I spent eight years of my life with Planned Parenthood, so as you could imagine I have many memories of my time there. Some of those memories are good, some are not. Nonetheless, those memories are there packed away in my mind. It’s easy to forget them. I have forgotten so much about my time there in just four and a half short years.
I found my old business card the other day. That is a tangible memory for me. It made me think of the day that I heard I had been promoted to direct the clinic. I was so happy, hugging and jumping up and down with my supervisor. She was so proud of me.
I reflected on the day I moved everything into my new, big office. I put pro-choice stickers all over my filing cabinet. I called my parents to share the news. They were, of course, proud of me, but hated my work. I can’t imagine how conflicted they were in their minds and hearts.
Human resources sent me my new paperwork. There was my new title, along with my new and amazing salary. A few days later, my new business cards arrived. I remember placing them in my new business card holder on my desk. I filled up the business card holder that I kept in my purse. I had already become used to hearing myself say my new title.
I was proud of myself. I was proud of the hard work I had put in to earn that new title. I worked so many hours, sacrificing so much of my time with my family. But, I knew it would all be worth it, especially now that I had my new job title to prove it.
I remember proudly passing out my new business cards to anyone that would take one. Being pro-choice wasn’t only a movement to me, it was a lifestyle. I fully embraced that lifestyle and loved being a part of it.
These tangible reminders that I occasionally find are sometimes hard to work through. I remember receiving the records from my medication abortion. That tangible reminder of my past was difficult to manage.
I look at my “Employee of the Year” award that I received from Planned Parenthood and ruminate on the night I received it. I ended up deciding to place that old award on my desk as a reminder of where I came from and how much my life has changed. Seeing that plaque no longer brings back those tangible memories.
One of the reasons I was so taken aback when finding my old business card was not just because it was a reminder of how proud I had been to run an abortion clinic, something I find deplorable now. I was taken aback because of all of the things I engaged in while I had that big title.
I remember handing women small monetary checks to pay for their silence after we had left them with a serious infection after their abortion. The memories of watching women bleed out on our abortion table and being instructed not to call the ambulance because we didn’t want to let the pro-lifers know that we had a medical emergency. The memories I have of “joking” about the babies that died in our facility by abortion. The memories I have of training our abortion facility employees on the “normalcy” of abortion and how to convince women that abortion is the best choice for them.
Part of being a former abortion clinic worker is learning how to deal with your past sins. The woman that came to your clinic for an abortion could also be the familiar face that you bump into at the store. It could be standing in front of your former abortion facility and remembering all of the damage your thoughts, words, and actions caused so many women. It could be finding that old business card that reminds you of the pride you felt when you became the director of an abortion facility.
People ask me all the time, “How do you live with your past?” My answer is silly, but it’s a true story. It’s my story.
One day I was watching the kid’s movie “Kung Fu Panda” with my daughter. In the film there is a wise, old tortoise named Oogway. He is talking to one of his students who is frustrated with his current situation. Oogway asks his student, “Do you know why today is called the present? Because it is a gift.”
That little line by an animated tortoise hit me like a ton of bricks. Today is a gift. There is absolutely nothing we can do with our past. There is very little we can do to control our future, or if there is a tomorrow for us in this life. All there is for us is the present. We live NOW. We serve NOW. We choose to move on from our past NOW.
I don’t know what your past sins are. I don’t know how frequently you are reminded of them. However, as someone who has to face their past sins on a frequent basis, almost daily, I can tell you that you can be free from their burden. Past sins do not have to be a source of constant grief.
You have been given the opportunity to transform your past into something positive. Maybe you could help others make different choices than you did. Maybe you could help others heal from the same struggles that you lived through. I don’t know what you are being called to do, but as the saying goes, “God can turn our mess into a message.”
Carrying around past burdens doesn’t help us in any way. Sometimes you may remember the person that you were and the decisions that you made, but you can thank God for pulling you out of it each time it comes to mind. Count your blessings daily.
Just know that you can be forgiven. Accept that forgiveness. Use your life to help others. The present is indeed a gift.
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