Monday, January 26, 2004

Blogger Idol Week 2: Freedom

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The darkness was suffocating as I lay in bed, shared with Josh, the only person who mattered in my life. The weight of my mistakes felt like a physical hold on me. I tried to stifle my tears as I wept uncontrollably. How different my life had become. How far from who I thought I was going to be, had I become. Josh shifted his weight and snuggled closer. He did love me. He did care, but even that wasn't enough to lift the sadness that I felt. Sensing I was awake, he leaned in for a kiss and felt the dampness on my cheeks.

"What's wrong?" he asked.
"Nothing, just a bad dream." I replied. He pulled me closer.
"What kind of dream?" he pried.
"The kind best forgotton." I said and turned to face him, snuggling close for warmth and assurance.
"You're unhappy." Josh stated. With the way he said it, I knew I had to explain. For he was not the source of my unhappiness and I couldn't bear the thought of him thinking he was.
"Yes, I am. If I died tonight, I know I wouldn't be with God when I woke. But I don't know where to go from here either." The emotions began to flow as I once again began to sob uncontrollably.
"I always thought that if you would just become more like me, we could be together and we would both be happy. But now that you have, your joy is gone and I can't stand to see you so unhappy." He pulled me closer and wept as well.

2 Months Later...

"You're pregnant." The doctor gave me a half smile, as if he wasn't for sure whether the news would be a happy or sad event. I managed a lopsided smile back and he continued, "This is a surprise." He stated it, sensing my fear.

"More like a heart attack." I laughed as I responded.
"Will your parents be a good support system?" he asked, genuninely concerned.
"Probably not, but my boyfriend will be." I replied trying to sound more confident than I felt.
"There are other options." he said.
"No, there aren't. Not for me." He nodded and said he would get me a referral for a doctor and a prescription for prenatal vitamins until I could schedule an appointment. I thanked him, took my papers and made my way to the waiting room and paid my bill. I made it to my car before I completely fell apart.

Pregnant! I was 18 and pregnant, unmarried. Oh God! How could I have gone so far! Once again I felt so trapped, surrounded by darkness even though it was daylight outside.

I picked Josh up from work and I didn't even have to say anything. He just reached over and held me for a long time. When we parted he looked in my eyes and said, "I love you. We will make this work...together. Marry me."

I looked at him and wanted so much to say yes and have the "happily ever after", but I couldn't ask that of him. To give up his life for me and a baby. Sensing my doubt, he took my hand, "Don't even think of saying no. I'm not walking away."

It was settled. I would marry him. The next few weeks were a blur as we made definitive plans before we told our parents. We knew that if we already had plans in place, it would help our parents to see us not only as a couple but as logical thinkers. We found a trailer and decided on a simple ceremony, no big flashy wedding, just a simple dress and him in his suit and tie. Now all that was left was to tell the family the news.

He dropped me off at home before he drove home for the night. I hoped it was too late for my mom to be up, but she was in the living room.

"I got this in the mail today." It was an envelope addressed to me from Department of Family Services, already opened.
"You opened my mail?" I blurted.
"You want to explain?" she asked, hurt evident on her face.
"I'm pregnant. Josh and I are getting married. We have a trailer in town....I'm sorry." I finished lamely.
"When were you going to tell me?" she shouted. We were both crying now.
"I don't know, things have just happened so fast."
"I'm not taking care of that child."
"I didn't expect you to."
"How could you?"
"I'm sorry." Silence..unending silence it seemed. Finally mom spoke, softer this time,
"You don't have to marry him you know?"
"I want to. He's a good man." More silence. Then mom stood up and walked out of the room. I have never felt so alone.

1 Month Later

Telling his parents didn't go much better. Again the reassurance that "they" weren't going to raise that child, and how could we have been so stupid. But wedding plans were made, and as time had passed, both parents wanted the marriage at least to have a proper start with a wedding and had offered to help in various ways. It would still be small, but at least memorable and the family would attend.

Now it was time to get everything out in the open. Tomorrow, Josh and I would stand before our church and let them know what was going on. During the last few months Josh had learned that there was a God who loved him and forgave him and wanted to be the Rock for him to lean on during this time. Josh had given his life to that Rock. Hope surged. It might work. Oh God, please let it work. I am so sorry. How many times had I said that? A gazillion. Was it enough? Was the sorry for going against what He wanted enough? I didn't know.

"God, please, somehow show me it is enough. I have nothing left to give." I prayed as I tried to rest. The baby inside of me moved. How I had grown to love this little one. How confusing it was to love something that came about as a mistake. As sin.
"Oh God, help me to know how to feel." Sleep came, many hours later.

The Next Morning

The service seemed to last an eternity. Song after song, words and more words. I couldn't concentrate on any of them. Then at last, the last prayer and the pastor moved forward once again. This was it. I heard him say something about forgiveness, something about restoring those with a repentant heart and the next thing I new Josh and I were moving toward the stage. Somehow, I managed to climb the steps. Then I heard Josh talking, crying, and talking and then somehow I managed to begin talking and weeping. Looking into the faces of people who had loved me since I was a child. And when I looked, they didn't have angry faces, but many were weeping as well. Finally, Pastor Scott took over and prayed for us and then told the congregation that they could do whatever God had called them to do. As I stood to the side, trying to control my weeping, I saw a line begin to form heading toward the front. Toward me and Josh. Person after person clung to me and looked me in the eye and said "I forgive you."

Then, Donna came to me. She hugged me close and then looked in my face with tears streaming down her face and she said, "I've always told Miranda to look up to you. That you were a good model of a girl who's heart was for God." I dipped my head as I worried as to what would come next. This was a woman who had taken time out for me, prayed with me. Someone who I had truly disappointed. Someone who she had told her daughter to look up to, and I had let her down. Oh God forgive me!

She struggled with her emotions and finally caught my gaze and said, " And I still will."

The darkness lifted. And I was standing in the light once again. It was enough.

That was the day I learned what freedom was about. Freedom from the bondage of sin. True freedom can only come from God. When I needed tangible freedom from my sin, God gave it to me in the form of a woman who could have so easily been angry with me, but instead gave me the sweet taste of forgiveness and freedom. He's still there today offering me freedom in Him. Freedom from the enslavement of my own desires. And He does for you too.

This story is based on a true story. It's my story. It's been awhile, so exact wording and the timeline might be a bit off, but the heart of the story is true. My hope by repeating the story is that someone else may find freedom as well.

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