Many of us have things from our past haunting us with regret. We find ourselves wondering what choices we would make if we could just go back and start over. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in these thoughts and to live a life full of remorse, but while these events certainly shape our lives, what molds us into the people we are is what we choose to do with those regrets. Will we stay slaves to our sinful nature, or will we thrive in the grace and forgiveness we are offered only through Jesus?
Shannon McCaig is choosing the latter.
A Life-Altering Decision
Shannon, now full of light and energy, recalls being an angry teenager with an attitude, more than likely the result of divorced parents and an absent father.
“I already had low self-esteem,” she remembers, “because I never really knew what being loved was.”
When she was a junior in high school, her family moved from Florida to Alabama, throwing Shannon into culture shock. She met a boy and fell into what she thought was love. Then she got pregnant. When she and her boyfriend found out, they went to an adult to seek advice. As a mentor later helped her see, this adult was someone they thought was trustworthy but ended up not being the best advisor. The adult told Shannon and her boyfriend she needed to have an abortion. Having somewhat grown up in church, Shannon believed she was a Christian at the time; but looking back, she recognizes she had no real relationship with God. She knew deep down abortion was not the right thing to do, but Shannon felt she was being pushed into the decision with no other options.
“After the abortion, I was like, Oh my gosh,what did I do?” says Shannon. “I won’t ever forget that night. I swear there was this black demon there just laughing. It haunted me as I tried to sleep that night.”
She was just 17 years old when she had an abortion, only 17 when she faced the life-altering decision she says one in four women face everyday.
Shannon’s low self-esteem went even lower. She found herself clinging to her boyfriend, believing no one else would ever want her after she had an abortion.
“My worth was just depleted, and I really didn’t feel like I deserved anything.”
Shannon and her boyfriend ended up getting married right out of high school, and shortly after, she found herself pregnant again. She thought another pregnancy might fill the void. But in reality, she was taking the idol of her sin and replacing it with another idol instead—earning forgiveness from her sin, a forgiveness she later learned could only be found in the grace of Jesus. Shannon was constantly searching in all the wrong places to fill the void. During the second pregnancy, she began to feel the presence of God. She says it is hard to explain, but it was like God was saying, “Okay, Shannon, are you going to raise this child the way I want you to or the way you are now?”
So she quit partying and began studying and searching Scripture. It didn’t happen overnight, but God began to show Shannon her true identity.
“I felt as if the Lord was just bringing people into my path to challenge me about the Bible,” says Shannon. “And the more you search Scripture, the more you realize you probably don’t deserve his love. Especially knowing that I killed my own child. I defined myself as an abortionist, as a murderer.”
But the more she searched, the more truth she began to see.
“God can forgive anybody,” declares Shannon. “He forgave Saul, a killer of Christians, so He can forgive me.”
And that’s when Shannon began the journey of freedom from sin, though the next years of healing did not come easily. Shannon and her husband divorced, and through that experience, she still clung to God to understand the path she was on. She knew she had to bring everything to the table and dig deep into her sin. Shannon realizes one of the reasons healing from the abortion was so hard was her silence. She never really told anyone about it.
“My mom never knew about it, and that hurt the worst,” Shannon explains. “I was just holding it in.”
Once she became a Christian, she knew she had to start opening up and telling her story, however hard it would be. Though she feared shame and judgment, Shannon began to embrace her story. With the help of post-abortive counseling that highlighted forgiveness in the Bible, Shannon began telling her story. She knew that through it, God would encourage other women who were considering abortion or had already gone through an abortion.
A New Creation
Now, Shannon is a regular volunteer and counselor at Choose Life of North Alabama, a non-profit ministry that serves women who are facing the same decision Shannon once did. They seek to address abortion at its very core and offer free services such as pregnancy tests and ultrasounds. Choose Life also offers free, post-abortive counseling for these women, and those who love them, through a program called Healing Hands. Every week Shannon helps women navigate the life-altering decision of abortion.
“Choose Life is one of the most Holy Spirit-led places that works to show the grace God has for us,” says Shannon.
Now, 20 years after her abortion, Shannon advises young girls who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant to seek honest, trustworthy counsel from people who will speak truth in their lives.
“Definitely tell someone about it so you’re not alone,” says Shannon. “But be careful who you seek advice from.”
For some who have already had abortions, she urges them to seek counseling, too.
“Your emotional problems may not come right away, but years down the road, it will cause some major damage unless you deal with the abortion and heal from it. Forgive yourself, as hard as it is. Then forgive everyone involved.”
Now, Shannon is a new creation in Christ and lives to tell everyone about it.
“Find your worth in Christ, not in your sin,” says Shannon. “Satan wants to keep your worth in the past, but he can’t. Christ died on the cross for that. Your worth is in Him and nothing else. What man intends for bad, God uses for good. I’m living proof of that.”