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Story

The Unexpected Glimpse
By Dave Franco - February 14, 2013

Robyn sat in the waiting area of the office at the women’s clinic, flipping through a magazine. She wasn’t really reading—there was way too much on her mind. She gave a quick look to her left at Vic. He, too, was not reading the magazine in his hands. They smiled at each other, but said nothing.

It was a shame they had to be there, but they simply had to be there, she thought. She began thinking about how quickly her life had changed. She had just finished college with an engineering degree, moved into a cute apartment in West Palm Beach, Florida to work on the space shuttle program and was excited about her future. When Vic moved in across the street, the two met and fell in love and things felt like they were really falling into place. Having been raised in a Christian home, she knew her parents wouldn’t like it when she and Vic moved in together, but she did it anyway.

When an unexpected pregnancy followed, it was bad news. She was only 22, unwed, her dream career was just beginning and she was barely making enough money to cover her half of the bills. There just didn’t seem to be room for a baby. They talked it over and made what they believed to be a thoughtful, rational decision when they both decided an abortion was necessary. She didn’t waver. She trusted her instincts and she trusted Vic’s even more.

When a nurse with a clipboard appeared in the doorway, it was time for Robyn and Vic to go back. The nurse ushered them to a room with an examination table.

“Have a seat right here and lie back,” the nurse said. Robyn did. “Are you comfortable?” she asked.

“I’m fine,” Robyn offered.

“OK, let’s go ahead and lift your shirt over your belly.” The nurse lifted Robyn’s shirt, rubbed some goop on her skin and placed an instrument in the goop on top of her belly. Robyn was a bit confused. She looked at Vic who gave her an I’m-confused-too look in reply.

The nurse examined the monitor. “There’s the baby. Can you see it?” Both Robyn and Vic looked intently at the screen. “What is that?” Robyn asked.

“That’s your baby!”

“What’s he doing?” Robyn asked.

“Well, it looks like it’s raising its fist." There was an awkward silence in the room.

“You do know we are here for a consultation,” Vic offered. “We’re terminating the pregnancy.”

“You are?” the nurse said surprised. “Good heavens! I am so sorry,” she said. She began to look through the paperwork. “Oh brother, here you are. Just a moment, let me just check with the front desk.” She quickly left the room.

“Good God,” Vic said. “Can you believe these people?” Robyn didn’t answer. Her mind was on the baby, the baby with the fist in the air.

“Hello,” she whispered, looking toward her belly. “You’re not doing that at me, are you?”

“Hello,” she whispered, looking toward her belly. “You’re not doing that at me, are you?”

When the nurse came back into the room, she brought with her a myriad of apologies. She hustled Robyn and Vic into an adjacent room where they waited for the doctor.

“We want to terminate the pregnancy,” Vic said bluntly to the doctor. Robyn sat quietly, still deep in thought about what she had just seen.

“Well,” the doctor said, “I have to let you know, most couples do not survive a terminated pregnancy.”

“Understood,” responded Vic, “but we’ll be OK.”

They both looked at Robyn, staring a hundred miles away. She finally realized she had the floor. “We’ll be alright,” she said unconvincingly. “This is what we need to do.”

The weeks following the abortion found Robyn in a deep hole of overwhelming sadness. She could barely lift herself out of bed to get to work, was distracted on the job and each evening, would do nothing more than return home and crawl into bed. She spent her weekends in bed, sleeping as many as 16 hours a day and eating sparingly.

Vic gave her some space, knowing that what she had just been through was traumatic. A month went by and nothing changed. Vic began to miss his usually vivacious and fun-loving girlfriend.

Three months went by and still nothing had changed. Vic was worried.

For Robyn, the image of the baby’s hand haunted her. Poor little baby, she thought. He was showing his mama he wanted to live. She was now quiet and withdrawn. Vic wondered if she would ever be the same again.

“Please, Lord, I pray that you will forgive me for what I’ve done,” she cried out. It was the perhaps the one thing she said more than any other.

Ten months later, Robyn still hadn’t improved.

Robyn’s aunt passed away and Vic suggested they go to the funeral. Perhaps seeing friends and family might be a welcomed event with Robyn so hopelessly submerged in depression. Robyn agreed.

They flew to Austin, Texas for the funeral. They decided to stay with friends who lived close by. With the day they were to return home fast approaching, their friends pleaded with them to stay one more day so that Robyn and Vic could go to church with them and they could spend one more full day together. It was nice being away, thought Robyn. They moved their flight to stay for one more day.

The following morning, they went to church and Robyn found herself feeling emotional during the service. She thought about being raised in the church, her faith, and her parents' faith, which meant to so much to her. She felt a longing for more of the power she was feeling in this church. The music was rich, songs of Jesus filled the air. She looked around—so many people were putting their cares on the shoulders of a frail carpenter king—God Almighty.

She was a thousand miles from her home, but this place, in the bosom of God with the people of God, also felt like home to her.

“God forgives you,” the pastor said. “He isn’t a reluctant forgiver. By the blood of His son, He is eager to forgive your sins, no matter what they are.”

But what I did, Robyn began to tell herself, does God forgive something like that?

But what I did, Robyn began to tell herself, does God forgive something like that?

The sermon ended with prayer. Robyn bowed her head. “Lord,” the pastor spoke, “I ask, Lord, that you will speak mightily to the folks here today, to impress upon them the deep, deep well that is your love and that no sin is so terrible that your love cannot reach and forgive it.”

Just then, Robyn heard an odd noise coming from the front of the church. She lifted her head and opened her eyes. The pastor was standing on the first pew and looking right at Robyn. She didn’t know what was going on. He then proceeded to step over that pew and then on to the next pew. The congregation began to rumble. Then he stepped over the second pew and stood on the third. Then he stepped over the third pew and onto the fourth. The organ rose up and the folks began to cheer. Then he stepped over the fourth pew and stood right in front of Robyn and touched her on her shoulder.

“God forgives you for the sins you cannot forgive yourself for, sister! All that guilt that’s been weighing you down, that’s God’s business and none of yours!”

Robyn didn’t hesitate. She broke into tears and dissolved into a sobbing mess in a matter of seconds. She found herself praising God with her hands in the air. She felt the regret and despair lift off her shoulders, like a crane lifting a giant stone from her body and soul. She left that day, no longer depressed, no longer in the clutches of guilt.

“What I did that day in the clinic was awful,” says Robyn. “But like the pastor said, ‘no sin is so bad that God cannot forgive it.’ I believe that’s the whole point of the cross.”