I knew what it was like to feel shame. I had deep secrets that I felt, if they were ever known, no one would love me or accept me. Unspeakable things that I hoped I could keep from God Himself, if that were possible. I felt too damaged to ever do anything for God or anyone else, and so ruined that I couldn’t be loved or made complete.
I was the poster child for unplanned pregnancy. I was conceived outside of marriage and under the threat of violence. The knowledge of this permeated my every thought and feeling about myself. Then, when I was fifteen I was molested by a cherished uncle. I wanted the love he gave and he wanted something in return. I became pregnant and had my first abortion. I thought the abortion would fix the problem. Instead, I was doubly wounded and it led me down a path of self hatred and self destruction that involved drugs, alcohol and the feeling that nothing I did mattered.
I went into my first serious relationship in this frame of mind. Though we never married, we thought we were in love. I used every form of birth control available, the best I knew how. Despite this, I became pregnant four more times. He had a family history of unplanned pregnancies that he blamed for the misery of his childhood and because of this he rejected the notion of being a father. For the sake of his love, and because I had no emotional legs of my own to stand on, I did what he wanted. In the end, we had no love left; only the souls of our aborted babies that hung between us.
The first step to healing came when I met a man who said he would never ask me to have an abortion. After we were married, and when I was pregnant with my first daughter, I asked Jesus to come into my life and heart. I knew I had made a deep, deep mess of things. I limped into the arms of The Savior; not realizing the depth of the scars that I bore, but knowing for certain I had no way to mend it myself.
I jumped into the “church life.” I volunteered for ministries. I worked hard. I homeschooled my daughters, I became a foster mother. I did everything I could to make up for what I had done but in my heart I felt I was always the “other” in the room. I knew that Jesus died for my sins and I was saved, but the more I heard about abortion and the more I knew how some Christians feel about women who have aborted…the more pain I felt.
I was the walking, talking wounded and I often found that the words of well-meaning Christians led me to bury the wound deeper instead of helping me to find the healing and forgiveness I so desperately longer for. Sometimes I didn’t feel much LIFE coming from those who were Pro-Life. When they said things like, “What kind of a woman would do something like that?” When they used words like Murderer and Killer, I knew that I wasn’t looking at a place of safe harbor.
God was faithful to lead me past the rough rocks and into the presence of people who understood that we must cherish and value the sanctity of all life, in addition to being advocates for the unborn baby. They stood up for the babies whose lives were threatened by abortion and they deeply loved the women whose lives had been shattered when they made the wrong choice. This was when I began to heal.
Now I advocate for these battered souls and I am amazed at two things; the first being how very unaware the Church as a whole is that this problem exists. I have spoken over and over to compassionate, godly Christians who get that “deer in the headlights” expression when I begin to explain. Most of them want to understand, they want to get it right, but they don’t know how.
They have to start first by understanding how the woman feels about herself. They need to understand that someone who has participated in ending the life of her own child gets to a place in her heart and head that is unlike any other. They have to understand that she fears their rejection and she may secretly fear that she has committed the unforgiveable sin. They need to ask God for a heart of love for her and they need to open their hearts to ways of escorting her to a place of healing, help and hope. They need to remember that this woman could be a pre-Believer, a long time Christian or she could even be the pastor’s wife. Based on statistics, she is 1/3 of the woman they know.
The second is: when a woman has carried this guilt and shame for ten, twenty, even thirty years she is sidelined from being the woman that God intended her to be. She can’t fully live, she can’t fully receive the Word of God into her heart, and she can’t fully love the people that God has placed in her life. She operates from a place of brokenness that stays broken if she is afraid to be genuine with those around her, with herself and with God.
The statistics are staggering. The social, spiritual and relational effects are woven deeply into the fabric of our abortion-on-demand society. If you are a Christian who has never experienced abortion, you have the chance to offer your hand of wholeness to the woman who may be drowning in grief and self-hatred from her abortion experience.
If you are a woman who has had an abortion… I want to wrap my arms, the arms of a fellow survivor, around you and tell you that there is healing for you. There is hope for you. There is help for you. And, what’s more, not only can you fully function in the body of Christ, but you can have a ministry of love to those who have wondered if they could ever be whole again.
Together, the post-abortive and the never-aborted can link arms and allow God to use them to reclaim the years that the locusts have eaten and to repossess the territory that the Devil has stolen.