Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Story

I thought it would just be easier for anyone reading my story for the first time to have it all in one place so, here it is in it's entirety. Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me along the way....I have gone back often to the comfort of your words!

God has been asking me to do this for some time now but I guess you could say that I have been ignoring Him because....I DON'T WANT TO!

You all need to know that there is a reason I am such an advocate for life.....why I HATE abortion and on occasion voice my disgust with it.

My desire has never been to condemn or hurt anyone.... if statistics are correct (1 in 3 women will have an abortion).....some of you have experienced this horrific procedure personally.

I am among those women.

I am ashamed......I wish I could say that I am not.....that I know I am forgiven and forgiveness releases you from the debt of all sin. The shame never goes away....at least it hasn't for me over the past 10 years. The guilt never leaves me. The what-ifs are still there. I am certain the pain will reside in my heart forever.

BUT, God has given me a purpose.

To educate. To inform. To help. I want people to know what all the "pro-choice" people don't tell you and the "pro-life" people likely aren't even aware of. Experience lends perspective.

He was my boyfriend. We had been dating for over a year by this time. As a 17 year old girl I was the one who thought, "It will never happen to me." I knew lots of other girls who were "doing it" and they never had any problems. Or so I told myself.

Isn't it funny how we believe what we see? Trust me when I tell you that what you see is not how it is. I did a great job at hiding it myself. There was no way anyone would know my secret....not even my very best friends.

I will never forget the day I found out that my life would never be the same....it is crystal clear, as if it were only yesterday. I sat in his bathroom. I had stealthily snuck a pregnancy test off the shelf at the local grocery store. Test in hand, I collapsed on the floor, acknowledging the dreaded result. I sobbed. No one was home but the two of us and he was outside tending to the horses. I was all alone and that's how I wanted it....I was terrified.

After regaining composure somewhat, I called for him. I had him sit down in the easy chair in the living room. I handed him the test, trying my best to contain my emotions. He looked at me, "what does that mean?" I choked out the words, "I'm pregnant" before losing it. A full blown panic attack ensued. The weight of the world was on my shoulders.

He never got angry. I was taken aback by his calm demeanor. I was beginning to think that everything was going to be OK. And then came the words....."don't worry about it, we'll take care of it." That did not console me. In fact, I burned with anger inside. I knew what those words meant and until that moment that option had not crossed my mind. I had always dreamed of being a parent. While I was not expecting this experience at such an early age, I had already begun to accept that it was what it was.

As I lay there curled in the fetal position my mind raced. I thought of anything I could do to keep THAT from happening. His parents had lost his only sibling when she was only 3. I knew if I told them I was pregnant, they would never allow THAT to happen. Should I go behind his back? And then what would they think? What if they agreed with his decision?

Could I parent this child on my own? I knew he would never marry me. I would be ruining his opportunity to fulfill his lifelong dream if I did not concede. What would my parents say? What would they tell their friends? Did this mean I would have to work and my baby would have to go to daycare? Would anyone ever want to marry me? The questions were endless.

The details up until the day I arrived at the clinic are blurry. I honestly don’t remember making the call or figuring out where I was going to go. Somehow I knew that Planned Parenthood did abortions and that they didn’t require your parent’s permission. (Could it be the million-dollar marketing they target at teens?) It is very possible that I made him do all of the research, calling, etc. since it wasn’t what I wanted to do (that just sounds like something I would do)

I do recall sitting in the cubicle talking with one of the “counselors.” In retrospect, this is what makes me soooo angry. I recall the conversation for the most part…..this is basically how it went.

Counselor: “So, you are pregnant and don’t want to be. That is why you are here, right?”
Me: “Yes”
Counselor: “Are you aware of the options you have at this point?”
Me: “Yes” (even though I had NO clue, I just wanted to get outta there as quickly as possible)
Counselor: “And what option do you feel is best for you?”
Me: Eyes peeled to the ground, tears welling up inside….”abortion”.
Counselor: "It’s OK honey, I know this is hard but you need to do what is right for you. Does the father know?”
Me: “Yes, this was his idea.”
Counselor: “Is this what you want to do?”
Me: “I guess….I don’t really know what else I can do.”
Counselor: “Alright then, let’s set up an appointment. Who will be bringing you to the clinic?”
Me: “My boyfriend.”
Counselor: “OK, when you get here, you can park right next to the building in the spots closest to the front door. When you walk in you need to keep your head down and ignore the people at the end of the gate. They will try to entice you not to go forward with the procedure but what they will tell you are lies. Just do your best to pretend like they aren’t there”……. and the conversation continued with details about time and what to expect physically after the surgery, etc.

I don’t remember much after this….. the instructions about ignoring the people really frightened me and my mind raced elsewhere.

Can I just stop the story for a minute and discuss my frustrations with this? The lady never explained my options. When I said I knew what my options were she took my word for it and continued. This should not be allowed. They should be REQUIRED to walk you through each option available. I honestly believe (though I don’t want to take anything away from my responsibility in this) that if I had been given all the options that I would not have chosen abortion.

I also think they should be REQUIRED to reveal the exact procedure being performed. This in turn would require the mother to be privy to the fact that the child inside of her is already looking like a baby and has a beating heart. They should be required to tell you that the doctor will rip apart this child by its limbs and then suck its remains out with a vacuum. Did I know ANY of this? NO, NO, NO! I am angry that I was not told what they were going to do. I am angry that they fool MANY into choosing abortion.

If you were going in for knee surgery, would they not take x-rays, bring them into the exam room and show you what they saw? Wouldn’t they explain in detail the procedure they plan on performing so that you could make an informed decision? ABORTION is a secret because people don’t want to know the horrific details, they just want to be out of the situation they are in. Fewer people would choose this route if they were only informed! Our children deserve to know what an abortion really is BEFORE they are put in a position to have to make a decision about an unwanted pregnancy. (Though, for those of you who aren't aware, children are not the only ones having abortions. Single adults and even married women are as well.)

Case in point: I have a friend who also faced an unwanted pregnancy and she too chose to have an abortion. It was clear from the moment I was told that it was not up for discussion. After my abortion I ended up sharing with her that I had gone through the same thing. We ended up attending the same college. I will never forget one day I received a phone call from her telling me to stay away from the large grassy area in the middle of campus. She was FUMING. She could not believe that people had the audacity to put up a display of aborted babies. For whatever reason….I wanted to know. While I respected her viewpoint, I did not understand it. I was drawn to the exhibit. It was hard….very hard. For the FIRST time I was made aware of what my decision looked like in cold hard facts. I honestly remember telling myself that I had had my abortion long before the abortions depicted on the display; that I didn’t really have anything but tissue in there when I had the procedure.

I know now that I was wrong.

I was blinded by my desire to just get it over with….to return to a normal life. (Which NEVER happened, by the way)

Planned Parenthood has an agenda. Capitalize on the culture’s irresponsibility and carelessness. Abortions = HUGE Profits. They do NOT care about your well-being. (I realize that they are not the only ones who perform abortions but this is whom I can share about from experience.)

So…..it came time to wait! For whatever reason (this is something I want to research)….they liked to schedule the procedure between 8 & 12 weeks.

I don’t recall much about this time except that I took a trip to Italy with my high school choir while I was still pregnant. My mother went with us. I got soooo incredibly sick. I attributed it to motion sickness because we did so much traveling that day. I wanted SOOO bad to share with my Mom but I knew if I told anyone I wouldn’t be able to stomach going through with the procedure and would surely ruin my boyfriends life. Ironically, I thought I was being selfless. It was a sad trip for me.

The long anticipated day arrived. It was dreadful. My boyfriend drove me to the clinic and walked me inside. I made him check me in. I immediately sat down in the chair closest to the door….it was as far as I could go at the moment. I brought my knees up to my chest and buried my head.

When he returned to my side he asked, “Are you okay?”

“Are you serious? No I’m not okay.” It was all I could say…..my stomach was churning. I sat there, head buried, tears streaming down my face until they called my name.

I don’t remember anything about the preparation or the procedure. The recovery room I remember vividly. For whatever reason, I remember this more than anything else about the whole situation.

I lay in my bed still groggy from the anesthetic, awoken to girls laughing. It made me want to vomit. I was so repulsed by their flippancy. They were laughing and carrying on and making friends with the girls in the bed next to them. I felt so alone…..so isolated…..like I was the strange one for feeling so bad about what I had done. I just remember being so confused.

I did not grow up in church. I did not come to know the Lord until I was 20 years old. It was not because of my relationship with Christ that I was overcome with guilt.

I think this is very important. There are so many people out there who claim that there is no such thing as Post Abortion Syndrome. They say that it is something made up by the Pro-Life community to scare women. I am here to tell you that they are CRAZY! I knew nothing of what I was actually doing. I had no idea that I was killing a living being or what my choice was costing and yet my heart still screamed with guilt. I believe that God has written the Truth on our hearts.

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be" (Psalm 139:13-16)

I believe that those who say they have not experienced any remorse or any sort of PAS are lying to themselves or have suppressed those feelings and will one day be confronted with them.

I was sent on my way and so my boyfriend took me to the only place I could recover without questions….his workplace. At that time he was a ranch-hand and the ranch had a bunk house. I stayed curled up there for the remainder of the day. I felt like the world had stopped turning. I felt as though life should come to a halt….that he should be so overwhelmed with grief that he would need the afternoon to recover with me. I was wrong. His day carried on as any other. It was the beginning of a very dark period in my life.

The idea that I would feel so much better after the event had taken place was proving to be so far from reality.

I was changed. My days became long & hard. I wept daily.....I will never forget. I remember driving down the road in the passenger's seat of my boyfriend's pickup, crying. Frustrated, I turned my face toward the window because I knew he would think I was insane if he saw me crying AGAIN. I couldn't get it together, though nothing had happened to cause the tears. I considered the past year & was certain that I had shed more tears in that time than I had in all the years of my life combined. I was not one to cry. But life was different.

I remember feeling stuck. I stayed with Brad 3 more years after the abortion. It wasn't because I loved him. I felt worthless. I felt like no one on earth could love me. I felt like a horrible person. I didn't feel deserving of the kind of person I really wanted to be with, so I stayed.

The summer after my freshman year of college I received a phone call from my parents asking me to come home. They had something they needed to tell me. It was not a pleasant conversation......gut-wrenching actually. I don't have a great memory but I remember every detail of that conversation.

They were splitting up.

I was all alone.

The loneliness was overwhelming, a dark cloud looming over me, & it was not because of my physical circumstances. I had already isolated myself from my boyfriend because I hated him for never feeling guilty about the abortion. After learning about my parents, I couldn't stand to be around my Dad (whose decision it was to separate) & moved out of their house & into my boyfriend's. I no longer had my family, my boyfriend had already isolated me from my friends & now I was living with someone whom I essentially hated.

~Let's pause right here for a moment. I need to tell you that I don't remember the time-line entirely. I journaled all the time back then. I wish I had kept my journals but I threw them all out when I got engaged to my husband. What a foolish thing to do. I have since lost track of what happened when & in what order. The main things I remember are when the abortion took place & when I came to Christ.~

We are a reading family. A few months after moving into my boyfriend's home, my Mom introduced me to a new series of books she was reading. Someone from her school suggested she read them & she really enjoyed them so she was passing them on to me. These books were from the "Left Behind" series by Jerry Jenkins & Tim LaHaye. They were FASCINATING. I suppose I had never heard anything like this & for these things to possibly be true????? It is clear now as I look back that the Holy Spirit was moving in my heart.

I knew that if these things really were true that I didn't want any part of being here for them! I was determined to find out the truth & the only place I knew to do that was at church. I was living in Rhome, Texas at the time so I did some research & found a small Baptist church about 10 minutes from the house. I talked my boyfriend and his Mom into attending Aurora Baptist Church with me the very first Sunday.

Looking back I just laugh at how naive I was & how horrible I must have looked to all of the mature Christians who sat in the pews. Because we were visitors, we had people introducing themselves & asking us basic questions. I was not one bit ashamed or embarrassed to tell them that I was living in Rhome with my boyfriend! Ha....so clueless! But isn't it great that God loved me even though I was so lost?

I don't really remember how many weekends I attended before giving my life to Christ but I know it wasn't many. My boyfriend's Mom didn't go the following week & my boyfriend didn't join me the week after that. It was all me. The Lord chased this sister down! This was a traditional Baptist church & the Pastor would do an invitational at the end of every service. There were a couple of weekends that the Lord was really prompting my heart but I wasn't sure or was too embarrassed to go down front. He mentioned that there was more information about becoming a Christian at the back of the sanctuary. I secretly grabbed one of the pamphlets on my way out the door that weekend. It was in reading through that pamphlet that I gave my life to Christ. I do recall thinking that I needed to walk down front at church to actually receive Christ in my heart. I prayed the prayer by myself but I felt like it just couldn't be that "easy".....there had to be something else I had to do. (which is completely untrue)

The following weekend I walked down to the front during the invitational & shared that I had given my life to Christ. Several weeks later I was baptized. As I think back on that moment, I am saddened that I walked through all of that alone. I did not invite a soul to my baptism. I was convinced that my parents would think I was crazy & who else would I invite? I was baptized all alone. An event that should have been wrapped in celebration, just was. Oh, but my heart was wrapped in celebration & that was what really mattered!

It was from the moment that I gave my life to Christ that I was changed. That may seem cliche to some but boy did it ring true for me! It was nothing that I TRIED to change. It was simply that my heart had been transformed. Things like cussing, something that was second nature & not the least bit offensive prior to this time, all of the sudden had me cringing. I'm not even sure that I knew cussing was "wrong". The Spirit just came into my life & turned it upside down. The purity of Christ sat so heavily upon me that the things of this world were suddenly displayed in a new light!

My life began to feel like it had purpose & meaning......something I had not felt in a very long time.....maybe ever!

My life was consumed by learning & spending time in the Word. I wrestled with the relationship I was in & decided that God's desire was for me was to marry Brad since we had already come together & become one in God's eyes. Looking back I am certain that I came to this conclusion, not because I thought it was true but because I didn't think I deserved anything better. It wasn't long before God brought heavy conviction upon my heart about this relationship & I broke things off. I moved out of his house into a duplex by myself. It was a sad & yet crucial time for me. I was very lonely but God knew that the isolation was the best possible thing for me at that time. I spent hours upon hours pouring over the Bible & in prayer. This time gave me a foundation not in church membership or Christian friends or someone else's thoughts or ideas but in Christ himself! What a blessing! God truly amazes me at how he worked out my life to allow for this time. A time of transition from putting my worth in others to putting my worth in Christ.

As I was trying to untangle our lives I became well aware of my need to find a new church home. I really had no idea where to start. I visited several churches in the area but did not feel comfortable with any of them. Amazingly, God had orchestrated a Christian connection several years before this. Even though we had not worked together in several years, we stayed in touch a couple of times a year. It struck me to contact him & see if he could suggest a good church. He quickly invited me to his church & immediately threw me in the singles mix to get involved! I jumped right in & my walk with the Lord truly soared as I began to grow & build healthy relationships. The memories of my single days at Fellowship are still very vivid. It was such a wonderful time when life held very little responsibility & I could spend huge amounts of time chasing after the Lord with wild abandon. As much as I love my life right now I so miss the time I had to focus on my relationship with the Lord when I was single.

There have been up times & down times. There has been heartache, pain, joy & celebration. These things are not so different from my life before Christ. What has been different is that my life has held meaning through all of those times. When things were low, my hope never wavered! Knowing you have a God who is in charge of ALL things, with your best interest in mind, is a very comforting thought. God has transformed my heart & I will forever be changed.

As far as the abortion goes......I have been forgiven! It is such a sweet truth that I feel completely unworthy of! I got involved with a crisis pregnancy center early on in my walk with the Lord & they encouraged me to walk through a post abortion Bible study. It was one of the most liberating things I have ever done. I'm not sure I realized how paralyzed I had been from that tragic event in my life. Through the study, I was able to forgive Brad, & most of all, forgive myself. I know now that God wants to use me to further his kingdom by using the experience to help others. Talk about redemption! God is so good like that! Everything, everything, everything has a purpose!

(Oh, & on a side note, my parents never got divorced!!!!!!!!!!!! They were actually both saved & I had the privilege of watching them walk through the waters of baptisms, hand in hand!!!!!)

Finally......An Ending!

This story is not over. I realize that it has been FAR too long since I last wrote about my experience but it hasn't been because this is not important. This part of the story is just as important. Life has gotten in the way of me spending time blogging but I wanted to finish this story if anyone was ever led here & needed to hear someones personal story.

I was changed. My days became long & hard. I wept daily.....I will never forget. I remember driving down the road in the passenger's seat of my boyfriend's pickup, crying. Frustrated, I turned my face toward the window because I knew he would think I was insane if he saw me crying AGAIN. I couldn't get it together, though nothing had happened to cause the tears. I considered the past year & was certain that I had shed more tears in that time than I had in all the years of my life combined. I was not one to cry. But life was different.

I remember feeling stuck. I stayed with Brad 3 more years after the abortion. It wasn't because I loved him. I felt worthless. I felt like no one on earth could love me. I felt like a horrible person. I didn't feel deserving of the kind of person I really wanted to be with, so I stayed.

The summer after my freshman year of college I received a phone call from my parents asking me to come home. They had something they needed to tell me. It was not a pleasant conversation......gut-wrenching actually. I don't have a great memory but I remember every detail of that conversation.

They were splitting up.

I was all alone.

The loneliness was overwhelming, a dark cloud looming over me, & it was not because of my physical circumstances. I had already isolated myself from my boyfriend because I hated him for never feeling guilty about the abortion. After learning about my parents, I couldn't stand to be around my Dad (whose decision it was to separate) & moved out of their house & into my boyfriend's. I no longer had my family, my boyfriend had already isolated me from my friends & now I was living with someone whom I essentially hated.

~Let's pause right here for a moment. I need to tell you that I don't remember the time-line entirely. I journaled all the time back then. I wish I had kept my journals but I threw them all out when I got engaged to my husband. What a foolish thing to do. I have since lost track of what happened when & in what order. The main things I remember are when the abortion took place & when I came to Christ.~

We are a reading family. A few months after moving into my boyfriend's home, my Mom introduced me to a new series of books she was reading. Someone from her school suggested she read them & she really enjoyed them so she was passing them on to me. These books were from the "Left Behind" series by Jerry Jenkins & Tim LaHaye. They were FASCINATING. I suppose I had never heard anything like this & for these things to possibly be true????? It is clear now as I look back that the Holy Spirit was moving in my heart.

I knew that if these things really were true that I didn't want any part of being here for them! I was determined to find out the truth & the only place I knew to do that was at church. I was living in Rhome, Texas at the time so I did some research & found a small Baptist church about 10 minutes from the house. I talked my boyfriend and his Mom into attending Aurora Baptist Church with me the very first Sunday.

Looking back I just laugh at how naive I was & how horrible I must have looked to all of the mature Christians who sat in the pews. Because we were visitors, we had people introducing themselves & asking us basic questions. I was not one bit ashamed or embarrassed to tell them that I was living in Rhome with my boyfriend! Ha....so clueless! But isn't it great that God loved me even though I was so lost?

I don't really remember how many weekends I attended before giving my life to Christ but I know it wasn't many. My boyfriend's Mom didn't go the following week & my boyfriend didn't join me the week after that. It was all me. The Lord chased this sister down! This was a traditional Baptist church & the Pastor would do an invitational at the end of every service. There were a couple of weekends that the Lord was really prompting my heart but I wasn't sure or was too embarrassed to go down front. He mentioned that there was more information about becoming a Christian at the back of the sanctuary. I secretly grabbed one of the pamphlets on my way out the door that weekend. It was in reading through that pamphlet that I gave my life to Christ. I do recall thinking that I needed to walk down front at church to actually receive Christ in my heart. I prayed the prayer by myself but I felt like it just couldn't be that "easy".....there had to be something else I had to do. (which is completely untrue)

The following weekend I walked down to the front during the invitational & shared that I had given my life to Christ. Several weeks later I was baptized. As I think back on that moment, I am saddened that I walked through all of that alone. I did not invite a soul to my baptism. I was convinced that my parents would think I was crazy & who else would I invite? I was baptized all alone. An event that should have been wrapped in celebration, just was. Oh, but my heart was wrapped in celebration & that was what really mattered!

It was from the moment that I gave my life to Christ that I was changed. That may seem cliche to some but boy did it ring true for me! It was nothing that I TRIED to change. It was simply that my heart had been transformed. Things like cussing, something that was second nature & not the least bit offensive prior to this time, all of the sudden had me cringing. I'm not even sure that I knew cussing was "wrong". The Spirit just came into my life & turned it upside down. The purity of Christ sat so heavily upon me that the things of this world were suddenly displayed in a new light!

My life began to feel like it had purpose & meaning......something I had not felt in a very long time.....maybe ever!

My life was consumed by learning & spending time in the Word. I wrestled with the relationship I was in & decided that God's desire was for me was to marry Brad since we had already come together & become one in God's eyes. Looking back I am certain that I came to this conclusion, not because I thought it was true but because I didn't think I deserved anything better. It wasn't long before God brought heavy conviction upon my heart about this relationship & I broke things off. I moved out of his house into a duplex by myself. It was a sad & yet crucial time for me. I was very lonely but God knew that the isolation was the best possible thing for me at that time. I spent hours upon hours pouring over the Bible & in prayer. This time gave me a foundation not in church membership or Christian friends or someone else's thoughts or ideas but in Christ himself! What a blessing! God truly amazes me at how he worked out my life to allow for this time. A time of transition from putting my worth in others to putting my worth in Christ.

As I was trying to untangle our lives I became well aware of my need to find a new church home. I really had no idea where to start. I visited several churches in the area but did not feel comfortable with any of them. Amazingly, God had orchestrated a Christian connection several years before this. Even though we had not worked together in several years, we stayed in touch a couple of times a year. It struck me to contact him & see if he could suggest a good church. He quickly invited me to his church & immediately threw me in the singles mix to get involved! I jumped right in & my walk with the Lord truly soared as I began to grow & build healthy relationships. The memories of my single days at Fellowship are still very vivid. It was such a wonderful time when life held very little responsibility & I could spend huge amounts of time chasing after the Lord with wild abandon. As much as I love my life right now I so miss the time I had to focus on my relationship with the Lord when I was single.

There have been up times & down times. There has been heartache, pain, joy & celebration. These things are not so different from my life before Christ. What has been different is that my life has held meaning through all of those times. When things were low, my hope never wavered! Knowing you have a God who is in charge of ALL things, with your best interest in mind, is a very comforting thought. God has transformed my heart & I will forever be changed.

As far as the abortion goes......I have been forgiven! It is such a sweet truth that I feel completely unworthy of! I got involved with a crisis pregnancy center early on in my walk with the Lord & they encouraged me to walk through a post abortion Bible study. It was one of the most liberating things I have ever done. I'm not sure I realized how paralyzed I had been from that tragic event in my life. Through the study, I was able to forgive Brad, & most of all, forgive myself. I know now that God wants to use me to further his kingdom by using the experience to help others. Talk about redemption! God is so good like that! Everything, everything, everything has a purpose!
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