I think that's why my miscarriage last April was such a hard blow. It was the first thing I really wanted that I couldn't work harder to get. It was also the first time I really started leaning on my faith in God.
I was raised Catholic and spent my childhood going to church every week. I was an alter server, sang in the church choir and could pretty much recite an entire mass by heart. I lost touch with the church quite a bit after high school. I still had a very strong sense of faith, but the idea of organized religion was difficult for me to get on board with.
After our miscarriage last year, I told James I wanted to try out some different churches. We found a non-denominational Christian church nearby that seemed like a good fit. It's was a young environment and it seemed welcoming, unstructured and relatable. The pastor's words always left me feeling rejuvenated and inspired (and sometimes in tears). I finally felt like I found my place.
Today, I can honestly say that my relationship with God is the strongest it's ever been. But, my relationship with the church is quite the opposite.
Since we lost Grace, I've been struggling. Really struggling. My fellow Christians--my community, my people--are the ones who are outwardly hateful to me about the personal decision we made. I've gotten numerous private Facebook messages from these so-called Christians attacking me and my faith.
"I would really love for you to review the Bible and back your decision biblically. Otherwise, you're really supporting your decision with your own belief, rather than God's, with choosing abortion."
"We cannot murder in the name of love."
"Bad cards being dealt are never easy, but we can't buy into Satan's lies."
It just doesn't make any sense. I thought Christians are supposed to live and tell the love story of Jesus. I thought we are supposed to spread good. I thought we are supposed to support one another. I thought we believe God is the only one that can judge us. These "Christians," these people who judge and spread hate, are not what I signed up to be. I don't understand how the Word of God can be interpreted so differently.
Even though these past few months have been difficult and confusing to me, I don't question my faith. I don't question God's love for me. I don't question my decision to end Grace's life.
I question whether or not I want to associate with the Christian community.
A day after we learned Grace's fatal diagnosis, I went to a local walk-in clinic for medicine. I had been battling a severe cough and it was getting worse by the minute. With my surgery only days away, I wanted to go into it with the best health possible.
Like any routine medical history review, I had to provide the date of my last period. Once I told her it was 5 months prior, she of course asked if I was pregnant. I immediately started sobbing. It was less than 24 hours after our diagnosis and it was just too much to handle. At that point, I felt like I had to tell this poor doctor what was going on so I told her about our daughter's diagnosis and the decision we had made. She told me she was so sorry for what we'd gone through. She seemed compassionate and asked if she could pray for me. Her words actually comforted me. I thought it was a nice gesture--a sweet stranger was going to pray for me and my daughter. I was not expecting that the prayer was going to happen right then and there, and I certainly was not expecting to hear the words that came out of her mouth.
She walked up to me, placed both of her hands on my belly, and asked God to remove Satan from my soul. She asked God to save me from evil. She prayed that I would see the light and not be convinced into murdering my baby.
It just kept going and going. I was crying so loud I'm surprised no one came to check on me. The entire "prayer" probably only lasted a couple of minutes, but it felt like a lifetime. I was shocked and hysterical. I didn't speak. I just laid there and let it happen. She left the room and I was left on the table, face full of tears, shattered into a million pieces.
It was a moment I will never forget. It was also the first and only time I have ever regretting leaving Chicago.
I knew sharing my abortion story publicly was going to invite hate and criticism. I knew opposing viewpoints were going to be shared, and I accepted that going into it. What I didn't expect, however, was the amount of criticism I would receive on just 4 little words I proudly proclaimed in my letter: