The aftermath of the abortion, though it never really is completely over with, is definitely a part of my conversion story. Why, you ask? Well, go get a cup of coffee, or tea if you prefer; or if it is late, perhaps some warm milk, or if it is chilly, some hot cocoa....oh, right. The story.
The many twists and turns, missteps and outright disastrous choices that followed are too numerous and convoluted to spell out here. I know this because I tried last night- I had it almost all written out, and got so bogged down I left it for this morning. Rereading it with a cup of coffee (yes, it made all the difference), my somewhat fresher mind saw right away that the point was lost. So I tell you now, that; 1. I wanted to escape the place in which I put myself by having the abortion. I fled repeatedly--fled the places, the people, and jumped into relationships I thought would start me fresh, so I could remake my life into what I wanted and thought it should be; and, 2. The only problem was --me. I couldn't seem to see the danger signs soon enough and would then be caught in difficult, even dangerous situations that I would then try to make work.
I believe now that I was fearful of not ever having that family base I so desperately wanted. Ever since the abortion, I saw myself differently. Gone was any sense I ever had of being a person of worth, who could know with any certainty that someone else of worth would want to make his life with me. That experience, of being rejected and then rejecting the life within me, had somehow gotten inside me, like a tapeworm, and eaten up any healthy self image I may have had. So whenever anyone would show any interest in me at all, I would just set my mind to that relationship becoming "the one". I got myself into heaps of trouble with that theory.
Over those years, though, my Christian faith grew. I came to know and love the Lord, and have an intimate relationship with Him. The churches went from Mennonite (a charismatic version), to several non-denom's, (also charismatic). The piece that was missing was the ability to have the strength to confront some of my more foundational demons and overcome them. Even during my longer (13 year) second marriage, I couldn't stand up to the abuses for fear of compounding my past failures. I also now had six kids. After that marriage literally imploded, I went through a real crisis of faith and became truly, clinically depressed. I spent a few years floundering for real. I did not attend any church, was ashamed to even pray. I knew I was living a life in opposition to God, but lacked the courage and strength to confront it. During this time I had my seventh child. Even when I wasn't living right, I knew better than to get another abortion. At least that lesson sunk in! I got some treatment for my depression which helped a little. But somebody must have been praying for me because one day--and this is literal--a light bulb just went on. I saw the situation I was in for the dead end it was, and suddenly just had the fortitude and resolve to confront it and move on, damn the consequences. There was so much cancer in myself and my kids that had been allowed to fester over that time-about four to five years-that really we all are still healing, but it was a new beginning.
That decision brought me to the area I now live. I started going to a charismatic Catholic prayer group and became their song leader--even before I became Catholic! Which then led me to attend Mass. Of course I couldn't resist getting into one last bad relationship--which I did and paid heavily--but as far as God went, I felt a grounding I had not ever known in all my years of knowing Him. I joined RCIA and converted in 2002.
What was the difference? I recognized the Lord in the Eucharist.Long before I was able to receive Him, I drew His love and strength just from being in His presence. After all those years of charismatic worship, I recognized the Holy Spirit when I saw Him! Another gift from the Church was that I was allowed to attend and absorb the presence of the Lord, and hear the Church's teaching without being micromanaged, as some of the other churches had done. (Sister, do you have sin in your life? Well, yes, I still did, as a matter of fact). But the Church gave me the time to work things through with God, to get to know my Lord on a new and deeper level. He gave me the strength and tools I needed to finally overcome all the stumbling blocks that I couldn't conquer myself, especially once I could receive Him. After submitting myself to the annulment process for my past two marriages (this I can also talk about with anyone wanting to know--it was a long, arduous process, but also a very uplifting one), I married a Catholic man and we now fight this good fight together. We play music for masses and do pro life work as well as giving our lives to the kids and each other. And yes we are still fighting our own battles with the world, the flesh, and the devil, which will continue until we die. God never gives up on our growth, so we are continually challenged and stretched. Thanks be to God that we have, in the Church, everything we need for life and godliness. ( His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3)
I have gained the foundation and the stability I so desperately sought. The difference is; even with what good teaching I did receive over my years as an Evangelical, I lacked the power to make it stick. Now I am able to fight the good fight; face the demons, (some that I helped along in the past); do what I can to rectify things for my children, which sometimes is to pray, sometimes to work and pray. I have green scapulars for all of them, plus the boyfriends. To convert so far are: Melissa, Meghann (who married a fantastic fellow who happened to be Catholic and Kaden is baptized), and Adam, (Melissa's boyfriend). Rachael attend masses and often sings with us. Ben attends mass, Malaika is being raised Catholic; and Justin, Corrie's boyfriend, is also Catholic. I still pray the green scapular prayer for all of them, for continuing strength, protection, and growth in their faith.
If there is one thing I can say I now know with certainty, it is that God can be trusted. This trust does include "faith-work" on our part, but not arm twisting kind of work, but rather, a prayer- and- living kind of work. The kind of work that is an overflow of the love and joy that He imparts.