Dating John was an adventure. He sang Elvis’ Love Me Tender to me in restaurants. He pulled me to the nightclub dance floor when no one else was dancing. Once we met at a steak house and pretended we were on a blind date. We role-played the entire meal and the waiter believed us. Not knowing what came next with John captivated me.
Until the day my period was late.
I drove to the pregnancy center — alone. After peeing in a plastic cup, I waited in a chilly exam room. When the nurse returned, she said, "The test is positive." She paused. "Do you know what you want to do?"
"I’m keeping the baby." She checked the box "continue pregnancy," recommended an OB-GYN, and suggested prenatal vitamins.
I’m going to be a mom. Me — a mother. I’m not ready.
I left in shock. Missing a couple birth control pills had consequences. I imagined a wedding, buying a house, and what our sweet baby would look like.
John and I will live happily ever after — after I tell him our news.
"I love you, Tiffany. Now is not the right time. I’m sorry," John said as he hugged me. "I’ll pay for the abortion. Some day we’ll do things right. Get married and have babies. I’m not ready."
"Do you think I’m ready? I didn’t plan this. But I’m not having an abortion. I’m keeping our baby. I’ll raise him alone. I don’t care."
I left John’s apartment crying. John will change his mind with time. What if he doesn’t? What will happen to us?
Over the next week, John and I talked on the phone. We ate dinner together once and acted like nothing happened. We didn’t discuss our baby. We kissed and said our goodnights.
When I got home, I couldn’t take the silence anymore, so I called him.
"What are you thinking about my pregnancy?"
"Same thing, I’m not ready."
Heartbroken, my mind buzzed: If I keep the baby, John will leave me. I don’t want to be a single mom. Who will love me with someone else’s child? Will our baby grow up fatherless? I don’t want to be alone. I love John too much to lose him.
Against everything I believed — I made an appointment.
Numb, I arrived for my scheduled abortion, filled out paperwork, met with a consultant, and took another pregnancy test. John waited in the lobby.
As I lay on my back with my knees up, I tried to block out the suction sounds of the machine. This "outpatient procedure" was more than I could emotionally handle. I closed my eyes. It didn’t help. I’ll be OK. I’m doing this to protect the baby from the heartache of a broken family. The fetus isn’t alive. It’s not an "official" baby yet.
I knew better.
Afterwards, John greeted me with a smile and affection. Every ounce of love I had vanished. I was furious. How could the man I love choose death? I made the biggest mistake of my life. If this is what love is — I don’t want it.
"How are you feeling?"
"Fine. Just a little crampy."
What kind of person chooses to kill an unborn innocent child?
I was the worst of murderers. John, my accomplice. I hated myself. I hated John.
That day, I promised myself: Never again will anyone tell me what to do with my life, my body. I will choose my own path.
I distanced myself from John. Within a couple months, he showed up at my work and asked, "Will you marry me?" No engagement ring in hand — just a dozen red roses.
"Sorry. I can’t." It was too late. Too much pain. Too much past.
Moving beyond my abortion wasn’t easy like I hoped. But I pretended it was. The following year, I married Derek. Within six years, we had two children. A boy and a girl. Perfect. I worked in property management, enjoyed promotions, and an out-of-state transfer to Colorado. A fresh start. New friends with no memories of my past.
After two years, I left my career to become a stay-at-home mom. I attended church and women’s Bible studies. My kids participated in school, playgroups, and sports. I kept busy planting flowers and decorating our first home. I tried my best to forget what is behind (Philippians 3:13). But predators named "Shame" and "Guilt" lurked in the corners of my mind.
One night my facade ripped to shreds. In my small group, my two friends and I shared our answers from our Bible study lesson. The question was to share about a time when God spoke personally to us. My friends told a couple stories each. Devastated, I said nothing. God didn’t speak to me. I knew why. When asked to explain, my abortion experience spilled out. I sobbed. My friends comforted me with a prayer and hugs.
Now my Christian friends know who I really am: a baby killer.
Even after 12 years, I still couldn’t forgive myself. I felt like I committed the unforgivable sin. I was sure God was appalled with me too.
I withdrew from people. I stopped attending my small group. I made excuses to miss my 4 year-old daughter’s weekly playgroup. I no longer strolled down my dirt road to talk to my girlfriends.
I hid, cried, journaled, read my Bible, and prayed. God, why haven’t I ever heard your voice like my friends have? Am I being punished?
After a couple weeks of seclusion from friends, God spoke to me personally from his Word.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9
As much as I wanted to sentence myself to a life of imprisonment, I wanted freedom more. I hated being stalked by Shame and Guilt. If the Creator of the universe forgives me when I confess, then I can forgive myself too.
Lord, please forgive me for killing my unborn child. I’m so sorry. Take Guilt and Shame away from me. Grant me peace.
As weeks went by, I continued to seek truth and healing. I read Romans 8 and when I read verse 39 one word stuck out to me.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (emphasis mine).
Not even the death of an unborn child separates me from God’s love.
My view of God changed that day. I fell in love with Him again. I realized God isn’t out to punish me. He’s out to love me.
My healing is an ongoing process. Some days I feel such freedom. Other days, I fight my predators, fending them off with the truth of God’s Word. Whether high or low, I’m discovering the greatest adventure I’ve ever known. The adventure of God’s limitless love.
Welcome to Ungrind!
Do you want to be inspired, motivated, and equipped to live the everyday story of your life well?
If so, you’re in the right place. Whether you need encouragement in your relationships or in your faith, I hope you’ll find the transparent voices of mentors and friends here at Ungrind.
So, grab a cup of coffee and keep reading. We're so glad you're here!
Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
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-- Arlene Pellicane, co-author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World and 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
-- Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages
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