From Ashes to Beauty. The other side of abortion.

Interview with Becky

By Katia Parella

   We live in a broken world. I’m sure you’ve heard that said before. The evidence of brokenness is in what people are going through. All around us. In real time.

   We live in a time, when some human rights are being taken away & at the same time some extended to a point of us playing a role of a God. Abortion is one of the rights that is controversial & highly debated. As Christians we can be very clear on where we stand on the issue, yet forgetting to extend grace to those who have come out of very hard, even hellish circumstances. We can clearly point out a bad decision in someone else, yet forgetting our own road to salvation, paved with our own multitude of sins. 

   Abortion stories are not just what we think. They are not born in isolation. Behind each story is a story, a broken life. Those stories are no different from any other life stories, full of sin, grief & brokenness. And, hopefully, redemption. 

 

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   My friend Becky shares with me her story. Up to that point, I only knew the bullet point facts of what happened. But we never really talked about it. After I asked her to share her story with the world, she agrees, saying that it will help her with "healing". How amazing that instead of us holding on to the desire to hide our pain, the healing comes after we actually bring it out in the open. We open up to be freed from the prison of isolation, self loathing & secrecy. Yet we also open ourselves up to judgment, persecution, ignorance & misunderstanding. There's beauty in sharing, but there's also pain. 

   Becky’s story is relevant to our broken world. It includes a variety of tragic circumstances, bad choices, generational curses & sin. It starts in the depths of darkest ashes, but it is re-written by God into a beautiful story of redemption. 

   She writes me a letter of her brief history & we also meet for a candid interview. She starts her letter describing the conditions she grew up in, in a family without God. 

When I meet to talk to her, I mention that her story made me feel sad & angry. “I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. It’s more of a - wow, look at what God brought me through! And then look at what He brought me to. I am so grateful. And that’s why I’m a huge fan of the Lord…because it was such…mess & dirt”. She shares with me her difficult life story, which includes her trying to commit suicide multiple times by overdosing on pills, cutting her wrists & neck. She says: “I just wanted to die…I just don’t want to be here…I hated living with my family.”

   Her mother was married to her Dad, but at the age of 12 they got divorced. Her family was poor, her parents abusive & the relationships within the family were dysfunctional. She had a Mom, as she wrote, with "mental issues" & her Dad was an alcoholic. She writes: “We lived in a home full of anger & sin...There was never any love shown...". Becky was not the only victim in the family. Her brother was also physically & sexually abused by older siblings. Their uncle sexually abused them & went to jail. The family lived in a bad neighborhood, where one of the neighbors allowed into the house "was straddling” her, as Rebecca wrote. At 17 she was raped by her brother-in-law & was met with victim-blaming for his actions. She says: “It hurts me to have my family not believe me. I remember my Mom ask me - are you sure it was rape?” And I’m like - do you really not think I know what rape is?!"

   Her parents didn't involve themselves into their kids lives & they basically raised themselves. After their parents divorced, she stayed to live with her Dad, where she was first introduced by her father to an adult movie & she started a life of "smoking, drinking & drugs". Which was followed by "boys, intimacy & sex". She was hungry for love & affection, so she looked for it outside the home, outside of her broken relationships with her parents & siblings. 

   At 16 she was pregnant. 

   The Fire Magazine (TFM): How did it happen?

   Becky (B): We didn’t even date!…I hung out with older people…I got attention from boys. Little did I know, it was wrong attention…I felt loved…

   One of the nights, when a group of people she hung out with, got drunk & “it just happened”. And “ it was just disgusting”.

   TFM: So he was much older than you? B: He was probably 10 years older that me.

   TFM: So…you told him [about the pregnancy]? 

   B: Yes. 

   TFM: How much time passed till you found out…that you were pregnant?

   B: Like as soon as I missed my period. I went & I got a test. 

   TFM: What was your first thought?

   B: I don’t know. That’s why I went to my Dad…He was upset, of course. 

   After sharing the news with her Dad, she writes in her letter: "...he immediately told me I needed to have an abortion”. 

   Since her & the guy were “definitely high & drunk that night”, she now uses her experience as a teaching lesson with her daughters. “So, that’s why I tell my kids: “Don’t do drugs, don’t drink. You become a different person. You’re not accountable for your actions””.

   TFM: So, this guy’s life hasn’t changed much [since that time]?

   B: Right. 

   TFM: Did you have any knowledge what [abortion] entailed at that time?

   B: Nobody told me…Those are the conversations my parents never had. They never talked about sex. They never talked about pornography…My father was a drunk & a drug abuser, so he was like “don’t do what I did”. But he was out in a bar & never home. So, he wasn’t a good example. My Mom paid no attention to us. So, back to the question - oh, no. They never taught us any of that stuff or what it was. So, when I got pregnant, I knew what it was, obviously. I was going to loose the baby…Did I know exactly what it entailed? I didn’t know till I went to see this movie [Unplanned] with you recently. And that’s why I was so sad…so emotional about it. You don’t understand the things that you don’t know. That’s why I’m so different in the aspect of teaching this stuff to the kids, at a young age. About keeping yourself pure. 

   TFM: Do you think, after [you had an abortion], it affected you in any way? Physically, emotionally, spiritually?

   B: It did not affect me physically…mentally. Honestly, I was so young. It didn’t affect me that much spiritually. I didn’t become a born-again Christian till I was 38. And then you start to get glimpses of your sin. Wow, God, can you forgive me for all these [sins]? I remember repenting all of my sins & [abortion] had come up. So, it took me a little longer.

   As a born-again believer today, she understands not only the weight of her decisions, but everything that has led up to it - her family, her childhood, her old lifestyle, lack of love & absence of God in hers & her parents lives. That family's brokenness was evident in each member of the family, as all of them were hurt physically or spiritually throughout their lives, & in return, they were all hurting each other. 

   TFM: Do you feel like your relationships with your parents & family members, siblings, especially, have changed at all over the course of just your life, before you became a Christian & after?

   B: We’ve never been close. I come from a very dysfunctional family...The only time we get together is when I reach out to them. 

   TFM: Do you feel like you’re the glue of the family?

   B: Yes. And that’s a lot of work. And it’s exhausting to get constantly rejected…We were never close to begin with. We are still not close…That’s why my home family is important, my relationship with the Lord is. My church family is important to me…you are important to me. There are very few friends that I can say are my friends, [who] I trust & can have this conversation with.

   About a year before she became a believer, she was reading the Bible to her daughter & came across Mark 10:14: "When Jesus saw this, He was indignant. He said to them: "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these". Becky writes that she "knew instantly [that] God was talking to me through the pages & He had a plan for my children [who] have lived. I knew I owed it to Him...". After that revelation, her whole family (husband & two children) "began going to church". During that time of spiritual awakening, she found out that she had a brain tumor & was offered to do "30 rounds of radiation". On her way to one of the treatments, she was listening to a Christian radio station & came across a song by Chris Tomlin "White Flag". "And it was to these words", she wrote, "I truly repented my sins, asked for forgiveness & truly surrendered my life to God":

The battle rages on

As storms and tempests roar

We cannot win this fight

Inside our rebel hearts

We're laying down our weapons now

We raise our white flag

We surrender all to You, all for You

We raise our white flag: the war is over

Love has come, your love has won

Here on this holy ground

You made a way for peace

Laying Your body down

You took our rightful place

This freedom song is marching on

We raise our white flag

We surrender all to You, all for You

We raise our white flag: the war is over

Love has come, your love has won

We lift the cross, lift it high, lift it high...

(You can listen to the song here)

   Becky continued: "I was now going to live my life for the Lord...He was waiting for me. I was so selfish & lost all those years.” She adds at the interview: “I don’t know why I waited so long to become a Christian. I think it’s because of my selfishness & my arrogance & I wanted to do things my way…God had to take me through that mess of a life…I’ve been down a really dark road. And I think that if I didn’t go through that, honestly, I probably wouldn’t be so grateful & reliant on Him all the time now…I’m just in love!”

   TFM: Do think that it’s because of your past that you have a hard time trusting & opening yourself up to people, especially, with stories like this? Or have you been hurt by other Christians?

   B: Well, I don’t bring it out, because when I told my family [about the rape], I was called a slut. And then I buried it. I’m not gonna bring up this stuff that hurts so bad & then be called a liar…And then when I recently brought [abortion] up [on social media]. That’s the next time I brought it up!…After the rejection [on social media] on that post [on abortion]…it’s not something I like talking about. There’s doubt, there’s shame. It’s not something people want to talk about. 

   TFM: This is our natural response to put the blame on someone, to figure it out, to get all the questions answered. I understand why people do that. I am one of these people. But now, as a Christian, I check myself - what about [my] sin? I think it’s a good check in your Spirit. Especially, [for] other Christians, to really find out the under-story of a story. You…putting the face to this story, all the horrific details. They matter!…I understand where the judgmental people are coming from…And there’s nothing you can do about it.

   B: I think, too, [it’s important] to remember - I wasn’t 20 years old, I wasn’t out of the house. I was 16…living at home with my father. He’s the one that told me to have an abortion. And that is my authority. I’m living with him, I’m going to do as he tells me to. 

   Becky hasn't talked about her abortion out of fear of judgement. We are already our biggest critics, but to be reminded by others of our sin without showing love & grace, can be understandably too much to bear. 

   What does Becky have to say now to others who are grieved by their past & their mistakes? She writes in her letter: "Don't wait as long as I did. God's peace &...purpose in life was something I wish I had much sooner". 

   TFM: If you were to meet a girl, just like you, living it tough circumstances, pregnant, what would you tell her? B: Well, little did I know then that there are other avenues…about adoption…there are tons of different programs she can get into to help her raise the baby. I didn’t have a supportive family to raise the baby, so that was out of the question for…my parents…I’m a Christian raising Christian [daughters]. For one of my girls to come & say “I’m pregnant” at 16. I would raise that baby with them. I’m not gonna tell them to go have an abortion, because I know better now…You have options. You don’t have to kill the baby. Second…steer them back to the love that the Lord has for you. And don’t wait as long as I did [to become a believer]. I took some major long detours & I didn’t have to…I’m not even kidding, the day I gave my life to the Lord, I just knew, I felt the God’s presence. And ever since that day, my life has been different…Is it perfect? No, but it’s so much better!

   TFM: What about the people who are not Christians, who read your story, who support abortion? What do you have to say to them? If anything?

   B: There are other options…I’d still point them to the Lord. That’s our job to do that. Pro life & pro choice are two totally different things. Being a Christian now, I know the importance of life. 

   TFM: What about the people who read your story & are judgmental?

   B: Most people are going to be judgmental. 

   TFM: What message do you want to send them?

   B: My message would be that I don’t expect them to understand the awful childhood that I was raised in. But to try & have a compassionate heart. And to try & understand & not to necessarily judge…cause I don’t judge you for your sins. Our sins are just labeled differently…Nobody would want to walk in my shoes. It’s not anything I’d wish on my worst enemy…My family - are they still dysfunctional? Yes. But the family that I’m raising doesn’t have to be that way.

   As you can see, this is not just a story of abortion or the child that was never born. This is so many stories in one. Abortion is a symptom of someone's broken life. Just like any other sin that was carried over from the past, taught by the parents, their choices, lack of wisdom & lack of love. There's a lot of pain & brokenness behind each hurtful decision. 

   Becky wrote that her purpose now is "to love, forgive, show grace & mercy to those who don't deserve [it]...& to expand God's kingdom, [introduce] the Lord to my kids, husband, mother, friends...". And let me tell you, as her friend, she is doing a fine job. Rebecca is an influencer - in her house, in her extended family, with her friends & at her job. God has gifted her with amazing customer service skills. She took the ashes that she grew up in & built a beautiful legacy for her children. She did not give up, she did not let the generational curses control her life. She had to forgive others who have hurt her for many years. She had to forgive herself. And she still has to forgive those who are still judging her for the choices she's made as a lost child. “My job is to forgive [them], so I did". She has carried "enough shame & guilt". "I give all the glory to God. Thank you, [God], for taking my mess & turning [it] into a message that glorifies You. Without You, I'd still be lost". 

   If you are in a similar situation, if you grew up in tough circumstances, if you are facing a choice of abortion or have already gone through it, you can reach out to Becky here. She's a friend you want to have. 

   If you are considering an abortion, please, check out Alpha Pregnancy Center in the New York’s Upstate region, here.

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