I couldn’t pull myself away. The inscription, engraved on a gold plate, just below the image of two infants sleeping peacefully in an old-fashioned cradle, confirmed what I already knew — this would be the memorial to honor my unborn children — the ones not with me because of abortion.
The dedication, written by Helen Keller, brought me to tears. Her words, “The best and most wonderful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, but must be felt with the heart,” seemed to be written just for me. Thank goodness, my dear mentor and prayer partner was there to comfort and encourage me as I purchased the lovely painting. She understood my lingering grief and the newfound freedom I’d recently found in an abortion recovery program. She, too, had chosen abortion in her past and had supported me during the 12-week healing group.
Although unexpected, this was the moment I’d been waiting for since my completion of G.R.A.C.E. — a program at my church, appropriately titled God Redeems Abortion with a Compassionate Embrace. God used this incredible ministry to bring freedom, forgiveness, and wholeness to my broken life.
I remember, months prior, sitting in church and watching the big screen where classes, Bible studies, and other ministry advertisements were announced before the services. Every time I saw the notice G.R.A.C.E., I would cringe and then quickly tell myself that I was over “all that.” After all, God had forgiven me, hadn’t he? Why dig up the past?
Indeed, God had forgiven me for my decisions to abort; however, I had not accepted his mercy, nor had I forgiven myself. Like so many other wounded women, I, too, was under the misguided belief that abortion was somehow the unforgivable sin. I couldn’t seem to accept that God’s grace covered everything. Finally, I surrendered and decided that this group couldn’t hurt; maybe it would help heal the ache in my heart, and I was tired of aching.
For years, I’d tried to cover that ever-present heartache with drugs, smoking, promiscuity, shopping, and compulsive eating. I’d act as if I believed abortion was acceptable and that I had made the right choice, yet my addictive behaviors and intense emotions proved otherwise. I was hoping to fill my hungry and hurting heart with something, with anything.
When I accepted Christ and allowed him to peel away the sins of my past, I could no longer hide the anguish abortion had caused. After all, God has a way of bringing up those areas we need to work on… over and over again... until we pay attention. I could no longer ignore this broken part of myself. In order to grow deeper in Christ, I had to dig out all the weeds in my life.
While participating in the abortion recovery group, I experienced a surprising surge of love from God and the other women. I realized for the first time I wasn’t alone. Others had experienced the same shame, remorse, and anger in relation to their past abortions. This understanding gave me new hope.
By realizing I wasn’t alone, I opened the door to take these steps towards healing:
Acknowledge the right to grieve. We have a right to grieve the loss of a child or children. For years, I’d denied myself that natural right. I assumed that because I had chosen to end a life that I had no right to my grief. I finally mourned my losses. Over time, the pain lessened.
Admit responsibility. In spite of the grief and pain, for many women, denial is strong. It is easy to blame others for our decisions, as many of us were influenced by others and possibly even pressured to end a pregnancy. Ultimately, though, we are still responsible.
Understand the responsibility of others. In some situations, women believe they alone are completely liable. However, there are always two people involved in a pregnancy. Add the influence of parents, family, friends, boyfriends, husbands, and the abortion providers themselves, and we have many outside voices prodding us to make a decision. Understanding that others are also part of the process is very helpful. Forgiving them is critical.
Forgive self and others. God tells us that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We are also reminded that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Everyone makes mistakes. Every person on this planet sins. Embracing God’s love and forgiveness allows us to find healing and wholeness. Learning to forgive others releases the grip resentment and bitterness has on our lives.
Give your babies to God. Accepting that my children now reside in the presence of the best Father ever has allowed me to experience peace. Recognizing that there are no tears, no pain, no suffering for these little ones can be liberating. The words of King David, whose sin led to the death of his beloved son, provide great insight and comfort. In 2 Samuel 12:23, David explains why he no longer grieves. He says, “But now that he is gone, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” We will be reunited with our children in Heaven. They are loved and cherished by God, just as we are.
To facilitate these steps towards healing, group members were challenged to create a memorial to honor and remember their child or children. Some women purchased plaques to be placed at The National Memorial for the Unborn, and others made special gifts. In my case, God led me to the amazing painting that I can see as I type these words. It reminds me that God holds my babies close to his heart in heaven, along with all of his children.
The healing process has been challenging, but I can’t begin to imagine my life without God’s grace and the love of supportive women. Never in my wildest dreams could I have predicted that I’d be openly writing and speaking publicly about abortion, but God has a funny way of taking the heartbreaking situations of our lives and turning them around for his glory. Will you invite him to do that for you?
If shame from your abortion(s) still holds you in its grip, choose to reach out today. Find a support group in your area. You are not alone. You can walk in joy again by God’s grace!