I have a hard time believing God will ever use me. I mean, let’s be real. I am so not he only person with this issue. I think anyone who has had a past, and most of us have things we were ashamed of or are still ashamed of (hi, my name is Krista and I fit into both of those categories). I really, really struggle with this. As much work as I think God has done, as much as I feel I am moving forward, there are always things that remind me that isn’t fully the case. Want an example?
When I was 15, I had this super sketchy boyfriend. He was 21. Did I mention I was 15? Yeah, I don’t think I need to say anymore, because there’s only one thing that a 21-year-old man wants with a 15-year-old girl. And you know what? Even though I went to church and I knew what I was supposed to do, I had a lot of issues in my life that meant I did what I knew I shouldn’t.
I’ll cut to the chase. I was 15, and I found myself in the bathroom of friend’s house, peeing on a stick. Within seconds, there it was.
Two pink lines.
In the moments right after I confirmed that two pink lines indeed meant I was pregnant, I formed a plan. I had been using drugs the entire time I dated Chris, so I was just convinced that I would have a sick or deformed baby. I lived with my grandma, sleeping on the floor of her bedroom, and I had another million odds against me. So I decided that the only option I had was to have an abortion.
I did, several weeks later. It was both the easiest and the hardest thing I have ever done. Oh, to be sure I knew at 15 I wanted to be a mom. That part of me struggled. The part of me who told no one except my boyfriend struggled with a decision that was too big for someone to make alone. The part of me that had been so staunchly pro-life grieved for what I was doing and for what I knew I would lose when it was all done. But the part of me that was alone also thought it would be the fastest way to end what I had started without thinking about the consequences. The part of me who had fought her entire life to not be a statistic was convinced that this was the easiest, simplest route.
I won’t get into the details, but suffice it to say that it was possibly the most physically and emotionally and spiritually painful experience I have lived through. What I thought would “make the problem go away” is something I am only dealing with now, nearly 14 years later.
When I started going to church again, I was a die-hard Democrat. Now, I know loving Jesus isn’t about being a Democrat or Republican or a whatever-acan. But I was the person who actually, embarrassingly said to others, “Oh, you’re a Republican?” with distaste. I cringe to think about how close-minded I was. And I embraced everything people on the left embraced, including being adamantly pro-choice. Total opposite side of the spectrum I’d sat on 14 years ago. I felt immense pressure when I committed, after a few weeks, to attending my new church regularly. Pressure to conform to a conservative belief system. Pressure to suddenly, drastically change overnight. I felt suddenly, horribly uncomfortable whenever anyone brought up the a-word.
So I took a deep breath and I sad, “All right, God. Here’s the deal. I’ve lived this fleshy life for too long to just stop feeling the way I feel. I know what Your word says. I know what those supporting and encouraging me in Your way say. So I’m going to do my very best to be neutral, and I’m going to ask you to change all of the parts of me that need to be changed.” I prayed it in various forms for months. For more than a year. I prayed it with a monotone voice and tears in my eyes. I prayed it out loud and in my head and during church and while I lay drifting off to sleep. I lived, during this entire time, in a world of “I don’t know.” I just kept repeating that prayer.
Here’s a piece of advice. Do not ever, ever pray that prayer if you don’t actually want to be changed.
God took me for my word and saw I really meant it when I said that because slowly, too slowly to notice at first, I changed. It was a thought here or a thought there, and then one day I was put in the position of counseling a family friend to have an abortion. She was given my number and told, “Call Krista. She can tell you her experience.” I freaked out when I was told this. I panicked. First of all, I felt a little betrayed by someone using me as a weapon to harm and not to help someone. I felt betrayed that people I loved would sell my story, basically, without thinking about how it was my story to tell. But more importantly?
I. Could. Not. Do. It.
The girl never called me. If she had, I could not have told her to have an abortion. What I would tell her was that I regretted it every day, that even though I had moved on and forward, it was still a spot that was tender in my heart. I would have counseled her to keep her baby and parent, or to keep her baby and give it up for adoption. But never in a million years would I have told her to have an abortion.
God had changed me.
And then, suddenly, He was like, “Not only have I changed you, but I’m calling you to action.” I started seeing information about abortion and crisis pregnancy centers everywhere. I though, okay, maybe I’m just more sensitive to these things and I’m just noticing them more than I am actually seeing more of them showing up.
I heard sermons about helping pregnancy centers. I had conversations initiated with me by people who would never, ever talk about abortion with me — but did randomly. Things in movies and ads, creepy stalker ads on Facebook, questions asked by the least likely people: God was nudging me to get involved. But I kept putting it off because hello? How could I ever counsel a woman not to have an abortion when I had one myself?
Last weekend (and by that I mean two days ago) at the Women of Faith One Day event in Long Beach, Christine Caine kept saying something that is still echoing within me: “You can start bad and end good.”
I started bad. So, so bad. But I want to — and I can! — end so, so good.
For two months now I have been fighting with myself and with Satan over the incredible fear I have felt regarding this. It’s a seriously ridiculous thing to fear, but fear it I did. Every time I thought about taking action, my palms got sweaty, my heart raced, and I felt like I would barf right where I was standing. I’m not really what I would call a nervous person. But this fear and anxiety and stress? Yeah, it was way too real. So I just did something, and prayed that I could be bold enough to do what God was calling me to do before it was too late and He asked someone else to do it instead.
Yesterday at church, I did something I have never done in the 21 months I’ve sat in the second row front the front, on the right hand side. I filled out the information card and checked the box that said I’d like to work in our community with our local crisis pregnancy center. I dropped it in the offering basket. My hands didn’t tremble and I didn’t feel like puking. Because, also as Christine Caine said on Saturday, “You can use your past to give someone else a future.” It didn’t scare me anymore.
My ability to move forward isn’t because I have changed to much since Friday night, when I was still terrified, still saying “NO!” to God. What changed is that He changed me. He has changed my heart so many times and so many ways over the last few years that I can’t help but marvel and laugh at Who He is. As if I needed any more evidence of His hands in all of this, last night I was reading 2 Corinthians when I came across this:
And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have. For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.
— 2 Corinthians 8:10 – 12
I just smiled. And then made that verse my facebook status and posted it on twitter. And highlighted it and underlined it in my Bible. It’s true what they say: God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called.
I don’t know how I will be used or if I will be used in this area. But my fervent prayer is that I never stop pleading with God, with all of my heart, to use me to His glory and for His kingdom.