A snippet of my story.

A Girl Like Me

For every girl like me 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 inside my heart as He knitted me together, 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 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.


From a young age, I had a tender heart for God so I have often asked why He would allow my young life to become littered with the debris of sexual assault. I was around 8 years old and not fully aware of what was happening to me but I knew it was not right as it carried feelings of shame, secrecy, and fear.  Being threatened, I would keep it all a secret leaving my heart to wonder if God saw what was happening and if he did, did he care?  Did he see my fear and confused heart? Was he disappointed or angry with a girl like me?


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 a prerequisite for getting into the pearly gates. We were not taught that every boy,  Christian or not, would still want sex and use all kinds of emotional tactics to get it. Sexual assault and rape were never discussed leaving me wondering if the assault of my childhood made me impure, not Christian wife material, and was disappointing to God. So, to prove myself worthy I became fully committed to saying no and staying pure before marriage as I kept silent about the secrets and shame 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 do not 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 became controlling, manipulative, and abusive and I found myself trying to prove that I was trustworthy and good enough for him.  There were many attempts and manipulation for sex and 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 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 terminated. 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 the 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 last a little over a year and end in divorce as I walked away with a new baby girl, trying to put the pieces of my life back together again.  We moved far away hoping to leave the pain behind and start all over in a new and better life, but it would not be long before I went underwater financially leaving me scared, alone, vulnerable, and desperately needing help.  A man whom I believed loved and cared about us stepped into our life at this time willing to help us out but it wouldn't be long before the relationship turned controlling and abusive, just like the one I had walked away from. Having no boundaries, I became pregnant again and coerced into my second abortion which sent me spiraling into a dark place.  After the procedure, I climbed into the car for a long, angry, and silent trip home -- never to speak of the abortion again. There was a numbness to my soul 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 now had added many additional layers of trauma and abuse, leaving me unaware of where all the pain began.  Somewhere along the way, I gave up crying out to God.  My sin felt too big, my shame had taken on a life of its own, and I was convinced 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 was sure God had turned away from me and would never love a girl like me.



I still longed for a better life with better choices so again I pulled up my bootstraps and started over, working to build an exterior of a strong independent woman hoping no one would ever see me weak or vulnerable again. I found a counselor who would help me peel back the many layers of trauma over the next several years.  I would lay all of it out to her, all but the abortions which never came to mind to discuss but 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 was in need of 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 a miracle to change and restore our marriage but my prayers went unanswered leaving me angry and asking why.  I had become very tired over the years in a constant fight for my life... for love... for survival.  I didn't want to fight any longer.


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.  He did still love a girl like me.  As the timeline faded away, I heard the Spirit say it was time to go on a journey so I crawled up in his lap and went into the most painful dark places of my soul. 


Even though the journey would be long and difficult, my heart was open and ready for change.  God always knew just what I needed to get me through the tough moments using people, miracles, visions, and His Word to speak life and love into my shamed and wounded heart. He walked me through the many painful layers of my past, saving the trauma of my abortions for last. He opened my eyes and heart to understand 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 now knew 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... my life and the life of my babies.  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 jumped in the shower 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 that dark place of shame and grief.  But in this miracle, Jesus showed me that they were real and alive and that He had given them names— Josiah and Deborah.  Then 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 forgiving me. I was excited that heaven would one day reunite us and give us an eternity together. It would be this miracle that broke the chains which had me bound for so many years.  I felt complete freedom for the first time and finally understood that the cross was meant for a girl just like me because I am enough... flaws and all. 


“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, joy, and purpose. YOU deserve healing and love. 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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