Lorraine Barnett’s Story of Abortion and Redemption

This week, I’d like you to introduce you to Lorraine Barnett’s story. Her honesty may anger you or encourage you—or both. But I think Lorraine’s story is a challenge to each of us to recognize the real pain of our sin, and the real freedom of Christ’s redemption.

Here is Lorraine…

Jeremiah 31:15
“This is what the Lord says: A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.”

When I was growing up, I loved the TV show “LASSIE” and I adored Timmy’s mother in that show. That was what I wanted when I grew up—to be a stay at home wife and mother and bake cookies and love and care for my family and home. My ideal woman was my Granny. I couldn’t wait to be just like her. She baked bread and quilted and did all those homey things. She was just a good woman.

When I was 16 years old, I fell “in love” and believed that I would marry this young man and live happily ever after. (My ideal life) My boyfriend’s family was planning a move from our hometown, Rolla, Missouri, to another state. We talked about getting married so that I could move with him and his family. We actually told my parents one evening that we wanted to get married. They laughed at us and made him leave the house. So, my boyfriend and I decided on a plan for me to get pregnant so that my folks would let us get married. The plan worked beautifully! My boyfriend moved away with his family to another state, as planned….. and, as planned, I discovered that I was pregnant. Even though it was “planned” when I missed that first period, I was terrified. Every time I called his house, he was never there. After weeks went by, I actually ran away from home, rode the bus to his town and showed up on the doorstep in the middle of the night in the middle of an ice storm in January. When he finally came home the next day, I told him I was pregnant, and he told me that he didn’t want anything to do with me anymore and that I should get an abortion.

I was beyond grief. I was being abandoned and thrown away by the one I loved and I faced a terrifying future. I didn’t know anything, really, about abortion, but enough to know that it was wrong and illegal (this was before Roe v. Wade). I cried so much over the next 9 months that I really thought there could be no more tears in me. I was wrong.

When I finally faced my parents, they made it very clear how ashamed of me they were. I’d always gone to church with my folks but the Bible was never opened and I don’t ever remember anyone praying at home. I always wanted to be a “good girl” but didn’t honestly even know that I could have a real, personal relationship with God. My dad did teach a Sunday school class and when I got pregnant, he resigned from that position and told me it was because of the shame he felt because of me. I thought many times about taking my own life.

As my pregnancy continued once again, my teenage fantasies kicked in. I thought that once the baby was born, the baby would somehow “redeem my life.” The baby would love me and we would be best of friends and that life would be wonderful. I had no idea what babies are like or what they need. I was in over my head and I was a disastrous failure as a mother. The baby cried and it meant that even she didn’t want me. I knew that I was a deeply flawed human being and so I became very self-destructive.

I was in a desperate search for someone to love me so I went from guy to guy, looking for Mr. Wonderful who would take all this mess and make it alright. Lots of them were out there….waiting for a girl like me.

Within 6 or 7 months of the birth of my child, a family member started talking to me about adopting my baby and eventually the adoption process was started. It was actually a relief for me. BUT I remember the battle in my head—it would for sure settle the matter that I was a terrible person, and not even “normal” because I couldn’t even be a mom. I was such a mess—emotionally, physically and spiritually, though God was still only an afterthought to me at this time in my life.

About this same time, I discovered I was pregnant again. I was again thrown into a panic—like an animal caught in a leg-trap. The truth is that I actually believed the young man might ask me to marry him….but our relationship was nothing more than my created fantasy. When I told him that I was pregnant, he said, “Have an abortion. It’s easy. I’ve done it before. Call this number. I’ll pay half, you pay half.” I felt slapped across the face by his words. Abortion was wrong. . . wasn’t it?? But who in the entire world would be happy if I told them I was pregnant? Who would welcome yet another child from me into this world? I could think of no one! I tried to put him off and kept stalling until, after he called me daily to get me to make the call, I did. So, the young man drove me to Kansas City, Missouri, and I offered my child to the abortionist. After the trip, I never saw the young man again.

Psalm 32:3,4
“When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.”

I never told another human being about the abortion for 30 years. I met and married my husband some years after the abortion but never told him about it. How could I tell him that I was so wicked? What if he would look at me and be repulsed by my horrendous sin?? I really lived in my own private hell for all those years. It was like a bag of toxic waste that I carried around with me. I tried to hide it carefully, but it affected everything in my life. I had no intimacy with God or with others.

I kept a barrier up between me and everyone else. I could not let you see the real me. I was so afraid that you would see me and be disgusted by what you saw. Surely, you’d reject me and leave me feeling even more wretched and unworthy. I felt really embittered towards young families—I would see young moms with their babies and I resented them. My husband and I remained childless for 11 years after our marriage; I am sure (but could not admit it then) from the scarring from the abortion. All the things I had wanted growing up, I had destroyed with my own two hands.

I pretended that “If I just never think about it again, never tell anyone, it can’t hurt me.” But like David said, “For I know my transgressions and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight.” (Ps. 51:3,4)

Finally, after many, many years, I was able to tell God, “Thank you for your forgiveness.” but I could not say any more than that to God. If I started to pray about it, then I would have to think about the details and I just couldn’t face them.

I was terrified that the neat little life I had built would come crumbling down if I confessed my sin. One confession would lead to another and my whole world would be destroyed by that bag of toxic waste. So, it all stayed hidden. I just wanted it all to be “not so!” I wanted to look back at my life and see a different life, not the one I had filled with ugly secrets.

But someone else knew about the ugly secrets—“The Hound of Heaven” who pursued me and would not let me continue living in my secret world. God just stepped into my life….and showed me that HE knew it all and HE walked to the cross for me, knowing all that I had done!! I finally relinquished myself to God and began renewing my mind with His Word—with TRUTH. More and more I wanted that true intimacy with Him that I had never had. He brought thoughts of the abortion to mind over and over again, prompting me to confess it and let Him heal it. It took me years of false starts, but in 2001 God prompted me to go to the local pregnancy center and take their training. I knew I had no more wiggle room. So, finally, I went to the volunteer training…to “Volunteer!” I sobbed through the whole day’s training. I was overwhelmed with joy that God had brought me there but I was also filled with fear for what lay ahead.

I signed up to take an abortion-recovery Bible study, but in the weeks before it began, I was just as scared as I had been when I was that 16 year old girl. I felt as if I stood at the edge of a precipice; below me was a chasm—dark, full of never-ending pain. If I took one step, I would fall forever into a pit of pain that would engulf me. I knew that all my neat little barriers would fall. I wanted freedom so much!!!! …but could not imagine freedom. I feared the pain I knew would never end.

After 30 years I took that first step and looked into the eyes of another woman and told her that I had taken the life of my own child. And instead of never-ending pain, I discovered the lavish love of the LORD that I had held at arm’s length my whole life.

Psalm 30:2,3
“O LORD my God, I called to you for help and You healed me. O LORD, you brought me up from the grave; You spared me from going down into the pit.”

What I discovered was that the LORD had been holding out the forgiveness I so desperately wanted all those years. He waited for me to turn to Him, confess it all, repent, and receive the treasures of Heaven. He has truly renewed me, mind and soul.

Psalm 32:5
“Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’ and You forgave the guilt of my sin.”

The LORD took 30 years of ugly secrets and turned them into a powerful tool for His glory. And the endless pain I anticipated was really endless delights in the goodness of the LORD! I love Him so much. He has been so good to me! He has given me the privilege working in the crisis pregnancy center, talking to frightened young women, helping them see that they are not a mistake and that God loves them and has a plan for their lives and the lives of their babies. Maybe my greatest privilege of all is leading abortion-recovery Bible studies now for the last 8 years. I get to see God at work transforming lives one at a time…for His glory!

Psalm 30:11, 12
“You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give You thanks forever.”

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