Forgiving yourself for teen mistakes

replica of a baby
A replica of a 12-week-old baby.

It was 1970. Kerry Ellen was only 15 when she found herself alone and terrified in a sparsely furnished, cold room.

She was on a bed in the room. At the foot of the bed was a bin. Kerry looked at the bin. "What is that bin doing there?"

There were people in the room but nobody spoke to her except to tell her to be quiet when she screamed during the procedure. The illegal procedure. The procedure to terminate her pregnancy. She realised what the bin was for.

"I was so naïve," Kerry says today. "I was nearly three months pregnant and so excited and proud of myself when I told my boyfriend I was going to have his baby. I will never forget his words. He said: 'Well you're just going to have to get rid of it aren't you'? His words were a slap in my face.

"A week later he gave me the money to get the job done. If only I had known, I would not have walked through the door to that room in 1970."

Kerry did not tell a soul what had happened and had nightmares for years. She tried hard to bury her feelings, to persuade herself not to feel bad about what she had done, but nothing worked. Guilt and shame wrapped themselves around her like a vice.

"My terminated baby and I were both illegal, nameless, unregistered and unknown statistics," Kerry says. "When I left, the door slammed shut behind me leaving behind a piece of my heart that was binned alongside my baby. The only thing I was left with were the questions, 'just who am I?' and 'who was my baby?' I bled for days afterwards, but my heart bled for years.

"I had just done what I had been told. A childhood of sexual abuse had taught me to do that, no questions asked."

Kerry was accustomed to abuse. Her mother was fond of telling her that she and Kerry's father "just couldn't get rid of you though we tried at least half a dozen times".

She is thankful not to have experienced any physical handicap or disability from the repeated attempts to abort her. "I am one of the fortunate survivors," she says. "My heart goes out to those who have to live with disabilities.

"God found me while I was lost. He sees me not from my past but from my future. Under the sunshine of His love, goodness, healing and forgiveness, the impact of my mother's words has melted away.

"God helped me to forgive my parents. The doors of my heart began to unbolt and creak open, one at a time. Forgiving myself took years. I could forgive my boyfriend and the abortion providers. But I felt I didn't deserve to be forgiven.

"People may find it hard to believe, but my parents did love me; it's just that they had their own issues. One of the reasons it took me so long to speak about my experiences was respect for them.

"God sees me because it is His way and timing that is perfect. Psalm 139:14 says, 'I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.' God saved me because I couldn't save myself. He's my hero."

Today Kerry is married. She has three children, two step-children and 10 grandchildren. "They are the most beautiful things I have ever seen," she says. "I look at their faces and I see God's goodness shining through them."

Kerry could so easily have become bitter but has chosen a different path. She sees her life as a gift. "God will always make something beautiful out of something that was once damaged and broken. He does not waste anything in your life. He has helped me to finally forgive myself and move on in the life He has prepared for me.

"My story now helps abortion survivors and participants, and sexual abuse survivors. I now pray Scriptures peacefully outside my local abortion clinic. I will not be silent anymore. I pray for all the damaged and broken mothers and fathers to find peace in Jesus."

One of Kerry's most treasured passages in Scripture is Psalm 139:16 – "Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

Kerry recommends the website, Live Action, one of the leading pro-life and human rights organisations in the U.S.

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