Saturday, January 19, 2008


Having gone through my high school years relatively unscathed by my choices, I was under the mistaken impression that bad things really couldn't happen to me. It is putting it mildly to say the pregnancy shocked me into facing reality and almost immediately thrust me into adulthood. Looking back now, I see the gentle hand of God, mercifully protecting me in so many situations. I remember being in a circumstance that was almost certainly escalating into a sexual assault, but in my drunken stupor, I started to sing and the guy just got too weirded out, I guess, and left me alone. I remember waking up once under a truck after an all-night party when I heard the driver start the ignition, and just barely getting out from underneath in time. I remember being abandoned by my rides at parties at locations far outside of our town, and just getting into vehicles with anyone who would get me home. I remember hearing about kids being busted at a pot smoking party I had just left before the police arrived. But one can only go so long without reaping the harvest of one's bad decisions. I knew an out-of-wedlock pregnancy was going to be quite humiliating for my family, but even more so for my boyfriend's. They were very involved in their church, and his parents already didn't like me. I wouldn't like my son's girlfriend to behave or dress anything like I did, so now I can certainly understand how they felt.
It was 1974, so Roe v. Wade had already been decided, and legal abortion clinics were popping up, even in my remote neck of the woods. Being a good liberal, I was all for women having a "choice," but even so I couldn't bring myself to think about me having an abortion, and my husband-to-be, bless his heart, wouldn't even consider it; he considered abortion to be murder. In a magical moment, certainly a moment that I can now see that God intervened in His sovereign way, we decided to do the “right thing.” I dropped out of college, we married, and then we faced a daunting vision of adulthood with a child and very little money. My husband struggled to keep food on the table, to finish college, and to begin a teaching career. Any dreams I had for my own career as a music teacher were set aside as I quickly realized my life was no longer my own, that I had to devote myself to my children (another one quickly came into the picture) so that they would be successful people. I was not very happy with my own situation, but I loved my children and my husband, and I saw that my own choices had brought these situations into my life. My husband managed to finish college and found a teaching job in Montana, far away from friends and family.
A couple years later in the small Montana town where my husband had taken his second teaching position, while I was in the hospital having my third baby, my husband signed me up at the local church to sing at funerals. I thought it was a peculiar idea, but he persuaded me that it would be something to do besides watch children and I might make a friend, so I became agreeable to it. My husband had bought me a guitar a year earlier when I had resumed some college music classes at the last town we were in, so I pulled it out to learn a few chords in case that would be useful, and I ended up being the "accompanist" for the several other women who had signed up for funeral duty as well. Before we finished our first meeting together at my home, one of the women suggested we pray. I thought that was odd and it made me very uncomfortable. Then even more strangely, they prayed just as if Jesus were in the room with us and was our friend, instead of the sort of omnipresent disinterested God to whom you just prayed memorized prayers in church. These women had a different sort of understanding of who God was. For days afterward I was bothered and aggravated by the whole situation I had let myself get talked into.
To be continued...

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