“No one suspected we were struggling with purity,” Kelly recalled to Live Action News. “We went to a crisis pregnancy center that offered free pregnancy testing. I immediately tested positive and about died of shock and panic. My fiancé was level-headed and supportive and with me all the way, even joyful! — but I was dying inside when I thought of the magnitude of what this would mean to our families and friends and reputations.”
When Kelly’s parents learned the news, they were stunned, given the fact that she had never really rebelled in her childhood. Kelly says they “were totally crushed, disappointed… at a loss for words,” because Kelly had always been what you’d call “a model child.” She says her parents’ view of her was as “a high-achiever, good Christian witness all my growing-up years, never rebellious, never in trouble, never difficult in school or at home.” And Kelly hadn’t dated much before she met Greg in college.
Kelly struggled with the weight of shame because she felt that she and Greg, in their failure to maintain sexual purity, had disappointed the people they cared about most. “It was awful! And I was acutely aware that I would be carrying my sin in plain sight for all the world to see for nine months,” she says. Still, she knew that abortion was not something she would consider.
She and Greg married within three months and moved into on-campus married housing, but not before they told everyone — “even the dean of students,” Kelly says — about the pregnancy. They could no longer be in leadership positions on campus, and Kelly says it was “obvious that everyone was terribly shocked and disappointed — siblings, college roommates, friends, extended family….”
But while the couple expected judgment from the Christian community around them, they found that these expectations were far off the mark. Friends at their Christian college stepped up to support them, as did those back home.
“We actually experienced a tremendous amount of love and kindness from family and friends when they got over the shock of the situation,” she says. “[O]ur friends and home churches all gave us bridal showers — and then nine months later they all gave us baby showers! It was amazing. They were so generous and I felt absolutely blessed by the people of God.”
“Even our college professors were wonderful,” Kelly says. “I had several who worked with me to make sure I could still graduate on time.” Greg had chosen to postpone his schooling, working full time to support their growing family while Kelly finished her degree.
Kelly says her husband’s parents “were wonderfully supportive, but that killed me because they had a reputation to lose because of us.” Greg’s father was a pastor, “and pastors with renegade kids can suffer a lot of judgment for things their kids do,” Kelly admits. “I was so grateful for their love and kindness, but felt terribly guilty at the same time.”
But Kelly’s greatest struggles were in trying to forgive herself and in accepting God’s forgiveness. She told Live Action News:
I felt like my life was over — our chances at being in the ministry were over — my reputation was destroyed — there was no chance now for an upright, respectable life. I had no concept of grace! My only joy during my pregnancy was marrying my husband. I was so ashamed I kind of retreated from life. I lived in shame and condemnation inside. Every look from every single person at my rapidly growing pregnant tummy made me cringe and feel for sure that they were judging and condemning me too.
Kelly admits that she was “never truly joyful” during her pregnancy, and “resented every single day” of it. But then, at long last, the day to deliver their baby girl came. “The day she was born… long, hard labor, totally exhausted, laying there in the hospital delivery room… and they handed her to me for the very first time.”
It was then that Kelly says she experienced something she never expected. “You know how in the movies there’s that moment where something amazing happens and everything in the background goes silent and fades away? That moment happened for me and this little baby girl,” she says.
“They laid this child in my arms and God said to me, ‘See what I make from your mistakes?? See the beauty I can create?’ And my heart completely melted and all my resentment toward this child faded away, and I loved that baby!… That was a miracle!”
This story was originally published by Live Action News and was written by