Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Telling our Stories- Shame & Healing

You will again have compassion on us.
You will overcome our wrongdoing.
You will throw all our sins into the deep sea.
Micah 7:19

I asked Jesus to be my Savior when I was in the 4th grade. I loved Him and knew He loved me. But in high school, I got swept up in the world of fun and boys. I passed up a scholarship to college and married my high school boyfriend instead. Ten years later, the marriage ended in a painful divorce. Instead of turning to God, I sought love and acceptance from others. This led to a decision I deeply regret.

The + on a home pregnancy test gave me the news. When I called my boyfriend, he said not to tell anyone and wait until the weekend to talk about our plans. Over the next two days, I daydreamed about our future together. With this news, I just knew that he was going to propose. The song “Love Will Keep Us Together” was my constant theme.  But Friday night came and reality hit. The man I hoped to marry had made some plans of his own to take care of the “problem”.  An appointment was already scheduled for the following Friday. He would pay for everything and take care of me over the weekend. I only had to take one day off work.  His smooth talk and my fear of his rejection convinced me this was for the best. 

The following Friday came; I wanted to run. Instead, I followed through with his plan. I had an abortion. I cried about it all weekend. I remember soaking in a hot bath, sobbing - drowning in regret, loss, grief and shame. Even the prescription pain pills could not take away my heartache. When I tried to share my pain with my boyfriend, he insisted we not talk about it. It was in the past now and there was no reason to bring it up…ever. So I buried the pain and shame deep inside.  I successfully hid the fact that I had an abortion, eventually even from myself. This became a “truth” so deep that if asked, I honestly could tell you I never had one. I believed it.

I ran fast and furious down the path of life to suppress the memory. I got a second job.  I found something to do every night. Keeping busy masked my pain, but I would lay awake late at night contemplating suicide, and not know why. My secret sin lay deep in my heart, completely covered over with the cloak of shame, guilt, regret and fear.

A second failed marriage brought me back to the God I knew as a child. He became my one true love who would never leave me or forsake me. I began allowing God access to my heart. God is patient and a gentleman. He waits for us to partner with Him. He does not force us to deal with anything we are not ready to see.

Twenty-three years later...I had grown to trust Gods love for me. I prayed for His guidance and experienced new peace and joy. Still, I struggled with some recurring problems I couldn't seem to shake. I often over-reacted emotionally, would get hurt easily and become defensive.  I ran from confrontation. I felt rejected over little differences of opinion.  Something in my heart needed healing.

God used my growing self-awareness to remove the cloak that covered my shameful past.  He lovingly brought to my remembrance the painful choice I had made. My abortion was fully exposed because God wanted me to experience forgiveness. He gave me the courage to share it with my husband and one of my “Sistahs”. Instead of the feared rejection, I was accepted and encouraged to seek healing. God directed my steps to a local post-abortion ministry.  As I shared my story with others in the group, I experienced compassion and love. And guess what else? I re-discovered my voice!  I am able to talk about my abortion now. God has forgiven my sin and healed this pain of my past.

So why would I share this part of my story with you?  It's not easy, but I want God to use it to encourage you to seek healing no matter what you've done. I am thankful that He set me free from the guilt and shame of my sin. What He did for me, He can do for you!

~Billine Westerman

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