“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)
Today, I know that God works out all things for good. I have confidence that God can take my challenges and my unpleasant circumstances and turn them into good.
I grew up in Northern California, the fourth of six children. My mother was very loving and deeply spiritual. We went to church every Sunday. She taught me a lot about faith. But she couldn’t protect me from my Dad. If he had a bad day at work, he didn’t come home and kick the dog. He kicked me. I was the receiver of his frustrations and anger. I felt singled out. Perhaps I talked back, perhaps I looked different from my dark haired siblings with my tow head white hair. I don’t know why… But I grew up longing for love. Longing for acceptance.
I also longed to numb the pain. I found the way to numb my pain through drugs at high school. I found a way to feel loved through sex. I felt if a guy gave me attention, that I was loved. But it was the wrong kind of attention. I met Richard in high school. We ended up being together for six years, throughout high school and college years.
When I found myself pregnant at nineteen years old, Richard convinced me that now wasn’t the time to have a child. We would get married later and we would have a family, but later. My heart ached, I knew abortion was wrong.
Richard and I went to Planned Parenthood. The year was 1977, four years after Roe vs. Wade. Planned Parenthood told me it wasn’t a baby. It was just tissue. It would like having a wart removed from my finger… that was all it was, removing tissue….
I still remember the day I decided to have the abortion. I lost my faith in God. And I still remember the moment I had the abortion, I lost faith in myself.
The next several years brought the struggles of life of being in my 20’s. We all had the typical struggles with college, the beginnings of a career, and of course, relationships. Yet, I didn’t feel like my fellow 20 something’s. I had a deep dark secret, a secret so deep, it felt as if I had a toxic poison flowing through my heart. How could anyone love me if they really knew me? If they knew what I did? No one could love me if they knew I killed my own child.
I needed to grieve. But how could I? Society told me that I should feel empowered. Wasn’t abortion my right? Why did I feel so wrong?
Years went by, suppressing the grief. I stuffed the feelings in the abyss of my heart, keeping my grief hidden and silent.
I longed for something. I realized the longing was to regain the faith of my childhood. The faith my mother demonstrated. I longed to have God be part of my life. Yet, I struggled with God the Father. I couldn’t grasp the meaning of a Good Father. I received the sacrament of reconciliation.. I couldn’t imagine how God could forgive me… I couldn’t grasp a loving Father who really loved me. God knew what I had done. I killed my child. The priest knew what I had done. The priest told me that I was forgiven. So, I thought I was doing okay…
Life went on. I took a job in North Carolina and met my husband. He was divorced with two daughters. We got married and he said he didn’t want any more children. I was in love, so I agreed. In m heart, I knew I always wanted to have children, I dreamed of a large family… A few years later, we got a surprise. I went to the gynecologist for a checkup. They told me I was late. Ha! I am always late… No, they said I was late with my period. I was pregnant. My husband and step daughters were surprised and happy and excited. The surprise pregnancy was good and happy and joyous.
Then another tragedy came. The hopes and prayers to have children came to an end when I suffered a miscarriage. The pain of my past abortion came crashing in as if waves from a storm, flooding my heart with unhealed grief and self-condemnation. I felt as if God was telling me “You threw away the first gift of a baby that I gave you, why should a give you another gift of a child.” I knew that voice wasn’t God’s, but my own self condemnation. The self-condemnation was overwhelming. Some thought I was over the top grieving for my miscarriage… They didn’t know, I was grieving for both my babies But how could I tell anyone about my past, what I had done…
The announcement for an upcoming Rachel’s Vineyard retreat was in the church bulletin. That announcement saved my life.
Rachel’s Vineyard Rachel’s Vineyard is a safe place to renew, rebuild and redeem hearts broken by abortion. Weekend retreats offer a supportive, confidential and non-judgmental environment where women and men can express, release and reconcile painful post-abortive emotions to begin the process of restoration, renewal and healing.
At my retreat, I was able to reconcile with Christ and forgive myself. The toxic poison of self condemnation was gone. I realized the child I aborted is not in some dark horrible place. He is with Christ. I did this horrible thing, but my child is not being punished because of my sin. Finally, I was able to grasp my Good Father’s unconditional love. I felt set free! Free of the past forty years of self condemnation. Free of feeling if people really knew me that they wouldn’t be my friends. Free of the lies that I was unlovable. Jesus set me free.
Today, I can confidently say that God works all things for good, for His plans. I volunteer at Rachel’s Vineyard retreats. Through my experience and the experiences at the retreats, not only have I learned a healthy love for myself, but I learned not to judge, I learned to look past other’s circumstance and to see others with the eyes of Christ.