Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God– 2 Corinthians 1:4
I had just turned twenty-one when I found myself staring down at a pregnancy test that had two pink lines in the result box. Those lines only meant one thing, I was pregnant. In shock and disbelief I grabbed the throw pillow left lying on the couch and pushed it against my face as hard as I could and screamed at the top of my lungs, then sobbed uncontrollably for days.
I thought my boyfriend loved me, just a few weeks prior he had bought me a promise ring and said he wanted to marry me one day. When I worked up the courage to tell him I was expecting his response was cold and callus. He told me that I needed to go to planned parenthood and “take care of the problem”. I was devastated. Although he was sure of how he wanted to handle the situation, I was in agony over what to do. Certain of the fact that he didn’t want to be a father, he left me. I found myself broken, alone, rejected and unsure of how I was going to take care of myself financially, let alone a new baby. I threw up everyday, all day. I suffered criticism, judgment and harsh gossip. I struggled to finish the last few months of cosmetology school and had to quit my job because I was too sick to make it through a shift at work. I was told by my Christian friends to abort my unborn child. I can see why they said that, they were trying to protect me from a life of hardship. The idea of being a single mom seemed way too difficult and many of them had already had an abortion themselves.
I’m not going to lie, an abortion seemed like a tempting option. I knew in my heart it was wrong but I perceived it as an easy way out. During those days of deciding I spent a lot of time in prayer. I was given a lot of unsolicited advice, most of it was unhelpful (although I’m sure they meant well). However, there was one person who helped me gain a new perspective. In general she was a private person but on that particular day she was brave enough to be vulnerable with me. She told me that when she was young she had an abortion and it was the one act she regretted more than anything. She carried the burden of shame, guilt and condemnation which led to low self-esteem. Much time had passed since that dreadful day but she still struggled with a deep sense of sadness that she couldn’t seem to shake. She said that every year, right around the time she would have given birth she thinks of him and what might have been had she gone through with the pregnancy. An abortion seemed like a quick fix, but it was costly to her emotions and mental health.
Because she shared her deepest pain with me, my baby lives today.
When she shared her story and her regret, it gave me the strength I needed to go through with having a child all on my own. Words cannot describe how thankful I am that she was willing to lay down her pride and be transparent with me. Her words gave me clarity and comfort in a time of fear and uncertainty.
That whole season of my life was unbelievably difficult. I prayed a lot and even though I felt that the church had let me down during my pregnancy and as a new mom, God did not. I had no doubt that He was with me. When people saw me as the scarlet letter, God reached down with His love, mercy and kindness as my savior.
We tend to think that when we mess up, God abandons us but the very opposite is true, He comes even closer.
He’s that good. No judgment, no ridicule– just love.
His presence comforted and guided me during that season. I felt Him leading me, not to give my baby up for adoption (although many people thought that I should) but to keep him. I didn’t know how I’d take care of him but I trusted that with Gods help I’d figure it out. I never knew what I was capable of until then. Now my son is fifteen years old and I can say with confidence, God provided each step of the way.
Sometimes it takes being faced with some difficult challenges to find the strength that lies within yourself.
I shutter to think of what could have been had I made a different choice, one that seemed easier at the time. I would have missed out on a person who loves me with a fierceness that I’m not worthy of, a person who brings me so much joy I can hardly stand it and I thank God for that woman who shared her story with me so tenderly. I want to be more like her. I want to use my pain and life experiences for other peoples gain. I don’t want to waste one bit of it for fear of what people might think of me. Because it’s our willingness to let people into our messy places, the places that we naturally want to hide that bonds us together.
When we’re transparent about our struggles it squelches the power that shame holds over us. It gives people the opportunity to say: I see you, I hear you, I’m for you and I’m with you.
You’ve made it through something, you may not have the same story as I do but you can’t live too long without experiencing difficulties in life.
1.) What hard situation have you been through and are now on the other side of?
2.) How can you use the pain from that situation and turn it into someone else’s gain?
3.) Who needs your words and actions to bring them comfort today?