Railroad Bridge

Dear Barb

Dear Barb,

I’m sorry … I’m not even sure that is your name.  It’s been a long time ago that we stood in front of that abortion clinic.  I was in my early 20’s, eager, determined to change the world.  My friends and I had decided to picket the new abortion clinic down the hill from our university.  A year before that I had no strong opinion about abortion. I had heard teachers and other adults say it was a “sad, but necessary” option, but it didn’t impact me directly, so I didn’t think deeply about it.

Then one night, listening to a song that said something about the ‘cry of mothers in empty streets’, the epiphany came. It’s not about abortion, it’s about real, living babies and about women who are going to suffer immensely when they grabbed hold of that truth.  I grew passionate. We were in a modern world.  Advancements were happening faster than I could blink; surely we could come up with a better answer than abortion, so I joined the protests.

We weren’t the yelling, screaming types.  That really bugged me about some protesters.  Our signs weren’t graphic, but they were blunt: Abortion is Murder.  We paced in front of the clinic, prayed together, sang soft hymns.  I tried not to think about what was going on inside; I just wanted that doctor to get discouraged, to leave. Meanwhile, I watched the sidewalk, wondering if I might ever get a chance to talk to someone … to let them know that we really cared about them … that there were other options.

Then you walked up.  Middle-aged, professionally dressed, your face set … I had a feeling you didn’t want to join us.  You headed right for me.  Thankfully, your tone was not angry, but you were nervous and definitely irritated.  “Do you really think this helps anything?” you asked.

“It can’t hurt.”

“I don’t agree. You are just making the decision harder for these women who have to walk by you.  This is not easy for them.  All you are doing is condemning them.”

“I’m sorry you feel that way because, you know what I am waiting for?  I’m waiting for a chance to tell a woman that there is forgiveness.”

Railroad Bridge
A wrong road doesn’t have to result in a dead end.

It was as though the word forgiveness took the form of my hand and punched you in the gut.  You sucked in a long, long breath, like an injured toddler who gets eerily silent before letting loose with an earsplitting wail.  I braced myself.  Suddenly you exhaled.  Your shoulders sagged as you stepped towards me.  A tear sat on the edge of one eye.

“Do you think I need forgiveness?”  The weight of your tentative tone fell hard on the word “I”?

I stood very still, sensing there was nothing I could or should say.

“Yes … I had an abortion.  So go ahead hate me.”

“I don’t hate you.”  I didn’t even have to try to make the words soft.  Without invitation, your pain borrowed my emotions.  “Do you hate you?”

“Sometimes,” you were candid. “But I make no apologies.  I would have made a terrible mother.  It would have been an awful life for any child.”

I still didn’t have anything to say.  I just watched your face. Your voice was determined, almost hard.  But your eyes … your eyes revealed longing; behind growing tears I saw something vacant, yearning.

I asked if I could pray for you.  You said, “No. But I guess I can’t stop you from praying after I leave.”  Your voice still hard, you walked away.

Even though many details of our full conversation have faded over the years, I’ve never forgotten that look at the word “forgiveness”.  It was such a strange moment, like you hated the word and wanted to challenge me. Why should I suggest forgiveness when you honestly believed you had done nothing wrong; that you had made the best choice you could?  But that look … that look said to me that you wondered … would forgiveness even be offered you? Or had you just gone too far?

Barb … yes.  Yes to forgiveness.  Maybe you already know that.  So many years have slipped by,  but hopefully God’s forgiveness became real to you a long, long time ago.

I think of you today because of the Gosnell trial.  The mainstream media has been ignoring the murder trial of this despicable abortionist, but the atrocities are leaking out.  And much more confrontational than the “Abortion is Murder” sign I held all those years ago, thousands of woman are going to see images of beautiful, newly delivered babies, curled in the fetal position with a long gash across their spines. It’s gut wrenching, beyond words, but the images and the testimonies are going to dig into the hearts of women just like you. I think many are going to gasp with anxiety because what they feared deep down is true.  They were lied to, or they lied to themselves.  It was a baby.  And they loved their baby.

I wonder, will their hearts harden back up in fear and pain?  Or will they finally break?  I think that’s what was happening to you that day; your heart was breaking. I hope that it broke all the way, and that deep in the middle of the pain you found the love of a Heavenly Father who cherishes us without apology. We are the crown of His creation; that which He saved for last and that which He breathed His own breath into as He called us “very good”.

Did we remain very good?  No, we broke His heart, yet His love overflowed to a cross where He forgave EVERY wrong.

Thank you, Barb, for stopping that day.  You taught me that abortion has many victims, but forgiveness has many offspring.  I pray that you are one of the offspring, and that many more are soon to follow.

Grateful for mercy and forgiveness,

Shelly

 

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9 thoughts on “Dear Barb

  1. I MAY BE BARB
    Ive often thought about confessing this publically, you seem like a safe place to start;
    I was 16 when my mother dragged me to an abortion clinic, then one was after my husband left me the first time, the next two were simply put: birth control, by then the shame and my own supposed aetheism had me neck deep in planned parenthood, I helped many cross your picket lines,
    fast forward to 95 rededicating my life to Christ meeting the most amazing man on earth?
    How do I live with this grief now that my prodigal heart returned to jesus?
    The dates my babies wouldve been born
    january 18,1982
    september 2, 1985
    october 25, 1993
    november 11, 1995
    the other three were morning after plan b pills so no due date
    My actual babies born
    Bettina born 07/21/83 @10:21 pm
    Jason born March 25,1991 @7:21 pm
    Jake born 12/19/1996 @ 1:21 pm
    I would’ve had 10 kids plus my step daughter makes 11
    I accepted His forgiveness.
    The pain has never left, when I stopped anestisizing myself with denial and hostility toward God, I got the recovery and help I needed and began to work for crisis pregnancy centers as a volunteer fund raiser in the late 90s. Now I just share my story as much as possible. My babies were murdered. period. Do i deserve punishment? yes. The consequences I live with are unexplainable – words cannot and do not suffice, but begin with:
    horrible monthly periods
    endometreosis
    fibroid tumors
    ovarian cysts
    severe hormonal imbalance
    adult acne
    adult PMDD
    tubal problems & scarring
    migraines from the years of depressions
    constant despair
    nightmares
    fear
    lack of faith I am indeed forgiven
    faith issues I am worthy to be loved
    guilt which lead to poor parenting decisions
    guilt which lead to eating disorders and heart disease and diabetes
    shame
    PLANNED PARENTHOOD DOES NOT TELL YOU ABOUT THE SIDE EFFECTS
    or that she or he is a BABY
    some day I will meet them
    the amazing thing is they dont hate me
    God has indeed forgiven me
    and
    America, its not too late- hear the babys voice, its not a “choice”
    vote for life
    2 Chronicles 7:14
    Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
    14 and if my people who are called by my name become humble and pray, and look for me, and turn away from their evil ways, then I will hear them from heaven. I will forgive their sin and heal their land.
    Barb, the pain will lessen when you confess your sin and accept His forgiveness. It will never completely go away. But the grief will eventually subside to a hope of eternity to come when we will be reunited with our children in heaven.

    1. Pam, I am so deeply touched by your story. I won’t pretend to know the pain you’ve endured, but I so admire your tenacity to keep fighting for a whole life. Your story is one of hope, courage, and God’s forgiving love. The fact that you keep allowing Him to work in you is a beautiful, redeeming legacy for your children. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I am touched by this story. I wish I had someone I could have talked to back then when I had my first abortion. I was scared and alone, the only thing I remember is what would I do with another baby? I was a teen mom and I was judged everywhere I went back then (or at least that’s how I felt). I didn’t have anyone I could tell or cry with. The place I went to didn’t have anyone outside the doors with signs saying you can talk here, or you have other choices, or need prayer?, there were mean looking people yelling and judging on the corner, I was scared of them. I did know it was wrong, but fear took over. After that I wandered far from God, hiding from him I guess. I had no value of self worth, one man after another using me, and I allowed it because I wanted to be loved. I had 2 more abortions during this time and fell victim to satin’s lies. One day a young girl came to me, daughter of a man I had been dating and she confessed her pain to me that she had just had an abortion and she wept. I hugged her and let her talk to me and told her the truth that it will hurt all her years but that she is forgiven. I felt her pain and after she left I wept and prayed for the first time in years. I prayed for her and for my own pain. Her father and I split apart and I started searching for God’s forgiveness and love.
    Took my 2 girls to awana at a church near me and just waited for someone to talk to me. Still no one. Back and forth from church and Bar till God grabbed hold of me. He spoke clearly to me and let me know he loved me, forgave me and was the one listening to me. As I type this I still fight the tears, the pain is still real and I love my babies. I can’t tell you all the lies I told myself to try to make it alright back then. I pray that I can be that someone who will be in the right place to just listen to a hurting woman or girl who is facing the decision I faced all those years ago, or needs healing prayers for the hurt they feel.
    I am so thankful for the forgiveness God has given me through his son Jesus. I enjoy serving on our church prayer team and lifting the needs and healing of his people to him.
    Thank you Shelly for bringing this topic out. I hope as others read this they will be touched and remember to reach out a hand and offer an ear, it may be the turning point a girl needs.

    God Bless!

    1. Audra,
      Thank you for sharing. Your words reached deep into my heart and had me tearing up. I think back to the days when I met Barb and wish we had more signs that offered prayer and hope. I’m afraid that we were too focused on scaring off the doctors. Thus, I’m thankful that Barb approached me. I’m also thankful for people like my friend, Anne, who regularly stands outside of an abortion clinic, praying, offering prayer, offering hope. She has many beautiful stories to tell as a result. I’m thankful for you and your willingness to share your story. It really does matter. YOU matter, and the ways in which you now give out of your pain and brokenness have meaning beyond words. You are a beautiful sister in Christ.

      Blessings on you as well!

  3. So beautiful Shelly. You have a beautiful heart and a gift with words. It is amazing how your story is replayed in front of abortion clinics 30 years later. The wounds in our society run so deep! What an awesome gift (and responsibility) to speak His words of love and mercy in a place of darkness and despair.

    Pam, may God continue to bless and heal you. You will be in my prayers. I don’t know if you have heard of Rachel’s Vineyard retreats, but many women have told me that making the retreat helped heal some of their most hidden and entrenched wounds. http://www.rachelsvineyard.org/

  4. Audra, I did not see your comment before I posted mine. May God continue to bless and heal you also. If you would ever like to join us, we pray in front of the Tacoma Planned Parenthood every week. We offer resources for pregnancy and for post-abortion healing, as well as prayer and friendship. Many of our little group have walked the road of pain you and Pam describe. Shelly has my email address if you ever want to contact me. God bless you.

  5. Anne.
    I am interested in praying at least from home- for you all to catch who-ever Gods places in your path.
    Audra. Bless you for your honesty; I’m praying you continue to walk in His grace
    Shelly;
    Thanks for opening the door of mercy for mommies who do not always have a place to grieve.

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