I find it hard to tell my story, it forces me to look back on a specific time in my life and remember things I would much rather forget. My early years were great! I was a good kid from a loving Christian home. My childhood was simple, easy. The middle child with two of the sweetest brothers you could imagine. I grew up in a small farming town in the prairies. I have wonderful memories of long summer days playing outside from dawn until dusk, riding my bike all over town, trips to the candy store, swimming lessons, Sunday afternoon drives, and drinking slurpees until my head hurt. My winters were spent outside playing in the snow, cross country skiing, and skating at the local ice rink.
Not much happened in our little town but I remember when I was about 10 years old, a visiting Pastor spoke at our little church of 70 people. After the service he shook my hand, leaned in closely so he could look right into my eyes, and asked, “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ your Lord and Saviour?”. I was taken aback by his directness but quickly answered “Yes, of course!”. I left church that day feeling a little shaken up as I questioned my answer. What did that mean exactly? Do I have a personal relationship with Jesus? I didn’t doubt that there was a God and that Jesus was His son but a “relationship” with Jesus? That implied more than just believing. Of course growing up in the church I had heard that phrase before, but I had never stopped and considered what that meant to me. I saw my parents reading their Bibles and so I tried reading mine, but it felt irrelevant to my day to day life. I tried praying, but my words felt empty. God seemed distant and unattainable up there in the bright blue sky, and why would He care about a little unimportant girl like me anyway? I soon gave up.
The years went idly by and as I grew up, so did my discontentment with life. Out of sheer boredom I played every sport under the sun. I didn’t particularly excel at anything but it was fun trying new things, feeling challenged, and hanging out with friends. When I was 15 my best friend took some modeling classes in a nearby city and came home with exciting stories about the people she had met and everything she had learned. I begged my Mom to let me go too. She soon relented and that summer I stayed with an aunt and uncle for a few weeks while I attended personal development classes at a modelling school. I had always been a bit of a tomboy and I felt like a whole new world had opened up to me. While at the agency we were introduced to girls who were professional models, most of whom had either already been, or were going shortly to work overseas in Japan, Spain, New York, or Paris. I was captivated by this idea. A few months later the agency invited me to compete for a modeling contract in Japan. The cost to enter was $500. It was money that neither my parents nor I had. My dream seemed to be over before I even had a chance to dream it. I don’t remember being overly dramatic about my disappointment, but I must have complained a little because my older brother who was saving up for an Apple IIe computer, came to my rescue and leant me the money for the entrance fee. Much to everyone’s surprise I won a modeling contract, signing with a modeling agency in Japan. My parent’s one condition was that I would not go overseas until I had finished High School. I had two years to go!! I was so excited and only a little frustrated by having to wait. As bored as I was, and as much as I wanted to see the world, I wasn’t quite ready to leave home.
While I was biding my time, a cute guy from youth group and I were starting to get serious (or at least I thought so). He was everything I thought a guy should be. We would break up and get back together off and on over the next few years. I never seemed to be able to keep his attention for long. Our relationship became physical and often our dates would end with me fighting him off. Eventually, I thought that if I gave in it would fix everything. Of course it did not, and yet I felt tied to him in some unexplainable way that my teenage self could never really understand.
During this time, it had become painfully obvious to me that my parents were having serious trouble in their marriage. Everything seemed to be changing and the strong footing I thought I had in my family felt like it was crumbling. My own faith had become nonexistent, and my worry and fear expressed itself through anger and indifference.
Two weeks after graduating from High School I was on my way to Japan. It was the first time I had ever been on a plane and it was definitely the first time I had ever been so far from my family. But I was excited to start fresh and leave all my troubles behind.
Life in Japan was everything I hoped it would be. I lived in an apartment with girls from all over the world. The lifestyle was very transient, my roommates would change every few weeks as girls came and went when their contracts started and finished. All of the girls were older, very cool, and so much more sophisticated. I spent a lot of my time just watching and listening, trying to take in as much as I could. They seemed to have life all figured out and I wanted to be just like them.
The agency gave us a weekly allowance to buy food and pay for transit but we often spent at least some of it on clothes and makeup instead. So most nights my roommates and I would go to high end nightclubs where they would let us in for free if we showed our model cards. In these clubs they would give us free food and drinks. There I met models from other agencies, celebrities, and rock stars who were touring in the country. It was a party lifestyle on a scale I had never even dreamed of.
During the day I was either going on go-sees all over Tokyo and eventually Osaka, or working on location. It was an amazing way to see the country and meet the Japanese people. I loved the etiquette and the neat, clean, compact way of life. I was lucky enough to work fairly regularly and would fearlessly navigate my way across the countryside. Because of the language barrier I was often not sure if I was getting on the right train or even heading in the right direction. Surprisingly enough, I never missed a job and always got to the place I needed to go. My sheltered life back home didn’t equip me with street savvy but it did give me the naive idea that nothing bad could ever happen to me, and so off I went each day oblivious to any danger around me, enjoying life to the fullest.
A few of my roommates picked up extra money working as hostesses in the evening. They would come home with hundreds of dollars in cash and soon I was asking them to take me with them. They refused, telling me that even though they weren’t doing anything wrong it was illegal for foreigners and my blonde hair would stand out too much increasing their chances of getting caught. Instead, I stayed home and lied for them when the agency called asking where they were. On one of those boring nights, the heat was feeling almost unbearable and I was finding it hard to go to sleep. One of my roommates from England started belting out the hymn, “Amazing Grace”. We must have sang it together at the top of our lungs ten times at least. It was comforting and it made me miss home. For some reason, even though I was ignoring God I still felt like he hadn’t left me.
I fulfilled two contracts in Japan, each two months long. The impact of the experience, however, felt much greater. It changed how I thought about myself. Empowerment meant that as long as I was in control, my body was just a tool to be used and nothing more. Modeling itself encouraged a separation of spirit and body. No one cared about what I thought or how I felt, I was being paid to look a certain way and nothing more. Anytime I felt self conscious or uncomfortable I would push my feelings down and try to remind myself to “keep it professional”. I was never really sure what that meant, but eventually it became easier until it didn't bother me anymore. This mindset bled from the professional to the personal distorting what was deemed sacred by God. Everything was to be celebrated and enjoyed without any thought of the consequences. When the inevitable topic of abortion came up one evening one of my closest friends told me that she’d had multiple abortions, that it was a simple procedure and she had no regrets.
When I returned home to Saskatoon, I continued in the lifestyle I had started. I still modeled on a smaller scale and would go out every night drinking with friends. By this time I was so far from God that I no longer felt bad about what I was doing. Oddly enough, I continued to go to church with my parents but I heard nothing. When standing to sing or pray I would be so hung over from the night before that it was all I could do not to fall over. I stayed away from the young adults at church, convinced that I had nothing in common with them and that if they knew the choices I was making, they wouldn’t want to be friends with me anyway. I was so deeply entrenched in darkness that I could not see my way out, nor did I want to.
I began seriously dating a non-Christian guy and after a couple of years at age 19 I became pregnant. By this time, I had shut out any Godly counsel in my life, and only listened to the worldly wisdom that I wanted to hear. At the encouragement of my boyfriend and advice of my doctor I made the choice to have an abortion. The date set for my abortion was much further along in the pregnancy that I thought I would be. It was scheduled for 14 weeks. Remembering the pictures I had been shown in high school of an unborn fetus made me uncomfortable. The closer I got to the date, the more unsettled I felt. But I had become pretty good by this time at pushing aside my feelings. I decided to just do it and worry about the consequences later. My Mom and I had always been close, and even though I knew she did not condone any of the things I was doing she never withheld her love from me. I asked her if she would come with me, I needed her and she didn’t let me down. So my mom, along with my boyfriend came with me to the hospital. I realize now looking back that I was hoping that they would share in some of my guilt if they were there with me. I clearly remember that day when the nurse called my name and I followed her alone down the hallway. I was filled with dread, desperately hoping someone would be there to tell me not to do it. I even thought maybe God would send someone to stop me, so I turned and looked behind me, thinking that if I saw someone, anyone, I would stop. But when I turned around to look, there was no one there, the hospital hallway was deserted and quiet. It was clear, this was my decision and mine alone.
In the months and years following any guilt or remorse that I felt were shoved deep down, and for the most part were successfully ignored. I stayed with my boyfriend for a time but his behaviour was progressively getting worse. He went from bar fights to stealing gas and once when we were on his motorcycle we went on a wild ride outrunning the police in order to avoid getting a speeding ticket. His roommate was arrested for drug trafficking and although I never got into the habit of using, drugs and alcohol were always around me. My life became a monotonous chase for the next good time and I was getting tired. Eventually I started to wake up to the fact that I wasn’t having fun anymore and I was miserable. I had thought that I knew what was best for me, but my choices up to that point hadn’t brought me the happiness I was longing for. I felt let down by the world’s promises. Instead of feeling empowered I felt used and broken. Instead of the freedom I envisioned, I felt burdened and trapped.
I finally hit such a low point in my life that I was ready to seek God’s will for my life, to ask for forgiveness for my sin and selfishness, to completely give up control and give it to Him instead. I felt like I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
As I slowly took steps toward obedience and sought His will, the Holy Spirit began to speak to me through Bible believing teachers, preachers, His creation, worship music, and by reading His Word. I finally began to see what a relationship with Jesus looked like and it was the most wonderful thing I had ever experienced. I remember sitting transfixed in church on Sunday mornings afraid to move a muscle because I didn’t want to miss one word that the Holy Spirit would say to me that day. While on this journey I met my husband. He had such a strong faith with a clear understanding of right and wrong. I leaned heavily on him as I grew spiritually.
Our journey together is a whole other story that I would love to share with you someday, but for now I’ll jump ahead.
After being married for two years, Leland and I decided it was time to start our family. I became pregnant and everything seemed to be going fine but at 17 weeks I miscarried and to our shock I had been carrying twins. It was a traumatic experience for both Leland and I. For me going through labour and delivery of our unborn sons and for Leland to have to witness it. When it was all over the nurse asked me if I would like to hold my babies before they took them away. I didn’t want to, I couldn’t bring myself to look on those lifeless little bodies. It would make my past choices all too real and I couldn’t face it. The next morning, exhausted and trying to process what had happened, a nurse came into my room and asked me if I would like to have a funeral. How could I have a funeral for the twins I’d lost but ignore the life and death of my first child? It didn’t make sense, it seemed ridiculous. Why was a fetus at 14 weeks not considered a baby but at 17 weeks it was? I felt frustrated and was consumed with grief. After talking more with my doctor, he said that the miscarriage was most likely due to complications from the previous D&C (abortion). What I had done hit me full force. I had knowingly suppressed the truth and in my selfishness had convinced myself that having an abortion was my only choice. I felt as though if ever I was getting what I deserved, it was then. And yet when I deserved to feel it so completely, God in His graciousness never left me. In those dark days I felt his presence comforting me more than I had ever experienced before.
I am grateful to be able to tell you today that we have two healthy grown boys. I am thankful for them every single day! They are a testament to God’s grace in my life. I cannot, however, think of them without thinking of my unborn babies. I have come to realize that it will always be a part of my life, a consequence of my sin, and I hope that if nothing else it reminds me of how much I need God in my life. How I am capable of doing awful things when He is not the one guiding me. I still struggle every day with giving all of myself to God, I selfishly pursue and hang tightly onto things that I should not. Over the years my faith has slowly grown and as I have continued to seek Him asking for direction, guidance and comfort - He has never failed me. His promises are true, His burdens are light and I am finally free, forgiven, and redeemed!
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:38-39
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." - Matthew 7:7-8