by Adrienne Reece
Let the Redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from the hand of the enemy. Psalm 107:2
I love how Jesus gives us a new life and a new identity. I want to take the next few minutes and take you back to share a personal story with you. One that I pray touches the most impenetrable place in your heart.
Growing up, my family and I went to church consistently. Although we grew up in church, I wouldn’t say that the church grew up in us. There was never any demonstration of changed behavior at home. Of course, I was much older and out of the house by the time I realized this.
I joined the Air Force at 18 and my first duty station was in South Korea. My reasons for joining the service vary greatly but I was so ready to get away from home. I got to Korea, one week before Christmas. Although I did enjoy my time in Korea as much as possible, I found myself in a serious relationship that resulted in marriage. The goal was to stay together once our time in Korea was over.
When we got back stateside, it didn’t take long for the relationship to begin to unravel. Leadership got involved on multiple occasions, and as a safety pre-caution they led me out of the home and into an alternative living situations whether it was an empty dorm room or hotel on base.
I became extremely distant from my family, to the point that one time they popped up to surprise me and I was borderline mortified. My dad took leave from his Army career, and even though I love surprises, I tried to be happy to see them but my then husbands reaction took that joy away almost immediately. I was able to spend time with them but he didn’t want them staying with us even though we had a 3 bedroom apartment.
That next March, I found out that I was pregnant. He was ecstatic. He couldn’t wait to start sharing the news with our families and coworkers. I was terrified. I felt like I was losing control of my life so quick. First, this unpredictable relationship, now this. I had just graduated high school 2 years earlier and this is not at all how I saw my life going. I was confused but one thing I did know was this relationship was not going to last and I didn’t want to be stuck to it.
The next month, I took leave without telling anyone at my job why. I remember arriving at the clinic, you couldn’t tell what it was from the street side, but once we got around back, I remember people holding up signs. I was told to ignore them, so I did. I didn’t read their signs or make eye contact. I didn’t understand it then, but they were pro-life protestors that were trying to give people one last chance to make a different decision. Once I got inside, the experience quickly became a blur. I don’t remember the receptionist-if she was friendly or nonchalant, the doctor or his advice, I don’t remember the after care. Nothing. (Talk about blocking out a traumatic event)
I got back to work the next week and told everyone (including him) that I had lost the baby due to an ectopic pregnancy and I went home to be close to my family. He was sad, but all was forgiven and life moved on.
That August, the week after my birthday, and one month shy of our 1 year anniversary, I left. I had barely missed the annulment window but by Feb of the following year, we were officially divorced.
I was having the time of my life for those 6 months. I had signed my first apartment lease. My career was progressing. I had gotten tasked with my first deployment to Iraq. I was so excited. I had moved on and was in another relationship that I thought was getting pretty serious. He wasn’t in the military, so he didn’t live local. He told me he was in between career changes and just needed a place to stay for a bit. Of course I let my new boyfriend stay with me, I mean, he said it would only be a couple of weeks.
He kept his word on the stay being short, I’ve always wondering if me telling him I was pregnant a month or so later had anything to do with him leaving. He left town to ‘fulfill a new work contract’ and to this day I’ve never seen or heard from him again. He stopped answering and responding to my calls. No return calls. Nothing.
This time, for me though, was different. I was alone to process all of this. I went to the base to get things confirmed and once they updated my medical records, I was knocked off my deployment. My replacement had two weeks to get ready to go, when I had 3 months. If you know anything about the service, this is like a military ‘no no’ when you drop off your deployment. It looks intentional and professionally unbecoming. You lose trust, and you get labeled negatively. This felt so magnified, and this time, I couldn’t keep it a secret because of the medical coding that was all over my paperwork.
A few days later, I was home alone at my apartment, and got a knock on the door. When I went to open it, I was greeted by this girl that I had never met. She confirmed my name and I’m sure my face was like ‘how do you know where I live?’ She told me she worked in the medical unit on base and asked me if I was pregnant. She proceeded to ask me a serious of questions and tell me about how we had been dating the same guy. She wasn’t mad but felt like I should know about her since she knew about me.
I was mortified!
Her name was Yesenia, we exchanged numbers and she became one of the only confidants I felt like I could talk to about any of this. Sometimes, I would listen to her call him just to see if he would answer and he would, and he’d tell her he loved her and would be back soon.
I did end up calling my mom and telling her everything, including what I was going to do. I could hear my mom’s unsettledness. She was disappointed, not just in the decision that I was about to make, but in the decisions, I had been making that landed me here. Regardless, my mind was made up.
This time, Yesenia offered to take me to the clinic. I happily agreed since I couldn’t drive myself due to the anesthetics. She seemed like a sweet new friend to make sure I got there and back safe and sound. After this, I did my best never to mention any of this to anyone. I had two best friends at the time and didn’t even tell them right away. I just wanted all of this to go away. But it didn’t, and it would be about a year before it would BEGIN to die down. To this day, I don’t know how Yesenia ended things with Kevin; if she told him she knew about me, or if she told him what we did. I just know that suddenly, I felt like I had one huge gossip target on my back between Yesenia and my work unit. I had gotten kicked off my deployment due to pregnancy, now there’s no belly (or baby) to show for it (talk about looking malicious). I felt like I was living in a glass house and nothing and no one was safe. I couldn’t escape the pain, embarrassment, or my own magnified thoughts and emotions.
Even though I couldn’t see the light of day for miles, suicide never crossed my mind. I suffered through the gossip, the disgrace, the embarrassment, Yesenia’s betrayal of me thinking she would keep this to herself, Kevin’s “betrayal” if we can even call it that. I suffered through living with the fact that I now had two abortions in my medical history whether on paper on not.
It wouldn’t be until many years later that I would find my way to Christ, but looking back over my life, I realize now that God was chasing me down with such a vengeance. He was shielding me from dangers seen and unseen and the only reason my life was such a mess was because of me.
At one point during my second pregnancy, I tried to start attending a church in the local area. I joined the ministry but never told them about my situation and ended up leaving because of guilt. I had gotten pregnant of out wedlock and was too embarrassed of this “church no no”.
But I stand before you today, as a testament. A testimony, of God’s resurrection power. I believe in the current culture that we are living in where there is such a divide even in the church between pro-life and pro-choice that my story can help someone. God’s Word is clear in Deuteronomy 30:19 when He says, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”
What people don’t understand about girls and women that have abortions is that we live with our decision every single day just like the teen mom or single mom that decided to have her baby. The timeline and due dates never go away and when we meet other moms, we always compare ages and stages with what our life would have looked like. Our stories have more questions than answers. Was it a girl or boy? Would they be tall, or have my complexion? Would they be into sports or music? A people person or shy…the only thing the procedure does, is turn the voices internal instead of external. It doesn’t ever go away.
If you have ever had an abortion, or multiple God doesn’t hate you. If you had ever paid for one, or suggested one or driven somebody to get one, God doesn’t hate you, but repentance is required. You can be alone, or you can confess your sins one to another according to James 5:16. Just be sure to use wisdom and discernment while you are healing. God wants to renew your heart, but He won’t touch what you don’t give over to Him. I know this, because for the longest time, I didn’t even talk to God about what I had done. He didn’t feel omnipresent so if I didn’t mention it, neither would He. But then, somewhere along the way, I began to feel the slightest twinge of conviction when I would hear some completely unrelated testimonies. (That was God chasing me down)
When God finally scooped me up out of the busted and disgusted life I was living, I’ve been on fire for Him ever since. When people ask me why I’m so radical or how I can follow such “strict rules” of the Bible or they ask if I feel trapped and brainwashed in this lifestyle, I tell them no, and that I’m terrible at leading myself. Leading myself got me in the worse situations truly, of my life. But the Bible tells us in John 8:36, that “if the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.”
As you read this, know that letting go of guilt, and shame of WHATEVER you’ve done is possible. It can be completely unrelated to my story but I want you to know that “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” according to Psalm 34:18.
“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:39
You are not out of His reach, He hasn’t lost sight of you, and He is not out of range. His word tells us that He records our misery, he lists our tears on his scroll and that he keeps record of them according to Psalm 56:8.
Shame and guilt are not of God and carrying them around is dishonoring to Him. I’m not saying to go scream what you’ve done on the mountaintops, but I am saying to go into your prayer closet naked. Fully raw and completely vulnerable. Give God whatever heavy burdens you’re carrying and watch how He uses them for His glory.
You can follow the author of this article on Instagram @mrsrevreece.
3 thoughts on “From Guilty to Guilt-Free”
Thank you so much for this. I too have been in your place years ago and ever so often I think about it. I know God has forgiven me and I have repented. God is a loving,forgiving God and I need not be ashamed anymore..Thank you so much again 🙏🏽 ❤️
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This is just sooo good! I don’t have many other words! Thank you for your sharing, your vulnerability & Thank God for the Testimony🙌🏾!
What He has done for one surely gives glory as to what can be done for another! All praise be unto Him! He desires to take away shame & grant beautiful healing!
My beautiful friend, I read this in tears! Thank you for such vulnerability – even when we are healed from our past, sharing things with the world can take a lot of courage. You are so inspirational, so powerful in Christ and so absolutely loved. The world can and will be truly impacted by your story. So happy to call you friend and sister in Christ.