A snippet of my story.

A Girl Like Me

For every girl who carries the wounds 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.  This love felt a part of me as if it had been woven within my heart as I was being formed, and although I would spend most of my life questioning, challenging, and feeling unworthy of this love, it would be what ultimately saved me many years down a long and broken road.  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 them with great purpose.

   

Like many young girls, I often dreamed of someday falling in love and marrying a man that loved God just 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.

  

I had a heart wanting to please God from a young age, so I have often asked why He would allow my young life to become littered with the debris of sexual assault. I was around 9 years old and not fully aware of what was happening to me but I felt something was not right as it carried feelings of secrecy, shame, and fear.  Being threatened, I would keep it all a secret leaving my heart to wonder if anyone around me could see what was happening. Did God see and if he did, did he care? Was he disappointed or angry with me? The hidden secrets would begin to isolate my heart and leave me feeling ashamed and alone. 

  

When I became a teenager in the early 70s, we moved to a small town in central Texas and became part of a local conservative church where I grew to love many good people but the teachings often left me confused and wondering if I would ever be good enough for God or heaven.  The pulpit sermons were loud and angry on eternal condemnation and silent on forgiveness, mercy, and grace.  

  

The girls were taught that sexual purity made God happy, was what all Christian boys looked for when choosing a wife, and was required for getting into the pearly gates. I often wondered what the boys were taught in their class because Christian or not, boys wanted sex and would do whatever was needed to get it. Sexual assault and rape were never discussed leaving me to wonder if the assault of my childhood marked me as impure and not worthy of a Christian man. So, to prove myself worthy I became fully committed to saying no and staying pure before marriage as I kept silent about the secrets of my past.

   

   

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 since the first time I stepped foot on the campus in the 60s.  There I would meet my future husband, 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 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 I knew to be the bad boy in school. He was a bit wild and crazy, and I enjoyed the challenge of thinking I could settle him down and win him over to the good side.  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 and need for sex kept me on an emotional rollercoaster as I wanted to prove my love and commitment to 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 no matter how I ended up here. I told my boyfriend but he did not want the responsibility of the pregnancy or a baby, 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 have two choices…  have a baby or terminate the pregnancy now as it was 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 the pregnancy. I have little memory of the procedure... only shadows moving around me and muffled talking as I laid on a cold bed with tears rolling off the sides of my face, feeling as if a part of me was being taken away.  My heart cried out for my blob of tissue knowing it was too late. She 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 my boyfriend after graduation in hope of redeeming the sin of my abortion and would justify all the physical abuse my body took as my deserved punishment.  The marriage would only last a year as I walked away with a new baby girl determined to put the pieces of my life back together again.  We moved far away for a new start but it would not take long before I went underwater financially, leaving us alone and desperately needing help.

I began dating a guy who seem to care about us and was always willing to help out when needed. Over the months I became very dependent on him but it would not be long before I began experiencing some of the same abusive behavior patterns similar to the relationship I had just walked away from. Having many needs and no boundaries, I became pregnant again.  After telling him, he threatened to walk away if I did not have an abortion knowing it would leave me to support two babies when I was unable to support one. I was a 20-year-old single mom feeling very stuck, afraid, and with no control.  So I went with him to the clinic.  He paid at the front desk then left me alone to be processed, put in a room, and asked to lay down on that same cold table I had been on several years before.  That table triggered the memory of my first abortion, and with the same tears rolling down the sides of my face I wondered how I could let myself end up here on this same damn table again. I felt so angry! I was fully awake and aware of the small talk between the doctor and nurses, the noises of the tools and machines, and all the pain. I felt invisible and alone.  After being released, my boyfriend picked me up and I climbed back into the car for a long, angry, and silent trip home. We never spoke of the abortion again. My soul went numb as nightmares, anxiety, anorexia, and depression set in, along with a shame that would isolate my heart for many years.   

  

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

  

I would stay in this relationship for several years until the abuse landed me in the hospital with head injuries. My escape and recovery would be long and difficult which now added many additional layers of trauma leaving me unaware of where all the pain began.  Somewhere along the way, I gave up crying out to God.  I was sure He did not see me or want to have anything to do with a girl like me.  My sin felt too big, my shame had taken on a life of its own, and I believed I was headed to hell.  Or maybe 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 pulled myself up by the bootstraps and set out once again to start over, working 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 sealed box deep inside my damaged soul. 

  

Years later I would marry again believing this would be my fairytale ending... until it wasn’t.  I fell deeply in love and although I was outwardly strong, my heart still needed a savior -- a protector. 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... fight for survival, for love, and belonging. I stood at this crossroads with no fight left in me. 

  

God showed up at that crossroad and lit up a visual timeline of my life detailing every trauma of abandonment, abuse, abortion, marriage, divorce, and pit I had fallen into.  As He weaved his finger throughout the timeline, I saw Him standing next to me in every painful moment, showing me He had never left me.  He had always been there.  As the timeline faded away, I had so many questions I wanted to ask. There would be no answers for me now, only a voice of the Spirit saying it was time to go on a journey.  I was unsure what that meant but I was desperate for answers and to be released from all the pain so I crawled up in the lap of Jesus and went into the most painful dark places of my soul. 

  

The journey would be long and difficult but I knew the only way forward was to deal with the brokenness of my past. I was unaware of how deep the secrets and pain truly were inside me but God always knew just what I needed to get me through the tough moments.  He sent friends that spoke life and love back into my wounded heart, did unexplainable miracles, and revealed His true love for me through the love letters in His Word.  When I became open and trusting of this love, He opened my eyes and heart to the pain and trauma of my abortions and showed me what real love, compassion, and undeserved forgiveness look like knowing the freedom it would bring to my tethered heart. He showed me Jesus... a love like I had never fully known before.

    

I let go of all the old teachings of my past and opened my mind and heart

to a new understanding of who God truly is and His love for me.

  

I knew now that He had forgiven me for the sin of my abortions, but I was unwilling to let go of the guilt of that decision.  It felt too big and came at such a high cost.  But Jesus did not want me to carry the guilt and shame any longer so He did what only He can do… He saw it through to completion with a miracle.

  

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 a vision of light showed up in my bathroom with Jesus standing between two children. Their faces were bright and happy and their smiles captured my heart, looking 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 the dark place of guilt and shame.  But Jesus showed me that they were real and alive and that He had given them names— Josiah and Deborah.  He told me that I was forgiven and loved and that 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 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 now understood that the cross was meant for a girl just like me because 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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