It was the summer of 1997 that I sat in a sterile exam room at Planned Parenthood. I was 18 years old, already considered an adult, but I felt like a frightened child. I was there because I was pregnant. The nurse asked me what I had planned for my life. I told her I had a scholarship to a Christian college and that I wanted to become a teacher. She told me it would never happen if I had a child now. I’d destroy my life and bring pain and suffering to an unwanted child’s life if I had a baby before I finished college. Besides, she said, it wasn’t really a human life yet anyways, just a blob of tissue. She handed me a business card with the information I would need to schedule an abortion. She asked if I’d like a stash of condoms for future use. She left me with little hope and only one solution. She left me with lies.
I knew the truth. I had been a Christian long enough to know that life begins at conception and that abortion was wrong. But it still tempted me. Having an abortion would mean an end to this “problem”. It would hide the sin. It would cover up what I wished no one would ever know. But would it cover the guilt and the shame? Would it bring the peace I longed for? Would it make the wrong choices I had made right?
I honestly didn’t know what would bring me peace. My life seemed full of pain with no hope for relief. My Christian faith seemed to have failed me long ago. My cries to God for help seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. Pregnant and unmarried was just one of the symptoms of a deeper wound. The symptoms were what I tried to hide from the world but the real wound was what I tried to hide from God. Loneliness, despair and self-hatred consumed me. “Failure, unloved and ugly” were the lies the enemy whispered to me. It was a dark time for me. A time in my life when I could only see the past and could barely make sense of the present. A time when the future seemed so hopeless that I wondered if it was even worth living to see it.
Yet, there I was, at the nation’s top abortion provider with a life or death decision to make. And for one brief moment God broke through my hardened heart and lie-filled mind and spoke truth – “Choose life.” I think He was telling me to choose life not only for my baby but for myself as well. I didn’t really understand all that “life” meant. The freedom found through a life surrendered to Christ was something I would experience later. So I walked out of there that day knowing that I could not take a life to make mine easier but the decision left me full of fear.
What will my parents do? What will my church think? What will my friends say about me? What kind of life will I have? The guilt and shame I already felt was suffocating me already. How could I bare the guilt and shame brought on by others after they found out? And where was God when I needed Him?
I chose life that day. I chose life for my daughter but what I didn’t realize then was that I was choosing life for myself as well. Life in Christ. Life free from shame and guilt. Life full of forgiveness and healing. Life full of hope and joy.
But it wasn’t an easy road to take. The best paths are usually the hardest. It took time to heal. It took years to break through the lies I had believed and even longer to truly embrace the truth. I’m still healing. I’m still growing. But best of all, I’m still living – living in the freedom I’ve found in a God who loved me enough to pay the price for my mistakes, my guilt and my shame. A God who loves me enough to call me his child each and every day. I’m living because I have life eternal in Christ. And so does my daughter, conceived in sin but treasured by God. We both live because HE lives in us!
Read Part 2
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