By Krystal Woods
The foundational, absolute truth that I needed a savior I didn’t acknowledge on a dirt-deep, soul-down level until I was immersed in a circumstance so utterly humongous it swallowed me whole and there was no saving me. No one could save me, I certainly couldn’t, my boyfriend was more than willing to try, but he would fail, my parents could offer no pardon to me. There I was 17 and pregnant; the collision of future plans with realty coming together with such catastrophic power I was left frightened, overwhelmed and with no hope. Even though I had life growing inside me, I was never so empty. There was no space to dream and plan and hope for a future because what future can I possibly have? I was a teen mom.
I grew up in church. I knew all about Jesus. I knew His love for me was vast and immeasurable. I knew He was God and man and lived a life completely different than mine, one without sin. I knew He died as a pierced, bloody, bruised man with thick, jagged thorns pressed into his head. I knew he rose up from death on the 3rd day, slaying the grave, my sin and owning the most powerful name in all eternity. What I didn’t know and understand was that being full of knowledge about Jesus but parading around making decisions and living life with no regard to Him, is the same as not knowing Him. You see, I had tons of knowledge about Jesus but I didn’t know Jesus. Not really, because to know Him requires a response in one’s soul to die to self and live for just Him. I was walking around with an underwhelming realization of my desperate need of this Jesus to be part of each minute of my wrecked and sinful life.
Telling my parents that I was pregnant was by far one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. My mom nearly drove off the road, swerving onto the shoulder, as I told her. We were headed to a college campus to drop off my scholarship applications and as we passed the childcare facility on campus, my mom jokingly said, “Good thing we don’t need that.” I had to tell her I was pregnant at that point as I had been looking for an opening to tell her I was pregnant for awhile. I was 16 weeks into my pregnancy at that point and it was getting hard to hide my swelling belly. After stopping on the shoulder of the road, she grabbed my hand, her eyes welling up with sorrow, and said, “We are going to get through this, it’s going to be hard but we will get through it.” Then she started yelling at me; I don’t remember what all was said. Every time I think of this time in the car with her, I just remember the very first things she said about us getting through it even though it would be hard. She drove back up onto the road and into the college campus and I walked into the financial aid office, eyes swollen and red and dropped off my scholarship applications. I didn’t see the point; I’d resigned myself to the idea that college was out the question. I was going to have a baby and there was no room for higher education in that scenario. My mom, as grief crazed as she was, saw beyond those initial moments into my future and wanted me to be able to support my baby and she was going to make sure “her baby” would still have every advantage in this world. A mother’s love; there’s nothing quite like it, fierce and determined and self-sacrificing.
The next part was telling my dad. My mom knew we were going to need reinforcements so she called my grandparents and said, “Krystal is pregnant, get to the house now.” They immediately got in their car and began the 30 minute drive to our house, trying desperately to beat my dad home from work. My Poppop gave me the biggest and tightest hug he has ever given me. He was crying on my shoulder. My Mommom whispered in my ear as she gave me a hug moments later, “We’ve (my Poppop and her) decided: No abortion.” I remember nodding and thinking in my head: “Ok. I wasn’t thinking of getting one anyway.” Never had abortion been an option for me. Never. If I am a pregnant, I am having a baby. One equals the other.
My dad walks in the door shortly after. With hesitant hands he puts his wallet down and someone (I don’t remember who) takes his car keys out of his hands. He is already suspicious because his parents are there and he knows something has happened. He asks what’s going on. I get upset and Mommom takes me out of the room and down the hallway to my parent’s bedroom. We sit on the bed. We hear my mom whisper, “Krystal, is pregnant.” I hear nothing after that because I am crying, but I was told they feared my dad would pass out from shock. You see I was a very good kid. I never got in trouble. I had good grades and good friends. I showed no clear signs of being sexually active. My family never expected this from me.
Across town my boyfriend was telling his parents. It was met with lots tears and disappointment and fear. This was a lot on everyone in our families because a baby changes everything! So many decisions had to be made. Would we get married? Should we get married? Where will the baby live? How will we support ourselves and a child? So many decisions and so utterly overwhelming. These things were figured out pretty quickly, they had to be because babies don’t wait for you to get yourself together! Here is what was decided:
- The baby was not the problem
- The baby was not a sin
- Premarital sex was the sin
- The baby, as all babies are, was a blessing
- We would not get married
- We would continue to live in our parent’s houses
Let me tell you a little about my boyfriend at the time, Edward Woods, Jr! I ‘loved’ him from afar for about 6 months before we started dating. We had two classes together: American History and Environmental Science. He was a rough and tumble redneck, who disrespected authority, broke school rules and walked around ready for a fight. I wanted him like I had never wanted anything in my life before. I pined after him and sought him out repeatedly. But he just wouldn’t get it! In later years he would share with me that he considered me ‘out of his league’ so he just never took my pursuit of him seriously. Then one day I wrote him a letter and convinced him to ask me on a date. Which he did. From there it was a most beautiful love affair. It embodied all the passion that only 16 year olds can have and blossomed and grew into a fierce adoration and commitment for each other. We were as thick a thieves and truly in love. By the time we turned 17 we were completely caught up in desires. We were in over our heads completely and nothing mattered but being together. Months later we ended pregnant.
Ed would have married me that day. He always wanted to marry me. Commitment was no issue for him. Our parents though, didn’t want us to feel obligated to get married just because we were having a baby. His parents and mine were willing to let us each stay at home, under their roof, and shuffle the baby back and forth, until we knew what we wanted for our futures. Whether it would be a future together, as husband and wife, or a future together as co-parents. I can’t explain how tremendous the relief was to not have to get married. I knew I wasn’t ready.
Once it was out in the open, things for us got infinitely more difficult. We fell under heavy criticism, judgment and condemnation. (much more to share here but those are other posts) I also received a sizable scholarship and so we took it from the Lord that I was to go to college. And I did, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. Ed’s parents, my parents and my Mommom took turns babysitting. I earned my degree and 6 months after I graduated, Ed and I married. Our baby was 4 and a half years old. It was a beautiful wedding filled with love and God’s faithfulness and goodness.
So let’s talk about that baby. Shelbie Lynn Woods was born at 7:28am on November 19, 1999. She was the most beautiful gift and the most pure and precious representation of the amazingly powerful love her father and I had for each other. Loving her was so easy to do, even at 18 years old, we loved her and sacrificed for her care and well-being effortlessly. We were kids having a kid but we loved her severely and cherished her through and through. She grew like all children, quickly! Her daddy slipped a little ring on her finger after he slipped one on mine at our wedding and she was happiest little girl.
Shelbie accepted the Lord at the age of 9 and has never turned back. She is the most sold out for Jesus teenager I know, except for maybe some of her friends. The girl has got a posse of Jesus lovers surrounding her and it’s so sweet and inspirational to watch. Today, we celebrated her 17th birthday. She is now the age I was when I got pregnant with her. She is so different than I was. She is anchored in the Lord on a level that I didn’t reach until my 30s. The girl is called to do great things! My girl was created to have impact for GOOD in this world. Shelbie is a joy every minute and she brings such life and love to our house. I couldn’t imagine my days without her. The world would be missing something if I had chosen not to have Shelbie. The world would not be as bright; it would not the be the same without her. Her compassion for people, her drive to serve and her heart for orphans and those in need is staggering. She will do great things with her life because of WHO lives in her and guides her.
Make no mistake in thinking that all “bad” things end bad. Or that all hopeless situations end hopelessly. See that’s what could have happened BUT when I realized the true depth of my need for a savior at 17 years old crying on my bed because I was going to have a baby, I gave my life to the Lord. My whole life and from that moment I have tried to grow in Him and seek Him in every decision along the way. I know He makes ALL things good (Romans 8:28), all things, hopeless things, scary things, permanent things, seasonal things, EVERYTHING. We need only to choose to let Him reign in our lives and in all situations. From a situation so bleak, comes forth a bright, glorious SON that is living in my daughter. Shelbie is radiant and I love her and I’m so proud to be her mama. To God be the Glory!