Saturday, November 23, 2013

How God Healed Me from My Abortion & Miscarriage

Last night we had a service at our church, called Rachel's Hope, which was a night of restoration and healing for those who have lost children in or out of the womb, or who have suffered from infertility.  I shared my testimony. It is a testimony that most of my close friends know, but there are many people in my life who have never heard it. I kept it a secret for many years and only recently have been public with it. After last night, I felt like it was time to share it with the world. So....here it is:


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. 

 A decade after that first story, my life was totally different. I got a family, I grew tremendously in my faith, I helped to plant a church, I became a church leader. And finally I could talk about my first baby, Lucille. It is no longer a secret. Now it is my testimony, and I praise God for that. But then, 3 years ago, after adopting three kids and giving birth to one, I became pregnant again.  When the signs starting pointing toward miscarriage, I begged God not to take this baby from me. I have already suffered so much at my own hands, I have already dealt with the grief of losing a child. Please, please do not let this happen. I could not possibly handle the death of another child. I sincerely believed I could not do it. I was a strong believer, but losing Lucille was the hardest thing I had ever gone through and I barely made it. I could not imagine trying to do that again. But it happened.  I lost the baby. And, Praise be to God, this time I was in a very different place. I was the opposite of alone. This time, instead of a stupid immature boyfriend, I had a wise, loving, godly husband. I had an unbelievably supportive church family. I remember my mom was out of town when it happened, but Brandy and Ty showed up at my house. I don’t think they said much at all. They know there are no words of comfort at times like that. But we sat in my living room and we sang.... 


 If my heart is overwhelmed 
And I cannot hear Your voice
I’ll hold on to what is true 
Though I cannot see
If the storms of life they come 
And the road ahead gets steep
I will lift these hands in faith, I will believe
I'll remind myself Of all that You've done
And the life I have Because of Your son
Love came down and rescued me 
Love came down and set me free
Mountain high or valley low, 
I sing out and remind my soul
 that I am Yours,
I am forever Yours


 The Sunday after I miscarried, it was my turn to lead worship. My first thought was no way. I can’t even get out of bed, how can I lead worship? But then I saw the song list that our worship leader sent out. On it was Desert Song, by Hillsong. I knew at that moment God was telling me to do it.  If you know the backstory to that song, you’ll know why. A few days before that song was supposed to be recorded, Jill McCloghry, the woman who sings it on the album, went into labor and had her baby at 23 weeks old. She and her husband spent a day with their baby before he died. She could have easily said she could not make that record, she was grieving the death of her child. But she chose to sing, she chose to worship, because no matter what happens in our lives, God is always worthy of worship. I knew I had to, too. And that Sunday, I worshiped more freely than I think I ever had before. I just knew the truth of the words I was singing. And I had to rely on God for every breath, every word and sound that came out of my mouth that morning. My heart was so broken, but I was so sure that God was still with me through it. I sang, 

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship


And I knew it was true. 

13 comments:

Lisa said...

Oh Andi, I didn't know this. I love you and I'm so proud of you for sharing this. Truly a testimony of God's great grace and forgiveness. I'm in awe of how He's worked in your life. Wishing I could give you a real live hug!

Christy K said...

I came here to read this through Kevin De Young's blog. What a beautiful story of God's grace. Thank you for sharing it.

Julia said...

Powerful! Like Christy K., Kevin sent me.
All glory to God for His freeing grace and forgiveness. I know your story will bring healing to many. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Powerful! Like Christy K., Kevin brought me.
All glory to God for His freeing grace and forgiveness. I know your story will bring healing to many. Thank you.

Jennifer McSparin said...

This moved me to tears. Thank you so much for sharing. I'm sure there are many other women out there who need to hear this.

Darlene said...

Thank you for having the bravery and courage to share your story. God bless you for it.

Nicole H said...

Thank you for being courageous and bold enough to proclaim God's great grace, even through the darkest times in your life. I know what it's like to lose a child far too soon, and I think sadly people are often silent about it. They shouldn't be.

I especially love the part about Hillsong's song - I didn't know that back-story.

Anonymous said...

Andi- thank for sharing your story... I wish we as Christians would more often (why don't we?). An older woman at my church remind me in the midst of my own brokenness and pain that God uses all things in our lives, and that no pain is ever wasted. Thank you for sharing your story.

Dianne said...

Dearest Andi, What a powerful story and testimony to Gods mercy and grace. I, too, have lost a child to abortion, many years ago. I don't talk about it much, although I have mentioned it in a live testimony at Celebrate Recovery. I am careful about who I share this with,not everyone appreciates the magnitude of such an act. I must admit I am still ashamed, especially knowing Christ died for that sin. Still, because I do know that as a reality, I too hope to see my child in heaven one day when I can see Jesus too and love Him completely as He deserves to be loved. Thank you for reminding me of that hope. Dianne

Anonymous said...

I don't believe the same as you do, that abortion has the same implications as the murder of a born child. To me, it seems that abortions prevent needless suffering. I do care that this view is stupid to you. I care and I'm sorry for your anguish. I'm not a heartless person as you might imagine. I truly seek peace and well-being for the people who are born. I just cannot agree with your view of conception as the beginning of personhood. To me, personhood begins after birth. I've held this view for many decades despite examining appeals to the contrary. I just don't know what else to say about it other than I don't think either opposing view will ever be reconciled to the other. It's as if we are two different kinds of people, and I don't mean that as a put-down of you.

Jared Johnson said...

Dear Anonymous,

I know it's a sensitive subject, but read Andi's story more closely. She used the phrase "hateful and heartless" to describe what some people think of women that have had abortions, but this is not how she sees them or how she sees herself. Her boyfriend was not heartless, either; he was scared and immature and... stupid. As Andi's husband, I have struggled like she did to forgive him, and we don't hate him; but regardless of one's perspective on the moral issue, it was pretty dumb for him to pressure Andi to make this choice when it clearly brought her so much obvious sorrow which she did not make any attempt to hide. And Andi has felt dumb for allowing this insensitive man to dictate her actions and convince her to do something that brought her incredible pain, and grieved the heart of God. Again, she's not using the word "stupid" to describe all women who have had abortions or even people who don't see abortion as a sin. We don't agree with your perspective on conception but it sounds like you believe women who have made this decision should not be shamed or looked down upon, and this is actually exactly what Andi's story demonstrates. And even if you don't agree that no woman should choose to have an abortion, I hope you can agree that no young woman who desires to keep her baby should have to go through what Andi went through.

karenzai said...

Praise God for his gracious healing! May God use you and your story to reach other mothers in your position.

In Christ,
Karen
I write about mental health and the sanctity of life at www.karenwriteshere.com

Anonymous said...

I had an abortion nearly 7 years ago, at the time I had not long been baptised in Church and felt totally scared and alone as I had foolishly been messing around with different partners. I still can remember hearing God speak to me in the clinic saying "dont do it" i really struggle even to this day to know that I am forgiven, i still have such guilt and feeling of worthlessness, your post has helped reassure me.

Thank you