Lori Rigdon answered the phone and heard a stranger’s voice: “Do you know that your husband is having an affair?”
Lori had known … for several weeks. That’s why her husband, Terry, had moved out of the house. That’s why Lori had met with a divorce attorney.
“Yes,” Lori replied.
“Do you realize the woman he’s involved with is four months’ pregnant?”
Lori felt like she must be dreaming. She couldn’t believe this was happening. “I almost felt like I was on the outside looking in,” she recalls. The idea of another woman having her husband’s child was more than she could accept.
Shaken, Lori called Terry at work and said that they needed to talk that evening.
Was the stranger’s claim true? She had to find out.
Too angry to drive herself to the home of her husband’s girlfriend, she asked a friend to be her chauffeur. As their car rolled over the gravel driveway toward a small mobile home, Lori caught a glimpse of the woman, Vicki, through an open window. She was with her diaper-clad toddler.
No one answered Lori’s knock on the front door, so she yelled, “You’ve got to tell me: Are you pregnant with my husband’s child?”
Looking through the window, Lori noticed “the little baby bump.” She was overcome with emotion and yelled curse words that she is not proud of today. And then she spewed out question after question—How could you? … Don’t you know he already has children with me? … What do you want from him?
Vicki begged Lori not to say such things in front of her child.
“You weren't concerned about my children when you slept with their dad!” Lori replied.
Time for the truth
Terry was waiting for his wife when she returned home. He was sitting in the recliner, so Lori sat across from him on the couch.
“It’s time for you to tell the truth,” she said.
Terry confessed everything. The affair began when things weren’t going well at home … when he was longing for attention.
What first began as a friendship at work gradually changed into something much more. “I guess she made me feel like I was somebody,” he said.
Terry told Lori about the day Vicki told him she was pregnant and talked to him about the possibilities. Should she get an abortion? If she had the baby, would he support the child?
Of course he would support his child, he told her. But if Lori found out about the baby, he thought his marriage would surely end. He loved Lori and their two boys, and he didn’t want to be like his father and desert his family. So before Lori even knew about the affair, he did all that he could to make life miserable for her—so she would leave him.
As Terry admitted all this to Lori, his words seemed all jumbled in her mind. “I could have handled the affair,” she says, “but something about her being pregnant with the child shifted some things.”
She felt betrayed, rejected, and lost. But she didn’t feel hopeless.
A new follower of Jesus Christ, she sensed God asking her to do what felt impossible: forgive Terry and stay with him.
Lori didn’t understand all that God was asking of her. But she did understand His command to forgive.
So she got up from the sofa, walked to the recliner, and knelt in front of her husband.
“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 had lived with Lori for eight years and her grace-filled response was out of character.
But Lori knew that her words and actions were true. “I believed in my heart God was telling me this,” she says. “There was a certainty there for the first time in my life. … It was pure, blind faith.”
A place of refuge
Still, the next few 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 new faith was the key. She had begun loving Terry when she was 17 years old and he was 19. The two teenagers were both going through hard times when they were drawn to one another. “I think for both of us we became a place of refuge,” Lori says. Now she was looking to God for the answers to her problems … He was her place of refuge.
She began to pray that she would not grow into a bitter woman, forever resentful of her husband’s affair. She didn’t want to live for the rest of her life in fear of his future unfaithfulness. She told God that she did not want to be angry, or jealous.
She asked God to heal her marriage … to help her trust Terry’s word.
Lori told Terry that she wanted to know about any contact he had with Vicki, no matter how small. He quickly agreed. And Terry made it clear to Vicki that their relationship was over.
And so began what Lori describes as a total transformation in Terry and in 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.”
A chance encounter
When Terry told Lori that Vicki needed some maternity clothes, Lori felt that she should buy them herself. She was in Walmart with an armload of maternity shirts and pants when she saw Vicki with her sister.
“We were face-to-face,” she says, “and Vicki’s stomach was bulging.”
Lori felt like she had to get out of the store. So she purchased the clothes, gave them to Vicki’s sister, and returned to her car.
God, this is too much, she prayed through tears, I don’t know why You are asking this of me.
But something happened in Lori’s heart that day. She began to think about Vicki and what she was going through. She’s already a single mom and now she’s pregnant again, she thought. She’s by herself.
God started replacing the anger and bitterness in Lori’s heart with compassion. And a couple of weeks later Lori invited Vicki to come to her home.
She asked Vicki what she expected from Terry and her. And then she asked for Vicki’s forgiveness. Would she forgive Lori for the words she said when she first learned that Vicki would have her husband’s baby?
“I think Vicki knew that I was trying to create peace,” Lori says.
It’s a boy
The next time Lori saw Vicki was when Kirk was born in August of 1994. As she gazed through the nursery window of the hospital, she couldn’t help but stare at the beautiful baby boy. She kept looking at him, asking herself, Does he look like my kids? Like Terry? Can this really be?
And then she went to see the mother of her husband’s child.
Vicki’s and Lori’s eyes met. It was a silent, awkward moment. The air was thick between the two women.
Lori said something like “You have a beautiful baby,” and Vicki thanked her for the visit.
Once again Lori found herself asking God how she was supposed to love another woman’s child. And once again, she had no step-by-step answer. All she knew was that God was somehow leading her through a difficult process to healing and restoration.
Lori says that 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 for her sins. How could she not forgive her husband and Vicki for theirs?
Lori bonded quickly with the baby. “I just knew that he was my third son,” she says, “and I loved him from the beginning.”
Kirk was about 6 weeks old when he made his first visit to the Rigdons’ home. It was an exciting time for the family as the boys met their new brother. “We made a big deal out of it,” Lori says. “I took pictures and acted like it was a normal process of bringing a baby home.”
Kirk’s next long visit was around Christmas, and then he came every other weekend. Lori often picked Kirk up from Vicki’s house, and the two women began to form a better 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 says. “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 says, 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 told Terry that she would love Kirk as her own. “And she’s done that,” he says.
Both Vicki and Lori have raised their children to love God and to know that nothing is impossible for Him—not even healing dead marriages and broken hearts. Not even bringing two moms together to love one son.
Lori has 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.”
Lori never likes to hear someone say that something is impossible. “In our lives and in our story,” she says, “God took something that was impossible and made it possible.”
Copyright © 2014 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved
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