This. This whole blog. These words. These experiences. These lessons. They are my story. The interweaving of my experiences and sorrows and nuggets of truth dug up along the way are working together to create a robe of righteousness I never would have picked out for myself.
And sharing them makes me uncomfortable. Because it’s so … personal. These words are some of my most intimate times with the LORD. And yet I feel the gentle push to open up my journals. To type what is already written. To publish. And to be vulnerable.
So I’m picking up a conversation I left off on seven weeks ago. Finishing a story I only got half way through telling. Because, most times, obedience requires a certain amount of discomfort.
The setting? February 2011 – that same women’s retreat. A teaching session was scheduled to start, and I made my way into the gym.
I was early. I’m never early.
And I was alone.
My unexpected roommate sat by herself at the end of the aisle, a handful of rows from the front. So I made my way to her. Sat down next to her. And began talking. I didn’t bring up the pregnancy because I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable. So we made small talk. I’m not good at small talk.
It didn’t take long before she said she was pregnant and pointed to her growing belly. And, without missing a beat, she also said she wasn’t married. Airing out her shame before I had the opportunity to ask.
“Who cares?!” I said. “Congratulations!!” And I hugged her and we began talking about those things that follow those types of conversations. Gender. Names. Nursery decor. Fluffy fillers to soften the pain that she was carrying so heavily on her shoulders.
Eight months later, I ran into her again at another retreat in another town. She started to cry. And she shared with me her side of the story.
She began to share that in her entire pregnancy to that point – in five months – I was only the second person to congratulate her on her pregnancy. The first? Her doctor. Everyone else? They judged. They worried. They looked down on it all and waved it away as a consequence to a choice and asked what she was going to do.
And that one brief conversation we had together allowed for a life-altering transformation in how she viewed her pregnancy. Before, she hated that child. It represented her sin and was the proverbial scarlet letter for all the world to see. And judge. And to worry about. And look down on.
For the first time, after those few moments, she wanted to keep her baby. For the first time, she loved that baby.
She told me she had heard our story before she arrived. She knew of our struggle for a family. And if I had said anything else in that moment, things would have ended much differently. If, instead of congratulating her, I had spoken of our desire for a family of our own, or shared my own pain, she told me she would have literally handed him over. Signed on the dotted line of adoption papers without giving it a second thought.
But I didn’t. Somehow, I had the discernment and the wherewithal to realize it wasn’t about me. And God used the woman struggling with a then five year battle with infertility to entirely transform the perspective of a young, ashamed Christian with an unwanted pregnancy.
She went home. She had her baby. And a short time later, she married his daddy.
LORD, I could have missed that moment. I could have messed that moment. If I had chosen to love on myself and lick my own wounds instead of loving on her, this child’s life would have been drastically different. LORD help me to remember it’s not about me. And when I want to resent, help me to swallow it down and love. Thank You for the incredible privilege of peeking behind the scenes at how You’re moving, and for a glimpse at the truth that there truly is a purpose behind the pain.