My name is Tonya and I want to share about some important decisions and cross roads I had to face in my life. I hope if you are ever in my shoes that you might consider some of the choices I made.
I ...did not grow up with a traditional family. My mom had divorced and remarried several times by the time I was 8. I don’t remember much about my childhood except for the fact that we had horses and I rode them a lot. They were a way for me to escape and be in control, if only for a short time……
After finishing high school at 17 I was out of the house and living on my own. I had a full time job, and was drinking, partying, and dancing all night long. Even though I wasn’t old enough, I was able to get a fake id which allowed me into the night clubs. I thought I was living a great life, dancing till the wee hours of the morning then driving out to [the lake] to go boating all day with my friends from work. I was having a really good time but it was short lived because when I was 19 I had a wakeup call when I discovered I was pregnant. I thought a lot about what I should do, I knew I could get an abortion as long as I did it in the first 3 months, because that was what was legal back then, but I wasn’t for sure what I wanted. Since I knew I had time to make a decision, I called up my family doctor and went in for a visit. I made it clear to his staff before I came in that I wasn’t for sure if I was going to have this baby. So when I went in my doctor sat down with me and started to discuss with me my options. He told me of the emotional effects that abortion could have on me, he told me that he knew families that would love to adopt my baby and last thing he said I could just pray about it. At that moment he said that it was like a light bulb went off in my head! I remembered back to a very short time in my preteen years that I went to church with a neighbor and learned how we could give all of our problems to God and how He would help us, if we would only give our life over to Him.
That night when I got home I decided I needed to ask God to forgive me for all of my mistakes and living for myself, and to help me with a decision of what I should do. The next day I awoke I was filled with a peace that I had never known and I knew that it came from God. I also knew His answer for me was to have my baby and raise her on my own. I had a beautiful baby girl, and to this day I still remember my very first thoughts when I saw her right after she was born. I remember thinking how could I of ever thought about having an abortion….it was sobering and surreal all at the same time. It showed me that I didn’t really know what I was doing or thinking about when I was considering an abortion. I also saw Gods amazing intervention in my decision since I had no one around to help me think it through, and only had encouragement from certain people to have an abortion. Being a single mom I experienced many ups and downs. There was financial challenges, new responsibilities to deal with and the care of a new born baby. Even though I do not regret for a moment the decision I made 27 years ago, I also had a lot of new baggage I had to deal with on top of everything else.
After giving birth, my body went through many changes and I found what little positive self image I had of myself was gone. I began believing lies I told myself like I would never be attractive enough for another man, let alone be loved by one. I also felt a lot of shame for having a baby out of wedlock; another lie that I was telling myself was, that I was unworthy of love from God and to be one of His followers. The shame, guilt and poor self image even kept me from going to church until after I had [my baby]. I thought I was to unworthy to be there in a pregnant state.
I was convinced, I was a shameful woman, not deserving of God’s love or grace, which also contributed to making me pretty pathetic and lonely. I isolated myself so that way I didn’t have to worry or think about what other people were thinking about me. This I discovered later is what guilt can do to you. It warps your thinking so much that you can’t move forward with a healthy perspective. You become so focused on your past that you can’t move forward in your relationship with God.
Between my poor self image, loneliness, and guilt complex I have to say I was quite the catch! So when the first guy came along and showed interest in me, I couldn’t believe it so I began going out with him even though I really wasn’t that interested in him. I believe due to my loneliness, guilt, shame, and desperation for love that it all just contributed to help me fall into another sexual relationship. You’ll never guess what happened after that! Not a surprise I’m sure, but I got pregnant again. This time though, I was a single mom raising [a baby] who was 9 months old. I had firsthand experience of late night feedings, dirty diapers, and the constant care that a baby needed.
PREG A 2ND TIME
I also knew that I blew it with God, having sex outside of marriage and that I would not compound my guilt and behavior with an abortion. Another aspect of my unresolved guilt was it had eroded and ate away at my self confidence. I honestly believed I was unable to handle raising 2 kids on my own. As a result, I began investigating and looking for a Christian Adoption Agency, because we didn’t have the internet back then I found an adoption agency through a local crisis pregnancy center. This agency was in Los Angeles and they did open adoptions. I would get to pick the family my baby would go to, and these families were Christians. I knew in my heart that if I was going to consider adoption that I would only do it if I knew my baby would be raised in a Christian home and would be taught who Jesus was. [My baby's] adoptive parents drove down to the hospital when I went into labor and got there after I had delivered. I remember them coming into my room and [the baby] was with me in there. I remember getting to show her to them for the first time and seeing the love, excitement and hope they had for her in their eyes. They had waited so long and now they were going to have a baby to raise and love and watch grow up. On my last day in the hospital, [my baby's] new mom and I dressed her together in her little outfit to leave in. It still is very fresh in my mind like it just happened yesterday, as a sweet and tender moment. [Her] mom and dad every year would send me pictures of her as she was growing up and write and tell me about all of the wonderful things she was doing.
It was very comforting to get the updates and see that she was happy and loved by her parents. I kept in touch with [her] parents over the years and when [she] was 24 we met for the first time. We had been writing each other before than for a few years, but she now wanted to meet face to face. It was very sweet and scary at the same time, for both of us. I was curious to see how she turned out and she had questions and wanted to understand why. I know we talked a lot on her visit, and I think it will take time to get to know each other and work through everything she is feeling and for me to get to know her better too. She came back for a second visit this past fall. We both enjoyed it a lot. It was much easier to visit for the second time and talk. We still continue to communicate via text messages or emails and I hope that our friendship continues to grow and that any hurt I caused her would be healed over time.
CONSEQUENES FOR 2ND TIME
I would be misleading you if I made the adoption experience sound easy or simple or like wonderful experience that had no impact on my life.
After I had [the baby], I soon realized that I was back in the same place with all of the same emotions and feelings I had before I got pregnant with her, except now it was multiplied because I felt so guilty for getting pregnant as a Christian. I knew better, I knew that God didn’t want me to have sex outside of marriage and I allowed myself to fall into it anyway….
MAY PLAN TO COPE
I struggled with how can God still really love me when I fell into this situation for a second time? So I came up my plan to cope, and my way to deal with the extra shame and guilt. I basically decided not to tell anyone about [the baby] or talk about it. I thought if I forgot about it that maybe the pain of the guilt and shame wouldn’t hurt so much.
So instead of dealing with my guilt and shame I tried sweeping it under a rug and hoped no one would notice. I was so foolish; I couldn’t see how trying to hide what God help me through, and forgave me for would only serve to hold me back.
What I didn’t realize was this shame and guilt I carried was like a chain wrapped around my heart choking Gods love and forgiveness out and not allowing me to fully accept it for years.
Eventually, after having [the baby] the Lord led me to a wonderful church where I got heavily involved. Over time I did realize and learn that God forgave me for my past decisions. I also realized that God didn’t want me to continue to feel guilt and shame but to live in the freedom of His grace and love for me.
There is one particular story in the bible that helped me to believe this and it is the story from the Book of John Chapter 4 about the Samaritan woman at the well. For those of you who are not familiar with it I will give you a brief synopsis. Jesus was traveling with his disciples across the desert and they cut through Samaria where most Jews would go out of their way to avoid as the Jews considered the Samaritans unclean and did not mix company with them.
Jesus came to a well in Samaria, and stopped to rest and sent his disciples on to buy food in town. It was in the middle of the day and a Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water. This was highly unusual because most of the woman would go there for water very early in the morning or around dusk because that was the cooler times of the day. When Jesus saw her “he asked her for a drink” and she was very surprised as Jews did not associate with or talk to the Samaritan people.
So her first question was to Him “why are you talking to me”? Jesus responded by offering to give her something, He told her that “He could give her living water to drink that would cause her to thirst no longer”. She didn’t understand what He meant and “He then asked her to go and get her husband”, which she told him “she did not have one”. “He told her He knew that and he also knew that she had had 5 husbands and how she is currently not married to the one she was with”. Yikes! She was amazed that He knew these things about her and went running back to town to tell everyone she knew in town about Him.
HOW I CONNECTED
In so many ways, I feel I can relate to that woman, that is how I felt, by not going to church until after I had [my two babies], and the guilt and shame I carried that made me avoid people or talking about this time in my life. This woman was going out in the middle of the day to avoid the people because of her past and current situation. I can only imagine the guilt she must have felt in her day and how she was probably shunned.
It reminded me that Gods still knows everything I have ever done, and I don’t need to avoid sharing this part of my life because of shame or guilt.
Just as he reached out to this woman and offered her his living water so she would not have to thirst any longer to find love and acceptance in the wrong places. He did the same for me. He wanted to reach out to me and wanted to release me from the guilt and shame I carried and bring healing to my life.
HOW GOD DID IT
As I grew in my walk and relationship with God I began to see and understand this but God had a plan to help me have a deeper healing in my heart. He did this through my husband... His love and acceptance of me was hard to accept at times. I didn’t understand how he could not have a problem with what I did in my past. What I didn’t realize was I was trying to get [him] to focus on my past with me but over time with God and [my husband's] help I was able to stop doing it.
I also think that God has a sense of humor, because I would have never dreamed or thought that someone with my background would ever become a Pastors wife! I just never felt that I had the kind of life or background worthy to be in ministry, or in this position.
I have found many stories in God’s word were He takes the most unlikely person and calls them to do things that most would never think of or expect.
Along with the story of the Samaritan women at the well, God also showed me something in the story about Mary. Mary showed up at a dinner to wash Christ feet. Scripture says she was a woman with many, many sins and had a bad reputation. At this dinner, Christ forgave this woman to the amazement of the many guests there. These two women whose past choices to most would seem to make them unmentionable but the Lord included their stories of brokenness for all generations to read about.
It’s amazing to me how God can use us to do things we would never think was possible. Put us in positions I would have never sought on my own.
I would like to wrap up my story with a verse that God impressed upon my heart when I found out I was pregnant [the first time]. It is Romans 8:28 "We know that God causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
During the time of raising my daughter.., I learned a lot about how to be a mom, grow in walk with God, and experience numerous times seeing how Gods provides for us. There were many times I didn’t know how I was going to make ends meet but somehow I managed on my $850 a month income. After [my daughter] grew up, got married and had her own children, she began volunteer work for a crises pregnancy center.... I know she likes to encourage girls to choose life for their unborn babies and likes to tell them about her mom choosing life for her.
Even though I didn’t get to raise [my second child], I got to hear about her, see pictures of her as she was growing up. I then got to start communicating with her and now she is in my life and I am getting to know her and build a new friendship with her. I am excited to see what God will do with our friendship and to receive the emotional healing for me and her that we need.
Maybe you can relate to my story or maybe you choose a different path, and had an abortion. I want you to know that God desires you to know Him and experience His forgiveness for your past decisions. I hope that you will consider giving your life over to Him and trusting Him to help heal you and make you whole again. I have personally seen how God can take something we think was an unforgiveable act and use it for His glory, to help others, and reach more people for His kingdom.