Is it possible that God could use my choice for abortion for my own good and for the good of others? Does that sound too scandalous? What if I told you that my children, the ones that were killed through abortion, are alive in heaven, happy and fulfilling a purpose? They are not afterthoughts in God’s kingdom.
If you have had an abortion and you are looking for peace and forgiveness, I can tell you with confidence that God wants to heal you too. And your healing will come from God, but it will be facilitated by Christian community. God’s people. The Church.
My Story, Part Four
My healing from abortion was a five year long process that began when I first walked into a counselor’s office in 2011. Something was wrong with me and I couldn’t live with myself any longer. Instead of becoming a better person, I was retreating more and more into an angry, isolated existence.
Sure, I had grown and matured since becoming a believer in 1993. I was a changed person. God, through my Christian community, was molding me into a better wife, mother, friend, leader. After my oldest daughter moved out in 2008, I was devastated. I shouldn’t have been. She was an adult and ready to move into her own life. But it came so suddenly, without warning, unexpected. It caught me off guard.
I felt crushing sorrow and defeat and most of all, shame. Somehow my daughter’s leaving had triggered a shame explosion in me that I couldn’t explain. I couldn’t have even told you that was the emotion I was feeling. And then, as a result of the toxic shame, anger began boiling over in me. I had no patience or compassion for people in my life outside my immediate family.
Instead of being an example of Jesus to the world, I screamed at my neighbor when her dog came into my yard. Instead of showing hospitality when unexpected guests arrived, I ran into the house and hid until they left.
I quit everything I had been involved in. I sold my guitars and all my musical equipment. I stayed at home and made jewelry. For three years I lived with this soul-stealing grief, anger, and shame that I couldn’t explain. I was becoming someone that I did not want to be. I felt like I was being dragged backward into a pit.
Instead of becoming a better wife, mother and friend, something I wanted so much, I was regressing.
My counselor, Lea Ann, led me on a path of discovering the difference between the lies I had believed about myself all my life, and the truth of what God says about me. From 2011 to 2014, I regained all that I had lost. But during these three years of weekly, intense therapy, I only mentioned my experience with abortion in passing.
I still wasn’t talking about abortion.
I still thought abortion was simply a shameful footnote in my history.
When Lea Ann and I decided I was ready to “graduate” from counseling, I felt like a new person. I was lighter, more radiant, more confident in God’s love for me. I was believing the truth instead of lies. I was fully reunited with my oldest daughter and we were building our relationship from a new perspective.
But there was something else going on.
As the rest of my children moved into their teenage years and started making preparations to grow up and leave, my thoughts began to turn to the abortions. This was not something I had ever dwelt on, but now, with my time as mommy to children coming to an end, I was feeling regret over those abortions in a new way.
Something was rising up that threatened to shatter me. I tried to speak of the abortions to my friends, but when I tried, whatever was inside me frightened me and tears streamed down my face and I could not speak. I didn’t know then that it was the unresolved, unexpressed grief over the loss of my children that felt so powerful and dangerous to me.
I needed desperately to somehow express my regret for the abortions I’d had, and I wanted to fight against the injustice of women and girls being lured into what was being sold to them as an easy solution to their problem. But protesting in front of a abortion clinic wasn’t right for me. I decided to volunteer at a Christian pregnancy resource center.
There, I could speak with women who were considering an abortion and I could tell them that abortion is killing a child – something I knew they would not be told at an abortion clinic. I just wanted to help in some way, I didn’t really know how.
As part of the training I would be required to go through a Bible study for post-abortion healing, since I had experienced abortion. I couldn’t effectively speak with women who were considering abortion without healing from my own trauma.
I was eager to take the eight-week study, called Surrendering the Secret. I knew that at the end of the study there would be a memorial service and I longed to be able to grieve my children and make an expression of that loss.
What I didn’t realize was how powerfully God was about to put some flourishes on the healing that had begun in 2011.
Through this study, I was able to fully share my story – all the details – in a safe group of women who had all experienced abortion. We learned the horrible truth, once and for all, about what abortion is and what it does to women.
A woman who has had an abortion is likely to have trouble being a well-adjusted parent to her other children. She may have a compulsion to get pregnant again and “replace” her aborted child. Or she may have repeat abortions out of her trauma and belief that she is unworthy to be a mother.
When my oldest daughter left, it cracked open some very old emotions that had been trapped inside me for decades. I didn’t understand what was happening to me then, but as I progressed through the Surrendering the Secret study I began to see it.
All these years later I had still been suffering the after effects of abortion.
In the study, I was encouraged to express my anger at all those who had directly or indirectly been part of my abortions. I wrote letters to express my rage, then tore up the letters and let God’s peace settle in.
I took responsibility for my part.
I looked at God’s forgiveness.
I wrote letters to my unborn children and let out all my grief.
And perhaps most powerfully, I heard from God that after all, he just wants me to let go of it. The burdens that crush me are nothing to Jesus. He just wants me to be free and to run with him. He said that during this study. In my foolishness I had thought that I could give everything to Jesus except the abortions. I couldn’t place that guilt and shame on him. That just wasn’t fair.
But he said, it’s nothing to me. And it is killing you. And I want you to run with me.
And during this study, the great exchange finally happened.
I agreed to the deal.
I swapped my soul-crushing burden of shame for the lightness of his joy.
All the layers of locks, the brick walls, the ancient stony crust in which my heart was trapped for so long, all of it came crumbling down by the hand of God.
And that wasn’t enough for God. In his unfathomable goodness, he assured me that my children are not in vain. They, and countless millions like them, are part of a vast army of warriors in heaven, warriors for life, working for God to accomplish his purposes.
God doesn’t just forgive, he REDEEMS.
Image courtesy of Nolan Marketti