*Before reading this post I will warn you there are details/explanations that may be of a graphic nature. If you feel this wouldn’t be suitable for you to read, for whatever the reason, please leave this post now. Due to the personal & sensitive nature of this content, any comments lacking tact or accompanying a disrespectful tone, will be blocked. This isn’t a playground & it isn’t written to ask for approval or condemning. It’s taken 26 years to type this out. I appreciate your respect & your time reading it.*
16 years old.
I don’t remember the month. I think it was a Saturday. I can’t recall the weather or the hour long drive to Birmingham, AL. from my hometown.
I remember the shouts of protesters, Christian ones, screaming things like, “You’re a murderer. God hates you.” Shoving slaughtered fetus pictures glued to signs in my face, & throwing faux blood covered plastic baby dolls. That I will never forget.
Nor will I forget the horror of waiting to hear my name called. The wrestling of last minute emotions, the regret, the shame, all came in thunderous waves. Then came the self convincing: “Yes, this is right. I have my life ahead of me. I can’t raise a baby at 16.” I’d heard from a few other friends who’d had this done already that “it”really wasn’t a baby anyway, so I shouldn’t feel remorseful by my choice.
When I made the appointment, the receptionist & myself tried to pin down my last menstrual cycle & that was almost impossible. I was clueless. From what we could determine based on many physical factors, I was nearing the end of my 1st trimester. “What’s a trimester?” I asked her. She explained if the Dr. decided I was too far along, there were other places I would be sent that do these procedures past the “normal time frame.” I agreed to the appointment & possibilities, I mean what did I know? I was a kid.
Now, I already feel what many are thinking, “If you were a kid, then why were you putting yourself into a sexual risk & situation?” Which I hate to hurt your feelings, but that thought isn’t just the wrong one, it’s why young girl’s like me then & those today are wandering around in their immaturity being judged VS. being educated & assisted, especially by the church. (I’ll get to that).
As I heard my name called I was taken into a holding room FILLED to capacity with young females around my age. I felt one part comfort & the other part horror. “What was the matter with us? This is terrible. Should we talk or hug or cry together? Exchange numbers? Pray?” But, nobody would look up. The blanket of sadness & shame was so heavy & crippling, I honestly didn’t think I could stand up.
An assistant came & retrieved me for prep. The logistical stuff: pee in a cup, last period, height, weight, paperwork, etc. They determined I was still in the window of acceptance for their office & we could move forward with the procedure. I felt like I was going to cry my eyes from their sockets. Not from relief, but some faint feeling of hesitance, which I’ve come to know now as spiritual conviction.
The office staff were cold, unkind, & not the least bit comforting. “Do you have any questions?” “Well, actually, yes. Is this going to hurt, can I die, will this mess up my insides, how does it even work, how long will it take, is this even a baby?” and so many more unknowns from an immature, clueless perspective. She answered all my questions & assured me strongest of anything I’d asked, this was in fact “not a baby.”
Where were the people that counsel you, I wondered? Where’s the part where they give you options or talk you out of it? Is someone coming to tell me about possible risks to my ability to have future children? Are there pamphlets or free hugs? No. There was nothing. The nurse, I guess she was a nurse, gave me a Valium. Instructed me to take it & when it “kicked in” I would have my procedure. (By the way, not one person said the word abortion. Procedure sounds more clinical & routine.)
“Wait! Aren’t you going to knock me out? I will be AWAKE?!” I was told yes, that it would be fast & I’d have something for pain. The Valium was for my nerves. “MY GOD, what am I doing?,” I thought. “No worry about God’s punishment on me because the abortion itself must be THE punishment,” I assumed.
When I was finally called in, I was groggy, lethargic, sad, & petrified. The Dr. was male; cold, callous, instructive. The room was freezing & smelled like alcohol swabs. It reminded me of the terror I’d had as a little girl going for check-ups & never knowing exactly what would happen or if the adults were just lying to me that it would be ok, so I’d cooperate quietly.
I was asked to put on a gown. He & the nurse left me for a few minutes. I dressed in the gown very hurriedly, as I didn’t want them to see me nude. I’d never even had a pap exam before & despite a rape at 15, my now pregnancy was due to my 2nd choice to have had sex. Modesty was very existent for me, despite the choice I’d made which landed me sitting on that table.
Looking around the room, waiting, I viewed the instruments. Long needles, some suction thing with a tube connected to what looked like a giant pickle jar. Gauze, maxi pads that looked like boats & other things I couldn’t identify. Panic pressed me dead flat. Even if I wanted to leave I couldn’t because I was paralyzed with fear.
They returned & explained what would be occurring & before each step, he very unkindly talked at me, not to me, about what I might feel. (Especially being a bit farther along than most.) Then he turned on the most deafening machine & what came next I wasn’t prepared for. The sounds of liquid & matter & tissue being suctioned. The feeling. It felt like someone was vacuuming out my soul. And in a way he was. I even type this now with tears streaming down my face because that day changed the course of my life & my body in so many harmful ways. I could type for the rest of my life & you wouldn’t grasp the depth of the ache that became deposited where emptiness existed.
Laying on that table, I looked over & saw “it.” The full jar. I thought my guts, intestines, & organs were inside it. Something wasn’t right. “That’s an awful lot of ‘stuff’ to just be nothing,” I groggily thought. I won’t get too graphic, but to this day there are certain things I see in stores, in glass jars, that catapult me into a flashback. Certain sounds- a Shop Vac, a loud vacuum cleaner, even the dust buster at times, will throw my sensory off the charts. When you’re traumatized, the trauma never leaves, you just learn to cope & survive. The triggers become manageable.
Once they cleaned me up, I was given a bag with who knows what in it now. Pads, gauze, your guess is as good as mine. He talked at me again with a bunch of instructions I didn’t remember because I was high on the meds. I was cattled out with all the other girls I’d seen pre-procedure & we looked like a casting call for a zombie movie. When it was time to leave we had to trek through the hate field procession, once more. A lady shouted, “How disgusting, a child came to kill a child.” “I walked up to her face & told her ‘Fuck You & To Fuck Off’.” I was so infuriated. At her & at me. That day gave birth to an anger I’ve battled since.
I mean, she was a Christian, or at least trying to represent one. Could she not have stood there offering a prayer, maybe that would’ve helped on the way IN. Could she or anyone who believed in Jesus not have helped me? Did these followers of Christ honestly think this display of hate filled emotion would change anything where abortion choices were concerned? Where were the loving helpers? Where are they even today?
My dad & stepmom were very supportive to my healing & my choice. Very disappointed to hear this news, but supportive. They were not there that day with me. So in the event there are the, “Where were her parents thoughts,” they were always there, but I’d been hiding things from them for a long time. They noticed I was gaining weight & late for school a lot, but what parent actually assumes their 16 year old daughter is trying to hide being pregnant & make plans to abort? This wasn’t a normal hypothetical situation.
The years that followed my abortion were years of rebellion. Being saved & baptized at 5 years old & having both my biological parents root me in very Holy Spirit infused churches before their divorce, I knew I wanted to love Jesus & I wanted to personally know God, if they were in fact real. I just didn’t want to have to deal with their people to get to that point.
I walked through a rough season from 16-19 years old. I was promiscuous, I mean the abortion clinic started me on birth control so I was safe, right? I started to drink HEAVILY. I experimented with a lot of drugs & became a cigarette smoker. I lost all hopes of my college dance scholarship that I’d been working so diligently towards & Senior Year I was kicked out of everything because I couldn’t ever make it to school on time or function properly anymore.
During those rough times, I’d hide & beg God to heal me or kill me. I contemplated suicide more times than you’d know, but again something always stopped me- now I know exactly who it was that did.
I married at 19 & went directly to work, not college. It was a terrible marriage. To spare accusations or misunderstanding & for respect to my ex-husband & my son, no details of that marriage will be shared here. But my ex, myself & everyone who knew us from day 1 would tell you, we were gasoline & fire.
We separated for the 1st time in ’96 & I had moved back in with my parents, 22 years old then. My friends were prepping to graduate college & I was planning for a divorce. Shortly after the separation, I confided in a co-worker I’d missed a period. She covered me while I went to the pharmacy across the street. I bought what I needed & returned to work. Proceeded to the bathroom & took the pregnancy test. From that point my entire world changed again.
I drove home from work that night in a fog. Before my shift the next day I made an appt. at the local Health Dept. for a free pregnancy test just to make sure. There were several other young girls there also. We all knew we were in the same boat by the expression on our faces. After a few minutes, they were called back & then excused. I was told to stay. Summoned into another sterile room, I began to flash back to 6 years before, as I sat waiting for an abortion. There were charts & diagrams of growing fetuses at every stage inside a woman’s body. What were these images?
Yes, I was 22, but this wasn’t an age of cell phones & the Internet. This was 1996. I had never seen diagrams & information like this & they definitely weren’t displayed in the room of my former “procedure.”
2 females entered, nurse & Dr. who explained to me what was occurring & were available to answer questions. I explained that I’d terminated a pregnancy before & was separated from my husband, likely divorcing. I was pretty much the hottest of all the messes. They were kind to me, they provided me with adoption resources & prenatal information. They sat with me for awhile & encouraged me to seek an OB/GYN & offered referrals. I explained I had no insurance, so they talked to me about Medicaid, WIC, Food Stamps & assistance. “That’s for really poor people,” I thought, but public assistance saved my life during the years I needed it.
Those ladies spent hours with me in that Health Dept. encouraging me. Uplifting me & making sure I understood I had options for life & building one with my child. If I didn’t, there were people in the world waiting to provide the life I didn’t think I could.
I left in shock, got in my car, looked down & there sat a pack of cigarettes. As I drove to work, I pulled one from the pack & started to light it. I was overwhelmed with nausea, emotion, & guilt. I pulled my car over in a bank parking lot & said to God, “If you’re real. If you exist. Help me. Help this baby & lead me to do the right things for ‘it’, every day for the rest of ‘its’ life.” I took the cigarettes & threw them out the window & drove into my future. That was 19 years ago.
Before my child was born, I was sitting in an exam room, waiting on my Dr. & Ultrasound Tech. I was really large for my gestation period. I/we thought I had almost 2 months left of pregnancy. They didn’t do many ultrasounds back then, especially if you had Medicaid, so it’d been awhile since I’d viewed my baby in utero. As we did the scan, I was thrilled to hear that thunderous heartbeat & see how massive the baby had grown, but the Tech said, “Something is off. Really off.” A moment of terror sank into my stomach. He stated that I didn’t have months left, but based on the measurements of my child, I only had a few WEEKS. “WEEKS? No, I am not ready yet. I don’t even have diapers.” He was very clear to tell me, “Hun, ready or not this baby is coming.”
When my Dr. arrived to discuss these new findings & examine me, I was obviously floored, but more astonished at what happened next. He showed me my baby growing through the stages inside the mother chart I’d glanced over a few months before at the Health Dept., but he actually went into detail. He showed me exactly how pregnant I was at the moment & precisely how pregnant I had been when I found out. The baby I was pregnant with was exactly the same age at the time of that pregnancy’s beginning, as the baby I had aborted years earlier. Let me explain that: I was exactly as far along sitting at the Health Dept. as I was when I sat in the abortion clinic.
He showed me the fetus size at the time I came to him. All of these things were happening to me emotionally & I burst into tears. Tears because I’d missed it. I had been so young & so ignorant & so naive, I believed the baby I terminated wasn’t a human & had no potential to be. I realized that all those years of bad choices I’d made afterwards, were just a way to medicate the guilt & shame. I was so broken under what I had done. I thought about that jar & those sounds. And I’ve thought of it so many times over these years, I couldn’t even count how many times, if I tried.
At 23 years old, my now 19 year old, away at college, son was born. A true gift from God. If you knew him & us personally, you’d understand the goodness of God & His provision. In the years after his birth, I suffered much issue with my stomach & my reproductive parts. I went through miscarriages & a tubal pregnancy surgery, left at 35 years old with only a right ovary & tube intact. Told that I would never have another child. I was devastated & convinced myself this was punishment for my abortion at 16. God gave me one chance & that was through my son, otherwise the consequence for that abortion would be a barren body with issues for the remainder of my life.
2 months after that infertile diagnosis, I found out I was pregnant. It was a true miracle. At 36 years old, I delivered a daughter, 5 weeks early, triple wrapped cord to the neck, died after birth & bagged back to life, in the NICU for a month, rare thyroid disease, & other complications that are too long to list, but are explained via the testimony link on my profile page.
I can’t tell you how many times sitting in the NICU that I again thought, “THIS is my punishment for the abortion. I’ve been waiting on it & this is it.” It was the worst pain I’d ever known. Not knowing if she’d live or die. Being told if she did she would be so neurologically affected that we should prepare for a severely special needs child with retardation. Yes, THIS was the ultimate punishment for that abortion, so I kept packing the shame & the guilt into the satchel I’d been carrying on my back like a pack mule, for a then 20 years.
After she was released from the hospital & was free to be taken out in public after months of being home bound, the 4 of us started to attend church. (5 1/2 yrs earlier I met my best friend & the 3 of us were married. My daughter made us a family of 4).
The miracles of healing started to come like wild fire for her. I had joined my 1st Bible Study & our family had started to serve in the community. Not long after this re-entry back to church, I started to teach the Word, my son & husband were saved, other people came to Jesus because of our testimony, & besides my daughter having a rare thyroid disease (she was born without one) she was healed from everything brain/liver/neurological/developmentally lacking, etc. Instead of having a child whose brain was forecasted to be inept, we instead were given a child who is so intellectually off the charts that you wouldn’t believe me. It’s the type of thing you have to experience 1st hand by being in her presence.
Her name is Grace & she’s 6 now. Just like Chase, her brother, you don’t meet them & not walk away affected. They’re marked by God. I’ve always known this, but in some way I felt I was marked too. Me? Not me. I’d done too much, had been to far in the mud. He wanted the kids to mirror holiness, not me. They were pure & without blemish. I should just be grateful He chose me, dressed in my filthy rags, to mother them. That was my self-talk. But, you’d never know that about me because I wore a confident, tough, unaffected, & bullet proof disguise since I had been a teenager. Only until God got a hold of me did people see who I really was; He turned the inside out. And I let Him.
I still teach the Bible, every Wednesday evening. Many years I spent volunteering & working alongside a faith based pregnancy crisis center & I decided 6 years ago to be to other people what I’d always wished I’d had. That’s why I am transparent & truthful with my personal stories. This isn’t about likes & followers. It’s not about platforms & notoriety. What it is to me is a way to tell someone else out there, “I know you. I was you. I am you. You don’t have to carry the satchel of shame on your back anymore because someone came & loved you to His death so that you could live in freedom.” FREEDOM. And it is for that freedom that Christ sets you free. Walk in that truth, upright in your worth. If you need direction or prayer, maybe advice on how to start the journey to the cross & your chains finally broken, I would love to help you start a cycle that would lay the path for the future God wants you to walk. Even if it’s pointing you to orgs & faith outreaches in your area.
I also do this for the younger woman who may have gotten or may get herself into a bind & think abortion is THE only way to solve the situation. I am here to tell you a different truth. I am here to counsel you. To pray with/for you, to educate you & do what was done for me by way of that Health Dept. & not done for me by way of that abortion clinic. These are words of someone who understands how lost the situation seems. Who can say I’ve been there & you’ll never regret making the decision to choose life for your child. Even if he/she is raised by someone else. That life inside you will eventually be the life that raises you up. You just need eyes to see past the suffocating darkness of the moment.
My husband was adopted from birth & had his birth mother not made such a brave & heroic decision, the course of my entire life would be in another direction. I wouldn’t be here to type this today because there wouldn’t have been a daughter who fought for her life so we could have ours spiritually transformed. Adoption is a much better alternative for your soul than termination. There are thousands of wonderful people praying to receive into their hearts & homes who is growing inside your body. If you don’t feel called to parenthood, please think about those who are & who can walk with you from womb to delivery. You are never alone.
For those men out there who supported an abortion or felt like you didn’t have a right or a say so in the matter, I think of you also. Not many people mention the men affected by abortion because they don’t come forward often enough. Sadly, pregnancy is considered an issue for the woman only, but we don’t need middle school Sex Ed to explain how many people it takes to form a life.
I know you men exist & I know you grieve & carry shame, too. You also get a chance to walk in the same freedom & forgiveness that God provides. The 20 year conference that was called, Women of Faith, ministered to over 4 million over those years & was actually started by a man. A man who in college supported financially & morally the abortion of his then girlfriend. He carried that weight for several years until God showed him the cross of Christ was erected so we don’t have to swim in the thickness of muddy guilt. Upon his renewal of life, Steve Arterburn wanted to use his darkness to bring light to other women all over the nation, who may had walked through similar experiences & even more. Just like Steve, God can use your story also. It doesn’t matter that you’re a man & you feel voiceless re: abortion because it wasn’t your body- it was still your child & you deserve a moment to grieve that out & speak that out, too. Your voice on the matter may assist other men & women who also feel alone & helpless.
Lastly, I want to address the body of Christ; individually & wholly. Your words matter. Your actions matter. You never know who sits next to you that has walked through an abortion. Your pastor’s wife, your Bible teacher, a family member, even your best friend. We meet people in the now, we never meet them in chapter 1 of their pasts. At this VERY moment there are women unhealed from their choices. You are a representative of the LORD when you designate yourself to be such. The unhealed & the healed watch & listen to what you post online & the words you speak publicly & from the pulpit.
Where do you find yourself in the personal story I gave you above re: my abortion day? Are you the Christian who screams murderer, holds up their signs, & becomes a barrier between the suffering & Jesus? Or are you the Christian who lives God’s 2nd most important command, which is to love others with the type of Godly love that only exists in you personally, because He loved & forgave you, FIRST? God needs your example of His loving character, He doesn’t need you to be the Holy Spirit’s back-up convicter.
Pro-Life is for ALL life. Pro-Life has been traded to say I am anti-abortion, not that I am actually FOR ALL LIVES. See, if the church was for all, then every body of believers would have programs & volunteers established to personally educate, communicate, shepherd, & love the adolescent girls who don’t feel comfortable telling her secrets to a male leader & room full of peers she attends school alongside. Before there’s a pregnancy there is a choice to have sex. After that choice comes confusion- pregnancy or not. We need teachers of the Word, not screamers of opinion, to usher alongside these girls. That’s the importance of women leaders & pastors. If we can be arms out, many of those choices could be changed.
We also need a church that embraces the pregnant, single mother. If you are for that life she saved, then act like it, don’t snub your nose to her choice. When I was pregnant with my son I was judged & isolated from many churches in my hometown. One Sunday School class isolated me so harshly, I walked away from the church community from 22-36 years old. Church hurt is often worse than any other hurts we face because to know better is to do better, so we expect to enter His gates with expectant thanksgiving, not be met with deliberate refusal & gossip from the attendees. (One day I’ll tell you how God brought me full circle, back to a refusing church to key note speak. He is a God of restoration!)
You will not find the hurt & the oppressed arriving on your church steps when all you’ve shown them you offer is words & social media posts about how much God hates- hates their choices, hates their lifestyles, hates their decisions, hates…hates…hates. How about transform your own hearts & the renewing of your own minds through Jesus so you can stop missing moments of discipleship? I stayed away from God for years because no-one ministered His love to me & when they did so from the pulpit it was an act. They spoke of the Christian call to love, then stepped off of their stages & never acted out one single second of it. Nobody wants to come near a wrathful, hating God OR a congregation who displays that type of God’s characteristics.
God will not bring the lost & hurt to your doors if His will & intent for how they are to be grown is absent. And in the event they do stick around, it won’t be for very long. Let me say that again so those on the back row can hear me- if you are not seeing church growth, if there is no long term bearing of fruit, if you are always preaching to the same choir, please take a moment to stop blaming satan & take a look at your personal & internal desires & hearts. Ask God to convict you, lay down your pride, stop thinking it’s “them” who are crippling your church’s cause, stop patting your own good backs & realize that your dark season may just be due to the fact you’ve traded what was God’s holy intentions for your own selfish plans/goals. Not everything that looks, feels, & seems Godly, actually is- this IS where the enemy plants his seeds of confusion, but he starts one on one & leaves it up to the masses to infect one another.
God doesn’t need any of us to sell or advertise Him. He doesn’t need us to cherry pick verses & slap them onto pretty backgrounds & call ourselves servants. He doesn’t need us to look past our mountain of personal sin to condemn someone else who hasn’t figured out to how to be unyoked from theirs. He doesn’t need a voice that shouts in opposition, but instead a voice for the marginalized voiceless. He wants you to be forgiven of sin because He wants to free you from it, not just the penalty of continuing to live in it. He wants your life poured out as an offering to Him, but you cannot do that if you’re online all day, closed up in your safe places, & have no intention to live out what you claim is your daily bread, your living water. He wants you to feed others, not just yourself. Unlock the gate & let them in, but go out to greet them & show them where to go. It will be outside your comfort zone & that is the point. That is where your reliance on God steps in.
Francis Chan says this, “Simon says, ‘Pat your head,’ & we pat our heads. Jesus says, “Go therefore & make disciples,” & we memorize that verse.
This is our time. To undo the legalism, to strip off the weights of hypocrisy, to get up off our plump butts & be THE hands & feet. Many people are twiddling their fingers & exhausting themselves “wondering” what their purpose in life is & He’s already instructed you. Once you take step 1 in obedience, steps 2, 3, 4, …… will come. Your further gifts will be revealed when you are actively living out your faith. For he who much is given, much will be required. If He can’t trust you with the Great Commission, which is essentially, GO! He won’t give you anything else. You don’t get from the valley to the mountain top by one leap, it’s the act of rigorous climbing that gets us there. God will gives us the strength we need, He will supply our needs along the way, but what He won’t do is just plop us at the top because we prayed & willed it to happen. Faith requires action. Being still & knowing is phase 1, getting up & actually going is your call. Impact for Christ is far greater than trying to walk around acting like you’re an ambassador for Him.
If you accept these days we live in are dark, then you will settle for blindness. When you decide these days are for revival & purpose, as a call to turn our hearts back to God. When you see YOU are part of the prophecy’s fulfillment for Kingdom purpose, then you will not be stopped. You will run, crawl, & scrape to the finish line with endurance knowing what’s eternal is what we were created for, but we are expected to bring others with us.
I appreciate your staying until the end of this post. I pray you didn’t skip & skim or hurriedly rush through. If so, please return to the entire text when you have time. I understand the content is long & meaty, but there’s no other way to unearth a story that’s been untold for 26 years, without pouring it out in its entirety, so thank you for digesting it.
I’ll leave those of you with hurt, shame, guilt, or pain of any kind with the lyrics of a song that I repeat over & over to myself when I start to waver between God’s truth & my thoughts. A song written from the perspective if we could take our current self & educate our younger self, what would we say?
“Dear Younger Me,
It’s not your fault,
you were never meant to carry this beyond the cross.”
Many blessings & much love over you!
For Jesus! J