Abortion

When you listen to someone detesting anything, very firmly and feeling that their convictions are backed by the bible, and God – it is frightening to say you’ve sinned in the same way. As I heard the way he spoke and thought of this woman, the very thought to say – I’m just like her, made me nervous, but I knew it was necessary for me to be obedient to my promise to God, to be a vessel and share his grace and forgiveness in my life.

A couple weeks ago I received a message on Instagram from a follower. This person had suffered quite a loss and began to share it with me. I’ve never met this person and I think sometimes it is easier that way, to share something so personal with a stranger you’ll never see face to face.

This person is a cancer survivor, a great photographer and from what I could tell a follower of God. As he was sharing his life, he mentioned a mortal sin that he could never forgive of someone from his past. The words mortal sin, hit me like a train. As I continued reading his message I knew without having to ask, which sin he meant, but I still asked, “what sin is it that you consider a mortal sin?” and he responded with, “Abortion.” That was what I thought he would say and I found it quite intriguing what God was doing. God knew that if I ever wanted to be a speaker that helps women overcome their past and invite him into their life – I’d have to tell my story time and time again, until it became easier.

This persons message was lengthy and filled with frustration and pain. He was quite frank in his personal feelings on abortion and God’s disgust with it. He went on to detail how it affected him with the loss of two children he didn’t know even existed. She had two abortions years prior without his knowledge. I could not imagine that type of loss and betrayal he must have felt. It was important for me to honor his loss, his feelings and the way he was deceived. It would have been easy for me to have just let him share, prayed for him and moved on with my day. It would have been easy to hide behind my Instagram, my beautiful quotes and inspirational messages and remain a glow in my highlight reel social media life. However, I knew God wanted more of me in this moment. When I asked God if he was leading me to be a listener, or both a listener and to share my story he responded very clearly, “Yes” to both.

When you listen to someone detesting something or someone, very firmly and feeling that their convictions are backed by the bible, and God – it is frightening to say you’ve sinned in the same way. As I heard the way he spoke and thought of this woman who hurt him greatly, the very thought to say – I’m just like her, made me nervous. Though I knew it was necessary for me to be obedient to my promise to God, to be a vessel and share his grace and forgiveness in my life.

When I responded it was first and foremost necessary for me to honor his loss, his feelings and his position even. I wanted him to know that for all he had gone through – I could see where those feelings came from and that his feelings were valid. Then it was important for me to share with him a little of my story and how I came to start this part of my life. He needed to know that the person he has been following, the person who he thanks daily for inspiration and sharing God’s word – had also had an abortion.

It was important for a few reasons. First, I needed to own my truth and be fully transparent. My testimony is my why, it is where God uses me and where his praise resides. Second, it felt important to inform him that this woman surely has suffered in a way he may not have noticed and it is doubtful she is carefree and without judgment today. That the experience of an abortion is life altering and traumatic and most women suffer in silence. I don’t care who says having an abortion did not affect them, it does. The third reason was because I wanted him to know that God forgave me and that I know if you repent and trust in God all your sins are wiped clean.

In my case I was only a child, unmarried and my boyfriend was aware and made the choice as well. There was a disconnect between my heart and mind, between what I knew to be Gods word and what I chose. Though I must admit I lacked the emotional ability to understand the destructive choice I was making, the life I was taking or the affect it would have on me for many years to come. Regardless, I was still equal to this woman he detested. We were the same, and I told him my truth. As I sat there waiting to see if he would respond harshly with judgment or at all – my heart was at peace knowing I did the right thing by telling him.

It is unnerving to share something that carries the heaviness of guilt and humiliation. The thought of giving someone else the power to judge me or disqualify me was uncomfortable. However, the healing, grace and mercy over-flooded my soul when God led me to share my redemption story. It didn’t matter if he responded or condemned me because I knew my worth didn’t lay in mans opinion of what my past held. God’s truth for me was; I’m forgiven.

When his response came through it said this, “You might be the most complete human being I’ve ever encountered. I applaud you for being penitent to God and I applaud you for the courage it took to share this. I have your back and so does God because you first went to him. You don’t hide from your past or pontificate where you are currently. You counsel and testify all the while being funny, kind and unique.” I sat there for a moment and re-read his words and while I responded with graciousness I also informed him that I was not complete yet but God was still working on me.

It is easier to judge than it is to forgive and cutting off people because of past choices does the exact opposite of what God demonstrates to us daily. For me, it was abortion. For you it could have been addiction, pornography, criminality or numerous other sins. We know that God detests seven things:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. – Proverbs 6:16-19

Did you know though that these along with many other sins are all equal in Gods eyes? A sin is a sin, is a sin. Jesus’ blood was shed for forgiveness of ALL sins, not just the easy ones, or the minor ones or for the people he favors most. ALL who repent and follow him will be forgiven for ALL of our sins. ALL.

We need to be more gracious and open to the past of others, we should want to encourage their repentance and be open to loving them regardless of a past we may not have chosen or understand. My friends, it does not matter the choices you made long ago, yesterday or even today, if you let God in, trust in him and give him your life – he will give you a new name, a new heart and a clean slate. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Psalm 103:10-12 NIV

You deserve to heal.

What most fail to see is that our God is a loving God. He creates beauty from our ashes and works all things for the good of those who love him. You see, God was with her that awful day 23 years ago. He held her hand the day she suffered and thought she was alone. Although he disapproved of what she was doing, he never stopped loving her. Just as a loving father does. And, on the night a few weeks later when she closed her eyes pleading for him to take her life for the life she took, and for his forgiveness, he had answered her prayer.

The truthful story of a young girls’ abortion and how God’s grace restored her faith.

Abortion is not a topic people like to talk about aside from an easily forwarded meme or a hashtag. Many tweet their support or opposition much like the trending #youknowme , #shoutyourabortion #abortionishealthcare and #abortionismurder , #lovethemboth and #unplanned. Your friends are most likely divided as well and some like myself may have been torn on how they felt and throughout the years changed their minds. I’m sharing her story because we need to talk about the things no one talks about. We need to include the unknown, the uninformed and what really happens behind closed doors, inside broken homes and what can lead to, occurs during and follows an abortion.

She’s sitting there in a paper gown staring down at her feet praying harder than she’s ever prayed before, asking God to please not let her be pregnant. Pleading her case with him that she can’t be pregnant. She is too young, she is unprepared, her home-life is broken, she’s financially unstable, alone and scared. She only had sex one time, this can’t be happening. There is no possible way she can raise a child on her own when she is a child herself. As the door opens and her eyes meet the doctors eyes, she knows the result before he opens his mouth; she’s pregnant.

The nurse comes in, she is gentle, supportive and kind. The nurse consoles her, hands her a tissue and tells her she is going to be okay. Though unplanned this is not unmanageable, she has options: Abortion, Adoption, Abortion, Being a mother, or Abortion. She’s not very far along, approximately 4-6 weeks, there is no heartbeat yet, just a clump of cells – abortion is an option. And, she can have one tomorrow. She isn’t given tools for coping with the news of her pregnancy, she isn’t given time to discuss options, research options, and she isn’t offered support in becoming a mother.

This girl; she is more common than you realize. She is your sister, your mother, your wife or girlfriend. She is the lady beside you at church that cries every Sunday. She is your grandmother, your teacher, your coach, your therapist, your doctor; or maybe she is you. And, she is just as loved by God as you are. We don’t know her backstory, we don’t know what led her to a choice we may not choose or understand, and very few understand the torment that consumes her life after she realizes what she’s done.

The girl I knew was only sixteen when she found out she was pregnant. She had only had sex the one time. She was a good teenager for the most part, went to church every Sunday, stayed away from drugs and trouble. She had an unhealthy home-life which was littered with abandonment and loss, so she found “love” in relationships. She thought he would love her if she gave herself to him, but she’d find out eventually she was wrong.

When she found out she was pregnant, she was terrified. It was as if she was gifted an impossibility. She was handed something that she could never really have, and none of what she wanted even mattered, because her hand was forced. Her boyfriend wanted her to have the abortion, her father would have done worse, so her desires never entered her mind or heart. Her fear cancelled out any clarity or possibility of love, her shame cancelled out the desire for help, care or concern, and their control erased her options of breaking the unhealthy cycle of the life she was born into.

The day after she found out she was pregnant, with the help of a kind nurse and request of her boyfriend, she had an abortion. Just like that, quickly and easily accessible. A child, without parental consent or knowledge, any proper counseling, had an abortion. She was simply carrying a child who was viewed by others as a problem that their solution could solve. Her boyfriend wanted rid of any responsibility and eventually would leave her as well, once the “problem” was solved.

It would be six years later that she would find herself in a similar paper gown, this time with her husband and the hope of being pregnant. The doctor came in confirming the good news, and performed an ultrasound. This was the first time she had viewed a baby on an ultrasound. She saw a fluttering and asked what that was, and he told her it was the baby’s heart beating. She asked how far along she was and he said about 6 or 7 weeks. And, she cried. Not tears of the love to come, the joy of being pregnant but tears of regret, failure and disappointment. She suffered a loss in that moment realizing the supportive nurse from before wasn’t as honest and helpful as she had thought. And, she felt undeserving of this child too.

She revisited that day six years ago; which consisted of mere moments scattered like chaos. She remembered the emptiness. She looked back down at her feet just as she did at sixteen and remembered leaving that clinic feeling like a worthless woman. She remembered the steps from the exam room to the front door of the doctors office being heavy and long, that the hallway stretched like looking through a funny mirror and one step closer felt like 300 steps back.

She remembers that the exam room table chilled her body. That the air held a smutty dampness that was thick enough to choke you yet invisible; deceiving you into trying. That it held an ominous feeling of emptiness and an overabundance of death. She remembers the tears running like she wanted to. Running and hiding behind anything and anyone to save her. But, she had no one.  And, no one would understand or feel sorry for her.

The cramping and immense pain that started as mild discomfort gradually became the type of pain only a monster deserved to endure. It was a hell she deserved. The silence that accompanied the pain was broken by the sound of a machine being switched on. A low hum of suctioning, sounding strangely familiar to the sound she had just heard today of her baby’s heartbeat; except that this machine had silenced it.

She’s unable to recall arriving or leaving the doctor’s office that day. No idea of how she got home, how she cared for herself following the procedure or any other detail of that day. All she remembers is that outside
of that room she was an empty shell of existence and was never the same again. There wasn’t just the painful awareness and absence of what had been growing in her belly the past few weeks, but also the realization that every ounce of her soul was extracted and held captive in the same container that held her baby.

She had often wondered if the women who came before and followed after were as uniformed, frightened and tearful as she was on that day. Were they alone and there because they felt like they had no other choice? Did they feel as though God didn’t love them and that he would never forgive them? Do the tears ever revisit them, weighted with the same shame and despair as hers? Did their lives get lost without healing, did they slip into addiction, self harm, sexual or physical abuse, or did they possibly attempt suicide like she had.

She recalls being disgusted with herself the days and weeks following her abortion, even her own reflection was too much to bear. Even though the nurse told her it wasn’t a baby, she felt like it was and she felt as though she suffered a loss. A loss that others would say she had no right to suffer or grieve, thus going without any healing. And, today six years later she realized she was right, that the clump of cells was a baby, it had at the very least a heart forming and depending on how far along she really was, possibly beating.

After the abortion, she was tormented every minute by the memory of what she did, how she wasn’t strong enough to keep her baby. She knew she had let her baby, herself and God down. She wasn’t worthy of the breath she breathed, she was worthless, tainted and unlovable. She was desperate to escape her hell and trade it in for whatever hell God had planned for her. Surely she deserved it. She wrote her goodbyes, swallowed handfuls of pills and with an odd sense of calm and peace, she closed her eyes praying that they never open again.

But just as she had prayed weeks ago that she not be pregnant, God too left this prayer unanswered, or so she thought. He did not take her that night twenty-three years ago, instead he opened her eyes once again to a life she was meant to live. A life that carried consequences, pain, and anger – but ultimately filled with love, compassion, growth and understanding. She was given another chance to break the unhealthy cycle she was in, to toss away the crutch of false security and stability she leaned on, and to stand firm on her own foundation of faith, restoration and love.

What most fail to see is that our God is a loving God. He creates beauty from our ashes (Isaiah 61:3, NIV) and works all things for the good of those who love and follow him (Romans 8:28, NIV). On that awful day 23 years ago, God was with her. He held her hand the day she suffered and thought she was alone. Although he disapproved of what she was doing, he never stopped loving her, because she had never stopped believing in or loving him. Just as a loving father does. And, on the night a few weeks later when she closed her eyes praying for him to forgive her and take her life, he actually had. It wouldn’t be until six years later that she would realize that.

Failure can serve a beautiful purpose if we let it and that is why you often hear that God uses broken people to share his grace and glory. Today, I am that broken person. This girl from so many years ago, was me. And, this is my story, my truth and my testimony.

When the doctor laid my daughter on my chest six years later, and her cries were comforted by my heartbeat, I knew. It was then that I realized God have given me a new life, he had forgiven me and he showed me an endless amount of the loving grace he is. My cries were comforted by her heartbeat as well, and I named her Gracie. She saved my life in ways only God knows as that was his plan all along. She gave me purpose until I could find my own, she taught me unconditional love as I was learning to love myself and she reminded me that each child is a gift from God, perfectly planned in his image.

It took twenty-three years to heal from this and I still grieve both the act and the loss. If my sharing this either deters you or helps you understand you deserve to grieve, to heal and to be loved, then I will boast of the things that show my weakness, (1 Cor. 11:30 NIV). If you think you’re too far gone, or God’s too far away, simply say his name and know he is already there, (Isaiah 30:18, NIV).