A Story of Forgiveness

Woman sitting at the edge of the dock

I want to share a blog with you today by Cristina Emigh (cristinaemigh.com). I pray her testimony will bless you and help you realize the freedom of living in God’s grace and forgiveness.

I met him when I was a naive 16-year-old, my first love.  He was popular, cute and drove a nice truck and our relationship moved fast, so fast in fact that a few months into it – I knew that my body wasn’t right and found out I was pregnant.  After weighing our options, we decided to place the baby for adoption.  At 6 months pregnant, I began to bleed profusely and was admitted into the hospital.  The doctor informed me that I had a condition called placenta Previa and with bedrest we would be fine. During the ultrasound, I was shocked to see this baby flailing about inside of me.  As the doctor discussed my condition, unaware of the adoption plan,  he kept referring to this baby as “my son”.  A boy was growing inside of me. It was then and there that I decided to parent this unborn baby, and it was there that my boyfriend broke up with me.

The remaining months of pregnancy were some of the loneliest of my life, but eventually I went into labor and gave birth to Joshua.  My boyfriend found out about the birth and came to the hospital to meet his son; he promised he had changed and wanted me back.  We left the hospital a family of 3 and as soon as I turned 18, we were married. My greatest dreams of a perfect little family were coming true.

The sad reality is that misplaced dreams can often turn into nightmares.

It wasn’t too long into the marriage that the abuse began. Verbal and mental at first and eventually it turned physical. I endured it because I so desperately wanted my family to work out and he always promised to change; and I believed him. I then became pregnant with our daughter. Now that I had a little girl, every fiber of my being did not want her to experience the things that I had in a relationship.  My expectations began to change and I knew I had to get us out.When they were 6 &10, I left. The journey to single motherhood had begun. This time in my life was utterly confusing to me. While I knew I needed to leave, I was scared and lonely. One fateful night while I was feeling especially vulnerable, I ended up in the arms of my now ex-husband and spent the night with him.

Several weeks went by and I knew that my body “wasn’t right” once again and the pregnancy test read “positive.”  But this time, there was no way that I could continue this pregnancy under these circumstances, so I did what I had been told was OK to do because I had a choice – and I chose abortion.

The day of the procedure, I can remember how cold I was, literally shivering in my seat, yet feeling that nervous sweat drip from my underarms.

Several women and I sat on a metal bench in a waiting room – wearing nothing but paper gowns. One girl – probably 16 or 17 was sobbing, and I completely tuned her out.  I was attempting to disconnect myself from the situation, so I ignored her. This fact should have alarmed me more than anything as I am a very compassionate person – but not with her.

My name had finally been called. At last I could get this done and over with and regain control of my life!

I was ushered to a medical room and immediately an oxygen mask was placed over my mouth. I paid extra for this treatment; I didn’t want to be awake while the procedure was being done.

Ignorance is bliss.

When I woke up, I was in a different room, again with several women, laying/sitting in some chair/cot contraption. Some were crying, some were still passed out – it was all very…unnatural. When the nurse saw that I was awake, she handed me graham crackers and juice. I was grateful because I was nauseous and hungry – PLUS I loved graham crackers.

My parting gifts were ibuprofen and an instruction sheet on how to care for my body after the procedure and more graham crackers.

That was the last time I ate graham crackers for years to come.

While the instruction sheet was explicit in describing what I would be experiencing physically and listed cures, such as ice packs and rest – it did nothing for the emotional and mental pain that I would soon begin to experience.

Where was my instruction sheet for this type of discomfort?  What about the sinking feeling in my heart that made me feel, as soon as that evening; regret?

I was grateful to be able to take more pain meds that night so that I could go on with my life and forget.  Not so much, because after the abortion, I hated myself more than ever. I was a monster.

My tiny apartment overlooked train tracks. There were a few sleepless nights that I would stare out the window at those tracks and wonder how quickly I would die if I were to throw myself at a train. Would I feel any pain? Who would find me? Ultimately the love I had for my two children kept me from ever doing anything other than contemplating taking my own life.

Since death wasn’t an option – to self-medicate the strong sense of self-loathing, I turned to men, alcohol and seeking worldly religions. That mindset and cycle left me even emptier than before.  I was spiraling downward.

Late one night a televangelist came on as I was flipping the channels on TV. As I began to fall asleep, I listened to this man speak about love, hope and how God wants us to trust Him.  He referred to some passages in a book called “Psalms” and frankly I wasn’t buying it.

BUT The next morning I sat in my living room and reflected on what I had heard the night before.  All the talk about trusting Him.  Him who?  God?  I needed to understand this a little more.

I had this pretty pink Bible that had been given to me as a gift, and because it was so pretty it was functional as a coaster on my end table.  I opened the Bible and began reading Psalms; these beautiful words were pain-filled and yet the underlying tone was this trust for God and what he was doing in this man David’s life.

I called a friend who had been trying to get me to her church and asked her about “David” and the book of Psalms.  She was elated to give me a mini Bible lesson on King David on how broken he was; yet he was a “Man after God’s own heart”.

Then came a defining moment for me:  with tear filled eyes, I looked out the window above those train tracks that often called my name, and said, “If you are really there God – I need you.   I can’t do this alone anymore. I need your help please.”  I was still unsure, but I asked for help if it was there.

After crying out to God a series of events took place including resigning from a job with only $10 in my bank account and landing a position with a home builder where I was introduced to a man who I would begin dating.

He asked me to go to church with him for one of our first dates.  I figured, “Yeah, sure, why not.”  I liked him so much that I would have walked across the state in bare feet for him.  Then he explained to me we’d be going to a special service called Maundy Thursday.

This is a service before Easter Sunday that represents the Last Supper, the night that Jesus breaks bread and drinks wine in communion with his Disciples before He is condemned, beaten and crucified.  The participants are also invited to share in communion.  When I went up to take part in this, the pastor asked my name, then he said, “Cristina, this is Jesus’ body and blood that has been sacrificed for you.”  I then heard the Gospel presented to me for the very first time.

I sobbed as the pastor was sharing this deeply beautiful Gospel story. Up until this point, Easter was about colored eggs and bunnies. I had never looked at Easter the way it was being described; the impact of the sacrifice that Jesus was about to make for ME, was so difficult to swallow.  Jesus, this perfect, sinless God, in human form was sent to die to save me.  Could I really be forgiven for EVERYTHING I have done?  Even take a life?  I so wanted to believe that to be true.

Something was happening.  I wanted to know who Jesus was, who His Father, OUR Father was, and what did this all mean for me.

My relationship with my boyfriend changed after this; it became deeper and I’d never felt more connected to anyone. We both knew that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.  So, four months after we went to church for the first time, David Emigh proposed to me and naturally I said yes.

During the engagement I was given an opportunity to be baptized as a public profession of faith.  I prayed about it and made the decision to be baptized. It felt like the right next step in choosing to have Jesus lead my life.

We are asked to prepare a speech to read aloud publicly and during preparation for what I was going to say God clearly revealed to me that I needed to forgive myself for what I had done, because He had already forgiven me when I opened my heart to Him.  While preparing – I was convicted.  Convicted that I needed to confess to Him – between Him and me, speaking the words of the feelings that had been consuming me: “Lord, I chose to kill my child.  I took a precious life that was full of potential, for my own selfish purposes.  For this I am so sorry.”

The day of my baptism happened to be on the anniversary of the abortion. Transformation was so evident.

After 2 short months of wedded bliss, we found out our little family was going to increase by one; I was pregnant with our son.

During this time, a very dear friend called me in tears; she was pregnant and had made an appointment at the local abortion clinic.  I cried along with her while my head was screaming, “No, no, no! You can’t do this; you can’t go through what I went through! Please don’t kill your child.” But those words did not come out, I simply told her things were going to be OK, and I would be here to help her figure things out.

The Holy Spirit stepped in and reminded me of the Yellow Pages.

I  recalled that when I had searched for my abortion provider, I passed a business heading called, “Abortion Alternatives”, but at the time of my abortion I skipped right past that.

As I flipped open the phonebook to the “A.s” – Abortion Alternatives was the first listing and the ad read “Unplanned Pregnancy? Need Help?” and bullet points promised help for women with an unplanned pregnancy.

After speaking with this organization, I was confident that this was a place my friend needed to go.  I immediately called her and gave her the information; she ultimately went to see them and after that she called to tell me that she saw the ultrasound and she was 11 weeks.  She ended up choosing life and parenting her baby.

At this point, God had already begun to use something that could have destroyed me – for His glory by helping my friend and her unborn child.

I would go on to volunteer and eventually become the Center Director for that organization. God used my experience and story to help many women choose life for their babies.

You see, the enemy created the abhorrent and evil procedure of abortion and I know that he thrives on the shame and the guilt that follows a woman after she has made this decision.

But PLEASE HEAR ME, there is no room in the body of Christ for shame and guilt from the perpetrator or anyone who sits and judges.

Sometimes I think if there would have been a friend like I was to my friend, would my sweet baby be alive today? But I know that I can take heart when listening, REALLY listening to His Word when Romans 8:28 states: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

I know I will be reunited with my baby one day and I know that he will be proud of the work that I have done because of him.

Cristina is now a pastor’s wife who lives in Arizona. I love her story of redemption and appreciate her allowing God to use her journey. I pray it has blessed you and you will be able to share her story with someone that needs to hear it.

About Rodetta Cook

Rodetta Cook has been a pastor’s wife for 40 years. She and her husband, Ron, have actively served the Lord together in ministry during the entire time and are co-founders of Care for Pastors. She understands the expectations, loneliness and how hard it is to find balance in ministry as a pastor’s wife. Rodetta also leads the pastor’s wives initiative at Care for Pastors called The Confidante and ministers to hundreds of wives each week. She strives to share blogs with other pastors’ wives that will help them in their ministry walk.

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