By definition, it’s a small amount of something that remains after the main part has gone or been taken or used. Oh, y’all know what residue is; The lingering smell of weed after you’ve sat in a cipher (Group weed rotation forth for the people who don’t know); the stickiness on your floor after something sweet has been spilled, but not rinsed; splatters of oil left on a stove after cooking an egg sandwich.. You get the picture.
But when I think of my life, and many of you may be able to identify, the residue is anything left from my past; anything that didn’t quite get washed away from my experiences. Regret, Shame, guilt, restlessness, hopelessness, brokenness, apathy, double mindedness…But what I love is just like the father of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, God accepts us with open arms, residue and all.
He doesn’t care about the stench of where we’ve been… He cares about us coming BACK. He cares about COVERING us, loving us, restoring us and using us for HIS glory. No matter what residue lingers on you, bring it back to the Father. The blood of Jesus is more than capable of washing you white as snow. You are still of value. You are still a part of God’s plan.
*Disclaimer: This post contains sensitive content and may be offensive or traumatizing to some audiences.
I cringe when I think about some of the things I’ve suffered and endured; things that I thought disqualified me from being loved by God or anyone else. I know we’ve all been there. Sometimes it feels like ‘God, I don’t even deserve to get through this thing I did, this decision I made. It shouldn’t have been this way…’ The self depreciating goes on and on after we feel like we have failed and no longer have the capacity to do anything good.
I was in such a desperate place in 1997. I had to move from my apartment because of a roommate situation. Although I have 2 brothers I could have stayed with, I found myself ashamed at all that was going on and found myself in a familiar place: with the abusive ex-boyfriend from college. It’s funny how we say ‘I’ll never do this or that’, but we sometimes end up in that Lifetime movie anyway. Such was my life. While I was there, I also started seeing another guy and I ended up pregnant. This couldn’t be life! I already had 1 child out of wedlock and my parents were taking care of him while I get my life together after graduating from college! OMG, I couldn’t do it. I collected money from both men and had an abortion. Till this day, I can’t even tell you details about it. By now I was starting to get numb and hard hearted because of life anyway, so I didn’t think it would ever affect me. I didn’t tell anyone about it. The guilt was there, chipping away at whoever I was at that time.
Fast forward to 2001, I thought I was living a better life. I had my youngest son 2 years prior and his abusive father was not in our lives and I felt freer than I had in a long while. I was involved with someone I worked with at the time and we agreed it would just be a sexual relationship, no commitment required. At that point in my life, I thought I wasn’t good enough for a committed relationship anyway. After a while, I found myself pregnant again! What would people at my job and in my family think? I was a manager! I had some things going for me. And I also had a tough decision to make. At this point, I was actively being a mother to a child and knew the love that motherhood could bring. I fought with the decision, the stress and strain of it was agonizing. I couldn’t possible share this with anyone. The guy I was dealing with said he’d support whatever I chose to do….
I made another bad choice. While I still don’t remember everything about abortion #1, I remember every step of the second one, yes, an unbelievable second one. I was so distraught, depressed and guilty before even getting there. And although my friend drove me and stayed the entire time and even made sure I was ok afterwards; I’d never felt as alone as I did that day. Through the already jaded view of my life, I thought about all the choices I could have made and felt like this was the lesser of all other evils. I’d already been super judged as a teen mother. Although my parents supported me and pushed me to continue with my education, I still felt like a major failure. I didn’t want to face another round of judgement from the good people of Smalltown USA now that I had a second child out of wedlock and this baby would make 3.
It’s so easy to judge something you’ve never been faced with. Or caught in. No one can ever say they understand the effects of having an abortion if they’ve never lived it. Rather than think, oh this is another selfish irresponsible woman, it’s good to consider the background of why she thought that was her only choice. And that desperate choice took 30-45 minutes or less. Most of that time I was left alone while the valium took effect, and also a moment to make a final decision. It was literally the worst 30-45 minutes I’d ever lived through at that time, and at the ripe age of 27, I’d been through more than you’d think.
Afterwards, there was an emptiness I can’t even put into words; the feeling used to haunt me EVERYDAY up until a few years ago. I felt that I was a murderer, plain and simple. I couldn’t hold babies or be around people with babies. The guilt hurt so bad. Could anything else come from my life? The kicker – just prior to getting pregnant with my youngest son, I’d rededicated my life to Christ. I just knew God would leave me.
But he never did.
I felt led to share this, because someone out there is in this desperate place. I come not through the eyes of judgement, but to state facts from my perspective while IN this situation. It took me YEARS to even think about allowing God to heal me from the shame of all the desperate things I’ve done. I wasn’t being punished, I just felt like I should be. A few lessons I gained from this:
Pride will cause you to think you’re dealing with this alone, that it will be worse if someone else knows. Being desperate to keep a situation covered causes you to make quick, rash decisions. It took me YEARS to forgive myself for the two abortions. I made additional poor choices stemming from this that caused a domino effect in my life for years.
Because of the self esteem issues I already faced after the shame of a teen pregnancy, the abusive relationship I chose to stay in during college, the two abortions added to the cycle of shame and guilt in my life.
How do we break out of a cycle of desperation, bad decisions, then shame and guilt?
Acknowledge feeling out of control. This is where desperation stems from. There is a situation that seems insurmountable and we’re trying to figure out a way to resolve it. Praying and surrendering the issue or situation to God is always a great first step. I was basically a ‘Babe in Christ’ during these years of my life. So I didn’t have the same knowledge or wisdom I have today to apply this. Also confiding in someone you trust and sharing the issue is a good way to reduce the initial panic. They may of may not be able to resolve the issue, but they may offer better perspective.
If you feel you’ve failed morally, accept God’s forgiveness. Every failure is not sin, but guilt is definitely not far behind what we consider failure. Shame is the by-product of guilt. The enemy loves to pull us back into guilt and shame after God has wiped our slate clear. Apostle Paul gives us a clear image of God’s forgiveness in the first chapter of Ephesians verses 6 & 7. When God forgives, the slate is wiped clean Colossians 2:13-15.
Change the way you process decision making. Although you may not be able to control various situations in life, control what you can and always be mindful of the decisions you make before making them. A mindset change is necessary. Biblically, shame is an imagination that can be cast down, as stated in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5. Admit it, submit it, receive it (forgiveness) and forget it. Repeat.
Remember my statement earlier? That I thought God would have nothing more to do with me? Well, as I stated, he never left me and He never will. (Hebrews 13:5) We have to know this truth. Whether we choose to live a life as believers or not, He loves us and is always here for us.
Desperation IS a place. But it’s not a place in which you are doomed to stay. Remember other times you were desperate and things worked out for your good. If you can’t think of one time, contact me, I’ll be happy to be your ambassador to the place of grace.