Awhile back Aspen asked how I came to be a follower of Jesus Christ. It seems my background and childhood would make me an unlikely Bible thumper. That’s primarily why I don’t share my testimony very often. I guess I just don’t want to tell exactly how deep into darkness God had to reach to save me. I guess, maybe, I think I’ll shock everyone who has the “one time at Bible camp” testimonies if they hear mine.
But, she asked, so here goes:
I was being used as my dad’s guinea pig for drug testing and was renting a studio apartment from one of his “business associates.” These guys were the movers and shakers of town and between them probably owned half of it. My place was small, but I could afford it. Bob charged me $200 a month, plus sexual favors when he came to collect the cash, for rent with electricity included.
My dad was dating his lifelong friend’s daughter who was only two years older than me. She was renting a room in a house full of guys and didn’t have a car. My dad asked me to drive into town to pick her up and take her to work. I was sitting at her place, waiting for her, when he walked in.
His blue-black hair hung in tight, miniature ringlets at the back of his neck. He was 6’4″ of sinewy muscle. Lift tickets dangled from the arm of his jacket, and his black eyes pierced right through me. He was beautiful. And, I was in love. Instantly. Deeply. Madly. In love. In love with a Hawaiian god.
We played like children. Once, many years later, he asked our daughter if I’d ever told her how much fun we’d had when we were married. I hadn’t, but we did. We’d go to the river to hang out like everyone else and end up chasing each other, shaking bottles of Pepsi to spray on each other, and then collapsing into a giggling, tickling each other mass of arms and legs. One evening, when there were no parties or basketball games, we were bored at home. So, we got out my make up bag and painted each other’s faces to look like members of the band Kiss.
We were inseparable. We did the laundry together. We cooked together. We did everything together. I literally could not breathe when he wasn’t with me, and I had no idea where I stopped and he began.
My solid as a rock, constant and dependable, father figure grandpa died in April that year. As I got up to walk past the casket and kiss my pasty white, stone cold, beloved Grandpa, I collapsed. He was standing too near, as he always did, and caught me though. He saved me from falling. He couldn’t save our babies though, and I miscarried them shortly after we buried Grandpa.
We were living with my cousin and the father of her baby at the time. I was supposed to be on bed rest because my doctor thought the pregnancy could still be saved. However, a drug deal went bad in the front yard. A local druggie, strung out and desperate for a hit, threw a shovel through my cousin’s car window, narrowly missing her infant daughter. The father of the child grabbed my husband’s illegally sawed off shotgun and fired. The cops were called.
My husband pleaded with the cops to let me lie down as we, along with the entire neighborhood, stood in the middle of the street. They were compassionate fellows and did allow me into the crime scene to lie down, but they were gone. The next day they left my body.
We were heart broken. We had absolutely no business having children, but we wanted one nonetheless. It wasn’t too long, and I was pregnant again.
Almost immediately though the familiar signs and symptoms of loss began to dog me. I set it in my mind that I would not go through that again. This time we’d make it. My mother tried very hard to convince me that I needed to leave my husband and come stay with her in order to save this baby. She was so sneaky and manipulative. Truly, she was very good at what she did, and I bought it. Hook, line, and sinker. I ate it up. And, he and I began to argue. He refused. He wasn’t about to “move in with that bitch.” She plied me and pitted me against him, convincing me that it was him or the baby. I would lose one, which one was I willing to let go of?
He moved back into the house where I’d met him, and I moved in with “the bitch.” Within a few days he was flaunting a high school girl on his arm and on his lap. I clung to hope though that he’d have his fling and return to me, willing to move in with my mom, too. I believed that he still wanted me and the baby we’d tried for. Surely, he would come to see that we needed to stay with Mom in order for me to be close to medical care and to have a free place to stay while I was on bed rest.
Instead, he flew to Hawaii and left me. But, not before he’d sought the services of a divorce attorney. He was done. It was over. And, I couldn’t breathe.
By this time, I’d been referred to an obstetric specialist who ran a smorgasbord of tests. It was determined that I had precancerous cells that were developing and spreading into surrounding tissue so rapidly, it would be full blown cancer within a few months. The specialist recommended an abortion and a hysterectomy. He coldly stated that at the rate this was progressing I would be dead before I could deliver this child. However, it was small and underdeveloped and wasn’t going to make it anyway.
Looking back now, 27 years later, I think he just took one look at me and saw a drug addicted, drunken young woman, going through a divorce, who appeared to be habitually miscarrying. And, I think he wanted to sterilize me before I actually carried one to term and screwed up its life.
I refused. I almost ran out of the exam room and down the white walled corridor with the ugly blue-gray carpet. The doctor’s voice rang out behind me, “L! L!” For a moment I was hopeful. I thought he must have remembered a miracle answer that would save my baby and my fertility and my life. As I turned to look at him, he flatly stated, “Bring it with you when you come back.” He was certain this baby was going to leave my body within the next day, and he wanted to examine the “tissue” once it did.
I cried as I backed my car into a telephone pole. I couldn’t think. I wanted my Hawaiian god who no longer wanted me. I was alone, and I was scared.
Having no where to go but my mother’s, I went back to her house. Suddenly she couldn’t care less. The woman who was so worried about my medical care and so worried about saving this baby suddenly couldn’t care less if I lived or died.
It was weird. But, I knew. I was overcome with peace and clarity. I decided that if I was going to really die and meet my Maker, I wanted to know Him. I didn’t want to meet Him in that bedraggled state as a stranger. I knew of Him because my paternal grandmother, the racist old witch whom I hated, had taken me to church many times over the years. And, I’d attended Good News release time in grade school. But, though I knew of Him, I didn’t know Him. I knew nothing of the Bible or its characters, the players of this ancient script that told all about Him.
In that moment, all I did know was that my doctor said I was probably going to die; my dad had drugged me and let his friend use me; my mother had manipulated me into moving in with her but couldn’t really care less if I lived or died; and my beautiful Hawaiian god of a husband had abandoned me and our unborn baby. I was alone. Totally alone.
I sat down on the dirty gold linoleum in the hallway of that single wide trailer, and I said, “I don’t want to die and not know you. I am so sorry for everything I’ve done wrong.” I cried as I continued, “I’m so sorry for all of the sins I’ve committed. I want to know you. Please forgive me. Please come into my life and make something of it. If you don’t….if you choose to let me die….please let me be with you.”
And, suddenly, I wasn’t alone. He was with me. His love pierced right through me. He was beautiful. And, I was in love. Instantly. Deeply. Madly. In love. In love with God.
Obviously, He didn’t let me die. That unborn baby the doctor said couldn’t survive was born two weeks late at 8 lb. 9.5 oz, healthy and beautiful, just like her earthly father. The doctor treated me a few weeks after her birth and, again, with a flat tone, stated, “I got very aggressive since the disease process was so aggressive. What I’ve done is very extensive. I basically destroyed your cervix. It is highly unlikely you’ll ever conceive again.”
However, this new Man in my life, this One without whom I cannot breathe, healed my body the way He’d healed my soul. I conceived again, six more times. He literally gave me LIFE.