April 9, 2015

In Her Shoes: A Christian Woman Who's Had an Abortion (Part One)

Let us not ever forget that the Church is a redeemed people. Each of us, by the grace of Christ, have been redeemed from our slavery to sin. Among our own, let us not forget, are those who, though made holy and righteous, wrestle with secret shame about the sin they’ve been redeemed from. Let us not forget, so that we might bring the light of grace into the dark and hidden, so that we might speak grace and be a tangible picture of God’s grace toward one another, so shame and condemnation are banished.
I ask you today, as I’ve done before, to take a walk in another woman’s shoes: a Christian woman who’s had an abortion. I’ve asked her to share her story so we see the power of Christ’s redemption and so we’re ready and able to respond when someone we know and worship beside confesses an abortion. She desires to start a discussion in the greater Church about men and women who walk in secret shame, shame that has ripple effects in their lives. In her words, she wants those men and women to know “there is tangible healing available in Christ”, something she didn’t think possible for herself for many years. Here is part one (of two) of her story:

Describe the circumstances surrounding your first abortion.
I had grown up in a Christian family, but in my college and adult years, I was not walking with the Lord. I was, however, seeking the attention of men. I lived a promiscuous and partying lifestyle. One night, I was with a guy I was casually dating. We drank too much and had sex without using protection. In the morning, aware of not using protection, I worried. If Plan B existed at the time, I probably would have used it.

A week or two went by and I went out with some old college friends, one of whom was a guy I’d known. Again, I drank too much, as did he, and we ended up in bed together.

Later that month, I missed my period, took a pregnancy test, and it was positive. Because I’d slept with two men in two weeks, I didn’t know who the father was. I felt so much shame that my promiscuous lifestyle had gotten me to a point to where I didn’t know who fathered the child. I was further conflicted because the first guy was of a different race, so I knew if I brought it to term, it would be obvious who the father was. I couldn’t face the shame of trying to figure out who the father was, the shame of sleeping with two guys in two weeks, so I told the first guy I was pregnant. He said immediately, “We need to pursue an abortion. This is not something I want.” Because I was pursuing acceptance from men, I wanted to do what he wanted to do, to please him. I don’t know what I would have done if he said that he wanted me to have the baby. I think I was relieved when he said he did not because that meant I did not have to face the issue of paternity. I also lived very much in the world. I believed the baby in me was just cells, not a living thing.

I found an abortion clinic. He drove me, he paid for it, and he was there the whole time, attentive to me. The physician was nice, comforting us with the idea that we were doing the right thing. She was maternal and seemed to care for me. And so we had the abortion. I was awake the whole time. I remember feeling taken care of, which is strange to say. I felt this doctor had my best interest at heart. I never was offered an ultrasound, at least not that I remember. Part of the problem is that I stuffed the feelings down so far that I don’t remember much, but I do remember feeling I was in good hands.

Afterward, I went home and slept for a long time. I felt enormous relief at not having to face the shame of the pregnancy and figuring out who the father was. But I also remember thinking what a horrible person I was because I made this guy believe this baby was his, and I don’t even know if it was.
Describe the circumstances surrounding your second abortion.
Years went by, but not much had changed in my life. I was still in rebellion against God. I started seriously dating a man, and we got pregnant. When I told him I was pregnant, he didn’t want the baby. He said, “This isn’t how you do it. This isn’t how people have babies. You have to be married to have babies.” He was very aware of perception. This time I was in a different place. I knew who the dad was. I was financially sound. I could have raised the child by myself. My life was much more together by this point. But again, I wanted to do what the guy wanted to do, because I foresaw that keeping the baby would mean losing him. I was also still convinced that as long as I got an abortion before the end of the first trimester, it was just a bunch of cells.

Again, I found an abortion clinic, but my experience was very different from the first one. The clinic environment was very cold. I was one of 8-10 women on stretchers shoved in what seemed like a big shower room. There was a room to the side where they would take each woman one by one and then bring her back and offer her orange juice and crackers. None of us spoke a word to one another. I don’t remember hearing crying, but I felt it was very strange that we were all there for the same purpose, but none of us spoke to one another. The shame was palpable. And then it was my turn. I was wheeled into the side room. I wasn’t given any pain medication, and I remember every painful tug. I remember thinking to myself, “I deserve every painful thing I’m feeling. How did I get in this position again?” The doctor was an old man who didn’t talk to me at all as he ripped this baby from my womb. He didn’t care at all about me. It was like he was disgusted with me and I remember feeling he has every right to be disgusted. I disgusted myself.

The guy I was dating went with me, although I don’t remember him being there. I felt completely alone. It was me who had to take care of it, me who had to go through it. I felt that way, although he was there and was supportive in the way he thought he could be. I felt completely alone. I only know that he was there because we talked about it years later.

I went home and slept. Like the first one, I felt an enormous amount of relief, as if it never happened, but I also felt intense shame that I’d allowed this to happen twice.

Describe the next few years. What were the after-effects of abortion that you were living with?
A couple of years after my second abortion, I got married. Soon after that, I started to feel a pursuit from the Lord. I can’t verbalize it fully, but I knew He was pursuing me and giving me a desire to go back to Him.

My husband and I started trying to have kids. When I found out I was pregnant, I was excited. I remember thinking, “This is what it should feel like”. Throughout the pregnancy and after our baby was born, however, I often thought, “Oh my goodness, what did I do? This was a human being, a soul. I can never be forgiven for that. Horrible people do this.”

At that point, I was heavily reconnecting with my faith and pursuing God, and I was unsure how I was going to reconcile my past with where I was headed. I decided not even to attempt to reconcile it but to bury it. I would pursue my faith and try not to let my memories and thoughts ever come to the surface, and, if they did, I’d stuff them back down.

There were two big lies I believed. One was that I didn’t have to tell anyone about my abortions because it wasn’t having any ramifications in my life. The second lie I’d convinced myself of was that there would be no freedom in confession. I didn’t think that in order to heal that I’d have to uncover and wrestle with what I’d done.

But I was wrong. I did have to pick open the wound in order to heal.

The redemption part of this story is so rich. In the second part of her story, she describes the internal wrestling she experienced, how she finally found the courage to confess her abortions to a friend, and how she took the first step toward healing. Read Part Two here.