“God never promises us an easy life, but He promises to provide a way through where there is joy, peace, and comfort.”
Those are the words I read on August 20, 1997, hours before I was scheduled to abort my child.
Growing up, I never thought I’d be in this position — 23 years old and secretly preparing to undergo an abortion. How could I? I was a pastor’s daughter who had spent most of my childhood in church camps and front pews, learning the value of each unique life that God has created.
The summer after I graduated from college, I decided to leave a long-term relationship. When I thought I was moving on with my life and creating a fresh start for myself, two pink lines flashed before my eyes. At that moment, I vowed two things to myself: my parents would never find out, and I would have an abortion.
I intended to have the abortion quickly and in solitude; I couldn’t let my family go through the shame or public embarrassment as the head of our church. Upon requesting an appointment, however, a nearby abortion clinic suggested the procedure would be easier if I waited three more weeks, the point at which my baby would be at least eight weeks gestation. Today, I know that’s about two weeks after when my baby’s heartbeat could be detected.
As I painfully awaited the procedure, I was unable to carry the weight of my secret all on my own. I confided in a handful of people including my two best friends, both strong women who were also raised in Christian homes. While they did not support my plan to have an abortion, they showed me grace and unconditional love.
The night before my appointment, I lay restless, pondering what the following day would bring. I turned on the TV and asked God to show me some sign, but with no immediate response, climbed back into bed, dreading the morning.
At 2 a.m., I heard a knock. To my surprise, I opened the door to see my two friends standing outside, with three letters in hand.
They had filled the first two letters with loving and beautiful words reiterating that while they did not agree with my decision, they would continue to show me kindness, friendship, and support.
The third letter was simply a piece of paper, unsigned and unaddressed. It read:
“In the short term it seems that your problems will be over, or at least no one will know about them. No one will know. It will be private. But in the long term, you will always know and never forget.”
Despite not calling me out by name, the author of the letter seemed to know me and understand the position I was in.
“I know that by choosing to give life to your baby, you risk a lot. I also know, your life will never be the same no matter what you choose.”
These words filled me with a new strength, clear understanding, and a keen awareness of how deeply I was loved and valued.
I made the decision at that moment to choose life for my baby and needed to tell someone. A pregnancy resource center came to mind, one that I had heard of through a friend, Traci, who volunteered there from time to time. Without hesitation, I picked up the phone and called New Life Family Services.
Traci picked up on the other end. She was not supposed to be working that night, but miraculously, had taken the shift last minute to help a coworker. Amid us crying and praying together over the phone, I learned that she was the one who had written the third letter to me.
At that moment, I knew beyond a doubt that it was the sign from God that I had asked for earlier that night.
Reluctantly, and through a letter, I shared the news with my parents several weeks later. To my surprise, I was met with overwhelming love and support. The same came from my church community when they threw a beautiful baby shower for me and eliminated my fears of never finding acceptance within my faith community.
Eight months after that phone call with Traci, she held my hand in the hospital as I delivered a beautiful and healthy baby boy, Justin. His Palm Sunday birth was another reminder for me of God’s constant mercy and grace.
Now, 26 years later I understand why I received those letters that night and why Traci was the one to pick up my call. God had a purpose for my life in giving me Justin, and I am so honored to have the opportunity to be his mom.
Eight years after choosing life for my son I met my wonderful husband on August 20th, bringing additional importance to a date that I had always cherished. Thanks to a few letters, some close friends, the grace of God, and a beautiful August day, I now have more blessings, joy, and happiness than I ever imagined.
Julie Orlando is a mom who has a career in nonprofit fundraising.
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