Steve was stateside, recently married to his wife Susan, when he learned the last year of his military service would be in Germany. The couple decided Susan would remain at home with her parents during his time overseas, so they could save money for the down payment on a new home after his military service was completed. That was the plan.
Susan called Steve shortly after he began his duty overseas to tell him she was pregnant. Steve’s response: “We’re not ready for this. I have to finish my service. We can’t do this with me away for the next year.”
He convinced her abortion was the right decision. Yet, on the day of the procedure, he experienced great pain and grief.
“The day of the abortion was the day I died,” he said. “I felt dead for 14 years.”
After completing his military service, Steve focused on building his career. In time he had a wife, a nice house, and was later blessed with two children. But he says he never felt whole, like something was missing.
Despite the many blessings of his life, there were times his abortion pain would surface.
“I spent four years of my life defending this country,” Steve lamented, “but couldn’t prevent the death of my child because of fear, inconvenience, and selfishness.”
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As they grew apart over the years, Steve and Susan separated several times. Both turned to relationships outside their marriage to help ease the loneliness and pain they secretly carried in their hearts.
The couple started to see a Christian counselor at their church to see if there was any possibility of saving the marriage. In one session, the counselor asked if there was an abortion or other pregnancy loss in their past.
“Susan just broke down,” Steve said. “It was clear that this was the greatest wound in our marriage, and the source of our marital struggles.”
The counselor recommended a weekend program of emotional and spiritual healing after abortion called Rachel’s Vineyard. They registered for the next retreat in their area.
They arrived at the retreat center very anxious about what was to come, but quietly excited and hopeful that maybe it would help.
“If it didn’t,” Steve said, “I was sure our marriage was headed for divorce.”
For the first time they were able to share the story of their abortion experience along with the other women and men in their group. Throughout the weekend they participated in the Living Scripture exercises that are an integral part of the healing process.
One especially powerful exercise is based on the story of Lazarus in the Gospel of John.
The retreat participants are asked to name a part of themselves that has died because of sin; personal sin, and the sin of others. The retreat team members then take a strip of gauze bandage, and gently wrap the area participants identify.
When the retreat team approached Susan, his 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 restored.”
As the team approached Steve, he said, “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.”
As the Living Scripture Exercise came to a close, a team member went to unwrap Susan’s bandage.
Steve, moved by grace, pleaded, “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.”
And so, Steve unwrapped her hand. Susan, in turn, unwrapped his heart and asked forgiveness for her bitterness toward him. The couple embraced for the longest time.
For the first time since they were dating, the couple held hands as they walked along the road together to the cafeteria for their evening meal.
Editor's note: This article is a Pregnancy Help News original. Kevin Burke is the author of Tears of the Fisherman: Recovery for Men Wounded by Abortion. Theresa Burke is the Founder of Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries and author of Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion.