I started feeling compelled to share my story about six months ago, but have just now felt like I am ready. I nervously open up this wound in my life for the woman (or man) who gets the sick feeling in the pit of their stomach when the topic of abortion is mentioned. Here lately, there is no getting away from it. So, I write this with great hopes of maybe helping someone, even if just to give a different perspective than you might be hearing. I’m sorry that it’s long.
I was 18 years old. My life up to this point over the past couple of years had been hard and confusing. I learned how to push things down, to forget, to keep secrets. I had been this way since as long as I could remember. I dealt with pain and stress by trying to escape it. My life was out of control and reckless by the time is was 16, alcohol, sex and any other form of rebellion I could try. It finally all caught up to me. The test was positive, I was pregnant. I could explain to you all of the circumstances. I could tell you how hard it would have been. The guy would not be there. But, I’m not going to do that. The truth is, I chose to end the life of my baby because I was selfish. It took me years to say that. I did not want to stop living life the way I was living it. I didn’t want to face it. I was ashamed of what I was. I really thought I could just have an abortion and move on with my life. What life?
I made the appointment and followed through, without talking to the people that loved me most, the people that might make me change my mind.
I remember feeling like I was on an assembly line, a commodity. I felt cold. I was cold.
I did it, and there was no turning back. I pushed it down, with the rest of my mess. Put on a tough face, and keep moving. I wish I could say that I immediately regretted it, but I just want to be completely real. It would take a while for it to hit me. I went right back into the same life, only now I was different. I was different. I became very anxious and depressed. I hated myself. I really hated myself. I would fantasize about dying. I became paranoid about people finding out who I really was.
The next three years are hard to remember. My mom worried about me a lot. She tried to help me after finding out about my abortion. I can’t imagine the pain and disappointment she must have felt. She would have stopped me. She would have helped me and loved me, just like she always had. She would have loved her grandchild. Why hadn’t I just gone to her?
Life moved on. I got a job at a local college and signed back up for classes. It was in this office that my life started to change. I was surrounded by Christians. I was nothing like them, but they were nice to me. They talked to me, showed an interest in me, didn’t look down on me for my questionable choice of clothing and language.
I had about a 40 minute drive home everyday, and I would listen to the radio. This particular day, I was just scanning through stations and I heard a familiar voice and a name that I recognized. I had heard Dawson McAllister as a youth while attending a youth conference. I didn’t listen to anything he said back then, but today I listened. The radio show was on abortion, and women were calling in with their questions and stories. A woman called in and shared her story, a story that sounded like my own. She cried as she tried to understand how God could forgive her. She had done the unforgivable. He responded back to her (and to me), explaining to her that she needed to be forgiven for all of her sin. That night I understood. I understood why Christ came to die. That He died for me, that I could give Him my wrecked life, and He would give me His righteousness. All of the failed efforts to try to change myself, I could never have changed myself. But, that night, Christ changed my life. I have described it before like this, the darkness had covered me like a black robe, and when I cried out to Him to save me, it fell to the floor.
I had a new life, a purpose. Although I had experienced the freedom of forgiveness, I had not planned to let everyone in on my past. I believed lies like, “These Christians are all different than me. They will never accept me.” “I need to get used to being single because I will never find a Christian man that will be able to accept everything I have done.” God had a different plan. He would bring me a godly man whose life had also been impacted by abortion. He had also experienced God’s forgiveness and freedom, that gave him a compassion that I desperately needed. He listened to me. He cried with me. He would begin to teach me who God is.
It wouldn’t be an easy few years. Nobody prepares you for the aftermath of abortion, fears and anxieties that would spring up out of nowhere, crippling panic. I would begin to experience some of these things after the birth of our first daughter. She was beautiful. I had never experienced that kind of love, I would do anything for this child. What had I done to my first baby? I didn’t understand enough about God or His word at this point, so I didn’t know what to do with all of these feelings. I would keep it all to myself most of the time. I would panic and cry, scared of making any mistakes with Alayna, I was so scared I was going to mess up and something was going to happen to her.
I knew I needed help to work through some of these emotions. Somehow, Allen and I got introduced to CHOICES crisis pregnancy center and their abortion recovery group. It was there where I would start working through things, it would be extremely painful. I am so thankful I did. I started to truly grieve that baby. I started to be honest with myself, I started letting things surface without pushing them back down.
Two years later, I would give birth to a big, beautiful boy, Alijah John. Pregnancy was hard for me. Every doctor visit was hard for me. Something about being in that sterile room with familiar surroundings sent me into a place I hated to go. I was also very sick with my pregnancies. At that point, I was content with my two kids. I had my hands full (insert laughter). When Alijah was in kindergarten, I unexpectedly got pregnant again. We were shocked, but happy and excited. We were also stressed. We had moved Allen’s grandmother in who had Alzheimer’s, and had been caring for her full-time. I wasn’t sick with this pregnancy. It was an easier pregnancy. No problems. We were about to find out the sex of the baby that next week, and had been discussing names over the Christmas holiday. The day after Christmas, I lost the baby at 14 weeks. It was traumatizing. I still have never shared all that I saw and went through that night, and maybe never will. I wanted that baby. That night, I started having terrible flashbacks of the abortion. It would last for months. I did not question or blame God, though. I didn’t think He was punishing me. It just tore open a wound that I thought was healed.
I couldn’t imagine getting pregnant after that. I told Allen that I didn’t ever want to feel that loss again. My marriage would almost fall apart that year. We walked through unimaginable pain, some at our own hands, but God held us together. That’s the only explanation.
Nan passed away that next year, a huge and painful loss to my husband, who had known her as a constant companion. She had loved him his entire life. After a while, we decided to move to Atlanta, we made plans to begin ministry there while going through a missionary training school in Clarkston. We got almost completely moved into the new house there, and something told me (my husband) that I needed to take a pregnancy test. No way. I couldn’t be pregnant. Four positive tests later, I finally believed it. What timing. We downsized houses, uprooted our kids, we had no family around. I waitied anxiously about two weeks and got into the doctor. I was scared. Again, I didn’t feel sick, but something was so different. I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I was so, so tired. I just knew I was going to repeat the last pregnancy. The doctor had concerns as well, and sent me straight over to ultrasound. Two minutes later, there I was staring at a screen on the wall, and the ultrasound tech starts laughing, saying, “There are three babies in here! Oh my goodness! There are already three heartbeats!” I sat there, tears flooding my eyes, and all I could think was, “God! I know that’s You!”
He had taught me some things over the last few years. He was good. He is good. I went to 34 weeks with the triplets, which was considered full term. They were perfect. Asa James, Addilyn Josephine and feisty little Archer Judson.
Oh, the things I would learn over the next few years. I had my last surprise pregnancy when the triplets were two years old. Again, anxiety would try to creep back in, telling me I was irresponsible for having another child. You already have your hands full. What were you thinking. Well-meaning people would say things that would make me feel stupid. But, oh how this child has brought us all so much joy. Amos Joshua. He’s two years old now, and I cannot imagine life without him, without all of them. God has taught me so much through them.
If it had been left up to me, I’m not sure I would even be alive. But, God had another plan. He reached down, scooped me up, and set my feet on a different path. He gave me a purpose, and a never-ending endurance to keep following after Him. If you are hurting, there is forgiveness and hope. And, not only hope, but true joy and peace. I am here. I will listen to you. I will show you the hope that has saved me. I will meet you, and I will walk with you. Don’t believe the lies that are out there in the world. Come into the light and be healed.
For those that want to help others, get behind that struggling girl. Be there, help her stand up, and become her cheerleader. Don’t encourage her to destroy her soul.
Her name is Grace. Her life mattered to God. And, she will not be forgotten to me.
“Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
So, He bowed down their hearts with hard labor, they fell down, with none to help.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, and for his wondrous works to the children of man!”
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Teri, thank you.
I know it took a lot of courage for you to tell your story but I'm so thankful that you did. Well written and well received. It's hard to know the path we're destined to walk, speed bumps are constantly in our way but you have shown what true strength and belief can do.
You are woman, I can hear you roar. God bless you and those little ones!