I Spent Four years of My Life Defending This Country...But I Couldn’t Prevent the Death of My Child
I was in the Army and was called to complete my last year of service stationed in Germany. We agreed that Susan would stay with her folks. We would save our money, and she would begin looking at houses for when I returned. That was the plan.
called me shortly after I began my duty overseas and shared that she was
pregnant. The first thing I told her
was, “we’re not ready for this; I have to finish my service. We can’t do this
with me away for the next year.”
I convinced her that abortion was the right decision. The day of the abortion was the day I died. I felt dead for 14 years.
I returned home I dealt with this wound…by not dealing with it. I stuffed it down deep, and put all my energy
into my work. I felt like my identity was taken from me and I never felt whole.
I spent four years of my life defending this country, but couldn’t prevent the
death of my child because of fear, inconvenience, and selfishness.
was successful in my business…I had a wife, a nice house, and a couple of
beautiful children. But I never felt whole.
It was like something was missing.
worked all the time and was emotionally distant from my wife and kids. I felt in many ways like an outsider; more
like a hired caretaker without a deep bond with my family.
this painful realization would break through I would drink, look at porn on the
internet, and try to get away from these feelings as quickly as possible. But this denial was slowly eating away at my
marriage and robbed me of the gifts that surrounded me-gifts that I was unable
to fully embrace and celebrate.
and I separated several times and we both turned to people outside our
relationship to help ease the loneliness and pain we secretly carried in our
our struggles, we clung to our Christian faith, even as we fell short and
sinned, and tried to make things work for the sake of the children. We started to see a Christian counselor at
our church. For the first time, someone
asked us if there was an abortion in our past.
Susan just broke down. It was
clear that this was the greatest wound in our marriage, and the source of our
we were to stay together and build a new foundation in this marriage, we had to
face this loss, and all the dark feelings associated with it. The counselor recommended a weekend retreat
for post abortion healing called Rachel’s
Vineyard. We found their website and
registered for the next retreat in our area.
arrived at the retreat center very anxious of what was to come, but quietly
excited and hopeful that maybe this would help in some way…if it didn’t I was
sure our marriage was headed for divorce.
Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat is a healing process that uses various activities and
exercises that are specially designed to heal the deeply buried grief and other
pain that arises from an abortion loss.
of the first activities of the retreat on Friday evening is based on the bible
story of “The Woman Caught in Adultery.”
These scripture stories are “reenacted” in a process called “Living
Scripture.” In these meditations you
enter the scripture story and become a participant in that event.
the exercise, as we shared our experience of the meditation, we touched on the
issue of self-condemnation and were made aware of a pile of rocks of various
sizes, shapes, colors and textures placed beneath a table at the center of the
It turns out that many of us gathered on that
retreat struggled with forgiving ourselves for our role in the death of our
unborn children, and others struggled to forgive those who had pushed them to
retreat facilitator invited those of us struggling with forgiveness issues to
carry a rock as a reminder — a symbol of condemnation — of our inability to
forgive. The rock represented (in a very concrete way!) our conflict.
any point during the weekend, we could freely put it down. Until that time you
were instructed to carry it with you at all times. Through this simple exercise I became aware
as the retreat progressed, of how the burden of self-condemnation was impacting
my life in so many ways…
each exercise and activity I began to trust that we were on a painful but
rewarding journey that would bring the healing in our lives we so desperately
longed for. For the first time we were
able to share the story of our abortion experience, and felt safe to share our
hearts with each other and the group.
Saturday afternoon we participated in the Living Scripture exercise based on
the story of Lazarus in the Gospel of John…
are probably wondering how they reenacted this scripture account.
retreat participants are asked to name a part of themselves that has died
because of sin. The facilitator then
takes a strip of gauze bandage, and gently wraps the area we identify.
in our group wrapped their eyes because they lost sight of God. One woman asked that her heart be wrapped as
it was broken by abandonment of her father and later her boyfriend when she
became pregnant. Another man felt
powerless to stop an abortion he did not want and asked that his hands be
the retreat team approached Susan my wife decided to have her left hand
wrapped. Susan said, “This is the
hand that my wedding ring is on, and I want to see our marriage
the team approached me, I shared “You have to wrap my heart . . . it is
just broken. It’s been broken ever since I got the call that the abortion was
over and my child was gone.”
of us was then given the opportunity to profess our faith. Through faith in Christ we believe that we
can rise from the death caused by sin and be healed of our deepest wounds.
After Susan made her statement of faith a team member went to un-wrap her
I received a gift of grace at that moment that
led me to say, “No, no, please, let me do it — I think this is my place
as her husband. I want a partnership to begin that we never have had. I want to
be there for her, not so distant anymore.”
so, I un-wrapped her hand; Susan, in turn, un-wrapped my heart and asked
forgiveness for her bitterness toward me. We embraced for the longest time…
the first time since we were dating, we held hands as we walked along the road
together to the cafeteria for our evening meal…
from Tears of
the Fisherman: Recovery for Men Wounded by Abortion, by Kevin Burke, LSW]