. I jumped out and motioned for him to join me. She looked the other way. He followed me toward the brown-topped, garbage can. This was the person who not long before had professed his love for me. Now his gaze was cold as ice. After dating for three years, things had not been going well lately. The girl in the car had something to do with that. But my own longings for “true, ever-lasting love” also made me unsatisfied.
“I’m pregnant,” I told him.
His expression didn’t change. “You’re lying. I don’t believe you.”
My hands protectively covered my stomach. “Fine, don’t believe me. I don’t want anything to do with you anyway. I don’t need you. This baby doesn’t need you.” That was one of the last times I talked to him.
I was seventeen. One day I was your typical high school senior. I was an honor student, a cheerleader, and a yearbook editor. I worked part time at McDonalds to pay for gas for my used Dodge Colt. The next day, I discovered I was a mother-to-be.
My life as I knew it was over. My “so-called” best friends moved on and enjoyed their senior year. My boyfriend was definitely out of the picture. I couldn’t face going to school pregnant, so I dropped out of regular high school to attend a community school for troubled teens. And inside I was very troubled. I was also lonely and scared. Me a mother?
My mom knew about my pregnancy from the beginning, but I hated telling my dad. Even worse was telling my grandparents. I was their princess. Now I had to tell them how badly I messed up.
When I was pregnant, I hated going out because I’d always get “the look.” My sin was ever before me, literally. There are many sins a person can commit and no one will ever know. Teen pregnancy is not one of these.
I wore my shame like a chain-male cloak. And it was a heavy cloak indeed.
Still there were people who loved me. I especially look back with fondness to a group of women who made all the difference. They were Christian friends of my mother and grandmother. See, I grew up in church, but then I strayed. I had wanted to do things my way. My pregnancy was the consequence.
This group of women could have condemned me. They could have ignored me. Instead, they invited me to their weekly Bible Study, which was held at my grandma’s house. After months of sitting at home bored, I went because I had nothing else to do. When I got there, I went straight to my grandfather’s Lazy-boy and kicked up my swollen feet. They gathered around and studied God’s word. I would love to say that my knowledge of the Bible grew during this time, but it didn’t. Instead, I’d promptly fall asleep.
Even though I snored while they studied, something else was happening in that room. First, there was prayer. Thinking back, I often wonder now if they circled around me praying while I drooled on the headrest. I wouldn’t doubt it. These were praying women.
Second, they welcomed me. They loved me. I was important to them. I had no idea why, but I was … These women gave me a baby shower when my son was born. They visited me. They checked up on me. I felt special.
Third, these women were an example to me. They loved each other, loved their families, they wanted to do the right things. Most of all they loved God. The same God I had turned my back on. And they showed their compassion in a real way.
One theologian is quoted as saying, “What value has compassion that does not take its object into its arms?” These women took me into their arms, and their lives. They kept loving me and praying for me during those dark days of my pregnancy. And inside, God was at work. Slowly, but surely, because of their love and compassion, I was softening.
And then, one day—when I was six months pregnant—my life was forever changed. I clearly remember walking up and it was almost noon. I flipped on the television but was tired of the same old soaps. And the reality of my situation struck me. Here I was, almost at the end of my senior year, and instead of making plans for the prom or for our senior trip, I was home in bed. My life was heading nowhere.
I had no boyfriend, no friends. I was a big mess. But as I lay there in bed feeling fat and depressed, I thought back to long ago days when I attended Sunday school. I thought back to the stories I heard about a God who would never leave me, would never forsake me. Tears overwhelmed me, and with the drama of The Young and the Restless in the background, I rolled to my side and wrapped my arms around my stomach. Then I prayed the first prayer I’d prayed in years. It wasn’t eloquent, but it was real.
“I’ve really screwed up this time, God.” I said. “I know you can do better. Please do better,” I begged. That was my moment of change. The moment when heaven met my heart. And God indeed has done better.
I had led myself down a dark path, but through God I had found a silver lining. And that day, I discovered that no matter what I had done in my life, through the forgiveness of Jesus Christ, I was a new creation. I can’t say that at that moment I realized fully how special I am to God, or I knew then that God had big plans for me. But over time, as I grew in Him, I discovered I was indeed created for a purpose, and through God my past mistakes could be used to help others facing the same dark night of the soul.
Now, today, I’m a testimony of what God can do! My life is an example of how great He is!
My life now is better than I’d ever imagined possible. I am 40-years-old. I am a wife to a wonderful Christian man who loves me completely and lets me know that every day. I’m the mother of four great children. I’m also using my God-given gifts as a writer. I’ve written 32 books and hundreds of articles.
I’m so thankful for a God who saw me in my darkest moments and dared to dream great things for my life. Dreams greater than even a young girl could imagine!
How about you? What dark moments have been turned into joy through the light of God’s grace?