A friend slipped into the chair across from me in the cafeteria. Her clinging, black t-shirt read, “Abortion is murder. Stops a beating heart. You shall not murder. –Exodus 20:13.”
I tried not to look at the white and red letters staring me in the face, burning into my mind. Shame I had ignored for years came to the forefront of my mind, and my heart ached. Anguish like flames engulfed my stomach and throat.
I picked up my textbook bag and my half-eaten bowl of soup, murmuring something about having to go to the library. I had to get out. I didn’t want to be reminded.
Besides, I had I lost my appetite.
When I was in junior high, I got pregnant and had an abortion. For the next 10 years, I pretended like the horrific events had never happened. The frightened 13-year-old who’d been raped and decided to kill her baby wasn’t me; she was someone else from a different time, a different life.
It wasn’t until this year, when my husband of eight months and I found out we were expecting, that I finally dealt with my past. When the pregnancy test read positive, I wept, convinced that God hadn’t forgotten what I’d done a decade earlier, and that He was going to take my baby away. I deserved to be punished.
After all, an abortionist is a murderer, a fact that many Christians parade on their cars, Facebook pages, and t-shirts. It’s hard to know God’s forgiveness when Christians keep reminding me how bad my sin was.
It was a boy from church, a trusted friend, who raped me one afternoon in my parents’ barn. I can still feel his warm breath on my neck that made my hairs stand on end. I remember intense pain and being paralyzed with fear. Afterwards, my whole body was shaking so violently that I struggled to snap my overalls back on.
“Don’t ever tell anyone,” was all he said before he was gone.
Nobody at church ever talked about rape. Yet many of the families were pro-life and condemned premarital sex and abortion as if they were the two unforgiveable sins. The majority of the congregation’s youth was homeschooled.
And in a conservative home school world, sex and abuse don’t exist, right? Wrong.
I recently confided in my mom about my rape and abortion. I had never told her before.
Through her shock and tears, she said, “It doesn’t matter how hard you try and protect your kids. No matter where you go, sin is going to find you.”
There was never a moment that I believed having an abortion was the right thing to do. My dad was an elder, my parents were youth leaders, and my siblings and I regularly attended AWANA and Sunday School. Christian girls raised in a conservative community don’t get pregnant at 13.
When I found out I was pregnant, I needed a way out. But what I needed more was a friend, someone to talk to, a non-judgmental person who would listen without condemning me. Looking back, I probably wouldn’t have had an abortion if I just had someone to talk to. But I couldn’t tell anyone, not even God. Either my unborn baby was going to die, or I was going to kill myself.
I did tell someone though. My friend’s mom from our homeschool co-op, who took me to get an abortion. On the day of the procedure, I had become someone else. I told myself that someone else was having an abortion, not me. But lying to myself didn’t protect me from my guilt.
I remember crying in the examination room, telling the doctor that I didn’t want to kill my baby, but I didn’t have a choice. I remember lying on my back on the operation table, staring at the ceiling, wondering if my baby felt pain as it was being sucked out of my body. I remember closing my eyes tightly, tears running down my cheeks, begging God not to watch.
I told myself that my abortion was a part of my life that I could never tell anyone. In my mind, it was the biggest sin I’d ever committed. And Christians would never understand. I wish I would have had someone to talk to about it.
And, now that my husband and I have a baby on the way, I started feeling like God was going to take away my baby. There is so much pain with guilt and shame.
And, fear of judgment.
When I see people wearing t-shirts that remind me of my past, it hurts. If they only knew my story, perhaps maybe, they would think twice before adorning themselves with words of judgment.
Because, deep down, I have to remind myself all the time, that no sin, not even an abortion, lands outside the scope of God’s grace.