Thursday, June 12, 2014

June Hope Chest- Hope Heals by Stacy Sheppard

 2 Corinthians 1:4
"He comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble, with the same comfort we ourselves, have received from God."
This is a true account of a series of decisions that have impacted my life and will hopefully impact those whom I encounter in this life. It is by God's grace, I am able to tell you this story. For almost 20 years, I have kept this story to myself, and suffered in silence. I, only recently,  started reaching out to women who have found themselves, in this same desperate situation.
I was in love! Crazy in love! 
It was 1995, and I was a sophomore in college, at Marshall University. I had fallen in love with the most handsome fraternity boy, and he was just as crazy in love with me. We explored college life together and overindulged into what seemed like the perfect college experience. We were young and living free from our parents and their rules. It was a time of ultimate freewill that eventually led us to a path of destruction.
Several months into the relationship, I noticed that my normal trim size 2 jeans, were fitting a bit snug around the waist. I remember thinking; I better lay off the late night Taco Bell runs. It wasn't long before I realized that I had missed a period. I was pregnant.
How did this happen? I was taking my birth control pills.....most of the time.....I think.
I bet I took a half dozen pregnancy tests before I finally came to the realization, that I was inevitably pregnant. 
My boyfriend took the news rather well. He was supportive of any “final” decision that I made. Decision? I am a 20-year-old, single female, without a job, or a car, living in a sorority house. What was there to think about? 
I wasn't ready to have a baby. I felt like a kid myself. I had always been a "pro-choicer". Many of my friends and even family members had terminated their pregnancies and it didn't seem like a big deal. In fact, they never talked about it again. I decided right away that I would terminate my pregnancy. I thought it was the right choice for me. 
Besides, I kept hearing a voice, kind of like a harsh whisper telling me things like, "You’re too young to be a parent", "You’re going to get fat and your boyfriend will leave you", "No one will ever want marry a single mom with baggage", "You will never finish school and you will have to live on welfare forever." 
But, something else was tugging at my heart. What was it? It felt like guilt or maybe condemnation. I found out later that it was called conviction. But, I didn't know anything about conviction. I knew about God, and something about his son, Jesus, but I had never been taught about being a sinner or getting saved. I was taking a theology class that same semester, and I was considering a lot of different religions at the time, but Christianity wasn't really one of them. I scheduled an appointment at the local abortion clinic. I was still really early in my pregnancy, so I had several weeks to think it over.
I started to feel alone and scared. I cried every night, and even wished for death. 
I didn't feel like I had anyone to talk to about my little situation. I couldn't understand why I was having such a difficult time. I started to consider that perhaps what I was doing was wrong. I called the abortion clinic and talked to a counselor. She convinced me to come into clinic to talk about my feelings. I agreed, and made an appointment the very next day. 
The abortion counselor seemed so nice and non-judgmental. I trusted her immediately. She had answers to all my questions and fears. She convinced me that at my stage of the pregnancy, it was nothing more than just tissue and clumps of cells in my wasn't a baby, unless I wanted it to be. 
At the end of our session, she asked me "What would keep you from terminating your pregnancy?" I stuttered a few words, and then said, "Maybe there is a God, and maybe this is murder." I still remember her sly, seemingly sweet smile as she opened her file and handed me two full pages of biblical scriptures that she said "supported abortion". If that wasn't enough, she then handed me a signed doctrine from a Catholic Priest, which said no matter what choices that I made today, God would forgive me. It was a twisted, dark lie that this pro-abortionist sold me that day. I made my final decision and had an abortion that next day, which led me down a deep, dark path of anguish and despair.
I didn't know what to expect during the procedure. They gave me a muscle relaxer and told me to wait until I was called. I scanned the room. Some women were alone, some were with their boyfriends or husbands and others were with their mothers or grandmothers. 
No one spoke a word. It was eerily quiet until the nurse would come out and call each of us back by name. It was my turn. I got up slowly and went into the back room. As I prepared for my procedure, I looked up and saw a familiar face. It was the face of my very own Gynecologist. He had been the one that had started me on birth control pills, just a few months prior. He seemed surprised to see me, but quickly assured me that he would take good care of me and it would be over quick. 
The procedure itself lasted less than a minute.
I was quickly escorted out into the next room and was given birth control options. I asked for the most reliable option, other than the birth control pill, as I had already demonstrated negligence. I was told that the Depo Provera shot was 99.9% reliable and I eagerly accepted the injection. No one bothered to explain to me that the injection only lasted for 12 weeks. It was only 4 months later, that I found myself in the same predicament only to repeat the same mistake. 
I was told not to talk about it. My boyfriend didn’t know how to comfort me, as he was also dealing with the outcome and consequences of our actions as well.
I suffered in silence. I felt depressed and sad. I contemplated suicide. I started cutting my wrists and arms with razor blades. I didn't think that I deserved to live. I felt like I deserved to suffer. I remember standing at the top of the stairs of the sorority house and wanting to jump. I cried myself to sleep at night. No one really knew how sick I was....
I wish I could say that I found the Lord right away and asked for forgiveness of my sins, but it didn't happen that way. I was angry with myself. I went on a path of destruction, before I ever found my sweet, loving and glorious savior. 
Thank you Jesus for Your grace and Your mercy. Thank You Jesus for your forgiveness of my sins. Thank You Jesus for the destiny that You have set before me.
I have always had a heart for women, even before I had a relationship with God. I have a heart for the broken and the lost. I remember what it is like not to be saved. It is lonely, painful and full of deceit. I don't want to ever return to a life where I don't know the Holy Spirit. 
Several years ago, a lady prayed over me at a tent meeting, and proclaimed that it was my destiny to bring birth to women. I didn't know what she meant at the time, but I have kept the words that she spoke over me close to my heart. I feel that God brought me out of that dark place to give comfort to those who need healing from abortions, and to expose the ugly truth about the lies, that others spread about choosing death.

At the beginning of this month, a 20-year-old girl walked into my outpatient practice, and told me that she was unexpectedly pregnant. She announced that she was planning to have an abortion and had made an appointment, at the very same abortion clinic that I had my procedures 20 years prior. My heart sank. I could barely contain my emotion and hold back my tears. She had a friend with her that day, and something inside me told me that my timing was off and to keep my mouth shut. I prayed for her daily and tried contacting her almost every day, only to receive a disconnection notice. I had almost given up, as I was sure that she had probably already terminated her pregnancy. One day before her scheduled procedure, she walked into my office and requested to speak with me. God showed up in a big way. I shared my story and my regrettable decisions. I didn't leave out a single detail. I don’t normally tell my patients about personal life events, but God pressed me to educate her on the truth about abortion. As she left my office, she told me that she had been asking God to send someone to her that would understand her predicament. 
She chose life that day. 
I am healed by the blood of the lamb, but there is not a single day that goes by, that I do not think about my babies, whom I have named Nathaniel and Nikki. Abortion has lifelong consequences and I have high hopes that I can help expose the truth.

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