I address you broadly as a friend…..whether you are young, old, male or female. We are united in our experience with abortion. My prayer for all of us is to be united in healing.
Like you, I suffered in the aftermath of the abortion I had. My sorrow and guilt followed me everywhere. Even when I received the gift of two healthy babies, I felt undeserving and full of shame.
While trying to hold my life together, I lacked the very thing I needed most….the acknowledgment of God’s mercy and forgiveness. I did not think those gifts were meant for people who sinned like me. I believed that only “good” people were included in the brotherhood and sisterhood of His love.
If you knew me at that time, you would have only seen an active parent, employee and parish and community member. My family appeared healthy and prosperous in every way.
Yet, a deep shame and loneliness set me apart. Though I reached out sincerely for help, I felt that I couldn’t even tell a counselor or friend about the damage in my soul. I told myself over and over that I had made a choice. Legal. Tissue. But I didn’t ever believe it. It was impossible to see a baby and call it tissue. The first time I visited a friend who had a newborn, I began to shake so hard that I had to leave the hospital.
I drank too much. I had panic attacks. My marriage was unraveling. My children were becoming young adults. The fear that they might repeat my mistake overpowered me.
Finally, I decided that the notice in the church bulletin for Rachel’s Vineyard might be worth exploring. Even then, it took several YEARS to gather the courage to go. The vicious cycle of this “choice” is that the people who need healing feel too ashamed to ask for it. Around we go in a cycle of self-destruction and relationship dysfunction.
My husband made the first call for me. I couldn’t do it. The woman on the other end of the phone understood our plight. She was gentle, encouraging and did not judge.
I entered my Rachel’s Vineyard weekend 8 years ago as a terrified 49 year old. I had carried the burden of my shame for 25 years. I left that weekend with forgiveness that I could never have imagined before. It allowed me to begin traveling on a new path. We all were touched by the Holy Spirit that weekend. It emboldened me to begin a new way of living. It took a lot of practice to retrain my mind. My shame habits were like PTSD in the way they haunted me.
The Holy Spirit has held my hand through many difficulties since that retreat. In midlife, I experienced the pain of seeing loved ones suffer with the horror of addiction and many other challenges. Throughout, I had my faith. Without Rachel’s Vineyard, I would not have had the ability to see God along the way. I would not have known that I could turn to Him.
This ministry saved me and my family.