I screwed up.
Everyone knew what I should do and told me. Every One. No one asked what I wanted to do or discussed my options with me.
I stood on the cusp of my life, gazing down the path my family and I had planned: college, advanced degrees, a career and family. My mistake, one little stumbling block, stood in the way. I got pregnant. No matter what I did, the trajectory of my life would change forever.
My family said stick to your plan. You can have the life you wanted. It’s not illegal.
His family said protect that life inside of you. Keep the baby.
My minister showed me a two inch thick folder of unwed pregnancy cases. Each sheet, he said, represented one case. Not one of them stayed married. Stick to your original plan. It’s the best thing for you.
No one ever really discussed my options with me. They told me what to do. Abort or marry, those were my options. At seventeen, all accusing fingers pointed my way, and I had no friendly corner to turn to. I knew I couldn’t go through an abortion, so I fled to his family and the option they provided: marriage.
And for four years, we were the exception to the rule in my minister’s file. But I soon learned that my husband hated me for the decision. He took it out through anger and violence. After four years and two children, I divorced him.
Some days I wondered what if. What if it never happened? What if I chose a different path? What if someone suggested adoption? What if? What if? What if? It doesn’t work and makes you a sad, sad person. My what if game became impossible to consider as the stakes of what I would lose increased. I don’t play what if anymore for many reasons. One is the five people who exist in the world today because I made the choice I made.
Another is that I have a good life.
In the midst of the mess I created at seventeen, I found God. My faith took a lot of hits in the early years, but I can look back and see that He stood with me and supported me throughout all of this. No matter where I look in my life, I see His handprints everywhere. Romans 8:28 says:
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.
God took my screw-ups and used them for the good of others and me. He molded me into a servant. Everywhere I turned, I found people struggling with similar experiences. At the ripe old age of twenty-two, I understood teenage pregnancy, domestic violence, poverty, divorce, and single parenting from a personal point of view. He placed me in positions to help others and gave me the heart to do so. That’s never changed, although my list of hardships stands much longer now. He always found a way to take the most difficult challenges in my life and heal me through serving others.
Eighteen years after this happened to me, I faced the other side of the teenage pregnancy situation, my worst fears realized. One of my daughters became pregnant. I tried to let her know her options and make her own decisions. I won’t claim perfection in that role, but I believe I handled it better than when it happened to me. She chose adoption. No matter what choice a woman makes in these circumstances, it hurts. The day the baby went home with his parents was one of the darkest days in our lives. For us, it was a little easier…my brother and his wife, who couldn’t have a child, adopted him…God works for the good in all situations!
And so, God added more areas of understanding for me to help others.
I’ve found if you examine the difficult times in your life, almost always, if you listened to the leading of the Spirit, opportunities to grow and heal yourself while serving others appeared in your life. Did you accept them or turn away?
Healing comes through acceptance.