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The Rippling Effect
Sharon
Kansas, United States

What is the rippling effect? It is when one person sins and then it causes another and another. I was only fifteen when I experienced my first abortion which led to another when I was 31. This sin led me to drugs, alcohol and depression. The main reason I call this the rippling effect is that I’ve learned recently that my father made abortion the solution for my older sister’s teen pregnancy only a few years before I had experienced the same sequence of events. One person’s sin leads to another, and to cope with the wrong they’ve done they run from the reality of the pain, replacing it with self destructive help such as drugs, alcohol and relationships of lust. I know I am one of many suffering in silence for the loss of my children I could have had. My mother has wanted me to write my story for some time. She passed away January 24, 2001, so unfortunately she will not be here to witness her prayers answered. I am doing this in her honor and know that she is praying for me still. It has been sixteen years since my conversion and I have finally received enough courage to share my story which I hope will help others.

Here is my story. I’ll take you back to my teenage years. I grew up in a big family of nine siblings. My father was a convert and my mother a devout Catholic. They did their best to raise the family with Christian values. I thank them for giving me the truth of my Catholic faith at such a young age, because I consider myself the prodigal daughter. If I hadn’t had the truth they gave me, I wouldn’t have known whom to cry out to when I was in the darkest of sin. I had low self-esteem growing up. I was a heavier-set child seeking love in all the wrong places.

I was fifteen when I met David at a skating rink. I thought this was love. He made me feel good, for a little while, and I gave into the worst of sin. Back in those days, sex before marriage was frowned on and unacceptable. I didn’t realize what that one decision would result in. I soon discovered I was pregnant. I was in complete denial. I told David I was pregnant. Neither of us were ready to raise a baby, but we didn’t question having the child. I didn’t want to tell my parents. I tried to keep it a secret. But soon my mother suspected there was something going on. She noticed a change in my mood. I soon had to confess that I was indeed pregnant. As soon as my father found out he was furious. In fact, now I had to face my parents alone. David was no longer allowed to be around me. If he dared to come near me, my father would forbid it. My father asked me if I wanted to have the baby. I said, "Yes." He offered me two choices. I could either have the baby and get out of his house to fend for myself, or have an abortion. My dad said he would pay for the abortion. I wish I could say that I didn’t take his option to abort, but I thought I had no choice. I didn’t know there were other resources out there where I could go for help. 

I remember the day of my abortion. It was only two weeks before my sixteenth birthday when most teens are excited about getting a driver’s license, but I was in complete darkness, prepared to allow doctors and nurses to kill my baby. My father walked me into the clinic. Everyone was in complete silence. I looked at the other women like myself. I will never forget their faces. We all were in complete sorrow, but no one said a word. My father left me at the clinic and would pick me up two hours later. When it was my turn the nurse called my name with a harsh tone. I was scared, alone and at the lowest point in my life. This wasn’t anything like going to a normal hospital or clinic. There was no preparation for the procedure. I felt no compassion. I also felt as if Jesus could no longer love me. They laid me on the table. From that point on everything was fuzzy. I felt cramping and knew my baby was dying. The only thoughts going through my mind were that now I had done the unthinkable and  my life would surely be horrible from that day forward. After the procedure they moved me to another room to sleep for an hour until my father could pick me up, because I couldn’t walk. I felt inhuman. This wasn’t the right solution. That wasn’t love. 
 
After that day I was never the same. I was supposed to go back to school and church like nothing happened, like the so-called "problem" was resolved. That day led me on a road of bad decisions. The rippling effect of sin had begun with me and my family. I had no interest in school and looked depressed all the time. Not only did I turn to drugs but this led my brothers to follow in my footsteps. We were soon experimenting with crack, cocaine, and alcohol. Thoughts of suicide often taunted me. I looked for love in all the wrong places. I thought love was a feeling so I looked for things that made me feel good. Soon those feelings would wear off and I thought I had to do more to feel love again. Had I only known that God was love and wanted to prevent me from going on this road. 

Years later I met a man, got pregnant and married him. I met him while experiencing a destructive lifestyle and the only reason he married me was to make sure his son had his last name. He soon had an affair and divorced me. I sought comfort at the bars and soon thereafter by using crack.  I had a one night stand. I was pregnant again, and this time I can’t say my father brought me to the clinic. To avoid telling my parents I was considering another abortion, I asked my brother Bruce to take me. I chose to abort another child. Only this one I can blame on no one but myself. I was five months pregnant so this was the worst abortion. All I could think of was that the baby had no father and I was on crack. I didn’t want a crack baby, so I aborted it.

I remember my mom suffering because of the life I had chosen. She was often in tears as I laughed because I was high on drugs. She never gave up hope. I know she prayed hard for me. If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be here today. She decided to bring me to a healing service. She knew the right solutions. I remember when she invited me I said yes, but I was on drugs when I went. At this point I was on drugs every day. Even though I was going to church I was high. My mother’s faith was so strong that she knew if she got me to the healing service I would be healed. My first healing service was in 1991 at St. Joseph Church in Kansas City, Kansas. The priest asked for the most-needed cases to come up first. I waited for a while but my mom knew I wouldn’t wait very long. So she brought me up to the front to be healed. I remember it like yesterday. The priest prayed over me and the feeling was more ecstasy than any drug I had ever taken. I asked my mom what had just happened. I knew something had come over me. This was the beginning of my healing process. After that day I still did drugs, but not as much and I soon started thinking about God a lot and about the healing service. This was the beginning of the end of the rippling effect of sin.

On Pentecost weekend in 1992, my mom invited me to another healing service. This time I would be completely healed from all addictions. Father Stephen Barnham asked me what I would like him to pray for. I said, ”I would like to have the Holy Spirit in my life." He prayed over me and the love was so intense, my knees buckled up. I fell to the floor resting in the Spirit.Our Lord flashed my whole life before me. I was embraced with a stern, fatherly love.  I was shown how many people were hurt that loved me and how I hurt myself. I cried uncontrollably now, knowing how much God the Father still loved me after all of those years away from Him. I realized then that I was the age of Christ at his death on the cross (33) and my first abortion was the age of Mary (15) at His birth.

I did a 180 turn back on the road to heaven. My life was no longer a living hell. I found love and can’t get enough of Jesus. My love for Jesus is so intense that I have no words to describe it. From that day forward I let the Holy Mass become my life, embracing Him in the Eucharist. I hadn’t gone to the sacrament of confession for over fifteen years. The more I took of the Eucharist, the more I was convinced to receive the sacrament of confession. Although I had a tremendous amount of fear, I did find strength to go. I couldn’t decide which priest I wanted to go to, so I took a smoke break outside of the Marian Conference in Denver, and there just happened to be a priest also taking a smoke break. During the smoke break, I mentioned to Father Ken Roberts that I hadn’t been to confession for fifteen years and couldn’t decide who to confess to. It would be either to him, Father Chris Myers, or to Father Vince Rogers. He made it simple for me. He said how about right now. I told him I couldn’t remember the commandments and he said he would walk me through them. After this confession, I went to Mass, received Jesus, and experienced a burning fire of love within me. I no longer go to church because my mom wants me to. I go because I crave to be closer to Jesus. He treats me like I’m his favorite sheep, the child He has been longing to hold closely for so long. All I had to do is surrender to Him. I let His power come over me and love me the way I have always wanted. If you experience God’s love, you no longer desire the cheap imitation substitutes that the devil offers. I experienced a religious conversion that brought me back on the road to truth, healing and self-control.  
 
I learned that post-abortive women and men take years to heal from the effects of abortion. I then sought healing through a nine-week program called Project Rachel. This program taught me to name my children. I found great healing in naming the two Therese Ann and Luke Benjamin. I owe them an apology for the selfish decisions and lifestyle I chose. I wish I could hug them and say I’m sorry. The son that I did choose to have, Michael, has also felt the pain of my decisions. He asks me why I chose to have him and not his brother and sister. I still, to this day, can’t give him an answer. My son has been a part of my path to holiness by teaching me not to be selfish. I care about what he thinks. He is one of the few people I actually listen to. He asked me to quit smoking when I had been smoking for thirty-three years. This would take a miracle. Father Vince Rogers, a good shepherd and friend, reached out in love. He prayed over me and I could feel the release of unforgiveness, bitterness, and resentment leaving me. After this encounter, I was completely healed of my smoking addiction. If my son can lead me to healing and unselfish love, just think of what the other two children could have done. If only I could have toughed it out, ignoring the judgmental eyes, and raised all three of my children, not doubting that God would provide. But I have to go forward and all I can do now is try to give others the truth; the truth that life is from conception to natural death. 

Through my healing process God has worked miracles. He has taken the evil I’ve done and turned it into a testimony that can help others. God has led me to pray in front of abortion clinics and to pray endlessly for the end of abortion. I remember the fifteenth year anniversary of my complete healing of my drug addiction from the abortion. It was Pentecost weekend, the day before Mother’s Day. I prayed in front of the exact abortion mill where I had had my abortion. That day Bishop Robert W. Finn and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann stood beside me praying for the end of abortion. I didn’t realize this was the same Pentecost weekend as back in 1992 when I had received healing from my drug addiction due to having the abortion at Planned Parenthood abortuary in Johnson County. I don’t know how to thank them enough for being a vessel of God’s love, mercy, and support.    

If I think about the Blessed Mother Mary, I realize people looked down on her and thought of her as an unwed mother. They were ready to throw rocks at her, but God provided for her. Blessed Mother Mary wouldn’t even think of abortion and, thank God, it wasn’t an alternative because Jesus is the only reason I have a chance for heaven. Without her courage and her "Yes" there would be no hope and no point in another day. But we all have a purpose no matter how we get here, whether we got here from a devout Catholic family, an unwed mother, or even if our mom was on drugs. God has a purpose for us. We are His children. So I guess that is why He wants me to share my story, because maybe it will save His children from the evil of abortion.

I’m sorry for the choices I made to abort two of God’s children who had a purpose and still have a purpose. They both are praying for me and for you, and that no more children are aborted… Please pray the rosary for the unborn.

God bless.

With all my love,
In Christ Jesus,
Sharon Echols


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