Please read this beautiful essay written by Alison Grotberg of North Dakota. Alison is a freelance writer, a pro-family/pro-life activist, a wife, mom of nine beautiful kids, a home-schooling mom, and a dear friend of Concerned Women for America (CWA) of North Dakota. These words were penned after attending a post-abortion panel in Jamestown, North Dakota, this past Sunday where she heard the deeply touching testimonies of several post-abortive women. We wanted to share this with you, as we think Alison so deeply grasped the truth and healing of these brave women. We truly believe that the post-abortive moms and dads of America are the ones that will, by their testimonies, stop the killing of the unborn in our land. May we welcome these testimonies and never deny them their opportunity to speak the truth.
CWA of North Dakota
Clean faces, cozy jammies, my kids were tired but excited to tell me about their day. I sat and listened, tired too; my heart pensive, thoughtful. What miraculous force animated their little bodies! I noticed the slope of their noses, the gesturing sweep of their hands, coy words said through hinted smiles. They are so alive: lungs breathing, hearts beating, stomachs digesting, eyelashes batting. Glorying in the moment, in their mother’s presence, happy to have my attention.
It’s hard to believe I am their mother, and they are here. And I am here with them. Oh, what that means! It is not an accident. It is not all because of me. There is a Hand that has brought us to this place and time, together.
I have thought much lately about the circumstances of their birth, each one of them. Musing, as I often do, over the number of them. When people meet me, they usually express surprise when they learn there are nine of them. Some say we are blessed. Others wonder out loud if my husband and I know what causes them. So many times I look at our children and wonder why God has entrusted them to us? I feel humbled by the task.
But today has changed my life. How can I tell you why? How can I describe the experience of sitting across the room from five women telling about the biggest, darkest secret in their lives? Each of them told the story. Long faces, burdened hearts, wills steeled by duty. And tears. Tears bearing out reality. Unselfconscious punctuations revealing the pain still present.
What made it worse was that, right in front of them, I held my own baby who was alive. They were telling me of the death of theirs. They said they had done it knowing that it involved the ending of a life, the life of their own child. But they chose to do it anyway. They didn’t want to, but they were compelled to, each for their own reasons. And I stood there holding my baby who was alive while another woman, so much like me, told about the sounds of suction that had torn and dismembered her baby from her womb. I felt cruel. How could I flaunt life in the face of their death, the death of the child and the death of the woman’s soul that had withered under the weight of what she had done?
But still, she was there and the other women with her. They chose to come to us. Their message was clear: “We can’t be silent anymore.” Their own pain required it of them. How can so much pain live in the human heart? These women were shattered. Their lives had been derailed; their secret a dark corner that confined them, defined them. But it wasn’t only pain driving them to tell us; it was also hope.
Their hope in themselves was gone. What replaced it was hope that comes through redemption. They said that truly knowing Jesus, receiving His forgiveness, and allowing His love to wash over them was what replaced their despair with healing. It gave them the will to break their silence and the unselfish love to share their pain with us, so that we would know. So that we would tell others. So that more babies wouldn’t die, and more mothers wouldn’t cry. These were their words. It was love that made them do it. To think that other women stood at the brink of living through the devastation they had lived – no, to them that was unthinkable. They must speak.
There must be ears to hear. We must hear. Hear their cries. Be shocked by their pain. Feel our own shame for not wanting to know. Who wants to be responsible for that? Better not to know about it because everyone knows that to know means to bear responsibility. And it’s hard to face responsibility. It means we have to be accountable. It means we have to grapple with facts that are inconvenient and uncomfortable. It dismantles our hedonism. It makes us look at our own blindness. We may even open ourselves up to hearing our own secrets whispered to us.
But there are some things we need to know. What we need to know is that every one of these women were church women. They look exactly like the women sitting in church pews next to us in churches across America every Sunday. We need to know that every one of these women grew up in church. Some of them were even “pro-life.”
We also need to know that over 75 pastors from the area were invited to come to hear their stories, stories of women from our own state. Who wants to hear their story? Who wants to know about the children that were not allowed to live? Who wants to feel the pain? Two pastors came. Thirty others were there and these women resolutely opened up their pain and bravely shared it with us.
In spite of their ongoing healing, the women still feel their pain, (because they said when you kill your child you never forget). What is beautiful is that these women are no longer stuck there, in all that pain. They are forgiven! Free from the silent cancer eating at their emotions. Free from the self-destructive thoughts and actions that they once used to punish themselves for killing the innocent. These are their words.
Yet, in order for their story to push away the ugly shroud of guilt covering so many (they say one in every two to three women), their story needs to be heard. The story of their healing needs to be retold. Again and again.
Tonight my baby lies beside me. Her rounded cheeks and brows and little nostrils replay humanity’s form echoed in a new generation, the image crying out to be seen, to be heard, to be protected. Today has changed my life. I will never be the same. They have not told their stories in vain.
Alison’s blog was originally posted here. To get involved with CWA of North Dakota, e-mail State Director Janne Myrdal at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit nd.cwfa.org. To get involved with one of our other fine state organizations, visit our CWA in the States page.