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.
Resources You Might Like:
Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer
Restless: Because You were Made for More by Jennie Allen
You were Made for a God-Sized Dream by Holley Gerth
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Hmm, you have given me something to think about. I was just talking with a friend yesterday about how I always think I am such a mess because I do not have life all figured out. She said we are all works in progress. Maybe my “mess” is to be my message. And our sermon Sunday was on John 4. Thanks!
Tricia Goyer says
That’s awesome, Kim! I’ll be praying for you today. God is speaking!!
Melanie @ Carmel Moments says
I love it!
I often blog about finding the message in every mess. It doesn’t matter how bleak things look there is always something to be learned and that we can share with others. It’s often where my inspiration to write comes from.
Have a beautiful Wednesday!
Tricia Goyer says
That’s so true, Melanie! And when we write about our “messy” (not perfect) lives people can relate! And when they relate their hearts are open to Truth!
Mel @ Trailing After God says
I love what you do! I was a teen mom too. I still watch people calculate my son’s birthday and our marriage anniversary. It used to really bother me but now I just accept it and move on. It very much does depend on who you allow into your life. Thank you for not only sharing your story but using it!
Tricia Goyer says
Mel, I totally agree. It doesn’t matter what ‘judgers” think … our friends love us for who we are!
Andrea Cox says
Tricia, I’m proud of you. Turning those negative thoughts on their heads is a difficult task. I’m so glad you trusted God to help you. You’ve become such a blessing to others because of everything you’ve been through. That’s the thing about God. He uses who we’ve been in the past to change other people’s lives in our future. (Of course, we get changed ourselves in the process!) So happy you’ve let God show you how to change your mess into His message.
Tricia Goyer says
Thank you, Andrea. You’re sweet words mean a lot!
Linda Marie Finn says
Right here with you Sis ! You are such an encouragement to me and to others.
Thats why I sent you what I wrote.
Tricia Goyer says
Thank you, thank you!
Rachael Clark says
8 years after getting pregnant out of wedlock and getting kicked out of the ministry that I was working with, 7 years after giving birth and struggling with life as a newlywed in the Military, 6 years after miscarrying my second child, 5 years after my uterus completely rupturing during labor, 4 years after going through a life threatening pregnancy, 3 years after dropping out of college because I knew I couldn’t do it at that time I am graduating college this week with a bachelor’s in Biblical studies and Psychology. God has never used me more than he does now. It isn’t my church background that he uses the most, it isn’t the good things I have done. It isn’t the easy times I have had. It is my greatest failures that he has turned around for good. My greatest mistakes. God doesn’t use my pride but the things that have brought me shame. I remember feeling so unworthy. The worst thing about me, the former missions organization secretary Sunday school teacher getting caught in fornication with the chaplains assistant, was feeling like God could never use me ever again. I remember my first thought being “How can I hide this from my church, from my family.” Unbidden the thought came, “Have an abortion”. I quickly dismissed it but it was there. I thought about killing my oldest daughter for a brief moment to hide my sin and my shame. Since then I have owned my sin and my shame and God uses it far more than he ever did my judgmental attitude towards others and my pride. I don’t get out much these days between college and mommy duties and being a one car household. Honestly I don’t have much time and I am very limited. But when I have time I go to Yahoo answers search the term abortion, click on newest and do the best I can to convince these girls in crisis pregnancies that there is another way, that they can survive. They can achieve their dreams. I haven’t had it easy these past few years. There were times I diapered my kids in whatever hand towel or T-shirt I had clean because I couldn’t afford diapers that week. We were on WIC for a time. We are still on medicaid. I know how to stretch a dollar but there is a reason God brought me through all that pain and all those hardships. I don’t know how God can use a degree in Biblical studies and psychology. Maybe it is just going to be yahoo answers for a long time which is really great because it is where girls who have no one to talk to go, girls who would never enter a church for help go, and there are a lot of pro abortion people on there that get their first and give bad advice thinking that they are helping others out. I don’t know what I am doing with my life after college. But I do know God will use me. Honestly I am scared of falling flat of my face again like last time I tried doing ministry on my own with out a church backing me when I lost my virginity to some shmuck and then fell into sin with the chaplains assistant. I have learned I can’t go it on my own. I am not part of any church, my husband always starts going and changes his mind. He still has some hangups about church from our sin, went through a period where he felt like God took our baby away from us as a punishment and he always dealt with major social anxiety anyway. I guess what I am saying it that I would love to get in touch with you. Maybe we could help each other out.
Thanks for the lesson.I bless God for this great teaching and wish to always learn more to remain transform.