Faith

Faith

Pregnancy, Female, 22, College, Abuse
“The Lord brought the right people into my life to help me hold on.”

Briefly describe the situation of the crisis pregnancy:
I was at home and felt like something wasn’t right. My body was feeling differently. So, I went to Kroger, got a pregnancy test, and then went to the Starbuck’s bathroom to take it.

What was your initial reaction on finding out that you were pregnant?
Oh gosh, it’s real! It validated how my body was feeling. I was in college living with my parents. So I went home and processed that next step.

If you had to name the specific fears, worries, and anxieties you that were going through your mind during the course of the pregnancy, what were they?
The biggest fear was probably fear of my life falling apart because the nature of the environment was abusive. So it was hard to process “Oh, no I’m pregnant” in an abusive situation. How is this going to be moving forward? Abortion was never something I considered. But people who are naturally against abortion would see my situation as a good situation to have one. But I stuck with it. I guess part of me thought it might make the situation better with the abuse, but it didn’t work. It just made it worse.

Describe the process of opening up to others:
I let him know as soon as I found out through a text message. His immediate response was “you need to get an abortion.” The next people that found out were my parents. I was going to college at the time and was living at home with my parents. I kept it quiet for a while and the abuse continued.

My dad and I had the same phone, so one day my dad picked up my phone thinking it was his and saw text evidence of me addressing the abuse. Then, my dad confronted me asking, “Is this true?” It almost took the weight of having to confess off of me. I never wanted to lie about anything, but it was hard to come out and admit it. So when he asked me about it, it was like I could say “Yes, this has been happening!”

I had a friend that was a single mom before I found out I was pregnant. She told me that when she told her parents, she called them, told them, and hung up the phone. So that gave me a preconceived notion that was the way you were supposed to let your parents know (which is totally wrong in hindsight!!). I called my mom, told her, and hung up the phone. I came home, and both of my parents were like in a daze. From the beginning, my parents said we are going to get through this together. They have been a great support.

Then while experiencing more abuse during my first trimester, I ended up coming out and telling my college professor that I was pregnant. My professor helped me look at my situation in an objective way by looking at the facts and laying out practical options through conflict resolution strategies—I’m pregnant and stuck in a domestic violent relationship, he’s abusive and doing drugs, this is how we can go about it… A, B or C.

When thinking about how people responded to your situation, what were the helpful or hurtful things that people did or said?
When I told my professor in college about the pregnancy, he asked me if she could forward the information to my advisor. I agreed, and my advisor was able to help me decide classes to take at a community college while I was pregnant and would transfer back to my school if I later had the opportunity to come back and graduate. She helped me tremendously.

I went to crisis centers, mostly domestic violence centers, and they gave me a checklist of signs of an abuser. His behavior was the textbook definition of an abuser, and it became obvious that this was the situation I was in.

I started counseling with a few people at my church, and I think everything—the timing and the people—perfectly aligned for my situation. The friends I counseled with at my church offered to set up a safe home for me to live in if I promised to cut off all communication, for their safety as well as for me and my unborn child. And that’s what I did. It took me a long time to commit to that. I knew that if I committed to cutting off all communication, it could increase the violence in my situation. I wondered if he would come after me. I think that’s what took me so long to commit. About a month later, when I was around five months pregnant, I was ready. The abuse continued up until I was five months pregnant. I got a new cell phone, new email address, deactivated my social media accounts, and disappeared. I didn’t say I was going anywhere. I literally disappeared. I lived with a family that was willing to take me in, and they were a huge blessing. The wife had a previous abusive marriage, so she was able to relate to me in that way. They were great people to host me. I stayed there for the remainder of my pregnancy and a short time after.

What was the pregnancy season like for you spiritually?
For me, it was learning to walk in obedience. Obedience to the truth of God’s word that the plans He has for me bring a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11) even if that looks like letting go and surrendering what I think needs to happen to fix the situation. As soon as I surrendered, listened to wise counsel, chased after the Lord with every broken part of my heart… the waves of miraculous provision flooded my life. I was provided with a safe place to live, people came into my life to speak healing restoration and fullness of joy, a random person decided to pay for my private college education so I could graduate… the list goes on and on.

I think during the whole time, I was chasing after God’s will. I was crying out to Him in my room with tears streaming down my face, completely broken. When I look back to those moments when I was crying out to Him, I know that He saw that. Had I not cried out to Him the way I did, I don’t think I would have had the results that I did in regards to healing and restoration.

Was there any sense of shame that held you back from reaching out to God? Maybe thinking he was disappointed in you or angry with you?
I don’t think I ever felt that way except for briefly after my child was born. I had complications and almost lost my life. In order to save my life, they had to perform a hysterectomy. I thought, “I’m in an abusive relationship and I have this child, and I don’t want this to be the way my only child is born. I don’t have any chance to have more children.” That was the only time I had an unhealthy view of God. I wondered, “God, is it my sin that caused me to have to have a hysterectomy? My pregnancy was completely normal. Why did this have to happen?” That was difficult to process, but it wasn’t ever a huge struggle. I think the peace of the Lord just came as soon as that thought entered my mind. It was like He took it captive and said, “No, that’s the wrong mindset of who I am.”

With the political and social conversation around abortion often being so argumentative and abrasive from both sides, as someone who could have chosen abortion, what did you find unhelpful, hurtful, or disconnected about how people talk the abortion in public?
I feel like a lot of people who choose abortion choose it because it is convenient… and some because they are asked to do it by the father of the child. I think some of it is fear of the future. If people had the kind of support that I had, I don’t think abortion would be much of an option. I had such an overwhelming amount of support, and I could not have made that happen myself. The Lord brought the right people into my life to help me hold on. I think it was how much I pressed into the Lord, because it was divine appointment after divine appointment of the Lord bringing people into my life to fulfill certain things and to bring healing. Right before I gave birth to my child, I was introduced to a woman at church who had the exact same thing happen to her with the delivery of her child and needing a hysterectomy to save her life during childbirth. I had no idea that was going to happen to me. So when that did happen, after my child was born, I was able to have somebody I could relate to. I think my hands-on community was full of people who were willing to provide tangible help were so helpful. For example, my friends at church helped to remove me from a harmful situation by arranging a safe place for me to stay. My community was proactive instead of just saying, “I will pray for you”.

What advice would you give to the girl currently facing a crisis pregnancy like yours?
I want to say running to your church is the best option because it was for me. But that is not the case with every church. Every church is not going to have the same result. And not everyone is going to have a good family support system. I think the thing that made me the most steadfast in overcoming was just pursuing the Lord in the middle of it all. The Holy Spirit guided every step. Being proactive to cry out, ask for help in the right places, etc. I would also say embrace the trials, and don’t take the easy way out. Trials shape and mold character… and as easy as it might be to let go and give up, there is SO much blessing on the other end after persevering and enduring through hard times. Watch the Lord work miracles for you when you choose to walk through the fire. You won’t see the supernatural until you do. Once you have persevered, you come out stronger on the other side, your faith increases by leaps and bounds, you WILL see miracles, and have the crazy amazing blessing of carrying one of these precious ones and giving birth to the most amazing gift you can ever receive… Life.

What about advice you would give a girl that is pregnant in an abusive situation?
I would say every single time, as hard as it is, she should get away. The Lord, out of His lovingkindness and jealous love for you WILL provide!!

What do you wish everyday people would know about people who walk through a crisis pregnancy?
Life is hard. I think in the past, when people I know realized how hard life is for single parents, that was really comforting to me—when they have the realization and understanding of what life is like for that person because they don’t have that spouse and best friend who will love and support them the way they need to be. I think it takes looking into their world and seeing the things that they don’t have and just having an understanding of that. When people see and understand that, they know how to help. I mean even in the very smallest things—having to provide all the meals, having to be the disciplinarian, having to be the nurturer, having to provide financially, having to maintain a home. Sometimes providing financially looks like juggling three jobs, homeschooling, and house sitting. It’s a lot to juggle. Sometimes people receive child support, and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they are carrying the burden of a significant amount of legal debt and facing bankruptcy. I would say where I am at right now, having walked through a long legal battle to keep my child and myself safe… as paralyzing as that court battle was, it was absolutely worth it to have my child! I would just say that if your world falls apart, it’s going to be ok even after it falls apart.

You don’t seem to play the role of the victim even though it would be easy to do so. How did you get there?
I don’t like being negative and want to see the positive in life. Back in 2011, I attended a weekend retreat at another local church, and that really taught me a lot about the father heart of God. It also taught me about the orphan spirit and the victim mentality. At that time, I was really trying to change that paradigm in my mind of walking as a daughter of the Most High instead of as a victim. I never wanted to be labeled as a victim. The verse and the scripture came to my heart that mentions the healing and restoration that the Lord has for all of his children, separates the bad stuff as far as the east is from the west. I chased after perfect healing. I have this picture in my mind of what freedom looks like. What does living fully in what the Lord has for me look like? I picture joy unrestrained by anything that hinders my spirit from being free and full. Being thankful in the small things. Worship is a sweet place. There’s a lot of healing in that. I play worship music nonstop, even in my hardest times. Years ago when I was pregnant (and still today), I always listened to worship music because it becomes ingrained in your spirit and apart of your DNA… bringing hope, Life, and the spirit of thanksgiving.