…But I found small pieces of strength to hang on to
By: Annabel Karsten
Editor’s note. Annabel Karsten bravely shared her unplanned pregnancy story at her church and the Right to Life of Michigan shared it on their Real Life Stories website. AFL shares it here as we believe her story can help everyone better understand pregnancy from a teenager’s perspective.
Hi, my name is Annabel, and after I heard that this week was going to be about abortion, I felt God tugging at my heart to share my story. So I’m going to do my best as this is still a very fresh, emotional journey for me.
Two pink lines. A positive pregnancy test. I’m 17. Senior in high school and living the best days of my life. On the high school dance team with an upcoming dance scholarship for college that I was so excited about.
Sitting on my bed, everything I had ever thought of for my future came crashing down in an instant. How could this be happening to me? I could feel the shame come over me like a big, thick blanket. I wanted to wake up from this horrible nightmare, but it wouldn’t go away. I spent the following weeks and months in a depression, hardly talking to anyone, and agonizing over what others would think of me when I finally shared my news. I kept it a secret from the public for 3 months.
The burden of that weight is indescribable. The fears, the words, the situations that play out in your mind are endless. I just wanted those thoughts to go away. And how would this little, perfect town ever forgive me? It’s awesome for football support, but wow, when you do a big sin, like get caught having sex because now you’re pregnant, that’s a whole different game.
I got placed on a whole new level of judgement. I heard it over and over. I believe that this is the hardest mental battle for leading girls to choosing life for unborn babies: the shame. Will the church still love me? Will I be accepted for what I did? Will I have support, and how will my life go on after this? They’re questions that hold so much weight—weight that is too heavy to carry on your own, for most. Satan so badly wanted to be at the forefront of every thought and decision because he wanted my story that God intended to write. But I knew my quiet sin had to go public because there’s no hiding a baby bump unless I chose to get rid of it.
I only had to see the little 4-week-old heartbeat to know that I had a choice. I was given the option for a quick fix, but to have lifelong consequences of knowing that I stopped a heartbeat. But then no one would ever know, and I could keep on going with the plan for my life. This wasn’t honestly God’s plan for me, right? I have college, a dance scholarship, my dignity, my pride. Do you know how good another option sounds to so many that are in my position? Or, I could believe that this little life inside of me wanted to have a voice in her future. To know that she was given a chance to become something great.
Why does this option have to be so difficult to believe? Why do the lies of Satan look so tempting? Let me tell you why: because many times I was told from my Christian community that this is a private situation, not to celebrated. I didn’t deserve a gender-reveal party or baby showers. I should be on my own and feeling the dark side of my condition: my sin. My shame was my own fault. Do you know how many girls choose an abortion because of shame? That is so wrong, and I am here to tell you that there is hope in the midst of the shame. But I can also say I finally understand why so many take the other option. And if you have, I’m sorry. Because for some it’s too much to deal with the guilt you have to face on a daily basis of being an unwed mom. And they have no support.
But the beautiful chapter in my story is this: I didn’t choose an abortion. I found small pieces of strength to hang on to, and that’s what I want to share.
A few months ago, I shared on my Instagram these words: “If you are EVER at a place where you are entering my journey, please message me. If the shame and guilt is louder in your head then the gentle words of ‘you can do this,’ come find me and let’s talk. Don’t make this decision in secret. Don’t take a life to make yours seem better for a few days. Don’t quit the hard fight of holding your shameful head up. Don’t cause yourself more pain by closing your eyes, and seeing that little life that could have told you, ‘Thank you for keeping me.’ My heart is telling me that there may be other girls that follow me and are struggling with your decision on whether to tell your family, friends, and community you have an unplanned pregnancy. Guess what? God’s still in the unplanned, and I see it daily in my sweet baby girl.”
Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to help 4 girls that are pregnant teenagers.
I recently met with a girl that comes from a strong “Christian” family and attended a Christian high school. She had an abortion scheduled. She messaged me wondering how I decided to keep my little girl, terrified that her family will not accept her and the community with judge her—so much that an abortion was her only option in her mind. I was able to bring truth and light to her dark thoughts through my story. She canceled her abortion for the next morning, and she is now on her pregnancy journey with her parents in full support.
I believe our generation needs to make a difference in this choice of life. We need to bring it back to the One who gives us life and gave His life up for ours. I am so thankful that God is redeeming my story and that if my journey can help one girl at a time, I will do my best to bring Jesus to the forefront of the darkest thoughts.
I am also thankful that I have found myself at this church. It’s been a healing place for me, and I feel no shame when I enter here, so thank you for the great job that you do on loving different stories.
Originally posted at: https://rtl.org/category/real-life-stories/
Permission to reprint from Right to Life Michigan.