My husband and I had been happily married for three years. Lavon had recently graduated from the University of Georgia with a chemistry degree, and he had just started his first professional job. We had two beautiful children, and we loved showing off our babies! But then I discovered I was pregnant again. We faced what we considered a serious financial crisis.
The year was 1970. Back in those days, abortion seemed like a logical solution. I just viewed it as a form of birth control. After all, wasn’t it just a cluster of cells in my womb?
But there was one problem. Abortion was not legal in Georgia at that time. So, six weeks into my pregnancy, my doctor gave us a referral, and we made an appointment at an abortion clinic in New York City.
I was impressed by the thrust of the jet engines as we took off from the Atlanta airport. The engines seemed to be symbolic of how we were taking charge of our lives. We arrived safely in New York and went to the clinic the following day.
As we entered the gloomy reception area, I saw a sad-looking young teenage girl sitting next to what appeared to be her mother. The girl had her head on her mother’s shoulder. From time to time I think about her and wonder how she is doing. When my husband saw me come out of the procedure room, he was devastated by the look on my face.
We knew we had done something terribly wrong. However, we both felt a sense of relief. After all, we had a “new” beginning. That night we even went to a couple of Broadway plays and enjoyed walking the snowy sidewalks.
But I will never forget the sound of the heavy glass door as it clanked shut behind us when we left the airport to drive back home. The door to a room in my heart also slammed shut.
Lavon and I didn’t speak about that trip again.
Ten years later, the unexplainable happened. It was a Sunday morning. After church, a high school friend walked up and greeted my husband and asked, “How are you doing?” His next question was, “How many children do you have?”
My response surprised me—and Lavon.
“Three,” I answered. It was as if my unexpected answer came from somewhere deep inside me. I saw three children. My husband looked at me with a concerned look and answered my friend, “No, we have two children.”
I looked at Lavon and questioned why he would say two. Again, I said, “No, we have three.” My husband jokingly said, “Sometimes two children can feel like three.” Suddenly, I realized what I had done ten years earlier! I had aborted my third child.
My husband took care of the rest of the conversation and then escorted me to the car. I burst into tears after I got inside. On that day I finally began to mourn the loss of that third child. I was consumed with an uncontrollable grief. The mourning continued for weeks.
When I was around other people, I wore the mask of “everything’s alright.” No one knew the depths of my grief and remorse. I later learned that my husband was grieving as well.
But one day I heard words from a voice that changed everything. The tender sound of the Lord’s voice was unmistakable. I had heard it many times before, but this time I heard words I never expected to hear: “Give me the empty blanket.”
I suddenly saw what He saw: A musty, old, empty baby blanket. I responded quickly as I lifted my arms up and said, “Here is the empty blanket, Lord.” I became sharply aware of God’s presence again. God was offering to take the loss, the emptiness and the hurt caused by our mistakes. His forgiveness washed over me in that moment. He gave me healing instead of shame and guilt.
The Bible has every answer we need. One day as I was studying, Ecclesiastes 11:5 seemed to jump off the page. It says: “As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.”
This was my answer! This verse tells us that a living soul exists in the womb from the moment of conception.
I had suppressed my pain for so long. Even though I was ignorant of the cruel realities of abortion when I had the procedure in 1970, the guilt gnawed at me for a decade. It was as if I were pushing an air-filled balloon under water. Finally, it surfaced and exploded. The truth came out and I had to face it.
After God began to heal my heart, I began to sense that God wanted me to share my story to reach others. Yet my husband struggled with the thought of being so transparent. He even told me once: “We will never tell anyone about this.”
Yet God began speaking to me from Proverbs 31:8, calling me to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. After a year of quietly writing, I approached my husband again. We sat in the same room where he had said we would never share this story. I read to him portions of what I had been writing. His reaction was different this time. He said, “Yes, I believe this is from God.”
Statistics show that a surprisingly high percentage of women who consider abortion are church attenders. It is a difficult subject to address today, because abortion has become culturally acceptable. Yet I knew God was giving me the courage to speak out—not only for the unborn, but also for the women who face so much pain after ending their pregnancies.
The Lord’s mercy has been overwhelming to me. Our two children have married incredible mates and have given us 13 lovely grandchildren, all single births. I was privileged to witness the birth of all but three of them! And I heard the first cry of each one, each reminding me of the mercy of God.
From time to time I think about that precious teenage girl I saw in the abortion clinic waiting room In New York. I wonder how long she struggled with the events of that day. I know that only God can heal her as He has healed me. God has truly shown me His heart for unborn life. And now, I have the opportunity to share alternatives to abortion with women who are in crisis situations.
The Lord has used my painful experience to offer hope to others. I have seen the reality of 2 Corinthians 1:4, which says, “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (NLT).
God is merciful! My pain and emptiness are gone. I now feel pregnant with life, a feeling I didn’t have for many years. My joy and privilege is to partner with the God of the Universe as He changes hearts.
This article was first published in Encourage magazine.
Written By: Arlette Revells