Uncategorized

Consider the Feet

God has chosen us and we are set apart as His. His servants. His messengers. Messengers sent on a journey to deliver the hope of the gospel. Each messenger’s path is different, but no path is easy. 

Regardless of the road upon which our feet have walked, the errand for each chosen messenger is the same. We are called to declare the glory of God and through our lives reveal the beauty of the gospel. Our stories reveal the active love and faithfulness of God. How we navigate the trail reveals our faithfulness.  The road is often long and many challenging obstacles will make the journey difficult, leaving the feet that have walked it dirty, bruised and tired, but beautiful. Beautiful not in their own right or because of the journey itself. Beautiful because they carry the only message of hope. Each healed scar and bruise is lovely because of the healer.

My particular path was of the dark and twisted kind. The kind that most would rather not speak of, but it is for that very reason I share portions of my story.  To give voice to the unspeakable topics that we often conceal. Not for the sake of the story or to unburden myself, but because I know there are others who are afraid their experiences are too dark to reveal the light of Christ. Be encouraged, there is no abyss too dark for the Light of the World. 

This is not a Bible study. There are far more eloquent writers that produce those.  I am simply a woman who has walked the road to healing. I hope that a glimpse into some of my darkest and most hopeful moments (because often they are the same) will be an encouragement and reminder that it was not without purpose. 

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!'” Isaiah 52:7

Biblical forgiveness · Christian · forgiveness · healing · trauma recovery

Finding Encouragement to Forgive

The principle of forgiveness is simple. It is the complexity of the situation that often makes things difficult. As I have worked to understand biblical forgiveness as it relates to abuse, this pastor’s counsel and writing has been a great encouragement. Seeing forgiveness as a skill to be cultivated rather than an abstract idea is life changing.

Please take the time to read his recent series on the topic. It is worth your time.

How Do I Forgive? (Part 1)

Amanda Ladwig · Biblical forgiveness · Christian · forgiveness · post-abortion · self-forgiveness

Confronting Self-Forgiveness

“You are disgusting! How could you ever forgive yourself?” Her voice broke the silence and rang through the auditorium as I stood speechless in front of a room full of people. Being heckled at events where I shared my abortion experience and testimony was nothing new, but this particular occurrence stopped me in my tracks. 

As a new convert, I had struggled with letting go of past sins, yet nothing was more difficult than my abortion (Paper Bags & Lollipops). I knew I was forgiven by my Savior, but I still struggled with feelings of guilt and remorse. Counselor after Christian counselor reminded me of the forgiveness found in Christ, and all that was left was to forgive myself.  Time and time again I was confronted with this idea, so clearly, I needed to search the matter out. Was self-forgiveness something I needed? Would I feel differently if I achieved it?  

The idea of self-forgiveness has become a type of “leveling up” in many areas of recovery and healing. It is often considered the final step in letting go of the past and “feeling better.” Sadly, it is also the area where most hit a wall and end up frustrated and left believing that without it forgiveness will never be experienced tangibly.  

What we have come to call self-forgiveness, is a task to remove discomfort related to remorse and guilt.  We are creatures of comfort and desire to feel better about our sense of self.  We long to move forward and live our best life fully. Yet, as Christians we must be wary, this concept only draws our focus inward and away from the goal of living for Christ and Him through us. The essence of self-forgiveness is intertwined with self-love and self-actualization. In other words, it isn’t biblical. 

Feelings of remorse and guilt are not bad in themselves. Much good can come from the pain of our past if our mind is set on the things of God. After all, the refiner’s fire wasn’t meant to be pleasant, but it always produces something precious. Those lingering unpleasant sensations are the very things that lead to repentance and good works. I am guilty of having an abortion. Do I know that I am forgiven? Absolutely. Do feelings of pain, guilt, and remorse still linger? Of course. Sin has consequences. I will never be completely whole on this side of heaven, but by the grace of God, those feelings continue to drive me to help other women. Not because it’s necessary for forgiveness or righteousness, but because I am called by faith to do good works. 

Biblical forgiveness is always others’ oriented. We owe a debt and are asking another to forego their right to it. When we turn forgiveness inward, we are asserting we have offended ourselves; our moral code or belief has been injured and we need to make it right. Yet as Christians, do we set our own moral code? Are we obligated to ourselves? The answer, of course, is no! And may we be ever grateful for that truth. We are obligated only to God and what He requires from us in His word. 

When we rely on self-forgiveness as a means to deal with unwanted feelings, we are stripping Biblical forgiveness of its glorious simplicity.  We are behaving as if God’s word on the matter is insufficient and the work done on the Cross was incomplete. However the word of God is clear, “If we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  (1 John 1-9) 

We aren’t called to forgive ourselves, rather, we are called to rest in the forgiveness of our gracious and merciful God.

Amanda Ladwig · Christian · healing · trauma recovery

Rest.

Trauma recovery is a process of uncovering pain, revealing sinful coping mechanisms, and dealing with them honestly. It takes time. It takes energy.
You may feel like you can’t fight anymore. You can’t push back one more flashback or battle against lingering memories. You may think it is too great a dragon for you to slay; you would be right.

Rest.
You are not enough in this war against the flesh. Look to Christ.
He will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).
He is your provision (Phillipians 4:1)
He is your strength (Psalm 28:8)

Our cry must be, Lord, I need you every hour.

Amanda Ladwig · Biblical forgiveness · Christian · forgiveness · healing · Healing After Sexual Abuse

Confronting Forgiveness

I feel a certain sense of kinship with Jonah.  God told him to go to his enemies, tell them about their sinfulness, and call them to repentance. Jonah’s response was to ignore God and simply avoid doing what he was told to do. His decision to run from God resulted in a turbulent journey and ended with reluctant obedience. I feel for him, confronting one’s enemies is no easy task. Sharing an opportunity of hope with them? Almost impossible. Almost.

I had a very Jonah-like response when confronted with the idea of forgiving my enemies. The idea both terrified and enraged me. I spent years, no decades, walking through parched lands, systematically moving boulders, revealing serpents, and crushing them one by one so their venom would no longer poison me or the life of my family. Now I was expected to “let it go”? I was expected to look into the eyes of my enemies, the very men who had stripped me naked and dumped me in that hellish desert in the first place and forgive them?   Not a chance.  They deserved destruction. It seemed more pleasant to ignore this part of God’s word because it frightened me and frankly I wanted them to burn.

Forgiveness can be difficult even in the simplest of circumstances. But, for those who have suffered any kind of abuse the process of forgiveness becomes a bit more involved. To say it’s “no easy task” is putting it lightly. Often, the idea of forgiveness is handled flippantly and treated like a box to be checked on the way to recovery. We are told that if we just forgive and move on everything will be fine. This becomes a stumbling block for many and it removes the earth-shattering reality of what is happening when true Biblical forgiveness occurs. 

We find forgiveness at the very core of our Christian faith; it is not negotiable. If forgiveness was not necessary, if repayment of debt was something we could wave off as unimportant, then the death of Jesus was for nothing. We know this is not the case, forgiveness was and is a necessary act to reconcile God and man. It is imperative.

Several things were keeping me from taking steps toward forgiveness. A misunderstanding of what it was played a large part in this.  It took time and study to understand that I had confused the act of forgiveness with reconciliation.  I had to learn that forgiveness didn’t mean pretending nothing happened or that I shouldn’t seek justice and hold them accountable. I wasn’t required to spend time with them or invite them to meet my family. There are always consequences for sin. Forgiveness and reconciliation are two very different things. One may lead to the other, but they don’t always go hand-in-hand. I had to come to understand that the goal wasn’t forming a relationship with my abusers the goal was to point them to Christ. 

Once my mind was clear of confusion I needed to confront the emotions that were holding me back from taking the next step.

Fear. 

I was afraid to forgive because it had become my last line of defense against my abuser. The idea of forgiveness made me feel vulnerable. What if they scoff or call me a liar? What if he shames me again? What if it rips my family apart? Scariest of all, what if he was actually remorseful? Forgiveness would take courage. 

Anger.

They stole my innocence, my ability to trust, and my ability to love without fear. There was a debt that needed to be paid. They owed me.  I knew my anger was valid and the debt owed to me was legitimate, but it took time to recognize that those things could not be returned regardless of how angry I was. Only Christ could heal what was broken and make all things new. Forgiveness would require faith.

Bitterness.

It didn’t seem right or fair that a person so vile might be given a place at the table of the Lord with me.  I would have no part in pointing them to grace and hope they didn’t deserve. God could choose someone else to deliver a message of forgiveness. 

Forgiveness would require humility. 

When we forgive our enemies it costs us. We are relinquishing our right to the debt that is owed to us. For those of us that have experienced abuse and have had so much stolen or destroyed that seems like too much to ask. 

Every time I would work through a particular area of abuse, I was confronted with forgiveness. Like Jonah, I would simply do an about-face and go in the opposite direction.  However, debts can’t go unpaid. Someone must “make good” regardless. By refusing to deal with the wrong done to me, fear, bitterness, and anger gave way to stormy and unpredictable behavior. Sadly, the people who ended up paying the price were innocent of any wrongdoing.

Forgiveness didn’t come easy and certainly wasn’t the first thing I did. Learning to forgive took time and several years of chewing on the idea, running away from it, and God gently bringing me back before I could take the tiniest of steps in that direction. Letting go meant I couldn’t use my abuse as an excuse. I couldn’t play the victim and hide behind carefully constructed walls of self-protection.  I had to acknowledge the multiple ways I had been hurt and then relinquish it all by placing it where it belonged, at the foot of the Cross. 

“Five Easy Steps to Forgive your Abuser” does not exist and if it did, I wouldn’t trust it. Each situation is different, each victim is different, each abuser is different. Wisdom and discernment must be used in each circumstance to dictate how it is handled, but the principle of forgiveness is always the same.  

Some may never have an opportunity to confront, forgive, and call to repentance their abuser. Forgiveness may look like composing a letter that will never be sent and then quietly laying their burden down believing that God will deal with it justly. 

For others, it may mean standing in a courtroom not only demanding earthy justice, but publically extending forgiveness, and pointing their abuser to their need for God’s grace and mercy. 

As Christians, the goal is never forgiveness for forgiveness’s sake. It isn’t just one more step on the road to healing. It embodies all of the soft beauty and jagged edges wrapped up inside the Gospel. It can be raw and messy, but it is always glorious. It is storming the gates of Hell, it is taking dominion, it is loving your enemy, it is bringing the Gospel to the lost.  

In a sense, we are being called to the same faithful obedience to which Jonah was assigned; bringing the hope of true repentance to the wicked, and leaving the distribution of justice to the God of the Universe.  

Extending forgiveness doesn’t mean everything will be fine. It is more realistic to expect that we will struggle and need to choose forgiveness daily. Some days we may sit under our shady tree of grace and grumble about God’s providence. On this side of heaven, there will always be trials and pain, but with each passing day and each decision to walk in obedience, it does get easier. 

When we trust God and believe His word we have assurance that He will deal righteously with our enemies. We do not need to fear. Either they will repent and reconcile with Christ or they will spend eternity writhing in pain and torment. 

Confronting one’s enemies and sharing the opportunity of hope becomes possible only because we can trust that justice will be done. 

pro-life

One Voice

A note of encouragement as we look forward to Sanctity of Life Sunday.

I’ve made a choice for life and made a choice for death. The circumstances surrounding both situations were almost identical.  What was the difference? What stopped me from keeping my appointment to have an abortion?

In truth? One voice.

When the world around me was shouting their version of the truth and telling me that a pregnancy would ruin my career and destroy relationships, declaring that a child would prevent me from achieving my goals, one voice spoke the truth. 

It is easy to grow weary as we fight against this culture of death.  We battle against ideologies that burden us with the unrealistic tasks of self-creation and self-love. We war against philosophies that tell us a woman’s life is of more value than the life she carries in her womb. We continually push back against the belief that the elderly, sick, or people with disabilities are of less worth. 

Sadly, we live in a culture that often only applies value to a life based on its net worth or capability, rather than the fact that each human, regardless of age or ability, is an image-bearer, fearfully, and wonderfully made.  It seems as if we are involved in a never-ending high stakes game of “whack-a-mole,” reacting and trying to disprove every single lie that pops up and seems to dictate the truth of our culture. 

For those fighting against this current, it may seem futile. It may seem like the lies are louder than the truth. But, it is the seemingly small things, the diligent prayers, and stalwart faithfulness of those who know and speak the truth that will change lives. 

I often think about how different my life would be if that one person hadn’t spoken of life when the world around me was calling for death. What if they had kept silent amid all the noise around me and allowed me to believe the lies?  If they hadn’t told me about the value of my child’s life simply because he existed.

When the world around me seemed like a torrent of hopelessness and fear, it was that one faithful voice sharing the truth in love that was a beacon of hope. Their actions and their words cast glorious light over my fear and stopped me in my tracks.

My child is grown now; he is married and is a first responder. When I pause for a moment and consider all the lives he has touched in both small and big ways,  I can’t help but marvel at how just one person walking in faithfulness can change the lives of others for generations to come.

So, those of you who are on the front line, do not grow weary in your work. Every seemingly small act is changing this culture of death into a culture of life. It will happen, and it will happen one life at a time. I know from experience the power one voice can wield. 

Please be that one voice. 

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

This post was written for Iowa Right to Life by Amanda Ladwig and published on 10/4/2020. https://www.iowartl.org/2020/10/one-voice/

Amanda Ladwig · Christian · forgiveness · healing · Uncategorized

He Heals the Brokenhearted

One of the more difficult aspects of working through regret, guilt, and shame about your past, is recognizing how your actions may have caused a great deal of pain in another. 

You may be a new creation, but that does not change the destruction you may have left in your wake before. There may be times you long for the ability to go back in time and do it right. However,  there is nothing you can do to fix the past and you cannot remove pain from others. You can only ask for their forgiveness (if possible) and proceed to do the next right thing and love that person despite the hate they may harbor toward you. 

You must trust that God keeps His promises. He can heal the brokenhearted and do the same work in them that He did in you. He is mightier than any pain you may have inflicted on another.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

Amanda Ladwig · Christian · healing · Healing After Sexual Abuse · sexual abuse · shame · trauma recovery

Warfare in a Pretty Dress

I can’t begin to count how many dresses I’ve purchased only to have them hang in my closet unworn. I would, of course, have every intention of wearing them. There were many times I tried. I would put one on only to change into something else before I left the house. Their ultimate destiny the donation box.

Most women naturally appreciate beautiful things.  We desire to surround ourselves with beauty because we are by nature beautifiers. That same instinct holds true regarding our appearance. We desire to be adorned with beautiful things and to be thought of as lovely.   We long to be cherished and looked upon with delight. Within appropriate situations, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this.  God created that desire and our femininity, but what happens when that legitimate desire is manipulated by someone with wicked intentions? What happens when we feel betrayed by our God-given longing to be known, cherished, and found lovely?  

If a woman is sexually abused at any age, war was waged against her desire to know and be known.  Usually, the outcome is a broken spirit and a life dictated by fear and shame. The abuse can affect how she sees her body and her femininity. For some victims, the feeling of shame gives birth to anger and the desire for control. She uses her sexuality, the very thing she’s ashamed of, to manipulate and ultimately shame others.  The opposite can also be true. Shame about her sexuality may cause a woman to harbor guilt and self-loathing. This guilt does not belong to her, but she carries the burden and works to make herself invisible. If given a compliment she will often close herself off; wearing bitterness and shame like a warm coat.  In both situations, fear is in control and shame is dictating truth. They work hard to never allow themselves to be victims again.  Despite the illusion of strength or piety, each woman described is living life as a perpetual victim and both women are hiding. Either she is allowing herself to be used by others for pleasure and hiding behind bravado or she is allowing herself to be hurt repeatedly by the mere idea that she is feminine and hiding behind timidity. I know this to be true because I have played the role of both women at some point in my life. 

In pursuit of healing, some would encourage those that are hurting to learn to “love themselves” more or to turn their focus inward and prioritize “self-care”. In truth, that is what they’ve been doing this entire time and it hasn’t worked.  Abuse survivors strive to protect themselves, because they believe no one else will, including God. It is safer to find a familiar little corner and perpetually lick their wounds watching the world through suspicion.  In truth, they have already lingered too long in the “self”. Self-preservation and self-hatred have become like gods. 

What was it that kept me from wearing that pretty dress?   Because I saw myself through the lens of shame I had grown to despise my femininity. I saw it as a weakness and hated it and anyone who happened to notice. I was ashamed of longing to be lovely because that desire had betrayed me in the past.  Essentially, I had set my abuse and abusers up as warped gods who had the power to shape my identity.  I had become a slave to my fear and shame. 

Since sin is the most vile and ugly thing there is, then the counter is the beauty of the righteousness of Christ. We must adorn ourselves in His righteousness and truth.  That means refusing to wear the guilt of our abusers. It is important for women who have been abused to remember that they were not accomplices in their abuse. Therefore, it should be the abuser’s shame, not theirs. However, we do have our own sin to confront and it can be tricky to spot.  A common phrase used in recovery circles is something to the effect of, “stop giving your abuser control.” This is a true and a helpful reminder, but I am going to change it just a bit to show where we as abuse survivors are dealing with our own sin. 

“Stop giving your abuser the place reserved for God.” 

Only God should have the power and authority to dictate our behavior. Only God has the authority to give us our identity.  When an abuse survivor continues to live in the shadow of her abuse, she has allowed her abuser to become a god. Continued submission to them is putting what they have said about her above what the true God says. She is guilty of unbelief and setting up false idols and repentance is needed.  

To be free, I had to clear out yet another enemy that had set up camp in my mind. I knew this was going to be a battle hard-won because this particular source of shame had claimed its territory when I was young.  I would need to be vigilant in taking every thought captive. Stripped of the weighty shroud of guilt and shame and adorned with the full armor of God, I would need to seek out those places where I had let my abuse and abuser reign and confront them with God’s truth. I came face-to-face with this enemy almost every morning. It had set up camp in my closet and held in bondage how I dressed. To win this battle, I would need to wear a pretty dress out of the house. 

This terrified me, but I had to do it to reclaim the simplicity of my femininity and the innocence of loveliness.  A couple of scenarios seemed especially scary, I had to be prepared for the very real possibility that someone might compliment me. I would be required to receive it exactly how it was intended, as a kind word. However, the most terrifying?  Allowing myself to know the pleasant feelings that should accompany a compliment without retreating cloaked in bitterness and self-loathing. Only Christ, His strength, and His truth would make this possible. 

The battleground may look different for each of us. For some, enjoying intimacy with her husband is a supreme act of trust and for some abuse survivors simply wearing a pretty dress is an act of faith and a declaration of war. When we are in Christ we are no longer broken victims; we are redeemed and remade as conquerors. Christ will claim His place over our identity and our sexuality.  The desire we have, to be found delightful that sin and abuse twisted, He will make new. We can embrace our femininity fully without shame because Christ redeems it all. He has adorned us in His righteousness and He calls us “beloved.”

abortion · Amanda Ladwig · Christian · healing · healing after having abortion · post-abortion · pro-life · shame · Uncategorized

Live, Laugh, Love

There is a running joke among my family and close friends about my awkward responses to expressions of love. We have learned to laugh when I have those “Spock” moments, but the reason behind this reaction is far more complicated than simply not being a “hugger”.  The truth is, for a long time, I felt unworthy of love and ashamed to receive it. This reaction was most profound when engaging with my children. Having the kind of past I have had (Tent Pegs & Powdered Cookies), there were many layers to this. However, I can easily trace the intense guilt and shame about loving and being loved, by my children in particular, to my abortion (Paper Bags & Lollipops).

Shame can be a useful thing. If we are guilty of something, it should point us to the cross to find forgiveness and reconciliation.  Although, if our guilt and shame are ignored and never dealt with correctly, they don’t just disappear. They are pointed in the wrong direction.  We will feel guilt about the wrong things. Then, shame inevitably becomes self-loathing. 

The first step in dealing with my legitimate shame was a willingness to admit, without excuses or attempts at justification, the fact that I was guilty of having my unborn child murdered.  The use of this word may make some readers uncomfortable, even those within the “pro-life” movement, and it should. It should make us more than uncomfortable. Nevertheless, it should not prevent us from speaking the truth. It was that same “uncomfortable” feeling, that same unwillingness to call abortion what it was, that enabled me to avoid the truth. My desire to try and soften what I had done led to a life of self-loathing and self-condemnation, because it removed the opportunity for repentance. Every time one of my living children would show me affection or reach a milestone my heart would sing, but a shadow would quickly cover any feeling of joy. How dare I? How dare I rejoice over the life of these little ones when I was so quick to snuff out the life of another. Shame was preventing me from enjoying my living children. 

There was another element to this feeling of guilt and shame, it was fear. I believed I had no right to mourn or love my aborted child, so shame and guilt had become the only way I knew how to feel anything about him.  It was how I could prove that he mattered. I was afraid that if I stopped punishing myself for what I had done it would seem like I had forgotten my dead child, and I never wanted to forget. Shame had become the only way I could express love for him.

I had known Christ’s forgiveness in all areas of my life, except this one. Christ does not leave work unfinished and He doesn’t let us hide forever. He pursues us into the darkest parts of our lives until we grow weary of running away from His grace. I was tired; tired of being in a state of brokenness. I knew this wasn’t where Christ leaves His people. So, early one December morning, while the rest of my house slept, I stood outside in the falling snow and whispered my confession and plea for forgiveness to my Redeemer.  I cried until my tears were spent and I had nothing left to mourn. I stood there for a while staring at the sky and considering how difficult the next part of this process would be.  The battle line was drawn and healing was on the other side.  To move past my guilt, I had to look my sin in the face and call it what it was. I was forgiven, I was now required to throw off the veil of shame and act like a chosen daughter of the King.

What would this mean?  I would no longer cower, but stand in His grace and forgiveness. Armed well by His word and believing what He says is true, I would “stand against the devil’s schemes for my destruction” (Eph. 6:11).  It would mean I would need to choose to confidently receive love from my children and humbly accept good gifts from my Redeemer. It would mean being courageous enough to mourn my dead child and claim him as mine. It would mean the next time someone called me a “hypocrite” or “murderer” because I spoke boldly about my abortion, I would face them with joy and declare the Gospel. And, it would mean I would need to learn how to give an authentic hug.

Amanda Ladwig · Christian · healing · Healing After Sexual Abuse · sexual abuse · trauma recovery · Uncategorized

A Song Restored

Standing in front of the small crowd, my stomach was in knots and I had the overwhelming desire to run.  Why? Surely, a woman who had spent much of her life singing; who had performed for thousands of people wasn’t having a panic attack over a solo in a church choir at a small conference. But, as the orchestra began to play my heart raced, for this was no ordinary solo; it was an act of faith.

Events that take place in our lives can mold us. Trauma, at any age, will affect how we view ourselves and how we react to the world around us.  As we take on the enormous task of untangling how abuse has changed us, we often discover that there are things we have used as a way of coping.  Those same things are often where we have learned to find our identity. For some, it is athletics or a form of entertainment; for others, it is food or relationships where we seek to have control. Whatever it is, once it’s exposed and we grab hold of that one thread and begin to pull it seems our entire world begins to unravel. It feels terrifying and can lead us to second guess everything. 

I second-guessed music, singing, in particular. I had discovered, several years before that I had been using music as a way to express emotion without the messiness of vulnerability. I could create a shadow of intimacy and the illusion of being known.  I never actually felt anything, but I could make others feel things on my behalf. I was safe.  I was in control. Music had become so much a part of who I was, that if I wasn’t performing, depression reigned. The realization that even music had been tainted by trauma and abuse set in motion the wheels of doubt and I simply lost my song. I could no longer bring myself to sing publicly. In fact, the very thought sent waves of panic through my body.  How could I know who I was? What steps could I take to find joy in it again? If I could only remember who I was before the abuse, maybe I could start over.  The temptation to embark on a wild goose chase of self-discovery was real.

But, that is not how God works. God doesn’t pull us out of the ashes only to send us back to the pile to put the broken pieces back together.  And He doesn’t do work in us so we can see more of ourselves, He does these things so we can see more of Him. In truth, what I was experiencing was not ultimate destruction, but one of the necessary minor chords needed to provide the relief of resolve in any well-composed symphony. I needed to trust that He would put a new song in my mouth. (Psalm 40:3)

I remembered a quote that had been printed on the inside cover of one of my vocal exercise books from high school. It read, “He who sings prays twice.” I hadn’t thought much about those words until I had lost my reason to sing. And that simple quote commonly attributed to St. Augustine became a revelation. Singing was created for worship and intimacy with the God who created music. It was then that God began to untangle His gift from a complex web of shame, guilt, and fear. I began to understand that music was not a place to hide or to find my identity; music was to become a form of communication with my King and Savior; an expression of joy only found in knowing and being known by Him.

He continued to work and music began to take on a meaning far surpassing any I had experienced before. For a time, it became so raw and emotional that singing through a simple hymn brought me to tears.  Time passed and my song returned but the melody was different. It had been rewritten with contentment and peace. And the need I once had to perform in order to maintain my identity and control was replaced with the ability to simply enjoy one of God’s good gifts to His people. 

So, there I stood before a small gathering. The first time I would sing publicly since losing my song many years before. He had brought me full circle, back to a familiar scene with a different purpose. I was afraid. Afraid I would be overcome by emotion and exposed and afraid that I would slip backward clinging to music like a lifeboat. But, God is faithful and I had no need to fear. As the sound of the oboe filled the air, as my stomach churned and my feet wanted to run; a small church unknowingly watched, as God put a new song into the mouth of one he had redeemed. I would sing with joy for my song was no longer in bondage. My song was His.

“The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” Exodus 15:2

Amanda Ladwig · Christian · pro-life · Uncategorized

This Boy…

I remember a sunny day in March,  it was my first moment alone with him. His tiny hand opened and closed around my pinky and he seemed to be smirking as if he had a funny secret to share. I wondered about him, this tiny human resting in my arms, and I asked him quietly, “who will you be?” This boy…

Then, like a wave, the realization that I had almost erased him from existence, hit me so hard it took my breath away.  Just months before, shortly after I revealed my pregnancy, friends and family badgered and encouraged me to end his life just as I had done to another.  There was one person who was bold enough to intervene. One person that told me with compassion and love that I was carrying life, and that life had a purpose and a plan. She told me I was already a mother. With those simple words, a tiny seed of hope was planted. A new creation began where it seemed only death would linger. With those words spoken, I realized that I had a chance to do it right this time.

What I know now was that a kind of miracle had occurred. By that one person speaking life and truth, I had been given a new name to replace the one I had been assigned not so long before (Paper Bags & Lollipops). My new name was, “mother” and I had been given a purpose and a plan.  And the child was not just a chance to “do it right”, but a second chance given by a merciful Father to begin my faithful walk with Him. 

God would use me to speak His truth into the life of my son so that he would never go a day without knowing that he had a name and purpose.  My son’s life reveals promises kept by a loving Father and answers the question I asked quietly on that sunny day in March as I held him in my arms. “Who will you be?”  This boy…

He still has that same smirk.

He is strong, yet gentle, and compassionate.

He is fiercely loyal and loving.

He tends to be a bit melancholy and moody.

He has made some disastrous mistakes.

He climbs trees, fights fires, and saves lives.

He has a wonderfully cynical and sarcastic sense of humor. 

He is the husband of a beautiful redhead.

He is a faithful follower of Christ.

The world told me it would change my life and it did, but not in the way they had promised. My son’s existence has changed my life and the lives of more people than I could possibly count. Praise be to the God of second chances and for those that speak the truth. 

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11