“Always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in you.” 1 Peter 3:15
In today’s The Reason for Hope we hear from a woman whose story is evidence that God never leaves our side, even when we are not walking with Him. She chose to remain anonymous out of concern for how the personal details of her story might affect how some people treat members of her family. May her story speak to those who are imprisoned by guilt and unable to forgive, or to accept God’s forgiveness of themselves or others. Her story, shared in part via e-mail, in part via phone, is a shining example that He never lets go. We are His works in progress.
Maryann: What was life like when you walked away from Christ? Why did you walk away?
Anonymous: I walked away from Christ in April of 1999 after the death of my nephew. I couldn’t understand why God would choose to take such a precious baby from his family. I had already been rationalizing my actions, but now I no longer made excuses, and the death of my nephew was the final straw. My actions began to reflect my, I thought, final words to God, “God, I hate you and was stupid to ever believe in you.” I was pregnant, single and a waitress. I drank alcohol and smoked weed while pregnant, and ventured into a life of reckless and very dangerous promiscuity after the birth of my son. In the space of less than two years I had sex with over twenty men, some whose names I cannot remember. I had an abortion ten months after my son was born and was raped five months later. I was pregnant again four months after that. The adoption of that child was a time when I felt God in my life, even before I was ready to return to him. Seeing the amazing gift God allowed me to give to a childless couple showed me that he doesn’t choose what happens, we are not and have never been his puppets. I forced myself away from all male contact and focused on raising my now two-year-old son and working to support the both of us. However, five years later I had a hysterectomy and was again walking down my old path of promiscuity since I no longer had to worry about getting pregnant and was desperately lonely. After sleeping with almost as many men in only a year and another rape by a boyfriend, I walked away from men for the rest of my life, or so I thought.
Maryann: What factors in your life did God use to draw you back to Christ? Describe the turning point when you restored your relationship with Him.
Anonymous: When I was alone I only had God to talk to. All the things I had done were not things I could just casually bring up in conversation with other people, so I talked to God. When anniversaries of things I had done would come up, I would put on music and he would be with me and bring me out of my funk. I felt God hinting to let my son know his dad. I knocked on the front door of my son’s father’s home 2 years ago. I finally listened to God and was praying the whole way as I walked up to his door, I was so terrified. I was happy to know that his father wanted to know him, too. I had no idea at the time that three short months later I would marry my son’s father. I type all of the above very matter-of-factly, but the truth of it is, I wouldn’t have made it through the last ten years of my life without God firmly by my side, despite everything I had done, even if I didn’t want him there or acknowledge him at times. After I got back together with my son’s father, I would talk to God about various things that would come up in our relationship, and helped him see the points in his life when God was there, though he didn’t know it.
Maryann: How has knowing Jesus changed your life and the way you look at life? Is it all sunshine and roses? What has He called you to do—has He given you renewed purpose? Share any doubts you had that have been resolved.
Anonymous: I regret many of my choices from my past, but I have learned from each one of them. I am a better woman, wife, mother, family member, friend and child of God because of everything that has happened in my life. I have known for many years that my God-given talent is listening to others and letting them know that no matter what happens it will and does get better. All of my choices in life have allowed me to better understand where people are coming from and have assisted me in not being judgmental. How could I? Things are not and never will be perfect and God never promised that, but I can look out my kitchen window and see my son playing with our dogs. I can work on school and have my husband kiss me on the head. I get emails or phone calls from my family and friends letting me know they care and that even through all the crap I have done and all the lies I have told, that I am still loved by them. Most of all I have learned that a formerly promiscuous woman can be completely loved by the man of her dreams, without being judged for her past.
Maryann: How do you know you won’t walk back into your old life if your husband tragically is no longer in your life—how do you know you won’t walk away from God again?
Anonymous: What led me to seek out male attention when I was desperately lonely, is that I felt sex was all I was good for. God has used my husband to teach me otherwise.
Maryann: Thinking of the death of your nephew, what would you say to someone who asks, “How could a good God allow suffering that is no fault of my own, and so cannot be explained with His allowing me to learn that my behavior can have harmful consequences?”
Anonymous: God does not allow, as in choose, that we suffer, as that is similar to God making people suffer. God does not give one person wealth beyond measure and the next a bridge to sleep under. It is all predestined, yes, but that does not make it something he personally put into his plan. God knows what will happen and is waiting to hold us when tragedy strikes. It is our choice whether or not we ask for and accept his hug.
Maryann: Thank you for being so brave to talk about your life before coming back to Christ. What would you say to a woman who is in the same position you were in, who feels she cannot come to Christ, or come back to Christ, because she has been promiscuous, had an abortion, or any other reason she may feel imprisoned by guilt? What have you learned about how God really feels about you?
Anonymous: Honestly…………I still have major bouts of depression, self-hatred and feeling like I am not worth the air I breathe. I go to my nephew’s grave and pray, a lot! Feeling truly worthy has only happened in the last year and a lot of that has to do with my husband and being able to talk to him about my religious insecurities and past insecurities. I thank God for his knowing that my husband would be a man who, though he is still working on his own issues with God and himself, can still help me figure out mine and love me beyond measure. What would I say to a woman like me……………….On a daily basis you have to forgive yourself. I fail at that often, I killed my own child, but when I am bashing myself for everything I have done, I look at the sky or take a deep breath of the wind and thank God for forgiving me even when I can’t always forgive myself.
Maryann: Thank you so much for sharing your story-in-progress, and reminding us that He is there even when we walk away, drawing us back to Him, and that He has forgiven us before we’ve even turned back.