Over the holidays, we are running Emily’s Top 5 posts of 2012. These are the posts that glo girls, like you, have viewed the most. Today’s post is #5. How we pray that it will bless and encourage you!
Rhonda de la Moriniere had overcome a lot. Childhood abuse. Abandonment. Rejection. Divorce. Each heartache another area that God had miraculously transformed and somehow made beautiful through His divine power.
She accepted her colorful past as a tool that God used for His glory, but not as a place she liked to visit regularly. She preferred to look forward, focusing instead on being a godly wife to her husband, Matt, a loving mother to her three kids, Joshua, Faith, and Hope, and an effective teacher to the ladies in the Pink Armor iConnect class where she taught regularly.
Until one Sunday in church when she heard God whispering in her heart, “Do you think I can make this beautiful too?”
Immediately, she knew what He was referring to, and the question terrified her. He was talking about her three children. No, not Joshua, Faith and Hope. Her other three children. The three children she’d aborted years before and whose memories were pushed so far deep down that they were all but forgotten about. How could He possibly make that beautiful?
She didn’t want to go back there. She didn’t want to open that tomb and revisit those memories, especially when she knew she’d already been forgiven from them. But God wasn’t offering more forgiveness. He was offering beauty.
And so she answered back, “Yes, God. I don’t know how you can possibly make that beautiful, but if you can, then yes.”
The First Time
Rhonda was 22 the first time she became pregnant. But the relationship she thought was going so well took an ugly turn when she found out her boyfriend had lied to her and stolen a lot of her money. After breaking up with him, her friends rallied around her telling her she should definitely have an abortion because there was no way she could raise a child on her own.
She’d already had two ultrasounds because of minor complications with the pregnancy, so she was already getting attached to the little baby she’d seen squirming and swimming on the ultrasound monitor. But in the end, she believed her friends were right. She couldn’t do this on her own. So she let one of them take her to have an abortion and just like that, her first child was gone.
“It was very traumatic for me,” Rhonda said. “I never really got over it and I had nightmares for years after that. I would dream that I had a baby girl and that I put her in a drawer like one where you’d normally put your clothes. In my dream, she was crying for me and I would just go and slam the drawer shut. Just close her away.” She knows she never really got over that first abortion.
Though she didn’t know it at the time, after her abortion, Rhonda experienced a textbook case of Post Abortion Syndrome, which is a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In addition to feelings of extreme guilt and depression, a significant percentage of women who have had abortions become preoccupied with becoming pregnant again as soon as possible. “You have so much guilt that you end up wanting to have another baby to make up for the one you aborted, and I followed that exactly,” Rhonda said. “I remember thinking, ‘I can just get pregnant again and when I have that baby, it’ll make up for what I did.’” The resulting child is sometimes referred to as an atonement child.
Rhonda’s desire for another child was stronger than her anger towards her ex-boyfriend, so she made up with him and was pregnant again within the year. Her “atonement child” was her son, Joshua, who is now 17.
Betrayal and Resolve
Rhonda was six months pregnant with Joshua when her world came crashing down around her. In one of the most unexpected moments ever, her home was invaded by FBI agents and her boyfriend was arrested for identity theft. It turns out, she hadn’t even known him by his real name.
“I had nothing,” Rhonda said. Because of her relationship with her boyfriend, she was now being investigated by the FBI herself. “I knew I wasn’t involved, but they didn’t know that. All I could think was that I may have to have this baby in prison.”
She returned home to her mother to wait out the investigation, wait out the pregnancy, and wait for some answers on what she should do next. Everything had changed on a dime. She never considered aborting this child, but she had to face the very real possibility that she may have to give him up for adoption. “I was very suicidal at this point,” she admitted. But she knew that hurting herself would also mean hurting her child, and she was determined not to do that again. “I just didn’t see a way out at all. I had made such a mess of everything and I couldn’t handle the thought of having to give up the one thing that I did have, which was this baby. He was the only thing I had to live for.”
She was at one of her lowest points one day, sitting at home alone, weeping uncontrollably, when she began crying out to God. “I didn’t even know for sure if there was a God at this point,” she said. But then she heard a voice in her heart whisper, “You can keep him. If you trust Me, I will make a way for you, and you can keep him.”
It was the catalyst she needed to face her situation and begin dealing with the problems around her. Within a year and a half, she’d had Joshua, graduated from college, and driven all over Texas paying off debts that her ex-boyfriend had accumulated in her name.
At this time, God remained the One who’d made a way for her, but He wasn’t anything more to Rhonda than that. “I recognized His presence, but I couldn’t throw my whole self into His presence because I was still carrying around too much shame. I knew He was real, I knew He had saved me out of that pit, and I knew that He’d saved my life and my son’s life, but I still didn’t trust Him.”
No, Rhonda would become even more broken before that would happen.
A Pattern Develops
While a part of her retained that gusto and resolve to move forward in life, the events of the past couple of years had so traumatized her that there was still a huge part of Rhonda that was totally lost and drifting backwards as well.
In that part of her was the misguided thought that she may still be in love with her ex-boyfriend. So when they reconnected during his brief reprieve from prison, she once again found herself pregnant by him. But almost as soon as she learned of the child on the way, she chose to have another abortion. And while she can’t remember the details or specifics, she does feel the void created by not allowing this child to be born. “This would have been Joshua’s full sibling. It would have been his brother. I can almost see looking back through his childhood that God sent this child for him because he was so lonely as a child. There was something in my heart that felt he really needed this sibling. I can look back now and see what a blessing it would have been.”
With that chapter of her life finally closed, Rhonda began seeing someone new, a childhood friend named Jason, and developed a long-distance relationship with him. They decided that they were going to get married someday, but when he was suddenly arrested on drug charges, Rhonda decided to marry him right away so he wouldn’t have to go through it alone.
But while her new husband was in prison, Rhonda had an affair with another man and became pregnant again. Another pregnancy. Another abortion. Another reason to feel complete shame.
When Jason was released from prison several years later, Rhonda became pregnant again almost immediately. But the marriage that had been relatively easy while they were separated unraveled now that they were together. He made it clear that he didn’t want anything to do with Rhonda, Joshua, or their child on the way, and grew dangerously abusive towards them. Rhonda feared for their lives and once again called her mother to come and rescue her.
Broken and Restored
After having Joshua as a single mom, she promised herself she’d never bring a child into the world without a father again. Yet here she was. Same song, second verse. She was pregnant, alone, broke, and broken. “My whole life, I couldn’t understand why all of these people were hurting me. Everyone always rejected me, always let me down. My life was always their fault,” Rhonda said. “But when I came home this time and found myself in the exact same situation as before, I realized I was the common denominator in all of these situations and I was a sinner before God.”
That’s when Rhonda started coming to Sagemont, seeking healing, and getting help. She reached out to God and prayed, “If you are real, you have got to help me!” But in helping her, God showed her that her true problem was not in her circumstances but in her own sinful heart. “It wasn’t that I was molested. It wasn’t that I was abused. It wasn’t because my father rejected me or because men lied to me. It was me. I was messed up. I was a sinner before God and I needed something that was not part of who I am to come inside and fix me. And when I realized that that’s who Jesus is, I wanted Him like crazy! It was the most broken but most beautiful time in my life.”
And on the heels of her newfound faith in Christ came the birth of her second child, a daughter she named Faith.
Rhonda continued to keep her eyes focused on Christ as her new relationship with God grew. She poured herself into His word, into church, and into friendships with godly women, but she avoided men and dating, still not trusting herself to make wise decisions in that area. So when she met Matt de la Moriniere through some of her friends in the singles department, they became good friends and nothing more for almost a year. Eventually, he wrote her a letter in which he told her he had feelings for her and Rhonda had to decide whether to try having a relationship again – this time a godly one – or to remain alone.
“I decided to date him and the rest is history,” she laughed. Matt knew about Rhonda’s past, about her abortions, and everything about her, and he loved her anyway. They were married and later had a daughter together named Hope.
Rhonda admits she still struggles sometimes, but she has never gone back to the woman she was before she met Christ. In fact, she’s even willing to say that life has been pretty normal since then.
Choosing to Heal
Of course, Rhonda’s normal life was interrupted that Sunday morning when God whispered to her, “Do you think I can make this beautiful too?” She answered yes, but she hoped in her heart that they could keep it between them. “Surely, God, You don’t want me to tell anyone else about this, right?” she thought.
She was terrified to share her ugly secret of abortion with anyone in the church. She was afraid they would condemn her, judge her, and at the very least insist that she stop teaching in her Bible study class. She decided to “test the waters” on two of her friends who were also leaders in the church. She saw them as godly women and respected their opinions. “If they shame me or judge me, then I’ll know I can’t tell anyone else,” she thought. They were her litmus test, and much to her relief, neither picked up a stone to cast judgment.
God was already making things beautiful.
Not long after that, Rhonda found herself at a crisis pregnancy banquet with a friend, and it ended up being a night she will never forget. “Somehow that night, my babies became real to me,” she said. “I realized that I’d missed out on their lives. I felt grief, not that I had aborted them, but that I had missed out. I felt so much grief.”
Still, the first time she saw that Sagemont was offering an upcoming abortion recovery Bible study called Choosing to Heal, she didn’t think it pertained to her. “God, you’ve already healed me from that,” she thought, but in time He made it clear that there was still more healing to be done.
“Of all the things that God has healed me from, going through the abortion recovery class has been the most profound,” Rhonda said. “The sin of abortion is such a devastating one because not only do we choose death instead of life, but there’s something about a woman that says, ‘I’m going to nurture my child and I’m going to lay down my life for my child.’ But when you choose abortion, it’s like you break a woman code, so in your own heart, it makes you question who you are as a woman, as a wife, and as a mother. It affects every choice in your life. So when you have an abortion, it’s not something you can just put it in the past with the Band-Aids of ‘I’m forgiven’ over it. It’s something that stays with you and you never get out from underneath it until you deal with it.”
Now that Rhonda has completed the abortion recovery class herself, she volunteers at a pro-life center in League City helping other women heal from the effects of abortion. “God loves our babies, and God loves the women who have aborted them,” she said. “Some of the women have held onto this secret for over thirty years, and helping them is one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever had.”
But probably the most beautiful thing to come from Rhonda’s post-abortion recovery experience is a new depth in relationship with Christ. “He came for a woman who aborted three of her children and He loved me enough to forgive me. It’s made Jesus become that much more magnified in my life. I have no shame now. Abortion should be something I carry around for the rest of my life like a big ball and chain, but I don’t because of what Jesus did in my life.”
“I know their names – Olivia, Luke, and Aisha,” she said. “He’s given me so much more to look forward to in heaven. I’ve got three children here and three in heaven, and I’ve got Jesus holding us in the middle all together as one family. It’s an amazing hope that I have for my future in heaven when my whole family is reunited.”
“There’s a difference between being forgiven for abortion and letting Jesus come in and redeem it,” Rhonda said. And by redeeming it, He can make it beautiful.
Q: Do you know someone who would benefit from reading this? Share Rhonda’s story with her today and remind her about God’s divine ability to make things beautiful!