A snippit of my story...

A Girl Like Me

For every girl who carries the deep pain of a secret abortion, my story is for you.
You are not alone. You are loved!

Terri Kelley

I don’t ever remember a time of not knowing God.  From my earliest memory as a child, I loved Him and felt He loved me -- and although I would spend most of my life questioning, challenging, and feeling unworthy of this love, it would be what ultimately saved me down a long and broken road.  I now understand that... I was chosen --- I am His --- and for that, I am grateful. 

  

Fear not, for I have redeemed you --- I have called you by name,

YOU ARE MINE.  Isaiah 43:1

If given a choice, my life is not the one I would have chosen but it is the one God chose for me to live, perhaps for such a time as this.    If you are like me, mistakes and heartache can often feel like many years of wasted time, but I believe God loves redeeming the hearts of his broken people and multiplying the lost years back to us with great purpose.

   

Like many young girls, I often dreamed of someday falling in love and marrying a man that loved God just as much as I did.  My dad was a youth minister in our church while growing up, so our lives revolved around church activities and a bunch of teenagers that I loved --- so much that I wanted to marry a youth minister and someday have that same life.

  

From an early age, my heart wanted to please God so I have often asked why He would allow my young life to become littered with the debris of sexual assault.  Being so young, I was not fully aware of what was happening to me but it left me feeling afraid and confused and carried feelings of shame and secrecy. I would keep it all a secret leaving my heart to wonder if anyone could see what was happening. Did God see me? Was he angry with me? The burden of these secrets would begin to isolate my heart and leave me feeling invisible. 

  

I became a teenager in the early 70s during the middle of a sexual revolution, and at the same time was part of an ultra-conservative church that leaned hard into the condemnation of sin... especially sexual sin and anything that led to it.  As teenagers, we were told that parties, dancing, drinking, smoking, how we (girls) dressed, etc., were evil and would lead to sin.  With little to no teaching about Jesus and the gift of grace, mercy, and forgiveness, the church would create a spirit of fear and doubt in me (and others), believing we would never be good enough to make it through the pearly gates. Nothing about sexual assault was ever talked about. 

   

   

I was learning that a girl had no voice, it was a man’s world,

and the church left no room for error.

It was the summer of ’77 just before my senior year of high school and my friends and I were excited about our upcoming senior year together and our plans after graduation.  I had been planning to go to Abilene Christian College (University now) since the first time I stepped foot on the campus in the 60s.  I dreamed I would meet my future husband there, get married, and have a big family. I had big hopes and dreams but all of them would fall apart this summer as I was faced with a decision that would turn my life upside down and send me spiraling down a path of destruction for many years

  

The phone call came that hot summer day with the nurse on the other end telling me she had my test results back and it was positive. I was pregnant. I don't remember much about the minutes, hours, or days that followed the call, but I do remember the panic and overwhelming emotions I felt as I was left to deal with a pregnancy at 17 years old and the painful circumstances that landed me there.  Several months earlier, I began dating a guy that was known to be the bad boy in school.  Initially, he was attentive and protective which made me feel loved and seen but slowly his behavior changed and became controlling, manipulative, and abusive, and I found myself trying to prove that I was trustworthy and good enough for him.  His desire for sex kept me on an emotional rollercoaster as I wanted to prove my worthiness and love for him yet honor my purity vow.  Over time my no(s) became personal rejections to him and in one night everything would change when my “no” was not enough.

  

I was now pregnant, alone, and paralyzed in fear as I thought about the potential fallout from church, school, and home... none of them being a safe place to go for help. I felt as if I was staring down a road of shame, judgment, and rejection from everyone I knew, no matter how I ended up here. I informed my boyfriend I was pregnant but he did not want the responsibility of a child so he gave me money to get rid of the problem.

 

I was alone and afraid in my secret with nowhere safe to go and

everything to lose, so I went looking for a way out

 

  

I scheduled an appointment at a local OB-GYN clinic to talk about my options. The doctor said I had two choices…  have a baby or terminate the pregnancy quickly as it was now only a blob of tissue. I knew little about abortion and there were no sonograms available to us, so I trusted the doctor, paid the money, and walked into the clinic to terminate. I have few memories of the procedure but the intense feelings I experienced that day still fall on me today.  I was terrified, sad, and gripped by grief as I lay on a cold bed with tears rolling off the sides of my face knowing my "someday" baby would never be.  A part of my heart was being ripped away and I felt powerless in the fear to do anything about it. Then the room became quiet and I knew my blob of tissue was gone. I walked out of the clinic that day hoping for relief but instead felt heartbroken and somehow knew my life would never be the same.

  

I would grieve alone and bury the secret of my abortion deep inside,

along with all the other secrets I carried. 

 

  

I married the boyfriend after graduation in hope of redeeming the sin of my abortion and would justify all the physical beatings I took as my deserved punishment.  The marriage would only last a year and after finding out I was pregnant again, I got out and moved to a new town far away, determined to put the pieces of my life back together again.  

  

I loved my new life and my new job but it would not be long before I became a single mom drowning financially. I had a baby girl that was sick from the moment she was born often leaving us with no childcare, missed work, no paychecks, lost jobs, and doctor bills that I could not afford.  I was in desperate need of help. That help would come from a new boyfriend who was charming and fun in the beginning, but would eventually become identical to the one I had just run away from. I would end up pregnant again (on birth-control) and given the option of abortion or abandonment by him. Unable to support one baby, I felt I had no choice but to go with him to the abortion clinic.  He paid at the front desk then left as I was processed, put in a room, and asked to lay down on that same cold table I had just been on a few years ago.  The table would trigger the trauma memory of my first abortion, leaving me angry that I was back here again.  As I walked out of the clinic, I went numb and would eventually shove all the anger, pain, and tears deep inside and never speak about it again. 

  

When the secrets took hold in my soul, they had the power to influence every thought, every decision, every relationship, and all self-worth.

 

Somewhere along the way, I gave up crying out to God.  I was convinced He did not see me or want to have anything to do with a girl like me.  That love I once felt from Him had left my soul. My sin felt too big, my shame had taken on a life of its own, and I believed I was going to hell.  Perhaps this was hell.  All I knew was my life was far from the dreams I had as a young girl. 

  

I still longed for a better life with better choices so I worked hard to build the exterior of a strong independent woman so that no one would ever see me weak or vulnerable again. A counselor would help me peel back the many layers of trauma over the next several years as I laid it all out to her... all but the abortions which would stay buried in that nailed box deep inside my damaged soul. 

  

Years later I would marry again believing this would be my fairytale ending... until it wasn’t. We had two sons together and would divorce after 25 years of marriage leaving my heart once again broken and in a shattered mess. I had prayed desperately for our marriage but my prayers went unanswered leaving me angry and asking why.  I had become tired of the fight for survival, for love, for belonging. I stood at a crossroads with nothing left inside me. 

  

As I laid face-down on the floor sobbing, I heard the words, "look up".  As I turned my head to look, I saw the room lit up with a visual timeline of my life detailing every traumatic event I had been through.  God slowly weaved his fire-like finger throughout the timeline where I saw Him standing next to me in every painful moment of my life. He was showing me how He had never left me but had been right next to me all along.  As the timeline faded away, I heard Him say it was time to begin a new journey.  I was unsure what that meant but I was desperate for answers and relief, so I crawled up in the lap of Jesus and went into the darkest painful places of my soul.

  

The journey would be long and difficult, but I knew the only way forward was to deal with my past. It was frightening to realize how much pain had been shoved down so deep inside me, but Jesus knew every shattered part of me and just what I needed to heal. He revealed what real love, compassion, and undeserved forgiveness look like, knowing the freedom it would bring to my tethered heart.

  

God had been doing some unexplainable miracles in my life for a number of years. I wanted desperately to believe it was Him but my faith was small.  After all, did He really see a girl like me?  I now know He was slowly opening my eyes to see and believe because it would all come down to this last miracle. A miracle that would crush the enemy of my soul and set me free to live... 

 

I woke up one morning feeling the weight of so much loss.  As I cried, I begin to hear children laughing and playing and thought it must be coming from outside until that same bright light showed up in my room with Jesus standing between two children. Their faces were bright and happy and their smiles captured my heart while staring at me as if they knew me.  As I watched, I suddenly knew these were the two children I had aborted.  I had never allowed myself to see them as children or give them an identity but had kept them hidden in that dark place of my soul.  But Jesus showed me that they were real and fully alive and happy. He introduced them by the names He had given them— Josiah and Deborah. My heart exploded with joy as He told me their names and that I was forgiven and loved and we would all be together again someday in heaven. I cried as I took it all in, telling them that I loved them and thanking them for this gift of forgiveness. I was beyond excited that heaven would one day reunite us and give us an eternity together. As the vision faded, I felt complete freedom for the first time in my life.  It would be this miracle that broke the chains which had me bound for so many years. I felt them fall off of me and hit the ground... along with all the lies I had been told to believe about who God is.  I now know the full love of Jesus, the cross, and the blood was meant for a girl, especially like me. 

  

I am chosen, I am loved, I am forgiven, I am redeemed, and I am enough... flaws and all. 

 

"El Roi" - The "God who sees" me.  

  

Beloved, as God saw me in all my mess, He sees you too!  He sees your broken heart and the pain suffered from the trauma of abortion and abuse.  It breaks his heart too.  But He wants you healed and set free. He wants your heart back and to allow Him to write a beautiful new ending to your story. 

“He heals the wounds of every shattered heart.”  Psalm 147:3

 

If you have experienced the pain and regret of abortion, I hope you will find a safe place to share your story and begin a healing process that brings freedom and peace. YOU deserve it. I would be honored to hear your story and give you that safe place to land.  You can contact me directly and privately at Terri@FrontPorchGirl.com.

 

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