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"Too often we look at the offender the way we would look at an iceberg—we see only the tip and not beneath the surface. We do not know all that is going on in a person’s life. We do not know their past; we do not know their struggles; we do not know the pains they carry. Brothers and sisters, please do not misunderstand. To forgive is not to condone. We do not rationalize bad behavior or allow others to mistreat us because of their struggles, pains, or weaknesses. But we can gain greater understanding and peace when we see with a broader perspective." —Kevin R. Duncan
At 16 years old, Rachel found out she was pregnant. It was a moment that she felt defined by for years. With help from others, her understanding of God’s love grew and she learned that it is possible to move on from past mistakes.
“When I first found… I was absolutely terrified. Here I was, 16 years old, having not a clue in the world about anything, and I was pregnant,” Rachel says.
She gave birth to a healthy baby girl, who was adopted. She returned to high school feeling insecure and unworthy of love. By the time she moved out of her small town to attend college, Rachel was looking forward to a fresh start.
“I was raised going to church. When I went to college, even if I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing, that’s somewhere I always found myself every Sunday because that’s something my parents engrained in me,” she explains.
In a one-on-one conversation with her church leader, Rachel broke down and explained the ways her teenage pregnancy continued to weigh on her. If people knew who she had been, would it change the way they saw her now? The leader taught Rachel that her worth and potential would always be great in the eyes of God.
“It took me a long time to realize that it’s not just mine alone to deal with, that my Heavenly Father and my Savior are there to help, and listen, and to love and care about me,” she says.
Rachel also sought support from a professional counselor, who warned her about negative self-talk and offered encouraging advice. Today, Rachel feels better about herself than she ever has before.
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