Sherri Daume, director of client services at A Woman’s Pregnancy Center in Tallahassee, Florida, would have never expected to have decades of shame after her abortion as a teen. Raised in a fatherless atheist home, Daume’s mother taught her it was her right to be sexually active as long as she didn’t get pregnant and interfere with her academic and professional goals.
So when Daume became pregnant at 17, she looked up “abortions” in the phone book, found the number for a counselor at an abortion clinic, and set up an appointment.
When Daume arrived at the counselor’s house, she had to go to the basement door in the back where she met the counselor. As she went, Daume’s mind was split; part of her was thinking, “Don’t let me do this.” But the other part—the stronger part—was thinking, “Don’t stop me.”
When the counselor opened the door, Daume smelled alcohol on her breath.
“Within two minutes, I knew two things,” Daume said. “She didn’t care about me at all, not a bit—which made me happy on one side because that meant she wasn’t going to stop me, I knew that intuitively—and the other thing was she wanted my money, she wanted it quickly.”
Daume gave the counselor $250—all the money she made from working at Dairy Queen—and the counselor scheduled the appointment. Daume received no pushback from the baby’s father. In fact, he agreed with her having the abortion. And after she did, she never heard from him again.
Then at age 19, Daume got pregnant again and had another abortion. This time, she did not even tell her partner she was pregnant, for fear he would want to marry her.
Though Daume was raised to believe abortion was a reasonable solution to an unexpected pregnancy, her emotions eventually caught up to her. By her early twenties, she would start crying any time she was left alone for more than a few minutes.
“I had no idea why I was crying. None. I would have never thought it was related to my abortion. Never. I really thought everyone cried like that, I really thought that was the way the world was when they were alone,” Daume said.
It was then that God brought Daume’s husband Dan to her. A lapsed Christian, Dan told her that he felt that the two of them should start attending church.
Daume agreed to attend church with Dan, not because she wanted to find Christ, but rather because she simply wanted to find friends in the new city where they were living.
Daume saw something different in her church friends. They did not seem selfish. They did not care what cars they drove, or how much money they made.
The more Daume watched them and learned about the Bible, the more she realized they were acting this way because they were following Jesus. Still, Daume didn’t believe in Jesus herself.
Then Daume went on a retreat. On the retreat, each person had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with a church leader to commit their lives to Christ or rededicate their lives to Christ. The leader who met with Daume gave her a gospel presentation.
After three years of attending church with Dan, Daume felt God calling her to make a decision.
“That moment, Jesus pierced my heart,” Daume said. “My heart all of the sudden wanted this Jesus.”
Daume asked Jesus to be her Lord if He’s real. Over time, Christ proved himself real in Daume’s life, and she learned what it meant to be a follower of Jesus.
Over the next seven years, the Lord taught Daume about prayer, the Word, and the value of being in a community of believers. Not only that, Daume began to feel convicted over the depth of her sin.
Still, anytime abortion, or the Commandment, “Thou shall not murder,” came up in a sermon, Daume’s body became hot with shame, and Dan put his arms around her or held her hand. Daume’s husband only knew about her first abortion—she was too ashamed to tell him there were multiple.
“It would just be a quiet thing,” Daume said. “We never talked about it personally. I never brought it up, he never brought it up, but it was just something that was in my heart.”
In 1998, when Daume was 38 years old, she saw an opportunity in a church bulletin to volunteer at a pregnancy center folding clothes.
When the center asked Daume if she had an abortion in the application, she was too full of remorse to admit that she had, so she lied and said that she did not.
Daume volunteered at the center for three years, working in the mom and baby room and helping with the client newsletter. She did not have any one-on-one contact with the clients at first because of her self-condemnation, but the Lord led her to become an options counselor.
About a year after Daume became an options counselor, the center began requiring all post-abortive options counselors to attend the “Forgiven and Set Free” retreat.
The Holy Spirit used this to begin to convict Daume of her lies to her coworkers, clients, and the Lord.
“We know He was doing that to heal, but in my heart at the time it was just shame every time,” Daume said.
Five or six times over the next year, Daume would try to work up the courage to call the director of the center and tell the truth, but every single time she would tell the director she was coming in late next week.
“Finally, I said to the Lord, ‘I promise you that as soon as the director picks up the phone, I’m just going to blurt it out,’” Daume said.
The director didn’t pick up the phone. Instead, Daume’s friend Barb, the director of client services at the time, did.
When Daume confessed her abortion to Barb, her two decades of pent-up shame came pouring out. She was crying so hard that Barb couldn’t understand what she was saying. Barb asked Daume to come into the office so that they could talk and pray together.
When Daume finally opened up to Barb, Barb showed Daume Scripture and told Daume God was going to comfort her with the same comfort He had given Barb in her miscarriages.
“So she just really cared for me and I saw instead of condemnation—which is what I thought I would get, and knew I deserved—I got grace,” Daume said.
Tweet This: Grace, not condemnation, is the response Sherri found at a caring pregnancy center in Tallahassee, Florida. #prolife
Around 2002, Daume went through the “Forgiven and Set Free” program, and in 2004, when Barb became executive director of A Woman’s Pregnancy Center, she asked Daume to become the director of client services.
“Now, I’m able to be the hands and feet of Jesus and extend that grace to others who are full of shame,” Daume said. “Abortion is a choice made in fear, and then you’re held captive by the condemnation of Satan. My wound was a gaping, despairing black wound, and He has completely healed it over and now it’s a pink scar that I am willing to use for His glory.”