This article is reprinted with permission from the FOCUS blog.
I'm going to get right into it.
About four years ago, I was in a relationship. We were sexually active. I was taking birth control. One day, though, I forgot to take my pill. After our weekend together ended and it was time for me to head home, I was hit with anxiety: What if...?
At first, I shook it off. I knew the likelihood of that happening to me was so slim. Plus, it was only one missed pill. I convinced myself I’d be fine. But the anxiety didn't go away.
Thoughts spun through my mind. I can't get pregnant right now. Am I overexaggerating? I'm not ready. We're not ready. I have to finish school. Would I get an abortion? Isn't that wrong? Would we keep the baby?
I told my boyfriend. He seemed unafraid and had a simple solution.
“Let's go to the drug store on your way out of town and grab you the Plan B pill.” The words rolled off his tongue so casually, like it was normal. “Yeah, I've bought it before for a girlfriend. You'll be fine.”
So I packed up my stuff, got in my car and followed him to the drug store. I was in shock, thinking, I'm THAT girl right now.
At the same time, there was this real thrill — like “one more thing I can say I’ve done.” It was similar to the feeling I had when I’d lost my virginity the year prior: a little bit of shame mixed with a sense of accomplishment.
How sad. I was somewhat proud of myself.
But I wasn't proud enough to walk into that store and make the purchase myself. So I made him. I sat in my car and waited. He went in grabbed the box, payed the money and brought me the plastic bag that contained two little pills. I kissed him goodbye and drove off with my Plan B in hand.
When I got home, I locked myself in my room, worried about what side effects the pill could have…but nothing happened. I felt perfectly normal — other than the sinking feeling in my stomach. I fought it, saying, “That it was totally fine. It was just precautionary, and I probably didn't need to take it after all.” Nonetheless, I did.
Fast forward. My boyfriend and I broke up months later. I slowly began to have a conversion, and Jesus called me out of my sexual history and asked me to take a leap of faith, living out the virtue of chastity. Not long after making the decision to abstain, something even crazier happened. In April 2014, I became a Catholic.
Press the fast-forward button again. I became a FOCUS missionary. I loved being a missionary, but I also went through very deep healing. I found a priest who was willing to spiritually direct me and guide me through the healing of my heart, most of that healing coming from my past relationships with men.
Father asked me to do a general confession before. There was fasting and lots of praying leading up to this day, so I knew Jesus was going to show up in a huge way, or at least I hoped.
While praying through the things I needed to take to confession, my use of Plan B came to mind….
When I went into confession with Father, I began to read off my list to him. When I confessed my use of Plan B, I said it very casually, like my boyfriend at the time had. Father stopped me and said, “I’m sorry, but I have to ask: Do you know if you ended a pregnancy when you took it?”
Nothing has ever stopped me in my tracks as much as that line did.
I stumbled to find words and began to tear up. Ended a pregnancy. Like have an abortion? Me? The Catholic missionary?
“I don't think so, Father….” He could tell I was incredibly uncomfortable.
Father continued, “I only ask because if you think you did, there are some prayers of healing and forgiveness we need to go through.”
I just shook my head. “I don't think I did.”
Father nodded and continued on. We finished and went into our prayer session — and it was incredible. I had finally found relief in so much of my past sexual sins, along with an immense amount of forgiveness. I walked away feeling much lighter, and I knew Jesus had shown me His healing love and mercy that day.
But something lingered. I couldn't stop asking myself: Did I have an abortion?
I wrestled with that question for a week, and I soon began to fall into a lot of despair. I was sure Satan was making me feel worse, but I couldn't shake the worry of not knowing what was actually the fate of my choice that day. I rationalized it in every way I could think.
Thankfully, that same priest came for a visit at the Newman Center where I worked and wanted to talk to me following our healing/prayer session.
It came out like word vomit. “Father, I’m worried that I may have had an abortion. You mentioned that I would have to pray through that. What does that look like?”
Father put his hand on my shoulder. “Well, for women who have had abortions, I typically have them walk through a specific kind of prayer. Basically, you would ask Jesus to show you the child, whether it’s a boy or a girl. Then you would name the child and pray for God’s forgiveness and for the prayers of your child in heaven. We can walk through that if you’d like.”
I was ruined already. I was fighting back so many tears. But I looked at him and said, “Let’s do it.”
I decided in that moment that I would have complete and total abandonment to God. I knew that if I indeed had had an abortion that Jesus would forgive me, and I would eventually be able to forgive myself.
I don’t remember much about Father’s prayers over me — but what I do remember is this:
In my meditation, Jesus walked toward me, cradling something in His arms. As He came closer, I realized that something small was wrapped in a soft pink blanket. I began to tell myself, This is it. I aborted a baby girl....But Jesus smiled. He leaned in to show me that sweet little baby’s face, and His eyes lit up. “She's not yours...yet,” He said. “But one day….” He smiled and walked away.
Jesus gave me the sweetest gift of all: a small glimpse of what he has in store for me, a glimpse at the vocation I’d always desired, a glimpse of the gift He’d allow me and my husband to receive one day. A gift of a second chance.
This story isn’t something I share often — but with those whom I have, I know there has been a greater increase in faith and also a better understanding of the wounds many women experience today.
The hurt and pain of contraception, abortion and premarital sex are real. Very, very real. Women feel trapped and unwanted, and they feel like they have no place to turn. Women are left feeling broken. Most of the time, we are totally oblivious to why we feel that pain.
Ladies, you aren't alone. You don't have to suffer silently. You don't have to suffer alone. You don't have to live in fear that you aren’t loveable. You don't have to fight in a war that has already been won. You can start your healing today.
Maybe you've never even thought twice about any of these things that you’ve done or might be doing. You might think I’m being prudish and outdated and pushing some spiritual nonsense that doesn't apply to you directly. But remember: I thought the same thing too.
I pray my story stirs something in you. God Bless.
When it comes to your health and healing, there is a better way. Organizations like Bella NaturalWomen’s Care and CMF CURO provide health and wellness resources and connect you with other Catholics in health care to share and rebuild a culture of life in our society.
In addition, seek the counsel of a priest. The sacraments are an incredible source of healing which Jesus has gifted to us. Go to confession regularly and go to Mass — not just on Sunday, but daily if possible. We NEED the Eucharist. Seek the counsel of a priest through spiritual direction. They are our spiritual fathers here on earth and desire to walk with us and Jesus.