I grew up in the church. I don't remember a time in my young life when I didn't say prayers or attend church. I believed in God and in Jesus and didn't question the Bible.
Then, as a teenager, I went to Southern Baptist Christian school and church. This church taught things that I had never learned or even thought of. They taught that Jesus came so that sinners could be "saved", but first they had to ask Him into "their heart". They taught about heaven and hell and that people actually went to one or the other. They also taught that women could not wear pants, the King James Version was the only one, divorce was unforgivable, women were to be in total submission to men, Catholics and those in evangelical churches were not truly saved, and any question of authority meant rebellion. I did not learn about the grace and mercy of Jesus, but rather the heavy hand of a authoritarian God. I did not learn love, but instead how to judge others that did not worship God the same way I did.
Once I graduated high school, I was done with religion. I didn't want to serve a God that disowned people for not wearing the correct clothing, didn't read the "right" Bible, and made women stay in abusive marriages. I ran as far away from God and "His people" as I could.
Then something happened, something that turned my heart back to Him. I was pregnant (out of wedlock, I might add) and me and my husband to be were so happy. We looked forward to raising our baby. We read parenting books, my husband read wonderful literature to my growing belly, I quit smoking, ate good food, got married, and did all the "right" things.
Then on December 21st 1988, I was 21 weeks pregnant and my water broke. I was put in the hospital, it was a small rural hospital, and my family was over 300 miles away. They told me the baby was too young to be born and if my body started to get an infection they would have to take her. I honestly had very little clue about what was going on, I just wanted to keep my baby safe. It was then, in the hospital, that I remembered my old friend and I called out to Him. I begged Him to keep my baby safe and I promised Him my faithful devotion if He would do this one thing for me.
I was in the hospital for 3 days and then I started to get a fever, my white blood count went up, and infection was starting. My baby was too little, the hospital did not have a neonatal department. That night I prayed and I asked the Lord to take my baby home to Him. I asked that she not go to heaven alone, but that she go into the arms of Jesus. To this day I remember the second her life crossed from here to eternity. I literally saw a shape in the hospital wall, a shape of a man. This man had a baby in His arms and I knew that my baby had entered eternity with the Savior. I delivered my precious baby, Cecelia Elise, which means "musical gift of God".
After the death of my precious baby, I tried to go on. Many people did not acknowledge her death, because to them she was not a person. A family member even had the nerve to tell my husband that our baby wasn't really a baby yet! I guess they said that to "comfort" him, but all it did was make it harder to grieve the loss. They didn't have the bond with her that I had. They didn't carry her for five months. They didn't miss her when she was gone.
I remember those days, I started to drink to dull the pain. As I drank I also started to listen to Christian music. That probably sounds weird, but the words brought me comfort. I would sit and listen to the words over and over, words that I didn't understand but words that carried life.
I remember picking up my King James Bible and thumbing through it, just looking for some sign. I would love to say that I got a sign, but it was all confusing and meaningless to me... (to be continued)