I got pregnant twice as a teen. The first time I chose to have an abortion—something I really regret. The second time I dropped out of school and had my baby. It was during that time—when I needed help the most—that I opened my heart to God.
Yet for many years I was ashamed to be a (former) teenage mother. I felt like everyone was judging me. I tried to be perfect. (And actually I think it was more in my head than anything!)
It was only later when my pastor asked if I’d help start a crisis pregnancy center that my past “mess” became my “message.” Instead of feeling as if I had to prove myself, I started reaching out to young women, telling them they could be great moms and do wonderful things with their lives.
I started to encourage them and offer them help and advice. Our support group brought in caring mentors and inspiring and helpful speakers, and they offered assistance for their basic needs such as the need for diapers and baby clothes. I wanted to “hide” my past, but God wanted to redeem it! He knew that my story would connect with young women . . . because I’ve been there!
Trying to Hide Your Past? Here are 5 Ways to Turn Your Mess into Your Message:
1. Face it. Everyone has made mistakes—everyone. God knows your mistakes, too. He wants you to own up to them. Not to condemn, but to bring you to your need for him. In John 4, Jesus called out the Samaritan woman for having had five husbands and for living with someone who wasn’t her husband. Did he give her a tongue lashing? No. He told her what he had to offer:
“Everyone who drinks this water will become thirsty again. But those who drink the water that I will give them will never become thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give them will become in them a spring that gushes up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14, God’s Word Translation
2. Invite Jesus in. Just like the woman, God wants springs of eternal life to flow from you, too, but you have to invite him in. Ask him to fill you up with his goodness, so full that it can’t help but flow out.
3. Reach out. Almost ten years after I was a teen mom myself, I had a burden to reach out to those who were facing the same challenges I faced as a teenage mom. With the help of other women, I started a Teen MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) support group in Kalispell, Montana. And I did the same when we moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, in 2014. I knew there was a need, even though I didn’t already know the young women who showed up. In both situations it was one of those “if you build it, they will come” things. I reached out, and God brought the people who needed the help to me.
4. Speak up. Don’t be afraid to talk about hard issues. Sometimes people feel as if they’re the only ones who have dealt with the same pain. Be the first one to open up and share your heart. It’ll be an open door for the other person to do the same.
5. Team up. Find other like-minded individuals who had the same message. Work together to share your message. Turn to each other for encouragement.
Steps You can Take
- Pray and relinquish all your past sins to God.
- Spend time with Jesus, focusing on his love for you.
- Ask God for a first step to reaching out to others.
- Share your story with one person.
- Reach out to one like-minded friend for accountability and support.
Dear Heavenly Father,
For so many years I’ve lived under the shame, regret, and burdens from my past mistakes. I thank you for your forgiveness. I thank you for your healing. Today I offer myself up to you. I trust you can turn my mess into my message . . . please do!
In Jesus’ name, amen.
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