The sheet of paper was being passed down the row. Women were writing down their child's name.
"God, I don't even know if it was a girl or boy. If there is a name, please tell me." And then I heard in my heart, my mind, my soul. Her name? Her name was Baby Ann. The sheet of paper was passed to me, and I confidently yet sadly wrote the name of the child I had aborted some 34 years ago, Baby Ann.
Six years ago, I was feeling restless. No longer did I enjoy teaching, so I began to pray, asking God what would he have me to do. I continued to teach - enjoying my students, enjoying seeing the light appear in their eyes when the concept I was teaching would register in their minds and make sense, but the job had become so much different than what it had been when I started. I put in a transfer to work at a school with a modified year-round schedule and smaller classes. This would be the test.
Life was better. Yet still, I was restless. The answer was clear; I was done with teaching, but what was I going to do? I began compiling a list of my skills and continued to pray. God's ways are not our ways.
"Angela, will you share at our Women's Day about your life growing up religious?" Lynn, asked me. You see, I grew up knowing who God was and knowing Jesus died on the cross for my sin, but I did not know God, and I certainly did not know Jesus. As I was thinking about what to share, the Holy Spirit was prompting me to share about my abortion. It's not that I had never shared it before; I had...to a woman here, a young person there, but never had I stood up in front of hundreds of women and said, "I had an abortion." Goodness! I don't remember what I said or how I said it when I shared, but I do remember the response afterwards from women who discreetly implied they could relate. God was up to something. And it was good! Coming into the light and facing past decisions that causes shame, is good.
Several weeks later, I shared again at a smaller more intimate Women's Day with a church in our fellowship of churches. To my amazement, again several women approached me. I will never forget the woman who shared with me that she too had had an abortion but had never told her husband. She desperately wanted the redemption that I shared. Another woman came to me with tears. She had been thrown out of her Southern Baptist church when she revealed to her pastor her abortion. Her parents turned away from her as well. She's now married with children and overcome with guilt, shame, and sadness. Lastly, I spoke to a woman who volunteered at a Pregnancy Resource Center. "What is that?" I asked. Little did I know God was calling me to share my story even more; he was making a way, working things out for his glory.
When I returned home from that event, I began researching Pregnancy Resource Centers. I was inspired. I could volunteer and educate women so that perhaps they would make a different choice than I had so many years ago. I compiled my story and sent it to several centers requesting employment. After four years of wondering what God would have me to do if not teach, he parted the cloud of confusion, and I was hired to be the Center Director of a Pregnancy Resource Center.
Awesome! Wonderful! There was one catch. Having an abortion in my past, I was required to participate in a twelve-week post abortion education group, which was a Bible study. Fine...no problem. I knew I was forgiven. I had been baptized for the forgiveness of my sins when I surrendered to Jesus as Lord in 1994. Everything was fine. Right? Right?
I made it through the sessions, barely. I was teaching, volunteering at the center Monday nights and trying to read the chapters in the book. I was exhausted; yet God was working and he began to gently peel back the tight layers of the onion of protection, from years of not talking about it or admitting it to my doctors. Questions in my heart about myself were being answered. When the Bible study group was told we would have a memorial on our last night together, I rebelled. In my mind and heart, I said to myself, "I'm not doing that, and I am most certainly not naming a baby of which I have no idea of its gender." So, I didn't. Coincidentally, my rebellion at the age of 17 was the reason I found myself in this "back against the wall" situation in the first place. That story is another blog for later perhaps.
I completed the Bible study and all was well. I began working as the director and sharing my story of redemption every opportunity God gave me. Sometimes it was hard, very hard. However, every time I did, God was revealing to me I could indeed trust him. He would give me the words to say if I was willing to die to myself and to the humiliation I felt, and open my mouth so that someone else could be set free.
Little did I know when I registered to go to a workshop to learn how to facilitate a post abortion group, we, the participants would be having a memorial service for the children we had aborted. Anxiety gripped me which I expressed with my incessant sighing as my friend told me. Well, I just wouldn't do it. I don't have a name and that's that.
The next day, as the sheet of paper was being passed down the row, women were writing down their child's name. "God, I don't even know if it was a girl or boy. If there is a name, please tell me." I prayed.
And then I heard in my heart, my mind, my soul. Her name? Her name was Baby Ann. The sheet of paper was passed to me, and I confidently but sadly wrote the name of the child I had aborted some 34 years ago.
Who was Baby Ann? Baby Ann represented the loss of my innocence. It wasn't only when I lost my virginity; it was when I did the unthinkable and aborted the child that depended on me for her very existence. Baby Ann represented all that is good and pure in the world, a child created by God, the Great I Am, the giver of life. Baby Ann represented me, called Ann by my mother and father. I once was pure and innocent until I became stained by sin. Who was Baby Ann? Baby Ann is my reminder of God's love for me through my Jesus, my Savior, the awesome redeemer who rescued me from the dark.
"For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." -- Colossians 1:13-14
Who is Baby Ann? My little girl who is safe in the Father's arms.
SOLACE – Comfort, Consolation, Support, Relief
"Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony. 'He told me everything I ever did.'" -- John 4:39
There is healing when we dare to look at our past and all that contributed to actions that did not please our Father. I believe this beautiful woman at the well shared this testimony with a gleam of bewilderment in her eyes. He, the Savior, knew everything about her, opened the stained pages of her life before her; yet she felt...free. I no longer work at the pregnancy center but now lead SOLACE, a ministry of Triangle Church with the help of two amazing and courageous sisters.
God is full of grace and mercy