It was an old Victorian house. Flaking white paint surrounded by a nine-foot, barbed-wire fence.
Growing up in an upper middle-class southern Christian family, I never expected to visit that house. I had recently graduated from a Christian college — summa cum laude. By all appearances, I had my life together. However, I was in a sexual relationship that had crushed my faith. The decline was slow, but culminated in a date rape that left me feeling chained to a man I hated. My misguided sense of morality led me to think that I "had" to stay in the relationship now that I had lost my virginity. The plunge continued as I discovered that I was in a relationship with a sex addict. My own propensity for immobilizing depression only solidified this hellish union. And then it happened. I was pregnant.
The evening that I confirmed my pregnancy, my boyfriend was interviewing at a church for a youth pastor position. He knew that I was at home taking a pregnancy test. When he stopped by my house, all he could do was tell me about the interview. I knew then, looking at this man I despised, that I would not keep the baby. I felt that there was absolutely no question of what to do — which even now surprises me. We fought, cried, talked, etc. about what to do. But I knew. He knew, too. This could not happen.
For the next six weeks I vomited two to three times a day. People at work began to suspect the truth that I vehemently denied. My female Christian roommates didn 't suspect a thing or if they did, they chose to ignore the truth. I spent my days in constant anguish thinking of "the procedure." I called every provider in the phone book to ask questions about the painfulness, cost and process of what I had chosen to do.
I do not remember at any time feeling as though there were an alternative. Again, I was a Christian woman who had been raised to know that abortion was wrong. I cannot explain the determination I felt. I agonized over my relationship with God. I felt that because I was choosing in a very premeditated way to commit this sin, then surely I was lost and could never be forgiven. Nonetheless, I persisted. My depression deepened. I contemplated suicide. My boyfriend even tried kicking me in the stomach, hoping to cause a miscarriage.
Soon enough, the day came. On a beautiful Saturday morning, we drove in silence to the house — an old dilapidated Victorian. There were protesters outside with poster boards that were only a blur. I felt like a puppet being moved around. The waiting room was packed. We paid cash and waited. He slept. I was called back to begin the chain of events. The blood test to confirm a pregnancy; the video to explain the "procedure." Then, the counseling session to determine if I really understood my decision and wanted to go through with it. I cried incessantly. The counselor said she thought I should wait to go through with the choice I'd made. I said I couldn't, or I would never come back. She sent me on. My boyfriend joined me for the trip upstairs.
The doctor was sitting with his feet on a desk, reading the paper and laughing. We went into a little room with Frankenstein-like equipment. I had never even been to a gynecologist before. After a prick, and noise, and a lot of fear, it was over. Fairly quick, fairly painless. In the recovery room, I saw a mother holding her daughter's hand, and I felt a pitiful connection with the four other women on cots. Leaving the building, I felt overwhelming relief. My nausea was gone almost immediately after the baby was taken. The first thing I wanted to do was eat.
The following weeks and months brought a myriad of emotions. My relief quickly turned to grief. I felt a debilitating isolation because no one knew what had happened but he and I. Life went on. I continued to work. Didn't miss a day. But I began to slip.
Before long, I wanted to die. I had assassinated the presence of God in my life. And, without that, I had no desire to go on. After an interrupted suicide attempt, there was a brief respite.
My relationship ended. Thankfully, I was more hopeful for the future. But the damage was done. I became promiscuous, drank and experimented with lesbianism. I felt a separation from everyone whom I had loved and who loved me. My family could never know. This was a burden I carried alone.
Over time, faithful Christians heard parts of my story and continued to love me. They held me close and encouraged me. Various counselors and books broke through some of my defenses.
Now, almost 10 years later, I still struggle with the consequences of my actions. I have lost a child. Weeping, I see my niece who is two months younger than my child. Sadly, I chose to turn away from God, and the choices I made will always be part of my life. And though I still feel the shame of my actions, I feel the atonement of a loving and faithful God. Psalm 91:4 says, "His faithfulness will be your shield…"
Thankfully, His faithfulness isn't dependent on mine. God's spirit has returned to my life now. Finally, I have found some measure of healing. Looking back, I believe that all of my previously understood arguments against abortion fell short because I didn't understand what God says: that every life is sacred — even a broken one.