Written By Teresa Goodnight
Ever have someone walk into your life and you just instantly feel connected? Like you have been friends all of your life? When Jamie walked into my house, it felt a bit God ordained. She was so lovely inside and out; I knew exactly why my long time BFF introduced us. We had an instant connection we both felt. Talking to her was so easy. We didn’t stop. Then, she started sharing her story. It was her mission birthed from an experience she had buried deep inside her heart. That is, until someone touched the scar and sent her reeling. All of a sudden, I didn’t know what to say. She continued pouring out her heart. We both realized, this story needed told. We changed the entire focus of the next issue in fact. People aren’t talking about it, but they desperately need to talk. There are people in our churches who are suffering all alone and they need to know God loves them. Someone needs to share that overflowing undeserved mercy and love God offers to all of us who have made mistakes–ALL of us.
Someone needs to break the silence.
Abortion is a tough topic in the world in general. You can’t breathe it without stepping on a landmine. In Oklahoma, one in four women have had an abortion. In the country, that stat jumps to one in three according to local Catholic Charities workers. “In the United States, where one half of all pregnancies are unintended, almost one third of women will seek an abortion by age 45.” according to the American College of Gynecologists (ACOG). The stat doesn’t improve much inside the church. It’s a decision defined as a woman’s right to choose what happens inside her own body. For that reason alone, it’s a political hot button.
Churches steer so far clear of it that in Oklahoma, 25% of the women in our congregations are left facing this alone. Many believed what Planned Parenthood told them when they walked in the doors. Then, when they found out it was different—they were left to suffer alone, without anyone to help them walk through it. There was no one to help talk through the shaming—done both by well-meaning but hard core protesters and the convicting shaming led by Satan himself. They were left without anyone to help them with that shame Satan uses to minimize them. They are without anyone to help them know what God thinks about what’s been done and where to go from there. These women, for the most part, are just alone.
So, we want to start this off and set the record PAINFULLY straight: God absolutely offers the same grace, love, forgiveness, and removal of all sins as far as the east to the west to anyone who has made ANY mistake.
To the liar, the adulterer, the person lacking any trace of integrity, the convicted criminal, fill in your blank here–He offers His love and grace as a free gift. We don’t have to earn it. We do have to turn to him, humble ourselves, and confess our mistakes to him. He absolutely will forgive anyone. The difficult part of finding God’s grace though often comes in a battle of trying to find our own. No matter what God offers, if we feel so much shame—and there’s no one to talk with us about it—we will find ourselves nursing our scar rather than ever being set free from it.
These women were encouraged to save this joyous occasion for a time in their life when they were more ready. Some were told they were just carrying a blob of cells. Some were told by the child’s father this was the only way to face the situation. Others knew exactly what they were doing. Almost all believed they could just go on with their life just as it was after the choice was made. Jamie said, “The biggest deception in this war on women is that you can just go on with life. It’s just not true. You are forever changed. Your lenses for seeing life are altered. The truth is, you will never be the same.”
We run around offering God’s forgiveness He has promised to everyone who has made regrettable choices. However, somehow, as a church (and not all, but most), we’ve decided it’s just too controversial to address from pulpits, where we are supposed to help our congregations. There are large churches in town, where we have heard it is absolutely a policy that abortion is not an allowable topic for discussion.
We know the silence, because Jamie heard it. Over, and over, and over again. She even heard it when she tried to launch a recovery group inside her church and found her request lost in the shuffle in what seemed like purposeful avoidance. She heard what no one wanted to offend her with loudly and clearly. But, when no one addresses your pain, what you hear becomes a deep-seeded pain buried inside your heart for you to bear alone. That is, until someone accidentally punches through.
Jamie is involved in a women’s group started through a local church. The women get together, study God’s word and share things they are facing, needing advice or prayer. They also laugh and fellowship together. One day, at this group, Jamie mentioned something about not singing anymore. The woman, unknowingly said to Jamie, “God will use your singing again. He will.” Jamie looked up at her with rage in her heart and thought “Don’t you ever say that to me again. You don’t even know what you are talking about.” Then, she left her friend’s house. Jamie said, “I think I didn’t speak directly to her for a month. I just didn’t know what to say.” Jamie then explained, “When I had come clean about my abortion my church in Minnesota asked me to step down from the praise and worship team. I had decided that this was the price I would pay for what I had done. I vowed that I would never sing again and that God didn’t need someone like me to lead people into His presence.” Jamie locked away her torment, her pain, and so much more of her heart than she realized until her friend accidentally punched through.
Jamie said, “I was so upset by what she said. I just felt she had no idea what she was saying, and the vow I had already made.” Jamie continued, “Honestly, I didn’t even realize how much it mattered to me.” She went on, “When I lived in Minnesota, I sang on the worship team at my church. The people there became like family to me. I just knew my boyfriend would get saved and our relationship would change. However, I found out I was pregnant causing my two worlds to collide. I didn’t know what to do. I talked with my boyfriend, who was very convincing that we would never be together if we tried to be parents right now. He wanted me to terminate the pregnancy. It was not something I ever thought I would even consider. I just wanted everything to go back to normal and I was desperate to make things work with him. So I compromised everything I believed in for the sake of convenience and what I thought was love.”
Jamie shared, “I walked in to a waiting room full of other people aborting their babies. There were so many people. Really? Is it always this busy? Probably not. I waited and waited and was finally told that the doctor was involved in a car accident on her way to the clinic. My eyes were big as saucers and I distinctly heard God say, “Stand up and walk out. I’ll take care of you.” I shrugged it off, but was visibly shaken by the way this was unfolding. By this time, the waiting room was almost standing room only. I couldn’t believe it. People were laughing and talking like it was no big deal. Was I the only one that was battling a war in my spirit? They finally called my name and I went back alone. The counselor talked to me and told me they had to do an ultrasound to see how far along I really am. So I laid down and she put the cold gel on my belly. She asked me if I wanted to see and I said yes. I saw flashes of light on the screen and what looked to be a pinto bean. The beating of my baby’s heart was right there. Trying to grow, trying to live. The gravity of what I was about to do hit me for a split second and I asked her to turn the screen around. I prayed at that moment that God would just “leave me alone.”
Jamie said, “I was lead to the ‘procedure room’ where I was asked to undress from the waist down and the doctor would be in shortly. Fifteen minutes go by, then thirty, then forty-five. I finally poked my head out of the door and asked if they forgot about me. It was torture just laying there in a cold, sterile room without God’s presence and with the weight of my sin. Why didn’t I just get up and leave?” Jamie went on, “Once the doctor and nurses came in things moved pretty quickly. Bright lights turned on. Clanking of sterile equipment. The nurses were talking amongst themselves about who knows what and I was just laying there with tears streaming down the sides of my head. I finally spoke up and said, “How can you just talk like that when I’m laying here crying?” One of the nurses looked me square in the eye and said, “Sweetheart, we haven’t done anything yet if you want to change your mind you can.” I’ll never know why I didn’t get up and get out of there. It’s a question I’ve asked myself time and time again. I just knew that I wanted to go back to ‘normal.’” Jamie was so solemn, as she shared the events of that day. She said tearfully, “I had no idea that my ‘normal’ would never look the same again. It was gone. There was no such thing as that anymore.”
Jamie said she left the clinic and went to eat with her boyfriend and then worked an 18 hour shift. It was done. However, it would never be done in her heart. Just a few months later, she was working her church booth at a music festival. She saw a booth across the walkway showing graphic video of mid and late term abortions. Jamie said, “I lost it. My mind began reeling, taking me directly back to the clinic, replaying over and over the decision I made. I started to shake and eventually knelt down on the ground to hide my emotion. My pastor’s wife came over and asked if I was ok. I eventually told her what I had done. She was heartbroken for me. She prayed for me, loved me and accepted me where I was. But in reality, no one could have shamed me or judged me more harshly than I had already done to myself. After some discussion, I was asked to step down from the praise and worship team. I understood. In my mind, this would be the price I would pay for what I did. I vowed to never sing again, I wasn’t worthy to lead anyone into His presence.”
The difficult part for Jamie was that she was now all alone. There was no one to talk with about her situation. Who would understand? She said, “I just dealt with it the best I could. I think I covered it up—buried it deep inside, and finally found the strength to move on.” Jamie said she and her boyfriend broke up within a few months of the decision. She didn’t want to have anything to do with him. She didn’t want to think about it anymore. Then, she was back in church. About two months later, she was fortunate enough to go on a trip to Israel where she met her husband. She went with her church in Minnesota and he was with his church from Oklahoma. They talked long distance for a while and he eventually came to visit her.
During their first date, she just blurted out “I’ve had an abortion. Is that gonna be an issue for you?” Not exactly first date material. Jamie said, “I really was just so ashamed and felt so unworthy of anything. I thought I would just go ahead and end it there. Turns out he actually did have to take some time to pray about how he felt about it. It just further seared into my heart the lie “What you did is unforgivable.” He eventually asked me if I would date him exclusively. I told him I wasn’t going to move again for a guy. So, he moved to Minnesota and the rest, as they say, is history.”
“I can’t really share all the emotions I experienced about my decision over the years. I couldn’t go back. It was done. I was never the same again and I had to learn how to be ok with that place. It was a dark, lonely place—so I just decided not to go there. I think I buried it and decided to go on with life. However, the scar and the pain were always heavy on my heart.” lamented Jamie.
After marrying, Jamie found herself pregnant. About 5 weeks into the pregnancy, she miscarried. She was devastated. She said, “I just felt like I was being punished because of what I had done. Would I even be able to have kids? What if God decided He couldn’t trust me with children? I actually understood that. I was just heartbroken.” Fortunately, shortly after, she was pregnant with her third child. She was elated. She was so excited to get to meet her Jacob. Jamie said, “I just couldn’t wait to hold him, to look in his eyes, to be the best mom I could possibly be to my baby, but my previous decision was always there haunting me in the back of my mind. It crept up enough to shame me and condemn me until I suppressed it again.”
When Jacob was born, Jamie’s heart was overwhelmed with instant love for his precious face. Being the best mother she could be to him became a top priority for her daily. Then, just a few years later, she gave birth to her fourth child, Payton. Payton was a bright, beautiful baby girl with a joyous heart. Jamie’s life had never been more right with her better-than-dreamed-of family, except for that nagging voice of condemnation always trying to steal her moments of joy.
That’s where we started, Bible study with the friend who drove into Jamie’s scar like a bulldozer speaking words of encouragement that felt like a knife through her heart. The incident forced Jamie to reexamine her choice, and search God’s heart for what He wanted to with it. How would He turn these ashes into beauty? Jamie said, “All I had was my story, my guilt and shame and a willingness to share it all.” With that, she began sharing her story with close friends, at first, and then acquaintances and eventually people she’d never met.
“The more I shared my story, the more I realized how many people were suffering in silence. I started to become painfully aware that we are in the middle of a crisis. Not only with abortion itself, but the souls caught in the aftermath.
I decided I wanted to do my part. I said ‘YES’ to God’s heart and am willing to do what I can to bring healing, wholeness and restoration to the hearts and destinies of men and women suffering with the torment of a sin that no one is willing to openly talk about.”
Jamie said the more she talks about it, the more healing it brings–the more God shows her how much He loves her and how His grace covers her. So, that’s what she is doing. Creating space for men and women who have been touched by the effects of abortion. Jamie said, “A lot of people can’t explain why they feel stuck or why they feel depressed, unworthy or don’t feel ‘alive’ anymore. I didn’t realize until much later that the lies I chose to believe about myself as a result of the abortion caused me to sabotage my entire life. Once I realized that, I was blown away. I wasn’t going to allow Satan to steal my destiny. In fact, I was determined to fulfill the destiny God has for me AND the baby I aborted. Her life is going to matter.”
Talk About Destiny:
Jamie’s humble heart is in ministry to help men, women and families who have been touched by silence of sins like abortion to find God’s grace and healing. Her message of God’s overwhelming mercy can be restorative to people facing Satan’s army of convictive thoughts like shame and guilt. Let the church be silent no more.
You can reach Jamie at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Get her on your calendar to speak to your group, church or event.
Caring for broken people is a beautiful path towards helping God’s kingdom be restored. When restored, we can all operate from His powerful platform of mercy and grace.
We can be the mighty warriors for Christ He has called us to be and ALL LIVES can come out of the silence and matter again.