Forgiving Abortion

It seems the topic of abortion is always pushed to the forefront politically as a means to an end, to gain favor or show disdain for candidates in just about any race for office.  This blog is not about politics, I’m not running for any office now or in the future.  I am simply a woman who is going to share a story.

Understand that this is not something I ever wanted to share.  Very few people know this story and I was perfectly willing to leave it that way.  It would seem, however, that God had other plans.

When I was about 24 years old I became pregnant.  I remember it was late spring or summer because I didn’t have on any winter clothes when I went to the doctor’s office to confirm the pregnancy. I remember where I was living at the time and I can kind of remember the boy involved.

The other things I remember were being scared, unsure of what to do and basically freaking out.  When I told the boy about the pregnancy he didn’t believe he was the father, which really hurt me and made me feel cheap.  I was a bit promiscuous during that period of my life.  I equated sex with love, or at least it made me feel attractive, something I’d never felt in my life.  I was an insecure, introverted girl who was walking down the wrong path of drugs, alcohol and sex.  I suppose I felt it was validation, even if it was only a one night stand – which in this instance it was.  To me sex meant I wasn’t the homely, unwanted girl I’d imagined myself to be.

I didn’t want to believe I was pregnant, tried to wish it away, cried a lot about it, but of course none of these things changed the reality of my situation.  Questions surfaced: How would I be able to take care of a baby?  What will my family think?  How would I be able to give it up for adoption if I had it?  Everyone will think I’m a “slut”!  How could I have let this happen!  I’m so stupid!  What was I thinking?!

I believed everything the enemy threw at me, everything he wanted me to believe.  I was worthless, I wasn’t strong enough, everyone would hate me, my family would disown me, my friends wouldn’t talk to me…so I chose to terminate the pregnancy.

I didn’t talk about it afterward, really. I just shut the experience away, tried to move on with my life.  At least, that’s what I projected on the outside.  On the inside I was struggling.  I had been raised to believe in God, although I was not even close to living a Christian life at the time, so I was wracked with guilt and shame over my decision while at the same time thinking it was the best choice I had.  I thought my distress would lessen with time so, again, I just avoided thinking or talking about it.  Quite a few years later, I was having a phone conversation with my mother and the subject came up.  I was married at the time and had already given birth to my three children.  I can’t remember exactly why we were talking about it, but I do remember hearing my mother crying on the other end of the phone.  She said “This is the first time you’ve talked to me about your abortion.”  I replied “I thought you’d be disappointed in me, especially since you’d had a miscarriage.”

That was something that added to my guilt.  How could I talk about my decision when there were women in the world, in my own family, who’d had trouble with pregnancy.  How could I look a woman in the eye who had lost a baby or couldn’t even have one and discuss the topic of abortion.  What would they think of me?  I felt like I was a lesser person because of it.  My mother said she was not disappointed, that she loved me no matter what.  Had I continued, moved forward and told others about my decision I probably would have saved myself years of pain.

As those years passed I was ‘successful’, for the most part, at putting the event away.  I purposely did not comment when the topics of pro-life or pro-choice were broached (honestly, I still try to avoid those discussions).  I hated election years because the subject always came up.  On occasion the recessed memory would surface, I’d cry and feel like a failure and then tuck it away again.

Even after I actually started walking a Christian life I still didn’t address my past.  Well, I addressed the drug use and other not-so-nice things I’d done, but I wouldn’t touch that one subject.  I did finally ask God for forgiveness but even that took some time, after all, I had done what I felt was the absolute worst thing I could do.  According to God’s promise and Jesus’ sacrifice I knew He’d been merciful and granted me the forgiveness I craved, but I still couldn’t forgive myself.

Fast forward to last year, around 26 years after the event.  I started feeling like God wanted me to talk about what had happened, what I had chosen to do and how I felt, but I fought it.  I’d start crying anytime I thought about it, and let me tell you those moments came more and more frequently.  I couldn’t shut things down like I used to, it was like the door to that backroom was disintegrating and all those repressed feelings were leaking through.  I’d remind myself over and over that I was forgiven, but still could not bring myself to self-forgiveness.

Fast forward again to this past July.  I joined an online Bible study through Women Who Believe centered around a book called “Untangled” by Carey Scott.  The study was addressing four very distinct tangles most of us have; Shame, Fear, Unworthiness and Unforgiveness.  There was a quiz you could take to find out what your biggest tangle might be and, of course, for me it was Unforgiveness.  I’d read through Carey’s book and recognized so much of myself in its pages that I was actually looking forward to doing this bible study.  Well, all except the last tangle because I knew that was a big part of me.  I wasn’t sure I was ready to finally fully address that area of my past.

The week before the final lesson I was in turmoil.  I was starting to write this post in my head and even knew what song I was going to put at the end of it.  I couldn’t get away from it, couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I was at a friend’s house one day and she could tell something was wrong.  She asked me if I wanted to tell her about what was bothering me and, before I even knew I was going to say anything, it was out of my mouth.  I was scared about what her reaction would be, worried how she would see me.  This was the first time I’d spoken of my abortion to anyone outside my family in over twenty-five years.

A QUARTER OF A CENTURY

You know what happened?  She hugged me, cried with me, and we just talked for about an hour.  I don’t think she fully understood what it meant to me, to be able to tell her my story and know she was not judging me.  She just listened and shared some things of her own too.  I will forever love her friendship because of that safety she granted me.

The day the final bible study lesson was posted, the one on Unforgiveness, I almost couldn’t read it I was crying so much.  Huge, gut-wrenching sobs, that ugly cry – you know what I mean.  That same day – SAME EXACT DAY – a podcast was posted on Life with Lisa Williams.  Toward the end, the person being interviewed on the show opened up about her decision years ago to terminate a pregnancy and how she’d come to terms with that choice.

I was floored.  This was not just some random turn of events.  There was also a blog posted by Carey Scott, same day, talking about the need to forgive ourselves.  Between those three things I was one big, HOT mess.  What was happening?  Why did I have to look so closely at this hurt, God?  I didn’t want to open that wound any further than it already was!  I begged God, please don’t make me go there.

But in my heart I already knew.  I had to open it, I had to go deep and gouge out the infection that was the enemy’s lie and forgive myself.  One thing from the study that really struck me was this:
“We hold stuff against ourselves that the God of the Universe doesn’t. THE God, who created mankind, who is the King of all, the final authority in heaven and earth, the One who was with Moses, and David, and Mary and Paul. That same God who is the one true God…my word, seriously?”  

That was me ALL over.

It was time.  I sat in my room, eyes swollen and a pile of tissues on the desk, and told myself that if I truly believed God forgave me then I had to as well.  So I said the words, and as I did I felt that tangle ease up just a bit.  It was a small change, but it was there.  I knew that wasn’t going to be the end of it.  It wasn’t going to be that easy to replace all those years of guilt.  It was, however, a first step – the one thing every journey needs.

I’ve taken another step since then, told another friend, someone else who gave me the safety and love I needed to express my pain to her.  I have a lot to work through still, it will take time, but I won’t be hiding.  I won’t be shoving my past back in that closet at the far recesses of my memory.  I will not allow the enemy to use it against me anymore.  I will continue to read my bible, pray and seek God every day.  His Word and prayer are the strongest weapons I have against an enemy that would love to see me fall again.

So that’s it.  That’s my story – my deep, dark secret.  Do I wish I had made a different decision?  Of course I do!  Do I wish abortions didn’t happen?  Absolutely.  I also wish that we lived in a time when women who have made this choice feel open to discuss it.  I hope someone is out there who needs to read this, that it helps you in some small way.  Find someone you trust to talk to and then trust GOD for strength.  You’ll know when it’s time.  If you are that trusted person someone finds, just listen and be open.  Show your friend love and support, that’s what she really needs.  No judgment, plenty of understanding.

If you would like to go through the same bible study I did, please visit Women Who Believe on Facebook or go to womenwhobelieve.com.  I also suggest you buy “Untangled”.  You can visit Carey Scott’s page at careyscotttalks.com.  You can also go to lifewithlisawilliams.com to hear the podcast with Pam Peoples.

Remember, you are loved.

God Bless

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