The foil of the pregnancy-test package crinkled between my fingers. While reading through the directions and glancing at the drawings on the box, I couldn't help but think back to eight years earlier, when I was in college.
My then-steady boyfriend had swept me off my feet. So even though I'd been taught that God's Word set premarital sex aside as sin, I'd engaged in inappropriate intimacy with him, seeking love and affection to fill my emptiness from old childhood wounds.
The fears that accompanied a pregnancy test in those days were immense and real. I always feared it would be positive. And one time, it was.
That day I begged my roommate to buy me three more tests. I was humiliated and terrified. The additional tests confirmed the same: I was pregnant. As I crouched in my dorm's empty bathroom, I secretly hoped that if I never came out, it wouldn't be true. It was a moment of ruthless reality.
A seeming solution
My roommate consoled me. I told no one else. Not my boyfriend, not my Christian parents. This journey was too shameful to share with them. My roommate guaranteed she knew a way out. A harmless way . . . almost. And the next thing I knew, I was signing in at the nearest abortion clinic just off our college campus. I held a wad of cash in my hand, hurriedly collected from a dwindling savings account from a part-time job.
Three hours later, it was over. I recuperated over Christmas break at my mom's house, half an hour from campus. She thought I was recovering from the flu. As I lay around on the couch, my mind raged against what I'd done. I realized, with startling clarity, that there was nothing harmless about that procedure. It was just a cruel trade-off, one problem—my unwanted pregnancy—for another—the guilt and shame of taking my baby's life.
Grace and guilt
Remorse dogged me in the following years. But from the bottom of the pit, the only place I had to look was up. My choice to have an abortion catapulted me into God's arms. What had always been my father's faith now became my own.
Yet, every time a sermon or conversation mentioned the word abortion, I stared a hole in the ground, sure that those around me would suddenly point their fingers at me. A knife stayed in my heart.
I couldn't comprehend ever making peace with this horror in my past. The Enemy was so good at reminding me of his lies that I never felt safe or close to God or anyone else. While I was passionate about my relationship with Christ, I held back my dark secrets. My past was a constant threat to my spiritual life.
Reaching for help
One morning, two years after my abortion, I finally prayed for help. I asked God to lead me to a volunteer organization where I could help others and hopefully escape some of my pain. I had to get my mind off myself. I marched up to the counter at my church and picked up the only brochure that caught my eye. It was for a pregnancy care center. Ouch.
Pain gripped my heart. Was this some kind of sick joke, God? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized this could provide the perfect opportunity to redeem myself. The director spoke to me on the phone and asked me to come right over.
Midway through the mini-interview, she asked the unthinkable: "Have you ever had an abortion?" I entertained lying. Surely, she would kick me out if I told the truth. But I answered honestly. "Yes," I said, staring at the floor.
She took my hand. Here it comes, I thought. But she surprised me. She explained how God often brought wounded victims to her doorstep in order for them to be healed and to help others. She offered me warmth and compassion. Through all those years, I hadn't spoken a word about my abortion to anyone. Now her kind words washed over me like the warmth of baptismal water.
The freedom of forgiveness
The director suggested I heal before counseling other women, so I quickly joined the post-abortion Bible study the care center offered. I dove into the material and poured through my Bible. I clung to my small group leader and committed to the weekend retreat. I wanted this victory and knew the desire was in line with God's will.
I cried when my leaders humbly washed my feet. But it was another exercise at the retreat that finally offered healing. We picked out rocks and loaded them into a sack that we wore around our necks the entire weekend. It signified the enormous weight of the shame and guilt we were carrying.
At first, the extra weight was unbearable. The sack knocked into things and dragged me down. I slept, ate, and worshiped with the rocks around my neck. Slowly, though, I got used to the physical reminder. Inwardly, I thought I deserved it. I could accept personal pain and hardship in order to repay my sin. It was much harder to accept God's free gift of forgiveness.
On the final day of the retreat, we were instructed to sit alone on the bank of the lake and take each rock out, one by one. As I threw each one into the water, confessing my burdens, sins, and unfinished business to the Lord, I felt free for the first time in years and so close to God.
Jesus Christ died for my sin of abortion. The richness of his blood washed over my detestableness and cleansed me. I was purified and redeemed by the One who unfailingly keeps every one of his promises. He had forgiven me. Now I finally could forgive myself.
Passing it on
Upon my return home, I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to tell my story. I felt as though I needed to complete the circle and tell others what Jesus had done for me. The first person I called was my mom. I shared my cleansed sin with her and cried as she spoke reassuringly over my wounds and sorrow.
What she said next shocked me: my mom revealed she also had gotten pregnant before she was married. It happened decades ago when she was in college. She also chose to have an abortion. This generational sin had landed at my feet 20 years later, but now was the time for healing. And that healing was already reaching further than I could have imagined.
I spent the next years counseling women at the pregnancy care center—talking them through unwanted pregnancies, ministering to them in their crisis, sharing Christ's love. I had no better platform than my story, and the women were enthralled with what Jesus could do. We often prayed together by the end of our encounter, acknowledging the Lord is bigger than all our problems. I relished being able to give back. I volunteered for three years before the Lord moved me on to a new ministry, but I never forgot the lessons of love I learned there.
God's finale of grace
The ringing phone brought me back to the present. I glanced at the pregnancy test in my hand and saw the act of true redemption. Mercifully, God had given me a husband, Tom, to walk through this healing process alongside me. He wept over me when I told him my testimony. Now, four years into our marriage, the test confirmed we were expecting our first child.
Sensitive to my past, my husband knew as well as I did that this pregnancy was a gift from God. Tom was overjoyed as I shared the news with him. We'd become pregnant naturally, easily, and, as God would have it, in the anniversary month of my abortion, exactly eight years later.
Only through God's restoration was it possible for me to hold a child in my womb after such horrible life choices. I sank to my knees, a place I now feel most comfortable. At the base of the Great Redeemer's throne, my face awash with tears, I praised him for deliverance. My life had come full circle. His blood had wiped me clean.
Amanda Jenkins lives in Texas.
Copyright © 2006 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian Woman magazine.
Click here for reprint information on Today's Christian Woman.
January/February 2006, Vol. 28, No. 1, Page 56