There are a lot of things that can and should be said on this the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I thought the best thing for this blog might be to let someone else say something.
Andi was one of my wife’s friends at Gordon College. Since graduating over a decade ago, they’ve kept up here and there like most people do–by Facebook. last November we saw Andi post her story about how she had an abortion while in college, and how she later received God’s grace for this sin. She gave me permission to re-post her story on my blog. It is honest, moving, heartbreaking, full of the gospel and full of hope.
Thirteen years ago, I had an abortion and I was completely alone. When I saw that pregnancy test, I was scared to death. I was 20. I was attending a Christian college. It was not ok that I was pregnant. But at the same time, the thought of that baby already growing inside me brought me unbelievable joy. I remember actually forcing myself to stop smiling before I went in to tell my boyfriend the news. When I walked in, he was sitting there with the phone book open to Planned Parenthood.
“You can’t have this baby,” he said. “It will ruin my future,” he said.
Those words have haunted me for years. They are disgusting and unbelievable. But at the same time, today they are almost laughable. Why would I allow someone to say that to me? Why would I hear these words coming from this immature boys’ mouth, and think, “Man, I don’t wanna lose this guy, so I better do what he says?” Since that time I have thought of countless, usually inappropriate, responses to his words. I have pictured myself throwing something in his face, stomping out of his apartment, and taking the train home, to carry and raise that baby by myself. I have replayed over and over again in my head how things could have gone so differently that day. How I could have stood up for myself and done what was right. How I could have told someone- just one person about my pregnancy and I probably would have made a different choice.
I am overwhelmed with how immature and stupid I was. How blind I was. I was convinced I had no choice. I couldn’t tell anyone. I was ashamed I was pregnant. I was ashamed I had been sleeping with my boyfriend. I was ashamed I was considering abortion. My life was filled with shame.
There seemed to be no escape. And this boy acted like this was the easiest, simplest and most obvious choice on the planet. He even called Planned Parenthood for me as I sat there sobbing on the bed. He would have made the appointment for me too, but the lady on the phone said I had to do it. So there I sat, sobbing into the phone. And she let me make the appointment. She didn’t ask if this was what I really wanted. She didn’t suggest I call back after I calmed down. Nope. I was sobbing so uncontrollably that I could barely speak, but she scheduled an appointment. And I went. It seems so obvious now. Just don’t go. But in that moment. I was 20, I was “in love,” I was scared, I was alone.
People often wonder, “How can someone be so hateful and heartless to make a decision to kill your own baby?” I don’t tell this story so people will feel bad for me. I tell it so people might be able to see why someone would make this decision. No one should. But it’s easy for me to understand how a young, lonely, desperate, and scared girl can make that decision. Someone makes that decision when there is no hope. I would go back and do it differently if I could. But it’s done. And when it was done, a piece of me died. I have been missing a piece of me since that day.
My boyfriend didn’t want to talk about it. He told me to move on. I held it in. I told no one. I immediately became depressed, filled with suicidal thoughts, and eventually had a severe panic attack. But still I kept silent. I became a very good actress. I could fake a smile like nobody’s business. I had been living with my roommate, Gwyn, for the previous two years. I told her everything. But I couldn’t tell her this. I was so afraid people would judge me and hate me for what I did. I hated me for what I did. I wanted to die. I didn’t want to ever be forgiven. I killed my baby. I didn’t deserve to live. So I went on pretending. Going through the motions and crying myself to sleep every night. My life went on like this for another 2 or 3 years until finally, one night I revealed it to Gwyn, who obviously didn’t judge me or hate me, but supported me and loved me.
Over those years of secrecy, and in the few years following, when I started opening up to a few people, I began learning about grace. Growing up in the church, I thought I knew what grace was, but I had no idea. I didn’t want God to forgive me for what I had done. I never wanted to stop torturing myself with thoughts of what happened. But a wise woman said to me that if I don’t accept God’s forgiveness and grace, that’s like saying Jesus dying on the cross wasn’t enough. Is that what I was saying? God’s sacrifice on the cross, his grace and mercy being poured out for this broken, sinful world, wasn’t enough to take away MY sin? It took years to sink in, but now I know that when Jesus hung there on that cross, with the sins of the world bearing down on his perfect soul, he saw me. He saw my face. He saw me lying in that abortion clinic. 2000 years ago He knew what I was going to do. And He gave His life for me anyway. He took the punishment for my sin. THAT particular sin, as well as all the others. When He died, and when my heart broke because of my own sin, I was forgiven. I was set free. That is exactly why Jesus died on the cross, because we were all going to do things that are completely unforgivable.
We are all guilty. But God doesn’t want me to live a life filled with guilt. He wants me to live a life filled with joy. And now, when I think about my baby, my heart misses her and my arms long for her, but I know I am forgiven. I can live my life. I can forgive myself. I have forgiven myself. And I have accepted God’s forgiveness. And I have peace and hope, knowing, in the next life, when I get to my real home, I will see her again.
I praise God for women like Andi who share their stories of guilt, grace, and gratitude (you read the whole thing here). I praise God for good friends like Gwyn. I praise God for every politician working to make abortion less available and less frequent. I praise God for every crisis pregnancy center and women’s shelter. I praise God for loving churches. I praise God for adoption agencies and adoptive parents. I praise God for every mom who chooses life. And I praise God that there is grace in Christ for the women–and the complicit men–who didn’t.