Feel however you want about me, but feel it for yourself.

So, if you’re sitting at someone’s house and you’ve got that pit in your stomach because you just don’t feel accepted, or welcome…trust me girl, grab your cute little striped hey dudes you left by the door, and get the heck out off there now. Yes, I know they just poured you a margarita, with salt on the rim, but hear me when I say, that vulnerable moment you’ll have which prompts you to share “anything” on drink two… it’s already shared with someone who isn’t even there. That’s why there is a pit in your stomach to begin with. Good friends, and kind people; pits don’t accompany them. Growth, sunlight, warmth and happiness surround them, those are your people.

Your opinion of me should come from your interaction with me, not someone else’s opinion of me, stories of me, or even their interaction with me. Just yours.

Have you heard the saying, “Jealousy is the fun they think you’re having?” well I think we should add a saying onto that for assumptions. Maybe something like, “Assumptions are what other people make for you when you’re too lazy to think for yourself” no, that is a little too harsh. Here’s the thing, I have no inclination to think I will be liked by everyone and even more so, I have zero desire to be. We can be perfectly likable, good people and still be disliked by someone.

This past week I was talking to a friend who was hurt and I told her, “you can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there will always be someone who hates peaches” a quote I have always loved by Dita Von Teese, and then I added, “and don’t be surprised when it’s a peach itself.” She of course looked at me like I was crazy because what do peaches have to do with anything, but I explained sometimes the very reason we are canceled out has nothing at all to do with ourselves, it is simply the reflection someone else sees of themselves in us.

I wish I could tell you why people want to know about someone and go to every other person but that person. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out actually, it is because some people wish you well, but not that well. Moreover, they have no real interest in getting to know you, the actual person, they just want to know about you and any dirt that can be dug up – because they are bored, broken and hurting.

I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve had someone smile to my face at the local wal-mart and then they’re trash-talking me on the way home. I hope you read that with a southern drawl, because it plays out in my head as such. There is comedian, what is her name? Leanne something, deep southern drawl, Leanne Morgan. If you know who she is, re-read the first two sentences again in her voice. That’s just how I meant it. (If you don’t know of her, you’ll want to google her, because she is hilarious! A bless-your-heart southern twang full of sass and gettin’ on.)

While it should be mentioned that you’re better off without these people, it is quite possible you’ll learn they same way I usually do. All heart, all in, and an unanswered text message later that says nothing, but ends a friendship. Why is it that people do that anyhow? Just respond to the text people, just say it, “I don’t like you”, ” I think you’re a jerk”, “you hurt my feelings” whatever the heck it is, just say it and then stop responding. Passive agressive texting is not it chief. Nothing irritates me more than no response or a lie. Ohhh the lies…

Someone lied to me this week actually, and it was one of those obvious lies, and by text even. On my phone, when I text, it shows if the person I am texting begins typing. I asked a question. She begins to type. Then it stops, and no response. It does that again for about five or so minutes until a response comes through with some cockamamey bullpucky that just made me want to call her out. But, did I? Nope! Why not? Because what is the point when I already know the answer. She lied. End of story. Maybe forty has made me less amicable with phony anything. I mean, I am running out of day light, years and life – I don’t have time for people who aren’t adding to my life, encouraging me and my dreams, supporting my family and building me up, not breaking me down.

So, if you’re sitting at someone’s house and you’ve got that pit in your stomach because you just don’t feel accepted, or welcome…trust me girl, grab your cute little striped hey dudes you left by the door, and get the heck out off there now. Yes, I know they just poured you a margarita, with salt on the rim, but hear me when I say, that vulnerable moment you’ll have which prompts you to share “anything” on drink two… it’s already shared with someone who isn’t even there. That’s why there is a pit in your stomach to begin with. Good friends, and kind people; pits don’t accompany them. Growth, sunlight, warmth and happiness surround them, those are your people.

Look, I’m proud to be a Christian woman, I liken myself to being unpolished and unrefined – but still a dang good Christian. (I have a post coming up about this, so you’ll want to check back on that one!) To me, that does not mean we have to be fake. I can love you with the love of Jesus and not want to spend time with you. The difference is that when I don’t spend time with you that includes time speaking about you, at all. My face can’t even hide being fake anyhow, the thoughts I think, are written in bold face print all my face for all to see. I kind-of love that about myself to be honest, it holds me accountable.

I will smile, wave, say hello and pray for you even if I do not care to interact with you. Even better, if I happen to not like you it will only be because of something that involves you and I personally. Either you did something to me, or I see something in you that reflects something that needs healing in me. Either way it doesn’t involve anyone else and that should be a two-way street.

Our small valley, oh my goodness gracious and all that is holy, it can be rough at times. The things I learn about myself are shocking even to me, I have a much more fascinating life according to my adoring haters. Do you know that another child isn’t allowed to like my child, because of their mom’s friend has an issue. Yes, this person, myself and my child have never had a falling out, we visit in public, but because her friend doesn’t like us – neither can her child. True story. Some people allow others to decide for them.

I also have a friend or aquaintance really who ran one of those free internet background checks on myself and handful of other friends, and then soon after, the invites stopped. There is nothing of interest in my background, aside from divorces or maybe our financial business but everything online is factual, right?

My favorite though happened recently when I was explaining where I lived to someone, and was cut off only to be told, “I know where you live actually”, and then whispered, “you rent, right?” I’m still kind of buzzing on this one, because one hand, so trivial and obnoxious. Yet, on the other hand, the whispering…that got me. I don’t care how this person “found out” where we live, or that we rent even… but the whispering. That said a lot.

Renting to me is not shameful, and given that it was “whispered” this person already assumed it shouldn’t be shared – but if they had known me at all – they would know I am an open book. In fact almost every detail of my life is online, in one blog or another on this site. You don’t even have to run a background check, research my address or ask someone else – you can read it all here or just for grins and giggles, prepare yourself for this, you could just ask me. Crazy, right?!

I’m different than most, if you want to know anything about me I will tell you. Every shameful detail of my past, every dark moment, every mistake – I am an open book and I will sit with you face to face and lay it all bare. I’m not concerned about you judging me, your opinions of me or why it is that you even want to know about these things. I will even be okay with you feeling some type of way about me after and us going our separate ways. That would actually make me respect you. What concerns me though, since I am being totally blunt and forthright is why you need to know?

What is it about highlighting, digging up or sharing peoples past hurts, failures and mistakes that makes you feel better about your life? Because, that. That is where the issue lays. Not with me or anyone else, not whether you like me or them, it’s and issue inside yourself that stops you from liking yourself and anyone else. Someone somewhere at some point lied to you and told you that you were unworthy, unlovable, unimportant and unwanted. Someone hurt you, let you down and now to feel above it all, you do so by standing on top of the people you kick while they’re down. People just like you.

I don’t have to know you to know that you are loved, valued and important to atleast one person, God, and most likely more than him. I don’t ever have to speak to you to know that you were given a voice to speak life over people not cut them down with your words. I don’t even have to see you, to know that you have beauty and kindess and love inside you – it is just hidden behind the mud and the muck of whatever hell you keep shoving deeper inside yourself.

Hate doesn’t feel good, spite doesn’t taste good and ill will weakens your soul. It is not what you were made to feel, to distribute or to know. It was not what you were made of even, because you were made from love, to love others. So, whatever it is, maybe it’s time to start digging up your own “stuff” and shaking off your own skeletons in the closet and doing some healing, some forgiving and some loving. The key is you have to start with yourself first, or else it won’t stick and you’ll be right back to the person I’ll pray for, but would never sit and have a margarita with.

And, I really like margaritas and kind people who just want to love me for me, and ask questions about who I am because they genuinely want to get to know me and ask for the same in return.

Quit Judging!

Trust me when I say that in my younger years of stupidity I was judgmental with unrealistic expectations. My preconceived notions of how I would wear and walk in anyone else’s shoes better or differently than they had were obnoxious. Especially when I was walking with my shoes on the wrong feet, to begin with, or barefoot even. Fast forward to forty-year-old, heavily flawed me, and while my shoes are now at least on the right foot, I just love walking next to anyone who doesn’t have it figured out, who has lost their way and maybe even a shoe or two. Those are my people.

I’ve always had a heart for the ones being gossiped and whispered about, the underdogs, the ones being bullied, the ones no one understands and label as “weird” or “different” because those are my people, they are exactly who I identify with. Originally I wanted to title this, Quit being @$$holes! With working on not cussing as much, at least when I am not driving, I’m trying to avoid that. At face value though, that is how it feels sometimes. People who set out with the sole intent of hurting someone else based purely on judgment and then suffocating them with manipulative shaming. To me, that is just not okay. To me, that is a heart issue, a fixable choice, a ‘you-can-totally-change-and-be-a-better-person’ issue and while it is entirely frustrating and avoidable, I know hurt people, hurt people.

Jay Shetty said, “That person you don’t understand. They’re a lesson you haven’t learned” and it is true. The more mistakes I make, the more situations I face, the more understanding and empathy I have for others. Trust me when I say that in my younger years of stupidity I was judgmental with unrealistic expectations. My preconceived notions of how I would wear and walk in anyone else’s shoes better or differently than they had were obnoxious. Especially when I was walking with my shoes on the wrong feet, to begin with, or barefoot even. Fast forward to forty-year-old, heavily flawed me, and while my shoes are now at least on the right foot, I just love walking next to anyone who doesn’t have it figured out, who has lost their way and maybe even a shoe or two. Those are my people.

We all have a choice in how we treat others, how we respond to situations and what we do with information learned. Knowledge is power and love is a choice. Meaning that you have a choice in what you do with the knowledge you gained and whether to use it for good or evil. You also know when you pick up a shovel intentionally digging up dirt on someone else, whether you have any business holding that shovel yourself. Do you ever stop and think, “why am I doing this?” or “why do I care so much about outing this person?” or even better, “Is this any of my business?” Imagine if you did, the outcome would be much different.

You parent differently than Susie, great! That doesn’t mean Susie is a bad parent. It also doesn’t mean it is your business or place to insert your opinion or announce it on social media, a group text, a church group or the grocery store. For the love of Jesus, just stop it! You know what opinions are likened to right? I’ll give you a clue, it was the third word, in the title I wanted to use. We all have opinions, they don’t all need to be shared. And, PARENTING IS FREAKING HARD! Trust me, I fail at it probably daily and guess who reminds me when I do? ME! So when Susie messes up or just goes about it differently than you, give her some grace.

If someone in your town goes to jail, and you pass their mugshot around the town like a bowl of mashed potatoes on thanksgiving – that’s continuing that cycle of shame. That is purposely discrediting, humiliating and judging someone based on a situation you know nothing of. And, you’re doing it to control people, and not just the person in the mugshot either, you’re attempting to manipulate and control every person you share that mugshot with as well.

Maybe you’ve never gone to jail, maybe there is no physical proof of your most shameful moment, but let us pretend for one second there is. Let us pretend I know your deepest secret, the one you plan on taking to the grave, and because you said something to me once, or didn’t invite me to something, or hurt a friend of mine even, I decided to write it on a billboard for everyone to read as they drive by it on their morning commute to work. How would you feel? Humiliated? Raw? Vulnerable? Angry? And, then imagine I responded with, “well people had a right to know, it’s public record” or “well Susie said it was true so it must be” or even better “how does it feel having a taste of your own medicine?” because these are just some of the reasons we recycle shame. Did you catch that? RE-cycle, meaning it once was ours in some manner or brings up something similar in our past.

Shame is something I think I will always take personal, and I know this isn’t about me, but shame is something I will always identify with. It is a personal jail cell where I have spent many of my years locked up. Shame creates whispers, shame is hard to admit even to ourselves let alone to another human being. And, shame is HEAVY, SERIOUS and deeply PERSONAL. Abortions, criminal histories, domestic violence, financial hardships, affairs, addictions, mental illness, etc. are all whispered because they carry heavy amounts of shame. Shame that only worsens when another person knows your truth and uses it to continue that shame. I mean, let’s be real and call it what it is – manipulative control, which is emotional and mental abuse. Sounds harsh I know, but it is true.

Timmy got another DUI, Molly relapsed, Amy had her kids taken away by DHS, Jessica got divorced, Mike abused his wife, Bobby got fired for sleeping with his secretary- again! The list goes on and on and it breaks my heart and pisses me off to no end when I read this garbage or hear about it. Did you think for once that possibly these people are struggling, and losing a battle that is costing them their OWN lives, and not YOURS? Did you consider for one second to not forward that text, that mugshot, that article and instead reach out to them personally, pray for them or just let them know you’re there? Heck you could offer to go to AA class with them, give them a ride to work, anything to help instead of hinder and deepen the shame.

Publicizing someone else’s shame isn’t even about what they did. It’s an outward reaction to a personal problem, your personal problem. You’ve heard the saying, “what Susie says of Sally, says more of Susie than of Sally” and that is what lies at the core of all of this. At the end of the day, you are allowed to dislike someone. You’re allowed to disagree with their choices even, but taking on someone else’s failures and differences, making and taking them personally – that is a YOU issue. The question at the heart of the matter is, What reflection are you seeing in them that is creating a monster inside you? That is the heart transplant needed. The cancer that needs cut out. The venom that needs suctioning so that the healing that needs to happen, can.

People will hurt us, that is the natural course of life. Trust me when I say that there are moments when I wish for one second someone could feel how I’ve felt in those moments of judgment, shame and isolation. Then I remind myself that if they are hurting me, they most likely already do. We are responsible for carrying our hurt with us as a method of destruction or as a tool towards grace and healing. You’ll never regret offering a heavy dose of grace instead of judgment because judgment and vengeance is not ours to give, but LOVE is.

Romans 12:17-19 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord

Abortion

When you listen to someone detesting anything, very firmly and feeling that their convictions are backed by the bible, and God – it is frightening to say you’ve sinned in the same way. As I heard the way he spoke and thought of this woman, the very thought to say – I’m just like her, made me nervous, but I knew it was necessary for me to be obedient to my promise to God, to be a vessel and share his grace and forgiveness in my life.

A couple weeks ago I received a message on Instagram from a follower. This person had suffered quite a loss and began to share it with me. I’ve never met this person and I think sometimes it is easier that way, to share something so personal with a stranger you’ll never see face to face.

This person is a cancer survivor, a great photographer and from what I could tell a follower of God. As he was sharing his life, he mentioned a mortal sin that he could never forgive of someone from his past. The words mortal sin, hit me like a train. As I continued reading his message I knew without having to ask, which sin he meant, but I still asked, “what sin is it that you consider a mortal sin?” and he responded with, “Abortion.” That was what I thought he would say and I found it quite intriguing what God was doing. God knew that if I ever wanted to be a speaker that helps women overcome their past and invite him into their life – I’d have to tell my story time and time again, until it became easier.

This persons message was lengthy and filled with frustration and pain. He was quite frank in his personal feelings on abortion and God’s disgust with it. He went on to detail how it affected him with the loss of two children he didn’t know even existed. She had two abortions years prior without his knowledge. I could not imagine that type of loss and betrayal he must have felt. It was important for me to honor his loss, his feelings and the way he was deceived. It would have been easy for me to have just let him share, prayed for him and moved on with my day. It would have been easy to hide behind my Instagram, my beautiful quotes and inspirational messages and remain a glow in my highlight reel social media life. However, I knew God wanted more of me in this moment. When I asked God if he was leading me to be a listener, or both a listener and to share my story he responded very clearly, “Yes” to both.

When you listen to someone detesting something or someone, very firmly and feeling that their convictions are backed by the bible, and God – it is frightening to say you’ve sinned in the same way. As I heard the way he spoke and thought of this woman who hurt him greatly, the very thought to say – I’m just like her, made me nervous. Though I knew it was necessary for me to be obedient to my promise to God, to be a vessel and share his grace and forgiveness in my life.

When I responded it was first and foremost necessary for me to honor his loss, his feelings and his position even. I wanted him to know that for all he had gone through – I could see where those feelings came from and that his feelings were valid. Then it was important for me to share with him a little of my story and how I came to start this part of my life. He needed to know that the person he has been following, the person who he thanks daily for inspiration and sharing God’s word – had also had an abortion.

It was important for a few reasons. First, I needed to own my truth and be fully transparent. My testimony is my why, it is where God uses me and where his praise resides. Second, it felt important to inform him that this woman surely has suffered in a way he may not have noticed and it is doubtful she is carefree and without judgment today. That the experience of an abortion is life altering and traumatic and most women suffer in silence. I don’t care who says having an abortion did not affect them, it does. The third reason was because I wanted him to know that God forgave me and that I know if you repent and trust in God all your sins are wiped clean.

In my case I was only a child, unmarried and my boyfriend was aware and made the choice as well. There was a disconnect between my heart and mind, between what I knew to be Gods word and what I chose. Though I must admit I lacked the emotional ability to understand the destructive choice I was making, the life I was taking or the affect it would have on me for many years to come. Regardless, I was still equal to this woman he detested. We were the same, and I told him my truth. As I sat there waiting to see if he would respond harshly with judgment or at all – my heart was at peace knowing I did the right thing by telling him.

It is unnerving to share something that carries the heaviness of guilt and humiliation. The thought of giving someone else the power to judge me or disqualify me was uncomfortable. However, the healing, grace and mercy over-flooded my soul when God led me to share my redemption story. It didn’t matter if he responded or condemned me because I knew my worth didn’t lay in mans opinion of what my past held. God’s truth for me was; I’m forgiven.

When his response came through it said this, “You might be the most complete human being I’ve ever encountered. I applaud you for being penitent to God and I applaud you for the courage it took to share this. I have your back and so does God because you first went to him. You don’t hide from your past or pontificate where you are currently. You counsel and testify all the while being funny, kind and unique.” I sat there for a moment and re-read his words and while I responded with graciousness I also informed him that I was not complete yet but God was still working on me.

It is easier to judge than it is to forgive and cutting off people because of past choices does the exact opposite of what God demonstrates to us daily. For me, it was abortion. For you it could have been addiction, pornography, criminality or numerous other sins. We know that God detests seven things:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. – Proverbs 6:16-19

Did you know though that these along with many other sins are all equal in Gods eyes? A sin is a sin, is a sin. Jesus’ blood was shed for forgiveness of ALL sins, not just the easy ones, or the minor ones or for the people he favors most. ALL who repent and follow him will be forgiven for ALL of our sins. ALL.

We need to be more gracious and open to the past of others, we should want to encourage their repentance and be open to loving them regardless of a past we may not have chosen or understand. My friends, it does not matter the choices you made long ago, yesterday or even today, if you let God in, trust in him and give him your life – he will give you a new name, a new heart and a clean slate. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Psalm 103:10-12 NIV

Clean Slate.

I used to wish I could expunge my past like you can a criminal record. I could erase every mistake, every humiliation and every thing negative about my life. A clean slate.

I used to wish I could expunge my past like you can a criminal record. I could erase every mistake, every humiliation and every thing negative about my life. A clean slate.

At my previous job I did expungements. And I loved it. It felt like each record being erased was a gift of a fresh start, new hope and freedom. We all deserve freedom from an unpleasant and embarrassing past.

But erasing your past doesn’t erase what really happened and it definitely doesn’t erase those people who refuse to let your past go, does it?

The ones who keep a record of every fault and failure. The ones who keep a tab on your life to somehow boost theirs. Aiding in diminishing their internal hurt temporarily while increasing yours.

Oh how I know these people exist! They will always exist. But their power doesn’t have to. You weaken that power every time you remind yourself of these things:

FIRST: Those mistakes broke you down and built you back up stronger, better and wiser my friend!

If you’re like me the broken part led you to God – who forgave you the second you asked. Erasing all record of sins, iniquities & transgressions. And, restored a clean and new heart. Psalms 51:1( all of it!)

SECOND: If you had never failed you would be sooo boring and blah. No one wants that. 😂 Failures bring life, stories, lessons and experience turns into a beautiful gift of insight. And, humility. We need that.

THIRD: You’re not them. You’re healing yourself instead of hurting others. That’s brave! That’s bad-ass.

FOURTH: You’re learning and living in forgiveness. Both for yourself and others. And, learning to accept God’s.

FIFTH: You are NOT here to please man. You’re here to please God.

And, SIXTH: What other people think of us is none of our business. Their judgment matters none. There is only one Judge and he loves you completely.

Your record is clean and clear with me. Always ♥️

You deserve to heal.

What most fail to see is that our God is a loving God. He creates beauty from our ashes and works all things for the good of those who love him. You see, God was with her that awful day 23 years ago. He held her hand the day she suffered and thought she was alone. Although he disapproved of what she was doing, he never stopped loving her. Just as a loving father does. And, on the night a few weeks later when she closed her eyes pleading for him to take her life for the life she took, and for his forgiveness, he had answered her prayer.

The truthful story of a young girls’ abortion and how God’s grace restored her faith.

Abortion is not a topic people like to talk about aside from an easily forwarded meme or a hashtag. Many tweet their support or opposition much like the trending #youknowme , #shoutyourabortion #abortionishealthcare and #abortionismurder , #lovethemboth and #unplanned. Your friends are most likely divided as well and some like myself may have been torn on how they felt and throughout the years changed their minds. I’m sharing her story because we need to talk about the things no one talks about. We need to include the unknown, the uninformed and what really happens behind closed doors, inside broken homes and what can lead to, occurs during and follows an abortion.

She’s sitting there in a paper gown staring down at her feet praying harder than she’s ever prayed before, asking God to please not let her be pregnant. Pleading her case with him that she can’t be pregnant. She is too young, she is unprepared, her home-life is broken, she’s financially unstable, alone and scared. She only had sex one time, this can’t be happening. There is no possible way she can raise a child on her own when she is a child herself. As the door opens and her eyes meet the doctors eyes, she knows the result before he opens his mouth; she’s pregnant.

The nurse comes in, she is gentle, supportive and kind. The nurse consoles her, hands her a tissue and tells her she is going to be okay. Though unplanned this is not unmanageable, she has options: Abortion, Adoption, Abortion, Being a mother, or Abortion. She’s not very far along, approximately 4-6 weeks, there is no heartbeat yet, just a clump of cells – abortion is an option. And, she can have one tomorrow. She isn’t given tools for coping with the news of her pregnancy, she isn’t given time to discuss options, research options, and she isn’t offered support in becoming a mother.

This girl; she is more common than you realize. She is your sister, your mother, your wife or girlfriend. She is the lady beside you at church that cries every Sunday. She is your grandmother, your teacher, your coach, your therapist, your doctor; or maybe she is you. And, she is just as loved by God as you are. We don’t know her backstory, we don’t know what led her to a choice we may not choose or understand, and very few understand the torment that consumes her life after she realizes what she’s done.

The girl I knew was only sixteen when she found out she was pregnant. She had only had sex the one time. She was a good teenager for the most part, went to church every Sunday, stayed away from drugs and trouble. She had an unhealthy home-life which was littered with abandonment and loss, so she found “love” in relationships. She thought he would love her if she gave herself to him, but she’d find out eventually she was wrong.

When she found out she was pregnant, she was terrified. It was as if she was gifted an impossibility. She was handed something that she could never really have, and none of what she wanted even mattered, because her hand was forced. Her boyfriend wanted her to have the abortion, her father would have done worse, so her desires never entered her mind or heart. Her fear cancelled out any clarity or possibility of love, her shame cancelled out the desire for help, care or concern, and their control erased her options of breaking the unhealthy cycle of the life she was born into.

The day after she found out she was pregnant, with the help of a kind nurse and request of her boyfriend, she had an abortion. Just like that, quickly and easily accessible. A child, without parental consent or knowledge, any proper counseling, had an abortion. She was simply carrying a child who was viewed by others as a problem that their solution could solve. Her boyfriend wanted rid of any responsibility and eventually would leave her as well, once the “problem” was solved.

It would be six years later that she would find herself in a similar paper gown, this time with her husband and the hope of being pregnant. The doctor came in confirming the good news, and performed an ultrasound. This was the first time she had viewed a baby on an ultrasound. She saw a fluttering and asked what that was, and he told her it was the baby’s heart beating. She asked how far along she was and he said about 6 or 7 weeks. And, she cried. Not tears of the love to come, the joy of being pregnant but tears of regret, failure and disappointment. She suffered a loss in that moment realizing the supportive nurse from before wasn’t as honest and helpful as she had thought. And, she felt undeserving of this child too.

She revisited that day six years ago; which consisted of mere moments scattered like chaos. She remembered the emptiness. She looked back down at her feet just as she did at sixteen and remembered leaving that clinic feeling like a worthless woman. She remembered the steps from the exam room to the front door of the doctors office being heavy and long, that the hallway stretched like looking through a funny mirror and one step closer felt like 300 steps back.

She remembers that the exam room table chilled her body. That the air held a smutty dampness that was thick enough to choke you yet invisible; deceiving you into trying. That it held an ominous feeling of emptiness and an overabundance of death. She remembers the tears running like she wanted to. Running and hiding behind anything and anyone to save her. But, she had no one.  And, no one would understand or feel sorry for her.

The cramping and immense pain that started as mild discomfort gradually became the type of pain only a monster deserved to endure. It was a hell she deserved. The silence that accompanied the pain was broken by the sound of a machine being switched on. A low hum of suctioning, sounding strangely familiar to the sound she had just heard today of her baby’s heartbeat; except that this machine had silenced it.

She’s unable to recall arriving or leaving the doctor’s office that day. No idea of how she got home, how she cared for herself following the procedure or any other detail of that day. All she remembers is that outside
of that room she was an empty shell of existence and was never the same again. There wasn’t just the painful awareness and absence of what had been growing in her belly the past few weeks, but also the realization that every ounce of her soul was extracted and held captive in the same container that held her baby.

She had often wondered if the women who came before and followed after were as uniformed, frightened and tearful as she was on that day. Were they alone and there because they felt like they had no other choice? Did they feel as though God didn’t love them and that he would never forgive them? Do the tears ever revisit them, weighted with the same shame and despair as hers? Did their lives get lost without healing, did they slip into addiction, self harm, sexual or physical abuse, or did they possibly attempt suicide like she had.

She recalls being disgusted with herself the days and weeks following her abortion, even her own reflection was too much to bear. Even though the nurse told her it wasn’t a baby, she felt like it was and she felt as though she suffered a loss. A loss that others would say she had no right to suffer or grieve, thus going without any healing. And, today six years later she realized she was right, that the clump of cells was a baby, it had at the very least a heart forming and depending on how far along she really was, possibly beating.

After the abortion, she was tormented every minute by the memory of what she did, how she wasn’t strong enough to keep her baby. She knew she had let her baby, herself and God down. She wasn’t worthy of the breath she breathed, she was worthless, tainted and unlovable. She was desperate to escape her hell and trade it in for whatever hell God had planned for her. Surely she deserved it. She wrote her goodbyes, swallowed handfuls of pills and with an odd sense of calm and peace, she closed her eyes praying that they never open again.

But just as she had prayed weeks ago that she not be pregnant, God too left this prayer unanswered, or so she thought. He did not take her that night twenty-three years ago, instead he opened her eyes once again to a life she was meant to live. A life that carried consequences, pain, and anger – but ultimately filled with love, compassion, growth and understanding. She was given another chance to break the unhealthy cycle she was in, to toss away the crutch of false security and stability she leaned on, and to stand firm on her own foundation of faith, restoration and love.

What most fail to see is that our God is a loving God. He creates beauty from our ashes (Isaiah 61:3, NIV) and works all things for the good of those who love and follow him (Romans 8:28, NIV). On that awful day 23 years ago, God was with her. He held her hand the day she suffered and thought she was alone. Although he disapproved of what she was doing, he never stopped loving her, because she had never stopped believing in or loving him. Just as a loving father does. And, on the night a few weeks later when she closed her eyes praying for him to forgive her and take her life, he actually had. It wouldn’t be until six years later that she would realize that.

Failure can serve a beautiful purpose if we let it and that is why you often hear that God uses broken people to share his grace and glory. Today, I am that broken person. This girl from so many years ago, was me. And, this is my story, my truth and my testimony.

When the doctor laid my daughter on my chest six years later, and her cries were comforted by my heartbeat, I knew. It was then that I realized God have given me a new life, he had forgiven me and he showed me an endless amount of the loving grace he is. My cries were comforted by her heartbeat as well, and I named her Gracie. She saved my life in ways only God knows as that was his plan all along. She gave me purpose until I could find my own, she taught me unconditional love as I was learning to love myself and she reminded me that each child is a gift from God, perfectly planned in his image.

It took twenty-three years to heal from this and I still grieve both the act and the loss. If my sharing this either deters you or helps you understand you deserve to grieve, to heal and to be loved, then I will boast of the things that show my weakness, (1 Cor. 11:30 NIV). If you think you’re too far gone, or God’s too far away, simply say his name and know he is already there, (Isaiah 30:18, NIV).