My Story: From Prison to Peace

I struggled for decades with my abortion.
Then I found release through God’s love and acceptance.

By Linda Burgess

A secret is a kind of promise. ... It can also be a prison.
— Jennifer Lee Carrell

For me, the promise was never fulfilled, but the prison was all too real. I groped in the darkness for a way out, but it remained elusive. Then one day I found the door had been in front of me all along.

I grew up in a Christian home, although we didn’t read the Bible, study or pray outside of church (except for saying grace at dinner).

Still, I gave my life to Christ at the age of 11 and was baptized. But a year or two later, my parents quit going to church and so did I. I’m thankful for my salvation and for that time in church. Looking back, I believe it prepared me to ultimately understand and receive God’s forgiveness and grace.

Now let’s fast-forward to my adult years and marriage. I had an abortion about 10 months before I married the baby’s father (who is my husband today).

For the next 37 years, I buried this wound deep within my soul. There was shame in getting pregnant before marriage, but after the abortion there was immediate shame, guilt and self-condemnation. I put a “mask” on to hide the pain and shame.

The devil loves unspoken secrets – especially those that fester the soul.
— Thomas Nickerson, "Heart of the Sea"

In the recent Moby Dick movie, “Heart of the Sea”, the main character (Thomas) says: “The devil loves unspoken secrets – especially those that fester the soul.” That’s exactly what I experienced.

My husband and I only spoke of our abortion two or three times over the decades. But the silence was not golden.

Behind closed doors, the choice we made years before continued to create great conflict:

  • Our communication suffered. We never seemed to hear one another.
  • Because of this, we argued frequently.
  • Nine years into our marriage I experienced panic attacks when driving. They became debilitating over the next 25 years. I believe this was due to the turmoil within my soul.
  • I allowed friendships to come and go. Who would understand or love me if they found out I had chosen abortion?
  • I had little self-worth. I never felt good enough to do much of anything. Because of this, I didn’t finish college and I changed jobs often.

Not only had we lost our son. Our marriage itself was now on the line.

In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance – to the full, till it overflows.”

Although our marriage was at a breaking point, I didn’t yet realize it was also near the point of a breakthrough.

The breakthrough
In the process of joining a new church, I discovered If Not For Grace and was taken aback by its purpose: “helping women journey through the pain and grief of past abortions.” At that moment I knew there was hope for healing and experiencing all that God had for me.

Was I scared? Yes! How could I share something held secret for 37 years? But I knew something had to change, and INFG promised a path toward restoration in a safe and confidential place.

A couple of weeks later, I began my healing process through the ministry.

First was a 9-week peer-facilitated Bible study called Her Choice to Heal. The study gives abortion-wounded women an opportunity to walk through the pain and grief, allowing healing and newfound freedom.

At that moment I knew there was hope for healing and experiencing all that God had for me.

After that my husband and I attended Reconciliation Weekend. This is a two-night retreat in a spa-like setting that enables women and men to continue the healing process by reconciling with God, others and our baby(ies). We were able to memorialize our son and give him his rightful place in our family and our hearts.

The third opportunity was Next Steps. I continued my healing by attending Bible studies that helped me reject lies and replace them with God’s truth.

Finding freedom
Through God’s grace and the ministry of INFG, I have found freedom and authentic living – something that had eluded me for 40 years. I’ve experienced:

  • God restoring my marriage – in fact making it better than ever before.
  • Freedom to communicate in marriage.
  • Decreasing anxiety.
  • Release from my fear of the judgment of others. During my healing experience, God revealed to me that my baby was a boy and I was to name him Daniel. That name means “God is my judge.” I knew God was telling me, “I’ve got your back Linda. You need not worry about what others think.”
  • I have authentic friendships. I don’t have to wear a mask. I share my story with pastors, ministries and anyone God wants to hear it.
  • I no longer condemn myself. God has shown me His grace, His forgiveness and His unconditional love. All those years he was waiting patiently for me to trust Him with my secret.

I’m living proof of INFG’s vision: “Enabling the abortion-wounded to live authentic, abundant lives and mobilizing them for Kingdom-expanding work.”

I give God all the glory for the healing and freedom I have received.

Helping others find healing
Now He’s given me the opportunity to serve INFG as the community awareness coordinator. I provide education about the social, spiritual, physical and emotional effects of abortion and help create partnerships with churches, pregnancy resource centers, counselors and like-minded ministries.

I also raise awareness for the need and availability of healing.

I thought I was alone, that my secret was to dark to bring out of the shadows. All that time, God was waiting in the light to give me a brand new start.

Do you need a new beginning? There is hope for each of us.