In the first part of Candace’s story, she tells of her abortion and the resulting pain and guilt she experienced following it. As her secret lay buried deep within, Candace faced nearly six years of smiling on the outside while aching within her soul. “When nobody knows, who do you call, who do you grieve with?” Candace asked.
About a year after the abortion, Candace’s family began to go to church. Soon enough, Candace was baptized and converted to Christianity. Although she believed that Jesus offers forgiveness, the old fears were still there: “It nagged at me – I know I’m saved, but I don’t know if I’m really forgiven,” she recalls.
Meanwhile, there were other challenges that kept cropping up. Friends would become pregnant, and it was so hard to share in their joy. They’d come over with their babies, and when asked if she wanted to hold the child, Candace would be thinking, no, not really. Just hearing the word “abortion” could bring a wave of emotion. The “what-if” situations plagued her – what if she hadn’t had an abortion? Where would that child be today?
Her mother became sick, and Candace recalls the things that ran through her mind as she sat next to her mom. “You almost had a grandchild you didn’t know about, she would have been five years old… I robbed you of that.” But Candace couldn’t tell her.
One way Candace dealt with the strain during those years was to “do penance” by being the best person she could be. She signed up for every committee she could at college, church and her work, overcommitting, working long hours and often letting people down. “It got so overwhelming, always feeling like I was failing… I realized I couldn’t go on that way.” She realized that her abortion was dictating every life decision as she desperately sought to make up for it.
Shortly after breaking up with her boyfriend of ten years, Candace heard about the PCC’s post-abortion program on the radio. In January of 2013, she walked into the first group session. She recalls that day vividly. “On day one they told us to look at everybody’s face and memorize it. The same question was asked at the end of study. It was like four brand new women… The weight was gone and there were smiles, hugs and fellowship.”
Throughout that time, Candace found healing and forgiveness. The first step in that process, Candace says, was grieving what was lost through abortion. “The biggest thing I recognized is that after you come to terms with what’s happened, you change your view on life. It’s not an ‘it’, it’s a person and now you can mourn and grieve – those are just emotions you want to get out.”
Candace says the study was nothing short of transformative. “Now that I’m secure in my forgiveness, I talk about my abortion all the time. I share about how I came to realize God’s forgiveness. It’s transformed my life. Now I realize I am forgiven, my past is my past and it doesn’t have to govern rest of my life. It’s so freeing. It’s so freeing! I don’t have to overcommit myself anymore. I can’t tell you what my life is like now.”
She frequently shares her story of healing with other women. “I feel like I’m a lighthouse. It’s the same story, but now I recognize that Christ sees my story as one of liberation; he came to free a captive like me.”