Chapter 37, titled “The Night that Changed Everything”
“Miracles on Hope Hill: And Other True Stories of God’s Love” by Carol Kent
“God will not permit any troubles to come upon us, unless He has a specific plan by which great blessing can come out of the difficulty.” Peter Marshall
It was Christmas Eve. Suzanne, now in her sophomore year of college, was home for the holidays. Before she left for school in September of 1960, she and her boyfriend broke up. Throughout the fall months they had not written, called, or contacted each other. They had been high school sweethearts, but both realized the romance was completely over.
For the past several years their families had celebrated the night before Christmas at the home of friends—and this year was no different. The adults had their party downstairs and the college crowd congregated upstairs. The upperclassmen put together a drink called a “scorpion,” which was a combination of liquors they served in a beautiful sterling silver punch bowl. A straw was placed in the bowl and it was passed from person to person. Suzanne’s friends coaxed her to participate and she played along. With her limited experience with alcohol, the drink tasted like strong punch. Suzanne assumed everyone was drinking from the bowl just like she was, not realizing the group was goading her into a drunken state while they barely sipped the beverage. Before long she was intoxicated and struggling to stand up without assistance.
Moments later her former boyfriend stopped by the house to wish everyone a “Merry Christmas”. When he entered the room, the instigators of this perverse entertainment were relieved. They explained what happened and asked him to drive her home. He happily obliged and carefully took her down the back steps so the adults on the first floor wouldn’t discover what happened.
In retrospect, no one should have been more surprised with what took place than Dave. They hadn’t drunk alcohol during the entire time they dated. That night, instead of taking Suzanne home, he took her to his apartment. She had never been in his apartment before because she wanted to avoid the appearance of impropriety. During their months of dating Suzanne and Dave showed great affection for each other, but they had never slept together. Throughout their earlier dating relationship they had an agreement that they would never go that far before marriage.
Even in her drunken state, Suzanne remembers being happy to see Dave walk through the door. She realized her need to leave and willingly gotten into his car, assuming he was taking her home. Instead, he took her to his apartment but she was too intoxicated to know where she was.
Once they arrived, Suzanne was unable to walk without assistance, and Dave guided her inside and laid her down on his bed. He told her she needed something to eat and he went in the kitchen in search of food. Moments later she passed out. As Suzanne lay unconscious on his bed, Dave took advantage of her drunken state and had intercourse with her sexually. On Christmas Eve of 1960, Suzanne was date raped by her former boyfriend.
With guilt closing in after the attack, Dave grabbed her by the shoulders and started shaking Suzanne frantically as he yelled, “Wake up! Wake up! I’ve gone too far!” Slowly, Suzanne awakened and strained to understand what had taken place.
The first week in January, heartsick and ridden with false guilt over what had happened, Suzanne headed back to college. She never planned to be in contact with Dave again. A few weeks passed and when she was late for her period, panic set in. During the last week of the month, she drove home and made an appointment with Dr. Charles, a gynecologist and family friend. A test confirmed her worst fear—she was pregnant.
Suzanne’s mind raced. Returning to college and overwhelmed with fear, she contemplated suicide. Her father was a politician and their family was well known in their community and far beyond. With great angst she thought about the public embarrassment and shame her pregnancy would bring to the family.
She soon realized she lacked the courage to take her own life, so Suzanne called Dave, the former boyfriend she never planned to see again, and told him she was pregnant. He immediately picked her up at school and drove her to the home of her parents. Her mom and dad were shocked and in emotional turmoil following this unexpected news. They took Suzanne to meet with a couple in another city fifty miles away where they had arranged for this pastor and his wife to adopt her baby. Suzanne was in a daze, but when she fully understood the purpose of the meeting, she spoke up. “I don’t think you understand. My baby is not going to be put up for adoption. I am going to give birth to this baby and raise it myself!”
Her father pointed to the exit and forcefully replied, “Do you see that door over there? You have two choices, you can either walk through that door and never look back or you can marry Dave!” When Suzanne wouldn’t agree to adoption, her mother and father planned her private wedding. With only her immediate family in attendance, Suzanne’s rushed marriage quietly took place out of town just two days later on February 4, 1961.
Suzanne knew she had shattered her parents’ rosy dream for her life and didn’t want to cause them more distress. The marriage was a struggle, but Suzanne desperately wanted to make up for their complicated and difficult beginning, and she longed for a good life for her child. Jimmy was born on September 11, 1961, and five years later she delivered a second son on June 15, 1966. Dave had gone fishing and wasn’t there during her labor and delivery. For five and a half years she tried to make the marriage work. In his own way, Dave tried, too, but they were young and both were haunted by the circumstances that led to their marriage. There was more than enough guilt to go around and she and Dave eventually divorced.
Life was challenging and Suzanne struggled on multiple levels. When Jimmy was young, she wrote to Ann Landers and asked her how and when she should tell her son about his conception. Ann wrote back and said, “You will know how and when at the right time. Good luck, dear!”
Twenty years passed. Jimmy was finishing his freshman year at Stanford University, and he had returned home on the eve of Suzanne’s fortieth birthday. As Suzanne and Jimmy sat up talking late into the night, she instinctively knew it was time to tell him the truth. It was as if God had already prepared his heart for this unexpected news.
The next day Jimmy pulled out the gift he had wrapped for her birthday. It was a bible. He said, “Mom, one month ago I invited Jesus Christ into my life.” He spoke at length about what it meant to become a Christian. He explained, “God has a purpose and a plan and it was no accident I was conceived under such unusual circumstances.”
Suzanne explained, “That day my son introduced me to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He had come to faith at the university where he was finishing up his first year. He gave me a beautiful Bible, and wrote a letter to accompany the gift.”
I cannot imagine anything in the world that I would rather give you on your birthday than the Word of God. The fact that every Scripture found in it is inspired by God, provides the basis for our faith…When used with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it will enable you to grow in your knowledge of the Lord…I believe you will find that trusting in Him is the greatest comfort imaginable…
I love you with all my heart, and wish you a beautiful 40th birthday. God bless you always, and may He bring out even more of the infinite potential that exists inside your loving heart…
Now, twenty-nine years later, Suzanne and Jimmy welcome opportunities to talk to each other about how God is at work in their lives. They honestly share the circumstances of Jimmy’s conception with others and agree that if only one woman is encouraged to carry a baby to full term and not seek abortion as a solution to an unwanted pregnancy, it is worth their decision to be open about their journey.
God’s gift to Suzanne came through adversity and revealed His sovereignty. The date rape that resulted in an unwanted pregnancy produced a beloved son who introduced her to Christ, as well as countless others as a pastor for the past 20 years.
God makes everything come out right;
He puts victims back on their feet.
Psalm 103:6 MSG