On this first day of this new year, I would like to take you to the depths of a story. It’s a story that begins with a number, 22.
- 22 is the age my son would be this year if I had chosen to give him life.
- January 22 is the day in 1984 that my mom died in a house fire.
- January 22 is the day in 1973 that the Roe v. Wade decision was handed down from our country’s Supreme Court making abortion legal in all 50 states, overruling the states’ individual laws.
I do not and have not, for as long as I can remember, ever believed in abortion, but I had one anyway. How could this be? For the next 22 days, one day for each of the 22 years that my son would have lived this year, I will share with you parts of my story, my journey leading to this decision, and my journey recovering from this decision. May we get to the depths of the how’s and why’s of my story, which in this Sanctity of Human Life month of January is really our story.
I would not be able to share this story without the courage of a friend sharing her story with me many years ago. She asked me to walk with her in a fundraising event. After I agreed she sent me a shocking email message containing her reason for walking and her reason for supporting the cause of the crisis pregnancy center we were raising money for. It was her abortion story. No one had ever shared such an intimate part of their life with me before. Her courage gave me the courage to share that same story with her, my own abortion story. And now, these many years later, I am ready to share my story with you as well. Why would I take such a risk to share something so personal to me and my family? Well, I know there are a lot of people out there, both men and women, who struggle from a similar decision they have made in the past. And even more, I know that there are people now and in the near future who will be faced with a similar decision. Maybe my story can help you.
My first child, my son, would be 22 years old this year if I had chosen to carry him and give him life. But instead, against my deepest desires, I chose abortion. Walking for the pregnancy center has not only opened the doorway for me to share my deeply hidden secret for the first time, but it has since led me to healing. I had not realized how much energy I had been expending to keep this secret, and how much of my personality was held hostage as well. (More on this in the days to come.)
It’s also because of God’s grace and this healing journey that I feel compelled to share these deeply personal pieces of my story with you through a combination of what I’ve learned through my story and His story so that others who are also suffering may find hope. And for those who’ve never been faced with this decision, maybe I could help you learn how to understand this abortion issue on a more personal level and have compassion for those suffering from its aftermath rather than simply hearing from a distance the cold debates and polar extremes of this issue that seem to be so prevalent in our media and society.
I’m a huge fan of the apostle Paul who wrote a good portion of the New Testament. Most of my favorite verses are from his passages. Paul expressed a joyous victory over healed troubles to the Corinthian people back in the days after Jesus returned to Heaven when he wrote to them, “Praise be to the God and Father or our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. Healed troubles, I certainly have had troubles that needed healing.
Getting to the deeper meaning of these passages through word studies is sort of a strange hobby of mine, and as usual the result has led me down a strange thought-provoking trail. Follow me for a moment here. The Greek Lexicon actually defines this compassion of our Father God as the “bowels in which compassion resides.” I apologize in advance for taking God’s Word to the potty room, but having suffered IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) for the past 9 years and learning the prevalence of this condition in so many other people I know, I can’t help but imagine how we could also have emotional IBS as well, (and how joyous and relieving it would be to become healed of it).
The dysfunction of IBS is in the operating of the bowels, the nerves firing out of order and causing all kinds of painful havoc. While physical IBS is caused by abnormally sensitive nerves in the bowels or the depths of our intestines, I almost facetiously contend that emotional IBS is caused similarly by abnormally sensitive nerves in the bowels or depths of our emotions caused by traumatic events. Our “emotional nerves” are firing out of order and causing us to act and react in odd and painful ways. I’ve suffered many traumatic events, as I mentioned earlier the loss of my mom at the age of 10 is at the top of the list, and I learned from an early age to hide and attempt to overcome these painful emotional “IBS” symptoms on my own effort. The physical results of this condition are pain in the gut, disruption in our daily well-being, and sometimes even a fear of eating for fear of creating more pain. I have found that the emotional results similarly are painful feelings toward ourselves or others, disruption in our daily well-being, and sometimes even a fear of interacting with others for fear of creating more pain.
After going through my abortion, the physical pain was immediate. While the relief that my secret “situation” was gone was immediate as well, the emotional pain didn’t come until I first got through the physical recovery. When the emotional pain did come, I wanted to avoid the topic altogether in order to avoid the emotional turmoil of revisiting my decision and thinking through the many what if’s. While I tried my hardest to avoid these thoughts in my mind and the topic with other people, inevitably I could not avoid them for very long. I could not pull myself physically far enough away from people, so instead I became distant and cold in my persona, or on my better days I wore a mask of a constant smile. But inevitably, just like no one could avoid eating food all together to avoid physical IBS pain, I could not avoid people or the topic of children, pregnancy, family plans, etc. in order to avoid emotional IBS pain.
While physical IBS does not have a cure, only a daily regimen of diet, supplements and medications to improve it, it is my experience that emotional IBS does have a cure. Our Father in Heaven went to the depths of compassion by sending His son to die for us, and Jesus himself went to the depths of carrying our burdens on his shoulders and dying an agonizing death on the cross for us. I never thought that I would be comforting anyone about a secret I had held in the deepest place of my gut and heart for so long. But now that I have been forgiven and released of my burden of guilt and shame, I can’t seem to keep it to myself. I don’t want anyone else to continue to live in pain as I did when I know that it can be relieved and even redeemed. Even though our willfull choices (starting with Adam and Eve) have caused us to be separated from God, God still went to the depths for us so that we could be reunited with Him and our pain could be relieved. Jesus went to the depths for us so that we could be redeemed and restored not only to Him, but also to humanity and healthy relationships.
While God has done a glorious work to restore us to Him, the consequences of our choices still remain. I hope that you will endeavor to go to the depths of an abysmal topic with me as we journey through the peaks and valleys of my story these 22 days.