How sharing my heartbreaking story SAVED a person’s life—still humbled
By Tricia Goyer
an excerpt from Walk It Out: The Radical Result of Living God’s Word One Step at a Time
Years ago Robin Jones Gunn, an author and friend of mine, came to Montana to speak at a women’s retreat and to visit me. The night before the retreat she, our friend Joanna Weaver, and I were staying at a condo that offered a few special amenities. We decided it would be fun to soak in the hot tub as we gazed over the snowy landscape that surrounded us. The problem was, the hot tub didn’t work. Joanna called the condo’s owner, who was a friend, to notify her of the problem. Since it was already evening and a repairman couldn’t come right away, the owner suggested we use the hot tub at her house instead.
“I don’t know if you remember my telling you this after the luncheon, but I had just found out I was pregnant.”
“Kelly,” she reminded me. “I had an abortion scheduled just a few days later.” Kelly gazed at Toby cuddled up in Robin’s arms. “But after I heard your story and what you said about how God answered your prayers, I cancelled the appointment, and I prayed for a husband, just like you did.”
Her smile widened, and tears formed in her eyes. “I always wanted to see you again so I could tell you that God answered my prayers. He brought an amazing Christian guy into my life. Dave loves me, and he loves my son. We’ve been married for almost a year. When I think about what my life would be like right now if I hadn’t heard your story and done what you suggested …”
By then we were all hugging and crying and hugging some more. Toby climbed into my arms and received my cuddles and kisses. It was such a beautiful moment. Light and hope seemed to fill the room.
Kelly’s story likely would have turned out differently if I’d kept my story to myself. I speak a lot these days, but I never wanted to be a professional speaker. My passion has always been writing! As a young Christian the only public speaking I’d done was for my college Speech class, and each time I spoke in front of the group my knees quivered so much the teacher asked me if I needed to sit down.
I can’t imagine any child who’s grown up going to Sunday school not knowing the song, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna to let it shine.” My Sunday school teacher explained letting our light shine meant sharing Jesus with those we knew, so even though I was a timid child, I invited friends to vacation Bible school. I understood even then that the world was a dark place that needed Jesus’s light. And I liked hearing stories about how Jesus changed people. I remember listening to church members and visitors tell their testimonies about how God had saved them from drugs, sex, and cults. (It was the early 80s after all.) I can’t remember many sermons I heard growing up, but I do remember when people talked about how God saved them, changed them, and was now using them.
But in the early years after I became a Christian I resisted telling others about what Jesus had done for me. My sin was so dark. The last thing I wanted to tell people was that I’d had two teen pregnancies and an abortion. Yet I couldn’t share about my soul’s transformation without revealing where I’d been and what I’d done.
When I finally started telling my story, I spoke in smaller settings, like the teen mom support group. Whenever people suggested I share it with larger groups I brushed their comments aside. When Pastor Daniel asked me to speak in front of the church I told him I’d think about it. Still, God wouldn’t let me shake the feeling that I should do it.
In my daily Bible reading, I kept running across passages like this: “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!” Ephesians 5:8 (NLT). It wasn’t a suggestion, but a command. To live as a person of light was to spread the Good News of Jesus—the light—through the world. “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine,” my children would sing, piercing my soul. The conviction grew that God was opening a door for me to share my story in a wider context, and that I needed to walk through it.