Chrystal Evans Hurst has learned how to love and honor life, even when the road is rough and the story is messy. In this excerpt from her book She’s Still There, Chrystal recounts her journey through teenage pregnancy and explores what it means to find value and acceptance, especially when you find yourself living a life you didn’t plan.
Listen to Chrystal's broadcast Making Peace With Unfulfilled Dreams.
Walking down the sidewalk on the college campus, I felt nothing.
I tried to accept the raw reality of my unexpected situation, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’d started out so well. I’d had a plan and a vision for what I thought I would do with my life, but somewhere along the way I’d lost clarity and focus. That vision of who I was and what I thought could come of my life blurred into an unrecognizable mess.
But I had just seen blue double lines in full 20/20.
There was no mistaking that the pregnancy test was positive. But that didn’t stop me from taking a couple more tests. You know, just to be sure.
Nineteen years old. Second semester of my freshman year in college.
My knee-jerk reaction was to share my shocking news with the young man I was sure would help me figure out what to do next. We had been high school sweethearts. His athletic scholarship and my academic scholarship had placed us on the same college campus.
I had the pregnancy test in my coat pocket. I didn’t know how to tell him. I figured physical evidence would do the trick.
I pulled the pee stick out of my pocket.
We both just stared at it.
And then came those words that no girl ever wants to hear.
“It’s not mine.”
I stood there with a blank look and an open mouth. What he was suggesting wasn’t even possible.
Then came the feeling of pain, a sensation of pressure and a flood of thoughts that were fighting each other to become words I could speak out loud.
But the tears did.
I turned and walked away, feeling the gut-wrenching pain of total rejection. The fear of an unknown future. And the anxiety that accompanies knowing you are totally lost, in the dark, with no clue how to find your way.
The tears forced their way out of my body, hot, fast and furious. They flowed and continued to flow like a leaky faucet for days, weeks and months.
I can’t tell you how many times during those difficult days I wondered how I’d ended up pregnant and alone.
I mean, of course I knew how it happened. I just couldn’t believe that it had happened to me.
My heart had been ripped apart, both by rejection that seemed too much to bear and responsibility that seemed too much to carry.
All I wanted was to pinch myself and wake up from a life I couldn’t believe was now mine.
People often ask me what kept me going during that difficult season of my life. They wonder what helped me give birth to my baby, graduate from college and hold myself together.
That season was indeed very hard, but I also learned something during that time.
While there may be times when I feel that things cannot be repaired, they are never beyond repair when placed in the hands of the One who can make something out of nothing, mend what is broken, restore what seems unsalvageable.
It was in that place that God met me.
I was desperate. Desperate to believe that my life was salvageable. Desperate to know that I still could make good on my life. And more than finishing school, being in a relationship, getting a job or finding happiness, I simply needed to find value in being me.
In that place of desperation, I picked up a Bible, searching for words from God’s letter that would affirm my value in His eyes. One by one, I copied down verses that told me what He thought about me. I wrote those words on a piece of notebook paper and carried them around in my pocket, adding more Scriptures here and there as I discovered them.
One piece of paper became two, and then two became three. I stapled them together, folded them up, and carried those precious words with me at all times. Whenever I felt a pang of guilt, shame or pain, I pulled out those verses and read them until I felt the love of God wash over me. If I found myself unable to control the tears that welled up throughout the day, I’d pull out the paper and read it again and again and again.
In that dark, desolate, damaged place, I learned the value of who I am because of whose I am.
I know that I am a created, crafted being. I know that I have value because that value was bestowed on me by someone greater. I know that I am loved.
This is what I also know: It’s not enough to know you are a unique, divinely created soul. You must believe it. And to believe it, you must choose to remember what you already know – or learn what you don’t. Then you must choose to rehearse the idea of your value until it becomes so ingrained in your mind that it affects what you do, how you think and the way you respond to what has occurred in your life, whether you caused it or not.
God knows what to do to take you from where you are today to where He knows you can be tomorrow.
You are loved. You are accepted. You are valuable.
If you’re struggling to believe that, pick up a Bible and search for words from God’s letter to you that will affirm or reaffirm your value in His eyes. One by one, copy them down word for word, or paraphrase them in a way that is meaningful to you. Carry those words around with you and pull them out whenever you need to remember that you are loved.
Rehearse the idea of your value.
Believe the loving words from One who went to great lengths to make sure you are the only one of you there is.
Despite your circumstances, learn to believe in the value of who you are because of whose you are.
And never forget that you are loved.
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