I found Rachel's Vineyard on the internet while preparing to give a talk about forgiveness for an ACTS retreat, which was the first time that I had told anyone about my abortion. I had an abortion because my boyfriend and I were not married, I was finishing my last semester at a two-year college, starting to interview for jobs, and I was afraid to tell anyone, especially my parents. Times were different 30 years ago and I'd always heard "nice unmarried girls didn't get pregnant." I don't remember much about the procedure except that it was uncomfortable and the nurse held my hand.
Right after the abortion I was actually happy and so relieved! The problem was solved and no one had to know, right? But the irony is that I knew what I had done. Over the years I heard about the pro-life movement and learned that my baby had been real - a fully formed undeveloped child. I wished that I had died. I was ashamed of myself and always fearful that someone would recognize me from the clinic or that my ex-boyfriend had talked. Once or twice I almost confided in a close friend, but my shame stopped me. With every day that passed I realized the full horror of what I had done - I had killed my own child, my gift from God inside my body. Even today when I see pictures of babies that would fit in my hand I remember "the vacuum" and that grisly sucking sound. I honestly did not know that I was committing murder. I just thought it was tissue, something yet undefined.
So, then you tell yourself that the pain of the memories will go away with time, but it doesn't. It only gets worse. I had a constant aching sorrow in my heart and soul that made me hate myself and was eating me up inside. I had to deal with it. I couldn't hide it inside any longer.
First I spoke with a very loving priest on our ACTS team, and he helped me to understand that I wasn't the monster that I believed myself to be and he read to me several bible passages on forgiveness. When I gave my presentation the ACTS team and retreatants understood and they showered me with love and comfort. I knew from the way they looked at me and their comments that some of them were in the same situation. One team member actually confided to me that she'd also had an abortion a long time ago. But she had never told her present husband so sadly she refused to go on the Rachel's Vineyard retreat with me.
Rachel's Vineyard (Marjorie Long, Father Long and team at the Saint Charles Center, Diocese of Lake Charles) gave me my soul back. I know that I will regret my abortion every single day until I die, but I've forgiven myself because I know in my heart that God forgives me. I thank God every day for his grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
"My chains are gone, I've been set free. My God, my Savior has ransomed me. And like a flood, His mercy rains unending love, amazing grace."