I grew up in a Christian home and decided when I was 13 that I wanted to save myself for sex within marriage. My dad was a pastor, and he was gone a lot when I was young. I guess because of this I began to seek out affirmation and attention from other father figures. In high school I latched onto a male teacher as a mentor. I became his teacher’s assistant, and he was my coach for after-school sports. We began spending a lot of time together.
The relationship changed over time, and I noticed he was expressing interest in me. This attention fed a deep unmet need I had known all my life. I soaked it up and fell head over heels in love with him. He knew that I wanted to wait for marriage. We had discussed it before. But he was very experienced. I was not. I didn’t know how to say no. I was so in love with him. I didn’t want to lose him. He was my teacher. I was accustomed to doing what he said: it wasn’t a relationship of equals.
One night I lost my virginity to him. Lost is such an appropriate word to me! I spiraled into a dark and deep depression. My purity was gone. Just a few weeks later I found out I was pregnant.
At first I was scared. But then I started to get excited at the thought that we would get married and raise our baby together. He wasn’t: he told me I needed to have an abortion. If people found out he was the father of my baby, he would be fired and go to jail and we would never be together. He promised that we would get married after I graduated, and that he would give me all the babies I wanted to make up for this one. I didn’t know what to do.
All my life I have believed abortion is wrong. But I felt trapped: nowhere to go; no one to turn to. I couldn’t talk to anyone because he would get in trouble. So I let him take me to the abortion clinic. I had to go through the procedure while awake. I heard all the noises and felt everything. It hurt. I received no counseling before or after. As soon as it was over they sent me home. I felt like a planet knocked out of orbit. I was convinced God couldn’t love me anymore after what I had done.
I felt trapped with nowhere to go and no one to turn to.
Not only had I thrown away my purity, but I believed I was now a murderer. I felt I had committed the unpardonable sin. To make it worse, this man ended things with me after the abortion (despite his promises). Shortly after, he got married to someone else and had a baby girl. He even introduced his baby to me. I felt devastated; that little girl could have been our baby.
I graduated high school and went off to Southern Adventist University for college. But I was utterly and completely broken. I battled with dark presences haunting me at night. My roommate told me I cried in my sleep. I wanted God to take my life because I no longer found any joy in living. I felt I couldn’t turn to anyone because I was afraid of judgment and condemnation. I felt I was living a lie, and I was exhausted by trying to cover up my secret. At times it felt as if there were no redemption for me.
But then God rolled up His sleeves and started the process of saving me. Just as the Israelites long ago, I was in Egypt, enslaved to my guilt and in bondage to my shame. They were cruel taskmasters that never relented. Only God’s grace delivered me.
I remember one Valentine’s Day at Southern. I was feeling really low because I was surrounded by couples and happy people in love. I hadn’t been able to date and have a functional relationship because I believed deep in my core that I was unlovable and that something was broken in me. Valentine’s Day only reminded me that I had no worth and that no Christian man could ever love me.
But that day I found a surprise package waiting for me at my dorm. It was a teddy bear and some flowers with a note that said, “Grace, you are my precious princess, and I love you unconditionally. I have been by your side all your life and watched you grow up with pride. No one is more important to Me than you. I am with you always. Prince Jesus.” I cried my eyes out, hardly able to believe what I was reading.
I didn’t believe this was really a message from God. Why would He do a miracle for me? I thought about how the Israelites must have felt when God did the impossible and split the Red Sea for them to escape. God did many other things for me but one miracle finally set me free.
A friend of mine found out about this abortion recovery conference called Rachel’s Vineyard. It was for any woman who had gone through abortion and needed healing. I was in college, low on funds, and I didn’t have money to go. But the group contacted me and told me an anonymous person was sponsoring me. So I went.
I met several other women with the same heartache as mine. Many things happened at this retreat that showed me that God was looking out for me. I finally found the healing, closure, and forgiveness I needed. I finally felt that I could breathe, as if a heavy weight had been lifted from me. I had been delivered from the guilt and shame that had engulfed me for so long, and I was washed in the waters of God’s mercy and forgiveness.
But like the Israelites who didn’t go directly to the Promised Land, I still had some wilderness wandering to do. Some may view that wandering as negative, but God knew I needed a period of transition first. I had been delivered out of Egypt, but Egypt was not out of me. I found myself moving in and out of toxic relationships because that was all I knew. I finally realized that I was still trying to find worth from the love of a man instead of in my identity as God’s daughter. But slowly things changed for the better.
After a particularly difficult breakup, while working a job I was miserable in, I heard God beckoning my heart to leave it all behind and chase after Him. I cut all contact with the ex-boyfriend, quit my job, and spent a few weeks out in nature listening to God’s voice. He was preparing me to be truly ready to move on to claim the promises He had in store for me. Instead of making New Year’s resolutions that year, I chose the word “sanctified” to be my personal motto. I decided to use this word to filter all my decisions going forward. Before, I was unable even to say the word “abortion” or to confess to anyone what I had done. But God has restored me and healed me. I have shared my story at vespers on campus and on a program on the Three Angels Broadcasting Network called Life After Choice.
I hope that other women who hear my story might think about abortion differently than the world would have them think about it. I also encourage anyone who may be going through the guilt I did to know that God still heals. He is ready to redeem us and move us to bigger and brighter days, as I know He is doing with me.
Grace Bondurant is a registered nurse who writes from Collegedale, Tennessee.