Have you ever wanted to have a life-impacting testimony as a Christian? But maybe you felt that your story was only one full of guilt, shame, and mistakes? Today I want to tell you about how my story, which brought me great shame, actually became my life-impacting testimony.
When the Story That Brought You Shame Becomes Your Life-Impacting Testimony
It was a simple, Thursday Bible Study, in a small California town. I sat there with six young moms from my church. At the time John and I had been married three years, and we were the parents of a preschooler and a toddler. I’d dedicated my life to God when I was pregnant with Cory at age seventeen, and I prayed for a future husband. God had brought me John, who loved Cory as his own. And now we had a baby together.
Yet while everything looked happy on the inside, I carried within a deep chasm filled with pain, shame, and regret.
As I sat in that Bible Study, the other women talked about abortion. My chest grew tight, my heart pounded, and a large border grew in the pit of my stomach. I was certain they’d hate me if they knew that I’d had an abortion at age fifteen. Even though I looked as if I fit in with these church women, everything within me told me I didn’t. I mean, what about my testimony?
I certainly didn’t have a life-impacting testimony, in fact, I didn’t feel like I had a testimony at all!
Many years prior, I’d prayed and asked God to forgive me for my abortion, but I couldn’t forget … and I couldn’t forgive myself. I was acting the part, but I felt like a traitor. Looking back, I can easily spot the accusations and the lies. The enemy of my soul hissed that I didn’t belong–with God or these women. It didn’t take much to convince me that it was true. And so I sat silent as they talked, sitting face-to-face but feeling a sea of pain-blocking my friends from getting close. I had made bad decisions, and I’d carry the pain forever … or so I thought.
My life remodeled into a Life-Impacting Testimony
Just a few years later, I sat in another Bible Study. We were in Montana then, and I had three kids, all six and under. Tears streamed down my face, and lightness and joy flooded my heart. I had shared about my past and my sinful decisions, and these women embraced me. They cried with me. It wasn’t a different state or church that had changed things. It wasn’t different women that had made the difference … it was me. I finally had shared the truth of what I’d done, as painful as it was. They understood my pain because each of them had also made the decision to have an abortion. Confessing to each other, and seeking to accept God’s forgiveness, was something we were doing together. When I shared my story the chains of darkness that had held me captive released, giving me freedom. The story that had brought me shame had become my life-impacting testimony.
Each of us carries pain. Sometimes it’s due to our bad decisions. Sometimes it’d due to others’ bad decisions, And sometimes the pain is there because we live in a broken world and bad things happen to good people.
How the pain got there isn’t as important as what we choose to do with it. We can either live under pain, shame, and regret. Or we can choose to lift up our dilapidated hearts to Jesus and ask Him to do some remodeling work within our souls.
When we choose to seek healing, we’re not only doing it only for ourselves. Our families and friends benefit too. When we seek healing we’re choosing to offer our whole selves to God and to others.
What we can learn from Paul and Bathsheba
There are many examples of those in the Bible who allowed their lives to be remodeled by God. Paul was one of them. A former persecutor of Christians, he became a disciple and an evangelist. His “after” looked nothing like his “before.” Paul acknowledged his sin, but he also embraced his forgiveness. He didn’t carry his burden of shame. Instead, he used his story to remind others that God can forgive anyone and remodel anyone. Paul set himself up as proof.
Another person in the Bible that tugs at my heart is Bathsheba.
While many preachers have accused her of being a harlot, there is no evidence in God’s Word to that fact. What we do see is someone who was abused by a man in power, and who lost a husband and a child. None of this was in her control. If anyone had the right to live bitter and angry, it would have been her, yet when we see her years later Bathsheba is bold. She reminds her husband King David that he promised that their son Solomon would be king. And her son Solomon not only took the throne, but he was also the wisest king who ever lived. Bathsheba could have hidden herself away and got stuck her pain, who wouldn’t do that? Yet somewhere in the arch of her story, she began to see a new picture of what her future could be.
This wasn’t the life she’d chosen, but she trusted that God could bring good out of pain.
Walk it Out Podcast
Last week I released a podcast with Natalie Chambers Snapp, and we talked about Bathseba’s story … and how her story can apply to ours. Natalie’s book, The Bathsheba Battle, sheds new light on this familiar story, by telling it from this woman’s point of view.
I love this quote from Natalie’s book,
“When we keep our pain in the dark, we give the enemy the reigns. But when we surrender that pain in the light, we give the reigns to God.”
Sometimes the pain comes from our choices. Sometimes the pain comes from the choices of others or because this world is just stinking hard.
And this quote from Strong, Brave, Loved by Holley Gerth speaks directly to this too. (See, I told you I was reading this book during my morning quiet time!)
“And the enemy is not ourselves. There’s a reason we use the phrase “beating ourselves up.” When we think the problem is us, we become harsh toward our own hearts. But our primary battle isn’t against any person–including ourselves. And the lies we hear have the same sources as the first lie spoken to Eve in the Garden. If you are a woman in this world, you are at war. It is not optional. And while you may not go roaring into battle, at the very least you need to know basic spiritual self-defense.” –Holley Gerth
To have our life remodeled, we need to start by having our thoughts remodeled, remodeled with a foundation of God’s forgiveness, and remodeled with a shield of faith that combats the enemy’s lies. Is it time to allow God to remodel your heart and life? The answer to that question is … yes! You will never regret opening up your heart to Him.
But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. Philippians 3:13
If you’re ready for some reconstruction, and to turn your shame into a life-impacting testimony, here are some of my posts to get you started.
Part 1 and 2 of my abortion story:
If you question if God can still use you, and truly give you a life-impacting testimony I promise He can.
To Listen To:
You can also read about how one of my friendships led me to become a writer. Yes, it is worth opening our hearts! If you haven’t seen it yet, Cindy’s Writer’s Desk post is not one to miss!
Most of all, I want to encourage you to share your truth. Feel free to reply to this email and write a note to me. I promise I’m the only one who reads it. Don’t let the enemy hold you in chains any longer.
Has this encouraged you in any way? I would love to hear your story.
These are some books I have written that might bless you as well:
My Life Unscripted
Young people (and old) learn the importance of “scripting” their own responses BEFORE challenging life-situations arise so they are able to think about, pray about, and consider how to face these situations before the scene begins. By contrasting real-life with TV or movies, teens will understand they don’t have to get caught up in the drama. My Life Unscripted
Praying For Your Future Husband
From when we were small girls, most of us dream of “The One,” our future husband. We think about what it would be like to be a bride. We wonder who that special guy is and when we’ll find him. The great news is that what you do now can make a difference in your life and the life of your future husband! Praying For Your Future Husband
Walk It Out
Women often pack their lives with family, friends, and faithful service, yet still end up feeling empty and unfulfilled. In Walk It Out, Tricia Goyer demonstrates to women that walking out the mandates of Scripture allows God to spark passion and mission within them. Walk It Out
Sewn With Joy
Can I work in a woman finding forgiveness into an Amish novel? Oh yes, I can. 😂Joy Miller wanted nothing more than to be a wife and mother—especially now that her relationship with Matthew Slagel, the bishop’s son, was deepening. But when a television crew rolls into Pinecraft, Florida, to film a new show about the Amish, tension threatens to rip apart their relationship…and the entire Amish community. Sewn With Joy