Why didn’t I value myself or life when I was younger?
That is a question I will always ask myself. My low view of life harmed us more than we could ever have known at the time.
It took 19 years before we could have a child.
We had not obeyed God’s commands before and after marriage, and we suffered consequences that would reach over many years. In some ways, those consequences still continue today, though forgiven.
Today I am the 60-plus-year-old mother of three active and involved young adults (now all three married as of Nov. 2017), but as my husband and I look back over what the Lord has done, we marvel at God’s grace and mercy. Our lives would have turned out so differently, and we can’t imagine life without these young people!
I will tell you the sad story.
The early 50s, when we grew up, saw increasing prosperity. After the horrors and hardships of WWII, families in the U.S. were focused on getting that new dishwasher, television, and maybe, even two cars. Women were leaving home for the job market in record numbers to have the desired extras.
Then in the 60s and 70s, rebellion and ‘free love’ on college campuses exploded onto the scene.
Most parents were totally unprepared to deal with it all, and thus, by default, didn’t. Busy with earning a living, many parents were out of touch with the social pressures their young people faced, the anti-God stance in schools, and the growing fractures between generations.
My husband and I both had parents who loved us, but their generation generally did not find it easy (or were unaware of the need) to discuss deeper issues with their young people.
Hippies, Vietnam and Roe v. Wade
While on campus, we ‘married’ ourselves (without family or friends) in a chapel before ‘God’ on the I.U. Bloomington campus. I lived in the frat house from Thursday to Sunday night, eating breakfast donuts from the kitchen and smoking pot in the evening with the rug tucked up to the crack under the door so no one would know. I wore a shiny navy-blue trench coat with a lambswool collar, tight turtlenecks and hip-hugging bell bottom jeans. Life was all partying or cramming for classes and finals. This was not at all abnormal during those years (’69-73) in the middle of the sexual revolution, the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and and the devaluation of life with the Roe v. Wade decision (1973).
Immediately out of nursing school, my boyfriend (now my husband of over 40 years) and I lived together as did many, but certainly not all, of our classmates. We were not inclined to get married, but finally did upon my mother’s urging, much to her relief (so my father wouldn’t know) the year of Roe v. Wade.
Upon graduation as an RN, I worked in open-heart surgery at a large metropolitan hospital. Occasionally, when there was a need for extra personnel in the abortion clinic of that hospital, I would be called on to assist- as were several other surgical nurses. Even after being raised in a private Christian school environment (and calling myself a Christian), I was unable to apply the things I studied in my catechism class to real life decisions. I was for all practical purposes “dead in my trespasses and sins.”
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience…”
~Ephesians 2: 1
Abortion – the taking of a life
I am ashamed to say that we had an abortion several years into our marriage. We had bought into the worldly view of living for ourselves, careers, money, and things.
Two decisions forever changed the direction of my life~ 1.) breaking God’s protective commands regarding the sacredness of marriage (having sex before marriage) and 2.) disregarding the sanctity of life (participating in abortions and having an abortion).
I didn’t know it would affect my health, my fertility in years to come, or undermine our own self-respect or our respect for each other.
After many years of wasted wandering, God faithfully lead us to a solid Bible-believing church, and I finally accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior at 31. By this time, I was really suffering emotionally with PTSD and layers of fear. The pain in my life clamored for my attention.
You can’t tell me that abortion doesn’t mess you up! I had already had a several miscarriages and knew there were other things wrong…very wrong!
The worst were flashbacks to assisting in a surgical abortion one day at the hospital where I found a perfect, tiny hand half the size of a dime stuck to the side of my gloved hand. It is terrible to remember it. I ran out of the OR and refused to go back. It has taken years for those scars to heal. I learned the value of human life in a split second. It wasn’t tissue to me anymore; it was a real, live baby!
Now slowly my perspective on life and living changed. My whole being desired to be a mother, to bring forth new life within our marriage and before God. And we could not! Years went by with several more miscarriages. We did two home-studies in order to adopt, one Korean, and one local, but the Lord chose to close the doors. These are stories in themselves…… Many, many people at our church and other friends were faithfully praying for us.
The Ticking Clock
After 8 years of pursuing medical help to conceive (Clomid and surgeries for endometriosis), and then 4 years off, I got a call from a surgeon friend I worked with who told me about a new procedure called GIFT (gamete intra-fallopian transfer). I was working nights, 7 days a week, to afford the earlier procedures since insurance wouldn’t pay for infertility treatment. I felt the clock ticking the years off my life….
After much prayer and many tears, we decided to go ahead with this new procedure. The first GIFT produced 2 tiny hearts beating, seen on an ultrasound at 4+ weeks. One was in the (wrong) fallopian tube… the damaged tube! We had a tubal pregnancy which is dangerous, but both babies failed to grow. It was so discouraging: over $11,000 and nothing to show for it, but stress and grief and high levels of drugs (Metrodin, Lupron, and Pergonal).
I was determined to continue since there was a 36% chance in those days of delivering a live baby. We were told there was no other way.
My Belly was Shrinking
But, in the fourth month, I realized I was not growing in measurement. I was getting smaller! A hastily arranged ultrasound revealed that one of the little lives I carried had died several weeks before. We saw a separate sac with little bones, and were told our second baby might miscarry, too. We were crushed, and I was in anguish. I was guilty of all those earlier years and just knew I was being punished.
I almost forgot about the remaining life within me as I focused on the loss. “Why God?” Satan almost destroyed my joy, except that Jesus is greater! “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Later, even though our other baby would be fine, I felt such frustration because if we didn’t want an only child, we would have to go through another of these uniquely stressful procedures with all the costs, shots, and stress leading up to it. Then once the procedure is over, there is the waiting for that determining ultrasound to give you the news, good or bad!
Having a baby can easily become an idol! I had to get over it so I could focus on having a joyful heart for my husband and new son. It was the will of a loving, sovereign God, and His comforting presence was very real.
“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” ~1 Thessalonians 5: 18
Finally, the day arrived, and the Lord in His mercy gave us a beautiful, healthy son. My aching arms were filled, and we dedicated him to the King of Kings for His glory!
I can’t describe the joy and wonder of it all. We had been married almost 20 years!
Jump Started for Life!
My doctor said I was ‘jump-started’ with all the hormones, so we did a third GIFT to give our new son a little brother or sister. And much to our surprise and JOY, we were blessed with adorable, healthy twins exactly two years later. We praise God for His abundant grace and mercy!
Now I Value Life!
It has been a long road to forgiving myself for assisting in abortions and having an abortion, but I found the Lord has welcoming arms to forgive us when we come to Him in repentance. We are sinners, but by His grace, we have hope…and now can see His guiding hand in it all. Thank You, Lord, for birthing in us new life, spiritually and physically!
“…I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” ~Deuteronomy 30: 19
The takeaway: We have been able to share with our children (appropriately, through time, we hope) the curses we had brought upon ourselves. That has protected them, to a large degree but not totally, from repeating the same mistakes which we made. It is a blessing to tell them of the mighty things that the LORD has done for us while we were yet in unbelief and of the restoring power found only in trusting Christ Jesus. Today we enjoy a rich relationship (and normal trials and challenges) with each of our children by the grace of Almighty God. I share this with you to encourage and strengthen YOU that no matter where you find yourself, our gracious God is always at work. Never, never give up hope, dear one.
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