How is redemption after abortion possible? Add a second abortion, abuse, an eating disorder, promiscuity, homelessness and drugs and it seems like a dark path to nowhere.
Ask Tam Hodge about redemption today and you will get a very different answer than you would have before Aug. 19, 1990. That’s the day she handed her heart, bruised and battered, over to God. She will tell you that’s the day everything changed.
Hodge’s first 20 years read like a hopeless story of trauma and tragedy. The past 26 years, however, have been an inspirational chronicle of facing demons, forgiveness and—most of all—redemption.
In her book, “And Now I Choose: A Story for Those who Believe They Have no Choice”, Hodge tells of her first childhood memory at 3 years old. Hearing, then seeing, the physical abuse her father regularly inflicted on her mother was the start of many childhood traumas.
“It’s strange how things in life become our normal even when there is nothing normal about it,” Hodge wrote.
Out of Doors, Out of Options
After her father left the family and her mother began dating, a new form of abuse entered Hodge’s life. At the age of 10, her mother’s boyfriend began the nightmare of sexual abuse.
Three years into the ordeal, Hodge wrote, “I was used to his beatings and other physical assaults. They never surprised me. They always hurt in some form, but no longer startled me.”
At the age of 16, and after a string of her mother’s abusive relationships, Hodge endured the ultimate rejection after informing Child Protective Services (CPS) what was going on in her home.
“I knew mom was furious over all the details Child Protective Services shared with her. Right or wrong—no parent wants to hear their child has been abused under their watch.”
Rather than offering her teenaged daughter the help she so desperately needed, however, Hodge’s mother had another message for the CPS representative: “Tell her she can come pick up her things after school today.”
Kicked out of her own home, Hodge moved in with her boyfriend and his mother. Within a few months, she was pregnant.
Tweet This: "I had no idea how drastically the course of my life just changed." @TamHodge #abortion #prolife
Especially in her present situation, Hodge felt there was no other choice than abortion. Though she was assured at the time the procedure would be the easiest way out, Hodge remembers the moments waking up after the first abortion.
“I had no idea how drastically the course of my life just changed,” she wrote. “All the things that were to come and all the decisions I was yet to make would be affected as a result of that one afternoon. I didn’t realize from that day forward my life would never be the same. A 16-year-old girl changed forever.”
A 16-Year-Old Girl Changed Forever
The self-medication of drugs and drinking quickly became Hodge’ way of making it through her daily life.
“Never mind that I was empty, unhappy, afraid and lost. I sank into an acceptance that this is where I must settle,” she wrote. “This is my life, the hand I was dealt; therefore I must play it.”
Barely a year after her first abortion, in Sept., 1988 (now 18 years old) Tam was pregnant again while her beloved grandmother lay dying of cancer.
“She always felt safe to me,” Hodge wrote. “Nothing I had ever done disappointed her. As I sat watching Grandma die from a disease beyond her control, I recognized the baby inside me would soon die under my control.”
After aborting a second time at just 19 years old, Hodge made what she now calls, “The worst decision that saved my life.”
Hodge met, and on June 3, 1990 married a man 15 years her senior. Three days later, he put a gun to her chest and threatened to kill her. Hodge fled Knoxville, Tenn., the next day on a Greyhound bus, arriving in Southern California on June 11.
That same day, she learned that her husband had turned the gun on himself. At the age of 19, Tam was a widow.
From Survival to Salvation
After finding a job and beginning the next chapter of her life, a friend from work invited her to church with his family. Aug. 19, 1990, Hodge finally found the hope she had been missing her whole life.
“In a single moment there was nothing but breath. And I heard the words, ‘I brought you here,’” Hodge wrote. “I knew right then without question, God had been with me all along. He brought me here… to my new job, my new friend, and to this church. Everything, for the first time in my life, made sense.”
Just days after recognizing her need for God and becoming a Christian, Hodge met the love of her life. They were engaged six weeks later.
“Brent had something no one else in my life ever had—God,” Hodge wrote. “The missing link. The beginning of my second chance.”
Encountering a Forbidden Grief
Three years into her marriage, Hodge and her husband learned they were expecting their first child. But, her joy in pregnancy was all but obliterated by the guilt of her past.
“And just like that I lost all excitement,” Hodge wrote. “The reality of the moment that I was pregnant again, on purpose, with my husband, and the guilt of not having told Brent yet of my abortions rushes over me. And so my struggle begins.”
The dark cloud of depression descended, bringing back the fear and anxiety of her past. By the time her daughter, Kassidi, was five months old, Hodge knew she had to tell her husband about the abortions.
“My secret burden was making its way to the surface, and there was no stopping it,” Hodge wrote, remembering that she felt like brand new person after telling her husband about her abortions. “Healing and freedom began to take up residence in me.”
Tweet This: After choosing #abortion 2x, @TamHodge experienced a radical life change. #prolife
After sharing her story with friends and family, the time came to tell her 13-year-old daughter, Kassidi, about her past abortions—an experience she then relived two years later when she told her son, Dakota.
Still, even the act of telling her children about her painful past was an act that moved Hodge toward healing.
“Brent is my grace and Kassidi and Dakota are my mercy,” Hodge said. “Brent showed me mercy in choosing to love me, respect me, forgive me, and honor me. When I told my children about my abortions I ran the risk of them rebelling. I believe to this day that their response was the very breath of God in them.”
In the World for a Specific Purpose
Healing through confession was the springboard for Tam to share her story with women who were experiencing the same hurt, fear and burden of shame that she was.
“God has had His holy hands full with me,” Hodge said. “I need to extend that same grace to others.”
Today, Hodge extends that grace through her book, her blog and her partnership with Save the Storks—an organization that equips local pregnancy help organizations reach women with the life-affirming options she never had.
“We are all in this world, at this very moment, for a very specific purpose,” Hodge said.
Tam Hodge has found hers.