My boyfriend and I became pregnant during a summer in between semesters at college. When I had my medication abortion a few weeks later, I felt instant relief. I knew it was the right decision for me, for my boyfriend, and for our families. Exercising my constitutional right to end my pregnancy helped me become the successful lawyer I am today.
I was brought up in a fiercely pro-choice, feminist household, where abortion was never taboo. Yet, I still internalized many of the stigmatizing messages in the news, politics, film, and TV that portrayed abortion as a sin. Because of this, I never told anyone in my family about my pregnancy or my abortion.
In fact, for months after my abortion, I dreamt that my boyfriend and I were getting married in the church I’d been attending from the time I was baptized at six weeks old. When we reached the altar, the ceiling directly above us would crumble. We jumped back to avoid the falling debris. The ceiling continued to fall, pushing us farther and farther back until we were on the street. I would wake each time out of breath and fearful that God was sending me a message: “You no longer belong in my house.” I didn’t go to church for months; I was too afraid of what might happen. I wouldn’t even pray because I felt like I didn’t have the right to.
Yet, I could not run from God forever. Home from college for Easter, I had to go to church with my family. It was unavoidable. To make my anxiety worse, I knew that had I decided to carry the pregnancy to term, I would have given birth around that time. I walked into our beautiful house of worship, terrified. I sat in our usual pew and kept my eyes on the ceiling for most of the service, thinking of my recurring dream.
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Then toward the end, something remarkable happened. After communion, as many of us Episcopalians do, I took a moment to pray on my own without guidance from the rector. As I spoke with God for the first time in a long time, openly and honestly through my heart, I began to cry quietly. I knew then in my soul that I was forgiven because there was nothing I had done that required forgiveness. In that moment, God was helping me forgive myself.
During those would-be gestational months, I carried a heavy weight of guilt because I believed I had sinned gravely. And the only reason why I felt that way was because other people had said I’d committed an act of sin. But when it was just me and God alone, I felt nothing but love, support, and a command to love and forgive myself.
Before that Easter Sunday service, I used to dread going to church. It was a chore. As a teenager, I thought that as I got older, I would eventually stop attending. But after that moment of clarity and pure divine love, I became a person of faith in all respects. I finally felt connected to my faith, my church, and the Trinity.
Easter is no longer the one Sunday in the year when I feel like I have to attend a service. Since that moment, it is a Sunday when I feel grateful to be a part of a loving, spiritual community; I am eager to reaffirm my connection to God; and I have a moment to commemorate the creation I helped make and gave back to God.
Easter is the holiest day of the Christian calendar. It is also the day I learned to love and forgive myself in order to become closer to God. For that, I am thankful for my abortion and happy to rejoice this Sunday, for the Lord is risen, and He lives in me.