First off, to understand where we are going, you need a little information on where I am coming from…
I had an abortion at the tender age of sixteen. As with every life-changing event there are many details I'll skip over (unless you're a post-abortive woman and would like to talk). I will say that the same issues that influenced my behavior prior to my abortion are the same issues that influenced my decision to have an abortion...fear of rejection, insecurity, low self-image.
Now, everyone has a different experience, but there are some behaviors that are pretty consistent with many post-abortive women. You would think that a teenage pregnancy and subsequent abortion would snatch a "good girl" back on the right path. Well...you'd be wrong. You see, once that line has been crossed, fear, insecurity, and low self-image have some new friends to pile on...self-condemnation and self-loathing topped with a crippling heap of guilt. For me, that manifested itself into a very tightly wound Type A, high-strung, focused, stubbornly independent and driven young woman. These traits are not inherently bad or destructive unless they are, in fact, your best-attempt to keep your mess pressed down so you don't have to think about it or yourself.
I'm now skipping over the many details of a decade of hard work, hard play, and toxic relationships....
However, God is so good. In spite of myself He brought an incredible man into my life. Praise God…I had a momentary flash of lucidity when he asked me to marry him.
Ours is a beautifully ordinary story. We married, moved to Charlotte, and started our family. After the birth of our first child, the hunger for validation through my work ceased. Thus began my journey as a full-time stay-at-home-mom. I loved it, and two years later we were blessed with a second son. I comfortably settled into my sweet family bliss. For the first time in my life, I felt completely sure of my purpose. There was only one problem, though, as I began to mature in my spiritual life my sons were growing also. For the first time my heart came face to face with what I had done all those years ago. As I watched my boys develop their own personalities, friends, and interests, the gravity of the lie I bought into so long ago rained down on me. You see, having two boys so close in age made me realize that they weren't my "do over,” they were not "copies" of my aborted child. They were the "people" God had ordained them to be from the beginning of time. (Eph.1:4-5) The lie our culture is being fed that "It's not even a baby yet. It’s only tissue; it's like getting a tooth pulled…" is a lie straight from the pit of hell. In my heart, I knew that truth at sixteen, and as a woman in her mid-thirties my heart was now breaking over it. Praise God that the science of today can now show how perfectly put together a baby is very early into pregnancy. Advance technology has been no friend to our pro-choice brothers and sisters.
What to do, what to do. I knew the time had come that I had to tell my husband, Burges. Now, I had not kept it from him out of fear, I just didn't think it involved him (no - I didn't have a Godly understanding of marriage either). After all I didn't even know him until many years beyond sixteen. But, again, God is so good. He convicts us in small bites that we can digest. If He had brought all of this down on me at one time I would have broken completely. I did tell Burges and, as is his way, he was so kind. He reassured me that I was a good mom. He would forgive me, but more importantly reminded me that God had forgiven me too. I desperately needed to hear that and it was helpful. However, I remained severely messed up.
I thought "confessing" to my husband would "fix" me, but it didn't. Oh, it helped, but you see, the thing about carrying around a secret is that it's very isolating. Now, I'm not talking about a secret that someone has entrusted to you (although you have to be careful about that, too). I'm talking about your own "if anyone ever knew who I really was or what I've done they would..." kind of secret. The kind of secret that erodes your self-worth, value, and confidence. The kind of secret that produces a facade that takes an extraordinary amount of energy to project to the world. The kind of secret that will make you completely overcrowd your calendar intentionally, making sure there is no down time, because as long as you stay distracted you don't have to think too much and risk facing what you have made a life running from. You see, that's where Satan likes us. If we stay isolated in our minds and physically busy, he is able to play the tapes of self-incrimination over and over again until they begin to provide a twisted and familiar comfort. "Of course I can't do (insert any new spiritual endeavor here), God would never bless a woman "like me" to shine for Him. I'll just stay in the background and be grateful for the crumbs."
Around this time I was in a Bible Study with some other young moms. This season of life was filled with play-dates, new friendships, and a newfound desire for God's Word. I loved my once-a-week study…not only because it provided free childcare, but I loved the women I was making friends with and the spiritual maturity I saw in them. I made the comment often that I never expected to have such sweet relationships in my adult life! It was a special time.
On a certain day, the topic of abortion came up in our study. Now for the non-post-abortive women (or men) reading this, I'll tell you what goes on when that happens, because there is a lot of effort in this particular moment to cover it up and we post-abortive women do it pretty well. First, all of the air is sucked out of our lungs. Second is the recognition that we're not breathing. Third, we're not hearing anything anyone is saying for the next few seconds because all we hear is the sound of our hearts beating so fast we fear we're going into a-fib. No, I’m not being dramatic. Finally, by this time our lungs are crying for the air we've deprived them of and basically we are just trying to not hyper-ventilate and pass out - all without anyone noticing. This is no easy feat. However, even with all of this going on, I began to feel like maybe that day, I could confide in my friends the weight I had been carrying. After all, we were studying about the blood of Christ covering all of our sins, redemption, restoration, etc. I took a deep breath to speak and suddenly one of my friends threw her hands in the air, pushed back from the table and said, "Who does this? What kind of woman would kill her child? I don't even know anyone like this."
As I write these words years later, the tone and disgust in her voice still rings in my ears…and it still stings. Needless to say, I swallowed my words. I continued to attempt to regulate my breathing and I shut my mouth. Tight. And I kept it shut for a very, very, very long time. That was all the confirmation I needed to know I was on my own and my secret must be kept to myself. It was clear that if any of these sweet church friends knew how awful I really was, I would be totally rejected because they would not associate with someone like me. While I remained physically engaged, emotionally I protected myself by further isolating my mind. Satan loved this, I’m sure, because it gave him unencumbered reign in my thoughts and mind. After my friend's heartfelt disclosure I sat there and nodded in agreement with everyone else.
Why? Because that's what we do.
(Please CLICK HERE for Part 2 of Whitney's story - - Subscribe to Just the other day... by Email so that you never miss a post!)
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Whitney Burrows is a North Florida girl raised on the banks of her beloved Suwannee River and Gulf Coast. After 12 years in the world of banking, she moved into full-time- homemaker mode as mom to James and Pearce, and wife to Burges. The last 18 years have been a fun flurry of sports, meal prep, scraped knees, room/team mom, chauffeuring, and volunteering. Whitney lives for all things family, friends, southern, and outdoors. She has been extremely blessed by God’s grace and loves encouraging women to embrace the abundant life promised to us by our Savior. She believes life becomes a wonderful (but not always easy) adventure when we stop running from the Lord, listen to His voice, and trust in His call on our lives.
For His glory,
For His glory,