Statistically, it was inevitable that I would find myself outside the doors of an abortion facility. I was twenty years old and three months postpartum with my first child. I did many things I shouldn’t have done to end up in that position, and my life felt void of hope. Even so, like over 70% of women who have had abortions, I often think I would have made a different decision if the father of the child had been supportive.
I sat in the lobby with the other women and didn’t make eye contact, already feeling the weight and grief of the choice that I was making. I didn’t know what a sidewalk counselor was at the time and don’t remember seeing any. The only thing I do remember is refusing to look at the monitor during the sonogram. I pinched my eyes closed and turned my head as far away from the screen as I could, and the words, “about six weeks,” are all that linger in my memory.
I desperately wish I could go back to that moment and say, “Stop.”
After it was done, I was taken into a recovery room. There wasn’t a protein bar in the world big enough to fix the damage I’d done to myself, but they encouraged me to eat one before I drove an hour home. I flipped through the pages of a nearby magazine to hide my tears and landed on a story covering the birth of Gwenyth Paltrow’s new baby. There was an immediate despair that threatened to engulf me; from this point on, what was supposed to bring relief only brought pain.
When my only son said he was lonely, or when he sat under the Christmas tree opening gifts alone, I knew it didn’t have to be that way. It felt as if there was a ghost in my home, and I only had myself to blame.
I went through the motions of life and fulfilled my obligations to my family for the next fifteen years, but I had no joy or peace. I was either a really good actress or surrounded by people too consumed with their selfish pursuits to notice that I was dead inside. God alone saw my condition.
My relationship with the church has always been complicated. I was among those who came in on the bus ministry or in the passenger seat of some elderly saint, and went back to a broken, impoverished home and lived among addicts. I must have given my heart to God more than twenty times in my youth. It was hard to see His hand in my immediate and dire situation, so it was easy for me to be shaken off the path by frequent major life events.
During the summer of 2019, He decided it was time to begin the healing process. There would be no more turning away. I was led back to church and challenged with these firm words coming from the pulpit during the offering, “partial obedience is disobedience.” I responded with a quick silent prayer, “I can’t promise you anything right now except my obedience.” I set my mind on fortitude and promised to do all that the Lord required. Without His help, I was no match for the forces that were determined to destroy me.
I knew I was uniquely equipped to minister in an underserved area, and I lay in bed at night trembling at the thought of speaking publicly about this controversial topic. It wasn’t the controversy that scared me, but the vulnerability required to authentically share. To do it well, in the right spirit, it needed to be known that I come with more than an opinion. It needed to be known that I am a woman who had an abortion.
This would require full immersion into the issue I’d been avoiding. God confirmed the call in more ways than I can detail here. One stepping stone after another led me all the way to the Florida State Capitol during Pro-Life Pro-Family days to speak during the committee hearing on the 6-week abortion ban. Perfect, full-circle redemption.
The voice I had helped silence was given a platform to advocate for future generations in the womb that day. This is the strength of God’s power on display. Can He still cause a voice to speak beyond the grave? Yes. He can even raise the dead, but it wasn’t my baby that needed to be brought to life – it was me. I wasn’t performing out of guilt or trying to pay for my crime. His great love was evident in preparing good works in advance. He cultivated a legacy of life for me, and I gladly obeyed as a way to say, “thank you.”
As I reflect on what He has done for me, I realize it is the same thing He has been doing from the beginning for all mankind since the fall. We will not be remembered for our shame. We’ve been given an opportunity to participate in an eternal legacy as we accept the sacrifice of His Son Jesus and walk in the light, performing good works by the power of the Holy Spirit so that our Father in heaven may be glorified. This is just a peek into how that played out in my particular life.
James 5:16 states, Confess your sins one to another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. From this verse alone I can highlight two things we, as the Church, can do for suffering post-abortive women. We can create a safe space for them to confess, and we can walk worthy of the calling we have received through Christ so that our prayers will be considered effective. This is the way it was accomplished for me.
In addition to these being implemented, we also need to address two major errors. I do not condemn the entire body with these challenging words, since to do so would also condemn myself. We preach that “there is now no condemnation,” but then use condemning speech. Are we a new creation or are we better than we were, but still not quite as good as you? Was it not grace that you received first? Is it not the kindness of the Lord that leads to repentance? Or did you perform well first to earn the favor of the Lord toward salvation? There is very little compassion for us where there ought to be, and many suffer in silence – unsure of where to take their pain. When we hinder confession because of our hostility, we hinder healing.
However, some Christians swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction, claiming that God advocates for abortion. Yet, when we encourage women to abort their children, scripture is clear that this defies God. Jesus saves people from sin, not for sin. The church, as the Savior’s hands and feet, must not be crippled as these women seek hope.
We live in a culture where one side says, “You have no right to grieve” and the other says, “You have no reason,” and yet grief remains. It doesn’t need our permission to exist. Abortion produces death, death produces grief, and grief produces anger. Anger grows into rage, and full-grown rage is wrath. How will you minister with the knowledge that the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God? We are missing a great opportunity. The figures are staggering for those who have been affected by abortion—one in four women in America, with many sitting in our pews.
I would encourage you to heed these words when speaking with your congregation, fully acknowledging the likelihood that at least one post-abortive woman is attending your church. Pray that the Lord would call her forward as He did me. Because she has been forgiven much, she will love much. If she gives only a fraction of the grace that she has received, then it will be an epic proportion. Minister to her, and when she truly understands the love that Jesus has for her and the profound ways that He can use her for the kingdom, she will become a lighthouse in an extremely dark place.
May the Lord bless you with a burden for souls and equip you to minister well as the love of many grows cold.
Referenced passages: Ephesians 2:10, Matthew 5:16, Ephesians 4:1, Romans 2:4, Romans 8:1, James 1:20, Matthew 24:12, Luke 7:47, 2 Corinthians 8:14, Matthew 24:12