Lori Rigdon found herself furiously knocking on the door of the woman her husband cheated on her with and yelled question after question.
“How could you? Don’t you know he already has children with me? What do you want from him?”
The woman, Vicki, whose baby bump was already showing asked Lori to not speak to her while her toddler could hear, but Lori only felt betrayal. No one had shown consideration for her; why should she show compassion for this woman?
Lori’s husband Terry was waiting when she returned home. That was the moment of complete truthfulness.
Terry confessed everything. The affair began as friendship at work and changed into something more when things weren’t going well at home and he was longing for attention. She made him feel like he was somebody.
The day he learned Vicki was pregnant they talked about the possibilities. Should she get an abortion? If she had the baby, would he support the child?
“I could have handled the affair,” Lori said, “but something about her being pregnant with the child shifted some things.”
She felt betrayed, rejected and lost, but she didn’t feel hopeless. Lori sensed God asking her to do what felt impossible as a new follower of Christ: Forgive Terry and stay with him.
“I want to forgive you,” she said. “I want to go through the process of raising the baby with you, whatever that means.”
Terry was stunned. He lived with Lori for eight years and her grace-filled response was out of character.
“I believed in my heart God was telling me this,” she said. “There was a certainty there for the first time in my life … It was pure, blind faith.”
The next months were difficult. Day-after-day, Lori said prayers of desperation: “How, God, can I love Vicki’s child as my own?” “How can Terry and I work everything out?”
For Lori, her faith was key.
She fell in love with Terry when she was 17 and he was 19. The two teenagers were going through hard times when they were drawn together.
“I think for both of us we became a place of refuge,” Lori said.
Now, she was looking to God for the answers to her problems. He was her place of refuge.
She asked God to heal her marriage, to help her trust Terry’s word.
That began what Lori describes as a total transformation in Terry and herself. He became more attentive to Lori’s needs and to their children.
“I saw this grown-up man come back into our home; he wanted to be there now.”
When Vicki needed maternity clothes, Lori felt she should buy them. In the store, her arms full of clothing, Lori ran into Vickie and her sister.
“We were face-to-face,” she says, “and Vicki’s stomach was bulging.”
Lori had to get out of the store. She purchased the clothes, gave them to Vicki’s sister and left praying through tears, “God, this is too much. I don’t know why You are asking this of me.”
Then something happened. Lori began to think about Vicki and what she was going through. She was a single mom with another on the way and she was by herself.
God began replacing anger and bitterness with compassion. A few weeks later, Lori invited Vicki to her home.
She asked what Vicki expected from Terry. Then asked for her forgiveness for the words she said when she first learned Vicki would have her husband’s baby.
“I think Vicki knew that I was trying to create peace,” Lori says.
The next time Lori saw Vicki was when Kirk was born in August 1994. Gazing through the nursery window of the hospital, she couldn’t help but stare at the beautiful baby boy.
She wondered if he would look like her children, like Terry. If everything she’d been through was real. Then she went to see the mother of her husband’s child.
Vicki and Lori’s eyes met. It was silent, awkward.
Once again Lori found herself asking God how she could love another woman’s child. And, once again, she had no answer. She only knew God was leading her through a difficult process to healing and restoration.
Lori says Kirk was not born of her flesh; he was born in her heart. When she looked at Kirk she did not see her husband’s sin. Instead, she thanked Christ for forgiving her sins.
“God had just brought that new [spiritual] life inside of me, and that was the picture I saw when I looked at him. It wasn’t a matter of seeing the ugly part of it. It was seeing the beauty of his life and what he represented to me.”
God had forgiven her sins. How could she not forgive her husband and Vicki for theirs?
Kirk was 6 weeks old when he first visited the Rigdons’ home.
“We made a big deal out of it,” Lori said. “I took pictures and acted like it was a normal process of bringing a baby home.
“I just knew that he was my third son and I loved him from the beginning.”
Kirk’s next visit was at Christmas and then every other weekend. Lori often picked him up from Vicki’s house and the two women began to form a relationship. By the time Kirk was about 8 months old, his visits seemed to be a part of normal, everyday life.
“Our contact with Vicki was on such a regular basis,” Lori said. “There was no awkwardness anymore. All of that seemed to fade into the background.”
Vicki became a Christian when she was pregnant with Kirk and several years later she married a godly man.
Together, Vicki and Shane and Terry and Lori have raised Kirk. They’ve shared family birthday celebrations and ballgames. They’ve been in the same church together in the same Sunday school.
“I was at the hospital when Vicki’s daughter was born,” Lori said, describing the two families’ relationship as “a blended unit that has worked.”
Twenty years have come and gone, and Lori has stayed true to her promise. She said she would love Kirk as her own “and she’s done that,” Terry said.
Vicki and Lori have raised their children to love God and to know nothing is impossible for Him – not even healing dead marriages and broken hearts.
Lori’s told Kirk, “You’re the good thing that God brought out of a bad situation … God has a great purpose for your life and for your future.”
No one is more amazed by how God has answered her prayers than Lori. How He somehow put the two families together.
“He’s the one who can rebuild and restore,” Lori says. “He is a God of mercy and forgiveness.
“In our lives and in our story God took something that was impossible and made it possible.”
Copyright © 2014 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
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Walt and Ann Bealke have been married for a long time, just not to each other. They are now 5 years into their marriage (the third for each of them), and are seeing God redeem their pasts and build a Gospel-centered marriage.
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