My Journey from Abortion to God | Keri's Story
God. This story is about Him and how He takes broken, hurting people and transforms their lives so others can find Him. Much of this story is about abortion, and the lies and fears that come with it that distance us from God. To the ladies who are hurting, or angry, or feeling nothing, I’ve been there. I have experienced the gamut of emotions about my abortion and toward God, including years of feeling nothing.
I grew up in a Bahai home. We learned about god through the teachings and principles of the Bahai Faith. My parents separated when I was 12 and divorced when I was 13. Our home fell apart upon their separation and often was a place of loneliness and quiet. My parents both worked and were gone a lot. My mother felt abandoned by the Bahai community after their divorce and left that religion. We didn’t talk about god too much after that.
I started seeking acceptance and love through any avenue I could find. I smoked my first cigarette when I was 13. I drank my first drink that same year. Marijuana followed shortly thereafter and by the time I was 16, I had run away from home and had tried most drugs. I favored cocaine and crank.
By age 17 I fell in love with a boy and became pregnant. It was 1996 and I was living with this boyfriend in what can only be called a “party” house. I was not the first in my group of friends to have an abortion. I knew several other girls who’d had them. My dad still carried me on his medical insurance, a well-known HMO. I called them one afternoon and I remember telling the woman that I was pregnant and didn’t want to be. She asked me for some basic information and told me that I would be able to have an abortion with a minimal copay. When I told her that my father couldn’t know, she assured me that because I was over 13 years of age, my medical records were my own. And just like that, relief washed over me. I thought it was all going to be OK.
I don’t remember much about the actual abortion. It was early in the morning and I was anxious to get it over with. I recall the drugs they gave me making me feel woozy and the room spinning. I remember a nurse rubbing my arm. I remember them giving me a small cup of apple juice and telling me to drink it slowly on the way home so I wouldn’t get sick. I remember the 30-minute drive back, holding that small cup of juice, and feeling like I was in a dream. I vomited when I got home. And then I went back to my life. Just like that. I didn’t talk about it. I didn’t feel anything about it. I had “taken care of it”.
I ended up marrying that boyfriend a couple of years later at age 20. When people would ask us about having children, my canned response was that I didn’t want them. I’m not quite sure when I transitioned from feeling the relief of the abortion to feeling the fear that I would never have a healthy body or pregnancy. I believed two things and spoke them to myself often: I would go to my grave without telling my parents about my abortion, and I would never be a mom.
When I was 24, I found out my husband was cheating on me and wanted to leave our marriage. I was devastated. I remember the night he didn’t come home I sat in my living room and cried out to God, “Please, please, please bring him home.” But He didn’t. I didn’t feel angry at God after that, I mostly felt hopeless. I was so dependent on the love of this man and he abandoned me. I couldn’t fix it or change it. And God wasn’t there. I didn’t practice any kind of religion and my thoughts and conversations with God were random, basically only occurring when I felt I needed something. I vehemently disagreed with what I believed Christianity was and had no desire for any faith.
A year after my divorce I entered into a serious relationship with another man. We moved in together just 3 months after we started dating. Our relationship was tumultuous and difficult, filled with deceit and struggle. But through that hurtful and confusing relationship, I met Adam, my now husband. My sweet husband. I thank God for him every single day. Adam saw my broken, damaged heart and spirit and has just loved me through it. He has been patient, kind, and gentle. He provided me with security and friendship I didn’t think was possible. We’ve been together 11 years now.
It took me a while to tell Adam about my abortion. He knew that I didn’t want to get married again and that I didn’t want a family. I hadn’t told anyone about my abortion for a long time. In fact, in the 20 years between when I had it and when I started to confront it, I’d only told 4 people. Not my parents, not my friends, virtually no one. I never discussed it in any detail. But Adam made me want to trust in marriage again. And for the first time ever, I started having serious stirrings about the possibility of having a baby. I didn’t hope for it though. Any time I would start to think about it I would stuff it down because it hurt. I had believed for so long I would never have a child.
Then one afternoon, about 5 years into our relationship, I started bleeding. And didn’t know why. I was terrified that this was the moment that all my fears about having an unhealthy body and reproductive system were coming true. I was able to get an emergency appointment with an OBGYN that same day. For the first time in 15 years, I let someone examine me. It turned out that I had a benign polyp. The doctor removed it, did a regular exam and an ultrasound. As I told her about my fears, I felt a palpable change in the room. The doctor looked directly into my eyes and spoke one small sentence that changed my life from that day forward, “There is no reason that you can’t have a normal, healthy pregnancy.” For the first time since my abortion, I believed it was possible! And so this stranger, in 30 seconds, lifted that heavy lie away.
Knowing that I was OK was such a relief but I can still recall the exhilaration I felt leaving that office. I began to dream of a family, a baby, becoming a mother. I could let the dream exist, I could feed it, I could talk about it!
Adam and I were finally married 6 years into our relationship. We had a Justice of the Peace perform the wedding ceremony because we were both agnostic. Shortly after our wedding, I became pregnant. We were excited, but I was also terrified. Just 3 short weeks after confirming I was pregnant, I had a miscarriage. I was heartbroken and those past fears returned. But the hope remained and we decided to try again.
3 months before my 36th birthday I found out I was pregnant again. Because of my history of a miscarriage and my age, I was considered high risk. At 20 weeks we went in for our big ultrasound and discovered some issues. One being that Lorelai, our daughter, was only about a quarter of the size she should have been at that point. At 23 weeks I was admitted to the hospital where I spent the remainder of my pregnancy on bed rest. I spent a total of almost 10 weeks in the hospital. But our beautiful miracle stayed in! I had her at 35 weeks gestation and she came into this world tiny but strong at 3lbs, 11oz and perfectly healthy. We had a couple of weeks in the NICU and then we brought her home.
After bringing our daughter home, I was so in love with her. But I was so desperately tired and lonely. We didn’t have community of any kind. My husband, while so supportive and helpful, still had to work. My plan had always been to go back to work after having Lorelai, but we struggled to find safe and affordable childcare. I was angry. Angry at my family for not coming to see us more. Angry at my husband for having to go to work. Angry at Lorelai for making me tired. This little life, this beautiful precious gift of a baby that had been the secret longing of my heart for so long was still not enough.
AND THEN GOD. Then God became the desire of my heart. I don’t know quite how it happened or when, but I do remember when Lorelai was about six months old, I was driving to the hospital. I was driving around the underground parking garage looking for a parking spot and out of the blue, I felt an overwhelming sense of love. And almost immediately I knew it was from a power I didn’t know or understand. It was so strong it brought tears to my eyes. It was surprising. It was more real than the feel of the steering wheel in my hands. I don’t understand how or why I felt God’s love that day, but it was like a salve to my seeking, aching soul.
During this time of transition to a family of 3, my husband and I began making more frequent visits to Wenatchee. My brother and his family had lived there for quite a while and were members of Grace City Church. For many years, Adam and I had respected their family in the way they parented and pursued the kind of community we saw them experiencing. We attended church with them a couple of times during our visits, and it was surprisingly refreshing and fulfilling. I started to see this kind of life as a possibility for our own family. We both knew we needed to make a change. We couldn’t continue to live the way we were living. Money was tight, Adam had a very stressful job, we were lonely and desiring a better life for our family.
When we first started talking about moving, we knew right away that the most important things we wanted were for me to be able to stay home and for us to have community. Wenatchee seemed to fit that dream. We saw a chance to have real support, real friendships, and for me, a place to explore a relationship with God through Grace City Church.
We started the steps to make a move. In what seemed like a perfectly orchestrated chain of events, Adam found a job, we found a beautiful home to buy in Wenatchee, and we sold our Seattle house quickly. We moved to Wenatchee on Lorelai’s first birthday, August 17th, 2016. I was still very lonely that first year, but I was so desperate for truth and love that I did things I never thought I would do. That first September I joined a local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group and started attending BSF (Bible Study Fellowship). I wanted to run head first toward God and I wanted to understand who Jesus was. We began attending Grace City weekly.
One day a woman came and spoke at our MOPS meeting about a crisis pregnancy clinic in the Wenatchee Valley. She shared her own story of abortion and recovery and how God had been working in her life. It was something I wasn’t expecting to hear at a MOPS meeting. I cried through almost the whole thing. Rumblings of regret and shame began to surface. A short time after that, a new friend and fellow MOPS mom shared her testimony, and it also included a journey of healing after abortion. Again, I cried through the whole story. For the first time in YEARS, I told someone about my abortion. This new friend who was so brave to share her story made me feel safe. She was loving and supportive. She encouraged me to check out a recovery group she was thinking of doing called Surrendering the Secret, but I wasn’t quite ready for that.
Over the next few months, I grew to enjoy church, MOPS, and BSF more and more. I was seeing God, Jesus, and Christianity in a beautiful new light...not a religion riddled with rules and judgment as I had believed for so long, but a place of amazing grace, love, and support. I was encountering the God who created us and loves us, and never stops pursuing us. I was beginning to see Jesus as savior. While I struggled with many things I was learning, I desired God and I wanted to be a part of his family.
Our first January here (January 2017) we attended church on a Sunday as usual. If you know Grace City Church, you know that it’s big and that the second service is usually crowded. This particular Sunday it was packed. We put Lorelai in Grace Kids and found seats in the auditorium, right in the middle, sandwiched between people on all sides. I’ll never forget the large red screen with the words “Sanctity of Life” written across it. It was probably about 7 or 8 minutes into the sermon when I began to understand where it was going. They were talking about abortion.
I remember hearing the words from scripture about “rescuing those being led to the slaughter”. I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. I started to slightly panic and cry. I started to get angry. And that anger grew and grew. “HOW DARE YOU, MAN ON STAGE, even think you understand anything about what it’s like to be in a woman’s shoes.” As I sat there crying, ashamed, and angry, I was surrounded by people cheering. Shouts of “Amen!” and “Yes God!” were all around us. In a room packed with people, I felt completely isolated. I sat and listened to statistics of abortion and details about a baby’s development. Slap after slap after slap. And I was stuck. I couldn’t leave. My brother and his family had been faithfully serving in this church for years. I was not naïve to the fact that some people knew who I was. What would they think if they saw me crying and running out? My brother didn’t know about my abortion and I certainly wasn’t going to tell him. So, in fear and ego, I sat there. Feeling like I was stuck in a well and forced to maintain some modicum of composure, silently weeping with rage boiling inside me. The feelings of love and respect I’d had for the church began to crumble. This was exactly what I thought Christianity was all along...a place to judge and blame, and a place for people to feel self-righteous in their stance.
We left Grace City Church that day and didn’t go back for 4 months. I cried the whole way home and continued crying for most of that day.
We were seeing my brother and his family fairly regularly and they noticed we hadn’t been attending church. We had dinner with them one night and we talked about that sermon and why I was struggling. I was still so angry and felt like I couldn’t get them to understand why. In desperation of wanting them to “get it” and to be on “my side”, I told them. I sat there, and cried, and told them about my abortion. And they just loved me through that night. No judgment, just love, and compassion. And I felt a little bit of freedom. 20 years later.
(Left to right: Adam, Keri, sister-in-law, Laura, brother, Kyle)
20 years later. That seemingly simple and easy choice that gave me so much relief as a scared teenager was rearing its ugly head, breaking my heart, calling me out. Since coming to Wenatchee it felt like I was suddenly confronted with all these situations and stories about abortion. I started to ask myself why I was so angry about the sermon. Why did it matter what this one man thought…or even this one church? Why was I struggling, crying, hurting? I think most of us have heard that anger is usually the emotion that suffocates the true feeling, and the more I questioned it, the more it hurt. The more I realized that it was a problem. That I was NOT OK with that choice I’d made and I was terrified of what that meant. I started to question everything I believed in.
In the months that followed, we avoided Grace City. We tried attending a couple of other churches but I was gun-shy and nothing felt right. I continued BSF and MOPS. I started praying more and more. I started talking about my abortion with people I knew had walked the same road. I listened to more stories. But even in my anger, I missed Grace City. I had heard a lot of beautiful truth and grace and had felt fed each week we’d attended. We had begun to feel like a real part of the church and had started making friends. And I loved that for the first time since we were children, I had a connection with my brother.
In April, my sister-in-law asked if we would come to Easter Sunday. I was obviously still angry and hurt but felt compelled to go. I wanted to experience Easter with my family. So we went back to Grace City. We attended the Good Friday service and then the Easter service. It felt good to be back, to sing, learn, and experience the joy.
(Easter 2017 at Grace City)
We started going regularly again after that. I was working to move the issues I was struggling with away from the church, and to wrestle them through with God instead. Grace City started a series based on the book of John. My BSF study that year was also on the book of John. And then our MOPS summer bible study was on John! John was my first personal experience in the Word of God. I believe that I was led to the gospel through John because of its gentleness and the loving connection that Jesus and John shared. God knew it was just what I needed to break down the walls of my heart and to transform my view of Christianity. Walking through this text and walking with John as I was struggling, brought me to the feet of Jesus. I fell in love with Him. I fell in love with God. I began to see His work in everything. I began to understand forgiveness and grace. I began to practice and speak those things out loud.
On Father’s Day of 2017, we went to church as usual. I had been thinking about what it meant to actually give your life to God. To become born again, to label myself a Christian. I wasn’t ready. I had a whole list of things that I could not stop wrestling with in the Bible and in life. But I loved God, and I loved Jesus. In church that day, Pastor Josh spoke on John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
And it hit me. I wanted to be a branch! I wanted to bear fruit! I wanted Lorelai to be that fruit. I knew God loved me and was for me and had led me through all of the hurt and fire in my life to that moment. As communion was being passed, I wanted to taste the bread and drink the wine and live for Jesus. So I did. I gave it all up to Him that day. Unexpectedly, confusingly, faithfully and with my whole heart. I remember leaving church that day feeling like I had a hole in my chest. It felt like God had taken all the bricks I had built up around my heart and spirit, crumbled them, and dug them out. I felt raw and tender because I knew my life was different now.
I am the daughter of the mighty King. He made me for this life and these journeys. I belong to Him and he will use my life and my family’s life for the greater good of His glorious plan.
Shortly thereafter I decided to attend the Surrendering the Secret post-abortive recovery group. I knew God was calling me to address my abortion fully. It was hard. Really hard. I cried more over those weeks than in all my life combined. And I’m a crier! It gently guided me to learn truths about abortion that I’d avoided and brought me into an understanding of how my abortion had affected my thoughts and decisions. I recognized that I had taken the life of a baby. And that is when true healing began. The greatest gift I received in doing the group was the realization that I had a baby in heaven. That I had already been a mom all those years. Even in my fear, darkness, and avoidance, I had a child walking with Jesus and calling me mom.
I wish I could say that I no longer feel sadness or regret. Truthfully, there are times when it almost brings me to my knees. But I have found HOPE. PURPOSE. And a calling to walk with women who have been in my shoes. I started volunteering weekly at Real Options in Wenatchee, the same group who came and spoke at MOPS and kickstarted the transformation of my life. I get to meet women where they are, love them, listen to them, and show God’s love in quiet service. I learn a new lesson each day I’m there. I get a little stronger and a little surer. It’s a beautiful ministry, and the people I work with are strong, faithful servants.
Writing this has been hard. It’s difficult to recall some of the hurts but the most glorious part is seeing GOD in all of it. I see Him in every second of my life. When I was crying out to God, He was there, and He always will be. I still experience struggles, but I find such comfort and joy in knowing our Father is constant, and the Spirit of Jesus lives in me.