Miranda shares about how she came to terms with faith, what it truly means to her, and how big a role it played in her life right from the start.
I’m sure we’ve all heard it said that “God is faithful to those who are faithful to Him.” Of course we all want God on our side, so what exactly does it mean to be faithful? Faith is literally defined as “the complete belief, trust, or confidence in something or someone.” As believers, wholly trusting God with our lives is the foundation of our relationship with Him. But what of those that AREN’T faithful to Him? Those that DON’T seek Him with all their hearts, minds, and souls? What happens to them? Do they fall by the way side? Are they forgotten and left behind?
I am able to answer that question today as I look back on some of the most tumultuous but defining years of my life. My story exists solely because of a Father’s faithfulness to a child who was unfaithful to Him. Here is my testimony – my journey to discover what faith really means to me.
My story begins and ends with faith. When my parents found out they were pregnant again with their 3rd child, there was talk of abortion due to the fact that they were already struggling, trying to take care of the family both financially and physically. My dad was working long hours just to make ends meet, and my mom was struggling to take care of everything else, including my then 1 year old brother who had been born with a heart condition and overall weak health, and my older sister who was only 4 at the time and needed constant attention and care.
Thankfully, God spoke to my mother and father through a series of signs, and it was clear that He wanted them to keep this child – that He would be faithful to them if they were faithful to Him in following His will. They obeyed, the child was born, and they named her Miranda. It was only through the faith of my parents that I am even here today to share this story.
Thus I was born into this Christian home, accepting Christ as my Savior at age 5. I grew up knowing all the stories in the Bible by heart, memorizing all the most important verses, and having the knowledge that Jesus died on the cross in order to wash away my sins. But “Christianity” really meant nothing to me, as it was all just head knowledge and I only experienced it during Sunday school, or robotically praying with my family before meals and at night. As I got older, God became this distant fictional character in my life who I would call on when I needed something. He was someone who I “knew” existed, but I didn’t understand what the purpose of believing in was, other than to achieve eternal life after death – which to me, was just a means to escape from hell, if it even existed of course…
Once I reached high school, I began to question my faith even further. Did I truly believe that there was a God, or was I simply brainwashed into believing it because it was forced upon me as a truth? I envied people that didn’t know and grow up with this God of mine.. I saw friends and acquaintances seemingly living lives of pure bliss and carefree happiness doing whatever they wanted, and I desired their naivety and ignorance. They had no obligation to be faithful to anyone but themselves. I would think to myself, If I never knew what I know today, maybe I could live like that too… Why did I have to grow up knowing God, being taught to believe in and fear Him? Why was I taught good from bad, right from wrong… all before I could even walk?
These questions prompted me to look for something more in my life, and to completely turn my back on a God I had become resentful towards. I felt cheated – I wanted to have faith in something or someone that I knew I chose to believe in for myself. Really, I just wanted to believe in myself – that I could take care of myself, that my life wasn’t at the mercy of anyone else’s hands but my own.
So I turned to things that made me feel good about myself in the moment. I started hanging out with the wrong crowd in order to gain popularity, I began to drink and smoke, got into drugs, and started getting physical with guys. But after coming down from the high, after the relationship ended, after the party was over, did I feel satisfied? Did I feel whole? The answer was no, but my pride pushed me forward in this direction, telling me that I would be able to figure it out on my own, in time.
Fast forward to college life. Not much had changed in terms of my lifestyle, and I had just started dating an older guy who was very cool, popular, and seemingly confident and secure. I thought I was on top of the world being with him. I quickly transferred what confidence I had in myself into our seemingly stable relationship. But soon after, the façade came crashing down as I realized I was not a priority to him like he was to me. There was always another girl out there who was prettier or better than me that he wanted to give his attention to. Hanging out with his friends, playing video games, and smoking pot were always his first choices, rather than spending time with me. He constantly put me down in order to build himself up, and as a result, I never felt I was enough in any way, no matter how hard I tried.
As I grew more insecure with myself, I depended more and more on him and the relationship to define whatever was left of my self-worth. During this time, my life of alcohol, sex, and drugs continued and even worsened. I threw myself into this unhealthy cycle of self-abuse over and over again, thinking that it was all I had left – I didn’t deserve a guy who would treat me better, I didn’t deserve a life that was better, so I should just take what I have and be satisfied with it.
This is where trying to figure out a life of my own had taken me… I was so broken and literally at the end of my rope, looking for something to hold on to, to believe in, to shake me out of this numbness, but I just didn’t know what or how to even begin. There were times where I would cry out to God in bitterness – that if He was real, and if He was there, why would He allow for me to go through this?
Well, God was there, watching and listening. And He was faithful. And my bitter prayers were answered in way that I never expected: I got pregnant. My boyfriend at the time immediately said, “It’s OK, we’ll take care of it.” And of course, he meant that we’d have an abortion. In that moment, I didn’t even question him… I mean, what else could I really do? This WAS the most responsible thing that I could do for myself at this point… right? I even got as far as to scheduling the abortion at a Planned Parenthood.
After doing hours and hours of research on the affects of abortion, confiding in my mother, sister, and a few close friends, and visiting a Crisis Pregnancy Center where I got my first ultrasound at 6 weeks in, I had a change of heart. As far as I had drifted from Him, it was clear to me that God was calling me to have this child – to stand up and take responsibility for my actions. There was no need for an innocent child to suffer the consequence of my own mistake. God was giving me a choice, and I knew in that moment that I had to honor Him. So I took a deep breath, and told my boyfriend that I wanted to keep the child. He broke up with me on the spot, and I was left to walk this journey alone.
But really, I wasn’t alone. God saw me, the prodigal daughter that had left His care and protection willingly, only to find a broken heart and crushed spirit. Yet He welcomed me back with open arms, with nothing but love, forgiveness, and restoration to offer. God stood by me through the whole experience, and blessed me with loving family and friends who were there with me every step of the way, even if at times I didn’t want them there. In my desperation for a situation I was unfamiliar with, I could only cry out to the God I had forsaken so long ago. He answered every prayer, every petition, and every request that I sent His way, from not having morning sickness, to passing all my classes my last quarter at UCSD, to having the baby no later than my expected delivery date, to making sure I had insurance to cover me after I graduated, to a quick labor and birth process (it took less than 3 hours!), and so much more.
The funny thing is that if you look back on the situation, it might seem like I was faithful to God first by honoring Him with my decision to keep the baby, and therefore God was faithful back to me by answering all my prayers. But the truth is that God stayed faithful to me the whole time I went astray, and through His adamant belief in me, He allowed this pregnancy to happen in order to wake me up from a life of indifference… To point me in the direction of the amazing purpose-filled life He planned for me, even before I was ever born into this world.
I realized that our God is a God who gives us freedom willingly. He allows for us to choose whether we want to stay within His will and to trust that He knows best for us, or if we want to try and do it on our own. However, regardless of which path we choose, He remains faithful and is always there watching over us, whether we like it or not, and whether we want it or not.
Looking back, the footsteps of God’s faithfulness within my life are so clear to me today, though I had tried to deny them in the past. I realized that when we choose to stay in God’s will, not only do we personally reap the benefits, but those around us are also blessed. I like to call it the “faith reaction” – when one person puts their faith to action and practice, blessings are passed on like a chain reaction to those around them.
Through faith, my parents decided to have me, and I was born into this world and given a chance to create and discover a life of my own. Through faith, my daughter, Hope, was born on November 1, 2005. She is turning 6 this year. She is alive and well today because I chose to be faithful to God in preserving His gift of life. And through faith, God presented me with the most amazing adoptive family that I could have ever found for Hope. Through faith, I was able to bless this family with the gift of a child.
Today, when I see Hope with her family, I see how much joy and happiness she brings to them and I know that this was all a part of God’s plan for us, right from the start. If I had not surrendered my trust to God, we would have missed out on all of this and probably much more.
Seeing Hope alive today and her interaction with her family is not the only way that I have been blessed. Through my faith of having this child, God was faithful to me in the one thing I worried about the most throughout the whole process – my career. Before choosing adoption, I was afraid that if I had this child, my life would change forever and all the effort put into my schooling and education would go to waste, as I wouldn’t be able to pursue the career I had worked so hard for. But just like He always is, God was faithful. He has truly blessed me in the workplace. In my very first interview 1 month after Hope was born, I was offered the job immediately. A few months after I chose to leave this company, they actually went bankrupt. My second job was offered to me when I wasn’t even looking, with a much higher salary than I deserved or expected, and a great job title. While still working there, I was approached with the offer of my third and current position, where I once again received a huge jump in salary, responsibility, and title. Furthermore, the person who took over my position at the previous company was laid off 1 month after I left. My current coworkers joke that when I jump ship, it’s time for them to jump as well :) But in all seriousness, God planned my career so perfectly in advance, that from the start, I was foolish to even worry one second about it.
I’m not implying that you will get everything you want all the time if you put your trust in God. But what I did learn from this experience is that God is faithful in ways that we may sometimes not understand or see right away. All that we can do is ask for His guidance and wisdom in all that we do, knowing that “all things work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose [Romans 8:28].” When God calls us, let’s answer with faithful hearts, so that in turn, He can bestow upon us the love and blessing that He so desperately wants to give us.
My story didn’t end here, but the seed of God’s love was planted in my heart. This was my first real experience of God’s faithfulness, where I could not deny that He was real and that He would do anything to bring me back home, any and every time I might fall away. Today, I hope that you are encouraged by my testimony. It serves as a reminder that when things seem dark and dreary, there is still hope. Know that God is still faithfully watching over you, and will take care of you in more ways than you can ever imagine… If only because He loves you, and believes in the person He created you to be.
Editor’s note: I struggled a lot deciding whether or not I wanted to share this story on WitnessSF. But I decided to go forward because I believe God gave me this experience in order to share and bless others around me with it, not to hide it. Beyond that, I truly believe that unplanned pregnancies and abortion are often swept underneath the rug, and peoples experiences are kept private. For me personally, I had to deal with and get over feelings of shame and embarrassment – not just for myself, but for my family and loved ones – because what I went through often breeds social gossip within both secular and Christian communities, unfortunately. But I want everyone out there to know that these experiences are real, and they happen to people around us all the time, whether we are aware of it or not. And as disciples of our Father, we are called to be open, available, and loving to those in need around us, regardless of the situation.
I also want to note that when I was faced with this pregnancy, I had an extremely difficult decision to make, and like I said before, our God is a God of freedom – and He allowed me to choose for myself. In the Word, God confirms many times that He created life for a purpose greater than we can fathom (Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart...”). I chose to honor God by going through with the pregnancy. But I realize that many others who are facing or have faced the same difficult decision did not come out with the same conclusion or outcome, for personal reasons that I can’t possibly understand. Know that regardless of what you’ve been through, you will always be a treasured child of God, and He forgives, redeems, and loves unconditionally..
Through this period of my life, I wish that I had more people to talk to who understood what I was going through. So I want to make myself available for any of you out there who has gone or is going through something along the lines of what I shared in my testimony – whether it’s difficulties with relationships that are clearly impacting you in a negative way, whether you’re faced with pregnancy now, whether you’ve gone through an abortion, or if this story touched you in any other way and you’re just looking for some encouragement or someone to hear you out… Please feel free to contact me by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be honored to hear from you, and would love to be there for you in any way I can. – M
Originally posted on WitnessSF.org May 18, 2011, 7:01am