Don’t Waste Your Pain!
By: Amber Richards
[Lisa Robertson]: I love hearing from readers when something I wrote touches their hearts. One of my online friends in Florida responded to my remarks about the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. I am sad to hear about women like Amber because I personally know the pain of shame and guilt, but her story is very similar to mine. While the Evil One promises that the answer to our immediate problem of an inconvenient pregnancy is to end it in an abortion clinic, he never delivers as promised.
He also convinces us to keep our sin to ourselves, that telling others would tarnish what they think of us.
Thanks be to God that Amber wound up in the same location I did — at the foot of the cross of Christ. And thanks be to God that she is willing to share this hopeful message with other women:
Have you ever done something in your life you were ashamed of?
I have — countless times — but one in particular just stands out, and to be honest with you, I am tired of living with it. I can’t change what I did, and I can’t make it go away. What happened, happened. I made that decision more than 15 years ago and now I have to live with it for the remainder of my life. And to be honest, living with it has been pretty hard. Sure, I could just go on ignoring it, pretending it didn’t happen.
That’s pretty much what I have done, and honestly, I would like to keep on ignoring it, but the Holy Spirit has been leading me now for the past several years to share my story. I’ve hesitated, tried not to, thought maybe this feeling and voice will go away, but it doesn’t. It just gets louder and louder, so here I am, typing this out, and for the first time in my life, putting my story out there.
When I was just 14 years old, I lost my virginity to my boyfriend of one year. He was a couple of years older than me and of course, (I thought) I was in love. A short time later, I began to experience morning sickness like no other and the worst thing imaginable happened. I missed my period. I was so afraid, scared, and alone. At this time in my life, I didn’t know Jesus, so I didn’t even have him to turn to. The only thing I knew to do next was to confirm my fears of being pregnant. I called my boyfriend, told him what was going on, and he bought the test and picked me up. I’ll never forget going into that Hardee’s bathroom to pee on the stick and wait.
Sure enough, it was positive.
I instantly knew what needed to be done. I had to abort this baby. My parents can’t know about this. My friends can’t know about this. NOBODY can know about this. I did not want to be labeled as that girl who got knocked up in high school. I was not in any position in my life to raise a baby and be a mother. Heck, I had a four-year-old sister at the time!
My boyfriend was willing to help out with whatever decision I chose, but my mind was made up. He did fear that an abortion might be unsafe for me, so he did what was right and he told my parents. I’ll never forget how I felt like the absolute worst daughter in the entire world. I had let them down. I still pray that they know that my poor decisions do not reflect badly on their parenting. As bad as it hurt that he told them, I was glad they knew. I needed someone, and who better than your mother at a time like this?
The memory of it all is still so vivid to me. Walking into the clinic. The ultrasound. The pain I went through afterwards. It was summertime, so I felt lucky that I didn’t have to be around anyone in school as I was healing emotionally and physically.
Over time, things got better at home and we just swept it under the rug. It was not something that we talked about — ever. Life got back to normal, which is what I wanted of course. I ended up leaving that boyfriend about a year later.
I never told anyone about this. For years I literally held it in. Not even my best friends knew. It was a part of me I wanted to disappear forever. Then I met my now husband at the age of 19. He was the first person I had ever told about my abortion. I don’t quite remember how it was brought up, but I do remember we were sitting in a Taco Bell eating lunch, and he was in disbelief. I honestly thought for a second that I had just ruined this relationship.
Fast forward to today. I am 32 years old, married to my best friend, with two absolutely beautiful children. I can’t lie that there are times in my life when I look at my kids and think about what could have been if I had made another decision. Or calculate the age that child would be today.
I have lived so many years feeling so ashamed and thinking I was a terrible person for what I had done. That baby did not deserve what I did. I was so immature and had no knowledge of the extent of what I was doing. I could sit here all day and say all the things I wish I had known or done differently, but none of it changes the fact that I did it.
I have lived in pain from this decision for many, many years. Even though I have been saved, the pain of it still resurfaces. On one hand, I knew I was forgiven, but on the other, my stance on abortion had changed. There have been thoughts of, “How can I claim to be a Christian and have had an abortion.” It was all so confusing, and I have spent many years trying to figure this all out on my own.
What I have learned is that I don’t have to figure this all out on my own. It’s really quite simple actually, and you can do this too: If there is something you have been living with and feeling shame over, talk to Jesus. Tell him you know what you have done is wrong, and you want his forgiveness.
I’ve got good news for you: 10 out of 10 times you will be redeemed.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (John 1:9) Our God is a loving God. He just wants your attention and for you to talk to Him. He doesn’t want you to carry around all of that weight that you’ve been carrying. It’s not meant for you. “Casting all your cares on him, for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7-9) Give it to him! And once you do, you will feel an indescribable peace and love like no other.
In church recently, the pastor preached a sermon called “Don’t waste your pain.” We all have gone through, are going through, or will go through painful things. It doesn’t matter what your religious beliefs are, the color of your skin, or the language you speak. It’s going to happen. What matters is what are you going to do with that pain. You can hold it in for years like I did and waste it, or you can use it to glorify God and his Kingdom. What God has done for me is far more than I could have ever done for myself.
Amber Richards and her husband, Reese, live in Trenton, Florida, with their two small children. They became followers of Jesus a little over seven years ago. When they decided to follow Christ, they agreed that he would be Lord of everything — their lives, their marriage, and their family.
Amber and Reese own Bearded Outdoors and sponsor the Bearded Outdoors Podcast (YouTube). They have committed to using their company to spreading the good news that Jesus is Lord.
Image credit: Amber Richards