One of the reasons I started this blog in the first place was to have a platform for people to share their testimony. If you would like to share your story contact me!
As today’s guest says it best, “My testimony might offend some people. It might offend a ton of people. It also might show someone that there really is a God who loves them abundantly”
That’s what testimony’s do they are real, relatable, raw, real and unarguable. My sweet and precious friend Carli’s story is no exception. She is opening hearts and drawing people to the cross with her story. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Written by Carli Salzberg. You can follow her at her blog, Choosing freedom.
My testimony starts out like many others you have heard I am sure. I grew up in a Christian home. My mom was Christian and my dad was Jewish. My dad made us attend Hebrew school throughout our elementary years and my mom held Bible studies for us at the kitchen table every Sunday after church, until they got a divorce when I was in the fourth grade. Divorce is pretty common nowadays, actually so common that more than 50% of marriages end in it. So most people, including me, are not shocked when we hear stories about other people’s parents going through one.
I mean all I have ever known was divorce. My parents, my friend’s parents, even my parent’s parents. My parent’s divorce in particular didn’t affect me. At least on the outside it didn’t. My sister, Lindsay, 13 years old at the time and my brother, Jeremy who was 6, both handled it the way a kid those ages should. They mourned the loss of a “normal” family. They cried and begged my parents to stay together. But I on the other hand, did not shed a single tear. I knew I had to be strong for my brother and sister but I also had too much pride to show any kind of emotion towards the divorce. I remember having a conversation with an old friend in my room, and I was telling her about my parents. I specifically remember saying, “It’s not a big deal, I’ll get over it eventually.” From this point in my life to the next 8 years, that was my mindset. I will get over it. It isn’t that big of a deal. That was the start of my life without Jesus. I mean I could handle it on my own…right?
In middle school, I found a group of friends that knew how to get my mind off the crappy hand I was dealt and turn it into some good clean fun. Okay it wasn’t so clean but it was definitely fun. At the time. The seventh grade was the first time I was introduced to marijuana and alcohol. I tried both and liked both. Mostly alcohol because it allowed me to loosen up, be free, and take my mind off everything else. Now usually when there is alcohol and weed involved, there is some sexual activity. Let’s just say I might have jumped the gun a little bit and got a head start on most things people our age waited for. No, I wasn’t having sex , but I was doing things I knew I would regret later.
I’ll admit it, I wasn’t the easiest child. The only times we ever really communicated was when we were arguing about me getting into trouble at school, speeding tickets (doesn’t matter how many, alright?), and spending too much money. I longed to hear the words “I love you” come out of his mouth for years. I still do. I didn’t hear them from him often growing up. But when I did, I believed they were just empty words that he felt like he had to say as a father.
I continued using drugs and alcohol but to a larger extent. I was blacking out every weekend and hooking up with guys that I wouldn’t even recognize the next day. I kept trying to fill that hole that only God could fill. I wouldn’t even allow myself to think such a thing because even just an hour alone was miserable. My thoughts consumed me and dragged me deeper into darkness.
My junior year of high school I got into a relationship with a boy who wasn’t one you would normally bring home to a family dinner. He sold drugs and for some odd reason I was into that. To sum it up, he got kicked out of my high school for getting caught and everything just went downhill from there. My parents forbid me from dating him. But there wasn’t a chance in the world I would give that up, so I did what every teenage girl does. I hid it from them for two years. I would sleepover at his house every night and they never found out. I figured my mom either wasn’t paying enough attention or was completely oblivious.
Senior year, my relationship with this boy had only gotten worse. It was physically and verbally abusive. He was cheating on me one day and then telling me he loved me the next. And of course those were the words I had been waiting to hear from anyone, so I forgave him time and time again. We were having sex during this time. Sex didn’t mean much to me then. It didn’t mean much to anyone. I wanted to feel wanted, and if having sex was going to make me feel that then what was so bad about it?
Winter break of senior year, my dad took us on a ski trip in Colorado. I remember one night of that trip so vividly. I was lying on the couch after a long day of skiing and I began to feel super nauseous. This was the third or fourth day that week that I had gotten this feeling. I tried to convince myself I had the flu, but deep down I knew that it was more than that. So the second to last day of the trip, I asked my dad to call me in some nausea medicine. The next thing he said was a line I will never forget because it changed my life. I believe it was a statement sent straight from God as a warning that I needed to come to my senses. My dad responded jokingly, “You’re probably just pregnant.” I laughed the most fake laugh anyone has probably ever heard. There was so much pain behind it and it sent a cold shiver up my spine because I knew I had to take a pregnancy test.
When I got home, I called up my two best friends and asked them to take me to get a pregnancy test. We drove straight to Walgreens, and I bought a test and went to the bathroom to take it. Sure enough, it was positive. Yupp, I was pregnant. I was pregnant with a child by a guy who was verbally abusive, selling drugs, and cheating on me. The situation couldn’t have been better. I knew I couldn’t tell anyone. My two best friends were the only ones that knew and of course their first question was, “What are you going to do?” I didn’t even know what I was having for dinner that night, let alone how I was going to raise a family at my age.
My first thought was that if my parents ever found out, I was out on the streets. So telling them was not an option for me at the time. I mean I have been keeping secrets from them for years now, what would one more do to me? Anyways, I will get over it. It isn’t that big of a deal.
I remember rushing home that night, running up to my sisters room and just weeping. I could not get a single word out for fifteen minutes. I finally gathered the courage to say it, “I’m pregnant”. Lindsay, the amazing and comforting sister that she is, just said to me in the most calming voice, “It’s okay Carli. We are going to figure this out.” Nothing anyone else could ever say would make me feel the peace that those few words made me feel. Lindsay has always been that person. Someone could have been shot and she would be right next to you saying, “Everything is going to be okay, don’t you worry.”
I was sitting in my bed that night. I wasn’t crying. I wasn’t even sad. I was empty. I felt like someone could have sucker punched me in the face and I probably wouldn’t flinch. It was just me, my unborn baby, and incredibly loud thoughts running through my mind.
The next day, I woke up and had made my decision. I couldn’t keep the baby. I could not bring a child into this world with a broken family. There wouldn’t have even been a family. Would my child see his father every other weekend the way I saw mine? Would he/she have to be surrounded by drugs and alcohol because of the way we were abusing them? I couldn’t think of any reason to keep my baby just so they could be born into a life full of brokenness.
I could not think of any reason to keep my baby because I didn’t know Jesus. I wasn’t aware that He was able to give me and my precious child increasingly more than we could ask for. I was blind to the grace and forgiveness that was being handed to me right then and there.
Now to him who is able to do in full measure more than all our desires or thoughts, through the power which is working in us
So, I did what I thought I had to do and I got an abortion. I can honestly say that the entire process was a blur. That month of my life vaguely lingers in my mind because I spent years mentally blocking it out.
I went on with my life, acting as if this tragedy never even happened. I got over it eventually.
As I was packing for college, I knew that I wanted more. A desire grew inside my heart for a deeper relationship with Jesus. I had been on mission trips, church retreats, etc. and I knew what He was about but I wanted to experience this oh so astounding love that everyone talks about.
My freshman year at Georgia Southern University, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I started attending Connection Church in Statesboro and I was just consumed and surrounded by love in that place.
After being saved, I was expecting a radical change in my life. I was expecting all of the pain and hurt that was tucked away to just disappear. I was even prayed over hundreds of times. No exaggeration. You know when the pastor does the altar calls at the end of every sermon? Yeah, I was that girl that went up every single time. I could never get enough prayer. Don’t get me wrong, prayer is a good thing. Asking for prayer is a sign of strength, not weakness.
I knew what Jesus did for me. I knew that He took all of that shame and guilt that I felt after my abortion and nailed it to a cross. I knew God loved me SO much that He sent his ONLY son to die.
I knew all of these things. But did I actually feel in my heart that I was loved this much? I didn’t even feel loved by my own earthly father, how could I be loved by a God that has never sinned EVER?
I struggled with the thoughts of being unloveable and unworthy for the next two years. Until about three months ago, I had a complete revelation.
A friend told me that God wanted me to share my testimony with everyone. Not only because It will give other people the opportunity to know Jesus, but because it will set me free.
So that is what I did. That is what I am doing with you. Right here and right now.
I am sharing my story with you so you would know that we CAN experience true freedom. We have been delivered from our pasts since the day that we confessed it. The Lord knew my heart. He KNOWS our hearts. Every time the enemy tries to use our sin against us , the Lord is saying,
“You are my beloved. I knew what you were going to do before you even did it. And I still love you. You are perfect to me.”
Because of the way God has forgiven me and loved me so generously, is the ONLY reason I have been able to forgive myself. And because I finally forgive myself for the decision that I made, I am able to share it with all of you in hopes that you would know that Jesus is waiting. He is waiting to lead you into a life of passion and purpose. So what are we waiting for?
We are called to freedom. So let’s live in it.