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Rachel's Vineyard Testimony:

Christine's Story

Being born into a large family has its challenges! I am the seventh child of eight, raised by a loving mother who learned to make things work, and an alcoholic father who brought tension and anger into our home under alcohol’s ravaging influence. Verbal and sometimes physical abuse were the consequences of my dad’s drinking. My deepest desire was to somehow find a father’s love and protection, but that was something a drunken father could not provide.

Wanting this so desperately as a teenager and unaware of what genuine male love looked like, I ran into a world of revolving male companionship hoping to fill the void. This was a poor choice and a mistake that I would later come to regret for the rest of my life.

Not being raised in a Christian home, my ability to see my actions as wrong were obsolete. I felt no guilt or remorse at that time. At the young age of 14 years I was date raped (didn’t know what that was in the 70’s) and I became pregnant and had an abortion which brought relief at that time but also a stage of denial that lasted for ten years. Hindering me in ways I would have never guessed.

During this time I met my husband Bill. We dated for a year before we moved in together. We had the same life goals and desires, so for 4 years we lived out our dreams. We wanted to travel and so we did; South America, Florida, The Grand Cayman Islands. It was fun. We had time, money, each other. We had it all, or so we thought. We were married in 1980 and a balancing act began. (One that required me to compartmentalize different areas of my life. Being a wife, a lover, a friend and deepest of deep a frightened and still hurt 14 year old, post abortive mother.)

My fear of judgment and guilt kept me from believing there was any way I could ever truly accept that I could be forgiven. My strong will and proud self sufficient attitude blinded me from my own pain and suffering. I continued living behind the defences of my own abilities until I knew there had to be something or someone who could make sense of what I was feeling way down inside. There was, and I found Him! A Deliverer and I called Him “God.” This took place in July of 1980 just 4 months after I was married.

In 1982, at what I knew to be a better time in my life, I was about to become a “Mom”. I knew I could accept the responsibilities of motherhood, but felt such a loss for the baby I first carried 8 years ago. I begged God not to hold my abortion over my head and make me pay. I had seen a picture of a 12 week old fetus and began to grieve for the 14 week old baby I had aborted. God was gracious and through my doubts and insecurities, hardships and tears, I am now a mother of 4, all of whom know, accept, mourn, and love their brother in heart and memory; Daniel.

This growth came about with group, and individual counselling I received at the crisis pregnancy centre, starting in 1987.
In the winter of 2005 I was invited to attend my first Rachel’s Vineyard retreat weekend. I was apprehensive at first because I had already worked through so much of my pain. I kept an open mind and travelled to Kelowna B.C. Though each woman and man in attendance worked through different aspects of their abortions, there was such unity and security knowing our hurt was the same. Loss no one is exempt. The focus of this retreat is loss through abortion. We grieved the babies we never had and for me personally, I grieved my inner child; the “little Christine.” The little girl who tried desperately to acquire the love of her daddy. The child who would do anything so her daddy would approve of her. Any thing. The wounds that I hung on to as an adult were a way for me to hang on to a childhood I still desired. A childhood that included Daniel.

As I moved from being a child into an adult that weekend I experienced two consistent truths: 1) Jesus loved “little Christine” and 2) Jesus still loves the grown up Christine. No obligations, no expectations, and no reasons to believe this will ever change. See, Jesus loves and remembers Christine like I, Christine, have come to love and remember my son Daniel. Forever; for always.
Following is the letter I wrote to my inner child at the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat.

Dear Christine:
    Christine, you are your mom’s namesake, her fifth daughter, seventh child of eight. You came into this world in Saskatoon when things were still pretty good with Mom and Dad, so I have been told by my older brothers and sisters. Then we moved to Winnipeg when you were two. We went through some very hard times financially. I remember that we lived on MacAdam. We had very little money for food, so in the summer, for a treat, my mom would give me a bowl of sugar and a stick of rhubarb and I would sit in the sun on the back step and enjoy that so much. My mom was loving and nurturing to me.  I knew mommy loved me by the way she spoke to me and by her actions. Daddy on the other hand was hardly ever around. I have no memories of daddy being loving to me or being kind to me. I remember trying to love my daddy by baking cakes for him and cleaning the kitchen really really well so I could get some praise from him, but all I got was the silent treatment or verbal abuse. “You’re such a damn brat! Can’t you do anything right? I like June’s cakes better than yours.” He would get drunk and it would be worse, he would swear at me and sometimes hit me. One time I remember when I was about 12 or 13 years old I came in late and he was home drunk. He beat me with the belt so bad I couldn’t go to school the next day because I couldn’t sit down. I also remember the house rules ‘Hear nothing.  See Nothing. Feel Nothing.’ So I complied and took my beating without complaining. Oh Christine, you were so shut down but you covered your pain by putting on a big smile. Everybody called you Smilie. I remember trying to make the people around me happy by doing things for them or by smiling and being happy. I was tired of living with the abuse so I started going out and looking for love in all the wrong places.
    Then I found out more about mom when I came home from W.K. Park with D.M. (Trinidadian guy) from school, favouring a hurt ankle. He gave me a piggy back ride home and when my mom saw us she went crazy. She yelled at me and told me there was no way I could be seen with a black guy. She blamed my dad but I really think it was her racism and being concerned with keeping up “the image.” My mom was always concerned about how things looked to others. What all this did to me was shut me down inside. I learned to cope, but I was desperate for love. So as a teenager I went looking for love in all the wrong places. I was neglected spiritually and verbally abused. I was emotionally dying inside but covering it all up with smiles and acts of kindness. I wanted to be liked, to be loved, to be noticed. No one could see my pain. The only One who knew was Jesus, the real “Lover of my soul”, but I didn’t get to know Jesus until I was 21 and started my long journey of recovery until today, January 23rd, 2005.  I’m 46. Through healing prayer and wonderful mentors, God’s word and His truth, I have been set free. That little girl is healing and I’m grieving all that I lost, but I know I’m going to be okay and that God is healing all my wounds from the past for a purpose. I feel it. He wants me to follow Him where he leads and I want to go with Him.
I Thank my Lord. I have found the love that I needed in Him.
                            Love Christine