“You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result…” Genesis 50:20
I had an abortion. Technically speaking, two abortions, although the second was a chemical abortion, the morning after pill as it’s sometimes termed. Both were a long time ago, 34 and 28 years, about this time of year. Ironic that the March for the Sanctity of Human Life is going on today as I type this. I struggled with bringing this up; not because it’s a deep, dark secret of mine, but because the topic is so controversial and some people will stop reading and may never read another word I write because of what I share. But, when I feel uncomfortable and struggle it is usually when it’s most important to listen to that still small voice that I know is the Lord’s. This isn’t about politics or rights, it’s about people.
The first abortion was my first year of college. The wild party life led to its natural consequence – an unintentional pregnancy with a young man equally unintentional. I had no qualms about the abortion. I even encouraged a dormmate who was also pregnant. I assured her that it wasn’t a big deal, it was completely safe and legal and so easy that we could go out to a fraternity party that very night! Little did I know that God had knit that child in my womb (Psalm 139: 13-16) and had already given me a Mother’s heart for that little one. I was not only physically torn apart, my heart was shredded and I realized as the “procedure” began that I was killing a tiny baby, my child. I did in fact go to a party that night and began a long cycle of trying everything I could to make the pain go away.
Because of everything that led up to that pregnancy, the abortion, and the real, deep understanding of my sin, I felt so lost and alone…but God had a plan when Satan meant it for evil, He knew my choice would bring me to Him. I gave my heart and life to Jesus that summer, which began a long healing process.
I worked as a counselor and then a director of a crisis pregnancy center after college. I continued to struggle with my own sexual purity during that time and ended up in a position that could have resulted in another unplanned pregnancy…but this time “medical advancements” allowed me to secretly clean up any potential mess I could have gotten into. In trying to cover my own shame, my choice pulled my heart further from Jesus. But this same choice eventually led me to understand the depths of my depravity, my inability to keep my life on track, and my desperate need for a Savior. Over the years, the Lord has been gracious to allow me the opportunity to see what Satan meant for evil to bring God glory and give me healing and joy. I have counseled many individual women and led small groups of women who have struggled with their own post abortion grief. I have shared my testimony in church, knowing that there are many women who sit in pews that suffer in silence thinking they’re alone in their sin. As a college instructor, I have listened to young college students grieve over their own choices to abort and given them the hope that Jesus gave me.
A few years back a brief introductory assignment to a class I was teaching led to a wonderful testimony of God’s redemptive goodness. In writing about a choice she had to make and the process she used to make her choice, I learned that my student “Jane” would be having an abortion the very next day. As she hurried out of class I asked if she’d like to talk. I told her I had some experience with her choice and if she wanted to, I’d be happy to talk before my next class. She did, and we did. We talked for a good hour. She asked questions and voiced her worries. She was a poor college student with very little family support and, from what I heard, very little hope in the father of her baby. I answered her honestly and did not sugar coat what life might look like going forward. In the back of my mind a little voice whispered that I was not tenured, but in fact was in a probationary period and could easily be fired for what I was sharing. But I shushed that little voice and cried with this young woman who said “I just want someone to tell me what to do.” I couldn’t do that, but I could tell her what God said about her value to Him and that that child she carried within her had just as much value. That God had a plan and a purpose, even if Jane couldn’t see it. Jane asked me to pray for her (she had a very vague, childlike understanding of God) and told me she would either be in class the next day or not, depending on her choice. I prayed for that young woman and her boyfriend through the day and night. Jane didn’t come to class, so I assumed she had chosen abortion. She called me later that afternoon and told me she didn’t come to class because she was sleeping after talking with her boyfriend all night. She had chosen to give her baby life.
But the story doesn’t end there! This time I could walk alongside this young woman throughout her pregnancy and beyond in a personal way. I helped where I could with physical and emotional support. Our church children’s program raised money to buy the baby some necessary items, and a young Mom from church was able to help with childcare when Jane went back to work. Many of us got to be “the hands and feet of Jesus” to Jane and her baby. That young Mom eventually led Jane to the only answer to all of her struggles, and Jane asked Jesus to be her Savior.
A few months ago, Jane and I were chatting after church, watching her toddler giggling and running around with some other kids. Jane leaned over to me and whispered, “you know without you he wouldn’t be here.” And I literally felt Jesus give me a big hug to remind me again that He uses what was meant for evil, for good. That He is sovereign and that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). I know that it wasn’t me that saved that child, it was Jesus working through me. If it wasn’t for the bad choices I made and the overwhelming grace I experienced in my relationship with Jesus, I don’t know that things would have turned out the same.
“I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
Lord, You know our secrets, You know the pain we suffer in silence because we’re afraid of the judgment of others and our own acknowledgement of our sins. Yet You are good, You are love, You are mercy and grace. You know the choices we have made and the choices we will make. Before we even knew You, Jesus died for each and every one of our sins. A free gift. No strings attached because You love us. All we have to do is accept that gift, admit that we are sinners and that we need You Jesus. Lord, help us to see how You want to use all the bad to bring about good in our lives and the lives of others. Give us courage to allow You to use us for Your glory and for Your kingdom. In Christ’s Name, Amen.