In today’s guest post, Michelle tells her story of having an abortion, receiving forgiveness and healing, knowing the pain of being unable to conceive again – and the joy and assurance of God’s faithfulness.
I am writing this intensely personal piece in order to encourage you, my dear sister, who have made choices in the past that you deeply regret. I want you to know the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ (Eph 3:18) whose mercy and forgiveness is beyond anything you can imagine. He wants to heal you so that you might live in peace with the freedom that comes from knowing that you are a beloved daughter of God. God does not “punish” us for our past sins by cursing us with infertility. Instead, He wants us to bring our pain to Him, so He can heal our hearts. We can then bring His merciful love to our hurting world.
In my early 20’s, I faced an unplanned pregnancy. As I consulted with friends over what I should do, each friend in turn asked me, “Are you ready to be a mother?” At that time, I had just graduated from college, was unsure of my next steps, and was not the least bit interested in settling down. No, I most definitely was not ready to be a mother. With that in mind, I turned to what I thought would be a quick-fix that would make the “problem” of this pregnancy disappear—I chose to have an abortion. Rather than helping me to quickly move on with my life, however, my abortion left me feeling demeaned and victimized. At my most vulnerable moment immediately following my “procedure” as my mind and body struggled to make sense of what had just happened, the abortionist yelled at me to get off the table to make room for the next patient. I was unable to stand as I was vomiting and attempting to steady myself, so the nurse forced me into a wheelchair to herd me off to the recovery room. As I lay in that room filled with at least twenty other women, I turned to the woman on the table next to me and asked, “So, why did you do it?” She looked up at me and said, “I already have three other children. I just couldn’t take care of another one.” My heart ached for her. I couldn’t understand why she would choose to have an abortion when she was already a mother. I failed to recognize at the time, however, that I too was already a mother.
Six years later I experienced a life-changing conversion to Christianity. Slowly God began to reveal to me the mistakes of my past in light of His merciful love. I soon came face to face with the reality of what I had done by having an abortion. God had to take me into that pain so that I might be able to fully experience His mercy, forgiveness, and love. Slowly He began healing my heart. At one point, I met with a priest (even though I was not yet Catholic). When I told him that I’d had an abortion because I had not felt ready to become a mother, he told me that I was already a mother, and that my child was with God in Heaven now. This struck me deeply. I was already a mother with a child in Heaven?
The priest suggested I pray and imagine taking my baby first to Mama Mary, then to Jesus. He said to see Mary greeting me and my child with open arms. With Mary, he said to go to Jesus and place my baby into His loving arms. As I was praying this during Adoration, the tears poured down my face, and I felt God consoling my heart and telling me that my child was indeed with Him in Heaven. For years I had wondered where this soul had gone, and now my heart was filled with gratitude to know my child was with God, and, not only that, but that she was praying for me. God had forgiven me completely, and now I had a little angel in Heaven. I was filled with joy at the mercy of God! He was not condemning me, but instead was pouring such healing, goodness, and grace into my soul. Rather than focusing on my sin, all I could do was praise God for His mercy and love! As I was praying, I felt the Lord tell me that I would one day be the mother of five children. I cannot express the joy of knowing that not only had God forgiven me, but that He was planning on entrusting me with even more of his little ones. After this, I attended a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat where I experienced so much more of God’s mercy and forgiveness. At the retreat, each of us had an opportunity to name our children. I named my child Hope.
Several years after my conversion, I met my husband. We married in our late 30’s with a great desire for as many children as God would give us, but then found ourselves unable to conceive. It was heartbreaking to think that I would never again be given the opportunity to carry life within my womb. I longed to conceive, to carry a baby, to give birth, and to nurse a child. I longed for the redemption of my womb. But I trusted and held on to the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 that God had not forgotten me and instead was working out a beautiful plan for my good . . . a better plan than I could conceive. And so I trusted and waited. I wondered how He would make me the mother of five when I turned 40 and still had no children. But I trusted and waited (even as I questioned, “Lord, did I hear you right? Did you really say I would have FIVE children?”). My husband was not ready to think about adoption and wanted to “keep trying.” I told him that even if we did eventually miraculously conceive, we likely would only be able to have one biological child. I told him how I longed to have a child in my arms. I told him of all the children who needed parents now and urged him to at least consider adoption. I found others who had adopted who could help answer his questions and concerns. Finally, he agreed to start the adoption process.
We soon learned about a young woman, Heather, who was pregnant and wanted to have an abortion but didn’t have the money. We offered to adopt her child. We found an attorney who met with Heather and explained the process. She agreed that this was the best situation since she was not interested in raising the child. A few months later, we got the phone call that she had gone into labor. We eagerly awaited news. The next day, we got word that Heather had had a change of heart. After seeing her little girl, she had decided she wanted to keep her. When I finally had the chance to speak with her to congratulate her and let her know we just wanted what was best for everyone, she told me that she had named her little girl Hope.
We don’t often know how God works to bring about the good in each of our lives, but once in a while He gives us a glimpse into His marvelous plans. Because of my past, I could be tempted to think that God was punishing me by not allowing me to get pregnant ever again, but I know that this is not how He operates. Even though my husband and I suffered through infertility, as well as several failed adoptions, I knew God had forgiven me for my past and willed only my good. I had to remind myself to be patient and wait for the Lord who was teaching me many valuable lessons while He was working things out behind the scenes. As I waited, I found comfort in regularly reciting Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.” In looking back over the past ten years, I am blown away by the faithfulness of God who always keeps His promises. In spite of so many failed attempts to become parents, the Lord ended up blessing us with four beautiful children through adoption. As we adopted our fourth child this past year, I was amazed to realize that I had now become a mother of five.
If you’ve had an abortion or have been involved with an abortion and have not yet experienced God’s healing, please go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) and throw yourself into the loving arms of Jesus. And I strongly encourage every post-abortive woman to attend a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat https://www.rachelsvineyard.org/ or a Sisters of Life retreat https://sistersoflife.org/healing-after-abortion/ where you will undoubtedly encounter the merciful love of God.
God does not withhold good from our lives. He gives us what we need, and what we need more than anything else is HIM. I continue to be in awe of how the Lord allowed us to adopt four children, thus fulfilling His promise to me that I would be a mother of five. I join with the heart of Mary marveling at the mercies of God: “The Lord has done great things for me and holy is His name!” Infertility is not the end of my story and it need not be yours. The Lord has wonderful things for you. Turn to Him, allow Him into your heart, and He will indeed make your heart full.