Abundance of JOY

If anyone would have told me five years ago that I would be writing this today as a faithful believer in Jesus Christ, I   would have considered it ludicrous. The last thing I ever wanted was God in my life, because I really thought that I had my life together. I was an artist living and working with a studio in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I was teaching art in a great New York City public school. I owned my own apartment. I went to the gym and was a fairly regular runner. I was single, strong, independent, and I owned my own car and had an adorable puppy. I thought I was doing okay.

But, something was always missing. All of my efforts to achieve the things that I thought would make me happy, actually left me more and more despairing when I discovered that they didn’t actually make me happy. The more that I accomplished for myself, the more I realized that these things did not fulfill me, the deeper I fell into depression and despair. But still, the last thing that I wanted was God to be the answer. I mean, come on, it’s the twenty first century. I actually believed that having a God in my life would be a detriment to the things I held dear…life wouldn’t be so interesting; creativity would be dulled.

So how did I get here? In January of 2012, I found myself making the biggest mistake of my adult life. I was pregnant with an unexpected child, in a relationship that was grossly unstable. I was 39 years old, and even though I was raised as a Catholic with many years of Catholic schooling, I lacked the faith and courage to say no to an abortion. Although it went against my beliefs and my better judgment and although I had sworn I would never, on January 14, 2012, I had an abortion anyway. At 39 years old. I knew it was not going to be easy to go through with it, because I clearly did not want to do it, but I was not prepared for just how bad it was. I thought I had prepared myself for what I knew would be a difficult time, but nothing could have prepared me for the side effects and consequences of that decision. NOTHING. The post-abortion syndrome that is debated in political circles, in my case, was colossal. The despair was crippling. The emotional pain was devastating. Suicidal ideation, shame, guilt, avoidance, grief, crying spells…you name it, I was experiencing it. Reading a list of symptoms is a far cry from living them. When I look back now, I know that having that abortion almost destroyed me. I cannot explain to you in words the depth of the grief or the power of these effects. It was only the by the Grace of God that it did not kill me. I almost did not make it.

I was in crisis, I was mature enough to be aware of it, and I new that I needed help, that I could not get through it alone. My pain knew no bounds, nor could my efforts to get help. I reached out to every avenue of professional help, but the true lasting healing that I have experienced has come directly from God. God works through people.

My recovery process was long and difficult, tender and slow. My abortion, killing my unborn child, was so deeply and incredibly painful for me, that I finally had to admit, it was because life is precious. I had learned the hard way. Yet, if having an abortion was so cripplingly painful because life was indeed a miraculous gift from God, then I had to accept that MY LIFE was also a miraculous gift from God. It was a humbling, healing moment that I am not sure words can convey. And it was only the beginning; I continued to knock hard on Jesus’ door. I went to church, went on retreats, went to healing programs, spoke with my pastor, went to confession and spent time with the Blessed Sacrament. The result? I have been humbled by the breadth of my experience: the courage to ask for God’s help, and the response I received and the power that it possessed to change my life. I write about it now, looking back, for it has been almost four years, and yet I am certain I am changed forever.

During the many hours I spent in quiet, tearful prayer and debilitating grief on my couch with the comfort of my dog and the presence of God, I brought my pain and anger and grief to the foot of the cross and allowed time for my wound to heal with God’s help. I would repeatedly beg Jesus to, “Heal my heart.” What I did not know, was that he actually would.
In January of 2014, Jesus answered my prayers. While my father lay sick and dying from cancer, I prayed at the Blessed Sacrament daily both about my dad, and the pain I was still experiencing from having my abortion. During one of these tearful meetings, God showed me a vision of my dad, as his body became weaker and weaker and more childlike, returning to the light of God. He showed me the cycle of life, from the conception of my newborn baby to our return to Him. At first, being the skeptic that I am, my response was, “Ok, that’s a nice comforting vision.” But as the days progressed, and my father came closer and closer to “going home,” as he called it, God gave me confirmation after confirmation, and gradually, it dawned on me. That wasn’t just a sweet, little, comforting daydream; it is The Truth. We are his children. We are all here on borrowed time from Him. We come from and return to him.

When my father died early on the morning of my birthday, my greatest confirmation came. God used this huge event in my life, the loss of my father, to answer my prayers and to heal my greatest wounds. Through my father’s death, I experienced the twinkling bridge of God’s love that spans life and death. All of life is a gift from God; I know that now. My heart IS healed, for God has shown me the preciousness of conception and the grace of death, and the value of everything in between. And I didn’t think I ever wanted a God in my life?! God has filled my heart with Joy and transformed my despair into grace and love and compassion and forgiveness.

Through the humility of asking for help and the courage in accepting it, these difficult times in my life became the access point for God’s tremendous healing and growth in my heart. And it can for you, too.   – Christina S

Leave a Reply