Today’s guest on Faith Notes is a precious young woman named Tara Archibald. I actually met her through my blog. Tara had commented on another Faith Notes post with guest Sandi Miller. I knew immediately this little light for Jesus had a story to share.
This is what she said on Sandi’s post (Where is God When Your Childhood … Just … Isn’t?) after I invited her to share her story with us, “Wow! I would love to share! Honestly it scares me but God has impressed the word “courage” on me this year to step out of my comfort zone, to share my story, to love on others, to speak the truth in love, and, believe it or not, to write! I’ve been struggling with what and how. I’ve been sensing my story, but didn’t know the how. I love that He does.” And we do too, Tara!
Thank you for saying yes to the Lord.
Welcome to Faith Notes, Tara!
Shame, pain, heartache, the loss of a childhood I thought was ideal. In a deep dark hole, I found myself sinking ever farther down into the abyss. God had shined a light on my past, brought the darkness into the light.
But the darkness, no longer denied, was consuming me, taking my once happy memories and distorting them into something unfathomable.
What was real? What was true? I was not sure anymore.
The darkness was heavy, a weight that made it difficult to just move through my day, to care for my family, to go to a job I once loved, to enjoy life. Was I remembering my past correctly? Did it really happen?
Yes, I remember, albeit vaguely, that brief moment of saving grace when a kind second grade teacher led me to belief in Jesus. A child’s fear of hell and fire had, at that moment of faith, become the foundation, the stepping stone, the lens through which God’s faithfulness would one day be revealed. It would be my protection, my guiding light.
But my salvation did not prevent the pain; it did not stop the dysfunction.
Yes, I had been abused as a child. I vividly remember being molested by someone who should have protected me, should have moved heaven and earth to be sure no harm would come to me. But it was not that bad, was it? It never hurt physically.
And besides, we all went to church as a family every Sunday, all vacationed together, all celebrated holidays, especially Christmas and Easter with the usual fanfare, all did what other “normal” families did. Did we not? Or did we?
Yes, I remember the loss of a beloved brother during my college years that deepened the agony. So I turned to other relationships, other men, to fill a need that only God could satisfy, to feel something other than the darkness.
Before long I found myself in a circumstance I had not planned, single and pregnant.
Yes, I remember feeling terrified, my hand trembling on the abortion clinic door as I clumsily flung it open and hurried inside as though it were any other doctor appointment, determined to get it over with.
But why the trepidation?
After all, I had carefully chosen this clinic because of its distance from my hometown. My boyfriend at my side helped reinforce my resolve and further deceived me into thinking that this was my only option. Once inside, I barely remember my time there.
I remember the coldness in the doctors’ and nurses’ eyes as they readied me for the procedure. Perhaps I noticed their eyes because I searched for a different answer to my crisis there?
The only words I remember being uttered were those of the doctor, “I think you may have been further along than we thought.”
I remember afterwards being ushered into their recovery room, busy and void of privacy. And I remember leaving that clinic feeling nothing but blind relief, relief that my secret was safe, relief and satisfaction that I would not have to see the rage and condemnation on my father’s face.
No inkling of an idea the impact of what I had just done or the ramifications it would have on my life. In complete denial of the sin I had just committed. My life changed forever in that brief hour.
Little did I know my heart grieved for the child I would never hold.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, only God in His persistent faithfulness and immeasurable grace could meet the needs of His wandering child, in the midst of the mess. He promised to “never leave us or forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
He knew that what I needed was greater than what I wanted.
He knew the tools that would be indispensable to bring the darkness into the light, to bring healing from deep pain, to create beauty from ashes.
Still consumed by the dysfunction and blinded by denial, I met my now husband. He was one of God’s tools, an angel in men’s clothing.
Yes, I remember all this: my salvation, the abuse, the loss, the abortion, meeting and marrying my husband. The shame of my abortion and past behavior only added to the darkness that threatened to consume me, to swallow me, to pull me further down.
Yes, I remember the moment I began this fall into darkness. But was it a fall or was it the beginning of God’s story of redemption and restoration in my life?
Seven years into a God given marriage I found myself sinking into this dark hole of pain and shame as He brought me face-to-face with a dysfunctional childhood and sinful past by bringing the darkness into the light. I had finally admitted to someone, my husband, what I had kept hidden for so long, that I had been molested as a child.
He already knew about my abortion.
He never judged, instead he held me close and loved me. My abusive childhood revealed, he again pointed me to Jesus for healing, and joined me. My healing journey began.
But first, the abyss.
Yes, I remember the initial days of healing were the hardest and darkest of my journey. What Satan had so successfully kept concealed, I now had to face without my rose-colored glasses distorting the view. I saw my past and my sin for what it was, utter evil and willful disobedience to a faithful loving God.
When faced with such despair and brokenness, a believing heart has nowhere to go but to Jesus.
Yes, I remember two and a half years ago, nerves racked as I sat at my own post-abortion retreat, blanket over my lap to stop my trembling hands and the cold sweat that enveloped me, wide eyes riveted on the speaker, heart pounding in my chest, puzzling over what exactly had transpired to bring me to that moment, and frantically searching for the words to my story, to the darkness within.
I still had to speak, to say that word, “abortion”, to tell others what I had done.
Momentarily convinced that I could not do it.
Fumbling, disjointed and bringing up details as they were remembered, I made it through those excruciating minutes. More of my story was revealed. Dark things had been brought into the light…again.
The darkness of shame and guilt dissolved in the cleansing blood of Jesus.
My shame and pain were laid at the foot of His cross, no longer my chains to carry. Freedom found, God got all the glory! The angels rejoiced! By God’s amazing grace, His pierced Son broke through the clouds of despair and shined His warm light on my cold darkened soul.
So what is real? What is true? Yes, it is true that I had been abused as a child. It is true that I’d had an abortion. It is true that I lost a brother … and a mother, and a father. The pain, the shame, the guilt, the loss, the utter despair and darkness, the heartache, they were true, but no longer real.
Because Jesus. “As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us” (Psalm 102:12).
He is real. He is true, the only truth that matters (John 14:6). Because He died for me, my sins and my past died with Him. Because He lives, I live (Galatians 2:20). Because He died and now lives, I am free (Romans 6:5-7).
Because Jesus, I no longer dwell in the dark abyss, but instead I rejoice on the bright mountaintop. Not because my healing journey and struggles are done, but because now I dwell in His light.
Because after being tempted in the wilderness by the devil, Jesus proclaimed this scripture fulfilled, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:17-21).
The darkness no longer denied, now Jesus the Light of Truth has set me free.
More about Tara:
Born and raised in California, Tara Archibald now lives in Illinois with her husband and two daughters. She has a background in labor and delivery nursing, but is currently the new assistant director for Living Alternatives Pregnancy Resource Center, Bloomington. She is an active team member of Deeper Still Central Illinois, serving on post-abortion retreats as often as possible.
Tara loves spending time with her giggling girls, her wonderful husband, and her crazy German shepherd puppy (not necessarily in that order). She enjoys laughing, traveling, studying God’s word, reading, writing, and a good cup of coffee or tea. And mountains, she is most at home among evergreen trees and wild animals, where breathing is most difficult (due to the altitude).
Most of all Tara loves her precious Savior, Jesus, because it is only by His immeasurable grace, unending mercy, and lavish love that the telling of this story is possible. She has only recently embraced God’s call on her life to write, still discovering her voice and platform, but confident in God’s faithfulness to be used of Him.
Connect with Tara:
On Instagram: @tarajen29