TITLE: Revised Chapter One- Memoir
By Jessica Turner-Stotz
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The second line on the home pregnancy test appeared within seconds. There was no chance to live in denial, no chance to go on with my Saturday as though it were any other Saturday that had come before in my life. My heart pounded; blood rushed in my ears screaming the same thing over and over again, youíre pregnant, youíre pregnant, youíre pregnant!
I closed my eyes, trying to block out the demanding repetition, but Iíve never been the kind of person who waits to face things. Even as I sat there, my internal voice berating me loudly, I called my boyfriend at work. Then I called Miranda, my closest friend since 8th grade. I was quickly working up to the hardest call of all, and one I didnít feel like I wanted to avoid, or could avoid.
I stared at the phone in my hand after I hung up with Miranda. My mom would know when she talked to me. I was sure of it. There was not much I had ever withheld from her, and I felt she would hear it brewing under any conversation I could attempt to have. I knew that I had to make the phone call and couldnít spend even a day pretending I was who I had been before entering the bathroom that morning.
Her voice was like the tide that day. It rushed in on happy, rolling notes of pleasure to hear from her best friend and daughter, and receded on heart ripping sobs lost to the sea of dark unknown. I was twenty two, but I hadnít finished college and I wasnít married, something I had always planned to do first. We both drifted, her in abject horror and disappointment; me in a black abyss of my own creating, my own doing, on waves of fear and uncertainty.
The conversation ended and I felt more than just a few hundred miles away from my mom physically. I had been swept out to sea; everywhere I looked was dark, unrecognizable waters. Salty tears streamed down my face and I held myself, rocking back and forth like a boat climbing the waves.
As I rocked, a pearl of pleasure blossomed somewhere deep inside beneath the trembling sobs.
A whisper crept up my spine and into my heart. The Lordís voice, of which I had done a good job of ignoring over the previous months, spoke loud and clear, bringing a verse from my favorite psalm to my mind, reminding me that it was He that had begun to knit together this life inside of me.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my motherís womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made
Though my actions had begged for such consequences, God had a plan to pull me back to him on ribbons of newfound motherhood and the consequent stripping of all that I had known about myself up to that point, all that I had planned and hoped for. It was His intention to untangle the web of confusion my life had become and to bring me on a nine month plus journey back from the wide, open road I had been traveling, to a much narrower path I had left behind, far behind, allowing it to become overgrown with weeds and thorns so that I wouldnít have to try and make my way down it anymore. In fact, I had lost the direction it was even in. Secularity had taken hold of my feet and had seamlessly steered me onto a congested highway, filled bumper to bumper with worldly travelers and road-bumps, hazardous conditions and detours begging me to compromise the path my GPS from above had mapped out many years before, offering to me an easier route, a quicker route, a route that was sure to satisfy and fill the potholes in my life.
The thing about filling holes in oneís life with anything other than the grace of God, is it eventually seeps out of the hole or breaks away in a messy fashion, kind of like the tar slapped on a road filled with potholes after an especially rough winter. The tar canít erase the storm scars; the temporary fix is just that, temporary, and is sure to give way as new seasons approach to weather the road, as people continue to wear the covered holes down. The Father had plans for the tar clogging me up, but it wasnít to be a clean and easy removal. The chipping away process stings with each piece of junk the Creator chips off. Itís easy to slap on an easy fix. Itís much harder to pull that band aid off to examine the oozing puss infecting the body underneath.
I felt like junk, because I was full of junk. I was unworthy crud; twisted up muck; crap. I was ashamed as I watched my dreams drift away, much like I had been drifting since the second line appeared on the pregnancy test. I saw the reflection of who I had been, what I had stood for, and it left an echo of what couldnít be stamped on my spirit. Empty and used up, I yearned for the lover of souls to stir in me what once thrived and breathed life inside of my heart.
God was ready to begin healing the bleeding wounds inside of me, to break down the conglomeration of junk, accumulated from months of apathy, and put in me the desire to draw close to His guiding hand and love again. For He was the God of Second ChancesÖ and I desperately wanted that second chance, not even anticipating at what costs it would come with along the way or what toxicity I would have to eradicate. I was still clinging tightly to many of the very things that were standing in the way of that second chance and, truthfully, I wasnít ready to accept that I had turned away from Jesus in the first place.
I accepted Jesus into my heart in the year 2000. My mom had been on the hunt for the right church, and after a long line of Catholic churches, we stumbled across a Christian Missionary and Alliance church. I went along, because my Dad wasnít yet ready for change after years of tradition ingrained in him and because my mom and I had such a close relationship. It didnít take much convincing for me to support her.
I remember the song that permeated the memory of that decision, You Are My All In All, and how itís simple lyrics spoke to my young heart of a strength I had never known before in my life.
You are my strength when I am weak, you are the treasure that I seek. You are my all in allÖ
By the age of twelve I had already faced heartache that had aged me quickly, burning my childhood with blotches of pain and hopelessness. I often felt weak and it was comforting to know there was Someone above me who could fill me with a strength I had never had. My parents had divorced when I was three and my biological father popped in and out of my life, leaving me with only a handful of memories of his presence. I battled weight and depression. Insecurity filled my middle school days. I wasnít even that overweight, but kids are often cruel while dealing with their own insecurities, and I was teased. I remember a cruel boy named Chris saying I should close my coat so my stomach wouldnít hang out. If only that little girl knew she was beautiful then, that her stomach wasnít even that big, and that down the road Chris wouldnít be doing anything special with his life, so why worry what he thought. She bought into the lies though at a young age, even after finding God, and the cycle of dieting began, only making her battle harder as the years went on.
In elementary school I was popular. Junior high knocked me down a few pegs. I didnít want to be a part of that crowd anymore, a crowd that by sixth grade was already trying to masquerade as high school students and girls became objects for boys to lust after. By the second day of school I was already on the fringes. A memory of sitting at the end of a table all alone still snags in the back of my mind, reminding me of the emptiness I felt then. I didnít know Jesus yet and obviously couldnít feel him sitting there beside me while I picked at my lunch. My old friends barely acknowledged me. I felt like I had no one at all. Until I found theater and a spunky little proud-to-be Christian, Christa, who taught me to embrace what I found later that year.
I starred in Snoopy, the Musical as Peppermint Patty and sang my first solo Poor, Sweet Baby to a down-on-his-luck Charlie Brown.
Tell me where it hurts, Iíll tell you how to make it well. Iím real good at holding hands and really great and show and tellÖ
Simple lyrics, but they were healing. Christa played Sally Brown and that year she became my saving friend. I went to youth group with her and joined sixth grade choir that spring. We sang My Heart Will Go On as a duet for the schoolís talent show. It took until 8th grade and making the middle school show choir, but I began to restore my confidence in myself and began to shine as a performer and person. Miranda came into my life that year, even though I had known her since 5th grade, and we became fast best friends. She too had been popular in elementary school, only she had tried to cling on a little longer through middle school. By 8th grade though, she was beginning to break away and thatís when we found each other. We had an instant connection. Like a soul-mate, only completely platonic. We were the sisters we each had never had. She had one older brother and I had two younger brothers, 8 and 10 years my junior. I had two sisters somewhere in Maine, but at that point, I had never met them and knew very little about their whereabouts. So somewhere along the line, Miranda became family. She was nicknamed Mir-Mir or the Mir-Mir of my Heart (guess I didnít realize at the time that a heart murmur wasnít exactly a good thing) and we started on a journey together, me learning more about my faith, and her establishing a faith through the help of my family and CMA church.
I called Mir after being on the phone all night with Brady. He was, in simple terms, a "bad boy." He wore a leather jacket, smoked too close to railroad tracks, partied hard with his friends and walked with a cocky swagger. This guy was the antithesis to all of my standards when it came to men. I was completely turned off. Until he called me after bringing me home that first night and talked to me for hours from the parking lot of a local 7-11. He made me laugh and was shocked at my relative innocence compared to his extensive experience. Brady didnít hide his interest in me and after a few dates with a youth pastor I was talking to, who made me feel like a younger sister instead of a perspective girlfriend, it was refreshing. It was exciting; enticing. "Heís the devil," Mir jokingly teased. She wasnít that far off the mark. He wasnít the devil, but he definitely had been put in my path to detour my walk with God further, and he didnít even know it. Perhaps I would have known it, had I been listening to the Spiritís warnings, but I smothered his words with my insistence that I would just date Brady for fun. Nothing would come of it. I was allowed to be a little wild for once. After all, I had been a good girl my whole life. It wouldnít be rebelling. I would walk the line. If I stepped off now and then from that line, I could find my way back, I assured myself.
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