Have you ever had to keep a secret? I’m not talking about the surprise trip to Disney Land for your family, but instead the secret that feels like a long slow death. How about keeping that secret for decade upon decades? Wondering over and over again what it will be like if and when it gets out. What more you will lose at the cost of the secret.
The thing about secrets is that they are so incredibly powerful even in their silence. It can be so loud it’s deafening, but it makes no audible noise as it slowly chokes the life and beauty out of a person’s soul. Secrets birth shame, unworthiness, and despair and they manifest themselves in fear, anger, and control. This is the heart struggle of the post-abortive woman, and she’s sitting in your pews.
Statistics say that 1 in 4 women have abortion in their story(1). This isn’t counting the countless others who are connected to the woman’s abortion like their partners and family members who also feel the loss, nor does this include multiple abortions. According to a survey done by Care-Net, they found that 4 out of 10 of Women who had an abortion attended church at least once a month.(2)
Think of the women in your church. Those who faithfully serve, lead, give of their time, their resources and talents. These are the women hiding within your pews who are wrestling with guilt, shame, unforgiveness, and fear despite regularly hearing the message of freedom and redemption for all broken people.
When I first took on the role of women’s minister at our church I became aware of a local training that a mentor of mine was going to lead at our local pregnancy resource center. I attended naively thinking I ‘might’ need the information one day, and I was quickly confronted with an ugly hole in our churches. The day was full of statistics and stories of women around me who grew up within the walls of local churches and that when faced with the reality of an unplanned pregnancy because they chose to abort their children due to fear of judgment and criticism. Tears ran down my face as I kept thinking “this is not what the church is supposed to be. This is not the Bride of Christ going after broken sinners.”
My first Bible study I hosted consisted of 8 women. One woman had stuffed her secret for almost two decades with only her and her mom knowing the pain of that horrific day. I had nursery workers, praise team leaders, women from the community, moms of little kids and big kids. On the surface they looked like anyone else, but on the inside Satan had done a number on their hearts and souls.
My little group of 8 women had church over the course of 8 weeks. We talked about lies and deception and how sin snowballs into so much more than we could ever imagine. We were confronted with the truth of Scripture that our actions and rebellious hearts leave us broken and struggling with the consequences of taking innocent life that God loves and protects. But we also got to study freedom and the forgiveness God offers to the most raw and repentant hearts. In the course of 8 weeks I saw the Spirit work a beautiful transformation through the transformation of my friends hearts and souls and they now are some of the most important voices in the fight against abortion. We had one woman share her testimony at our women’s conference and the response of women coming out of hiding and confessing their stories was breathtaking as we were able to begin their process of hope of healing.
The church has faithfully fought abortion from one side of the planned parenthood entrance, and we have missed the opportunity of sharing the message of God’s forgiveness, grace, and redemption of those leaving out the back door battered and broken. Are we as quick to share a message of healing and forgiveness as we are about the sanctity of life? Do our communities see us as a place for the broken and vulnerable or that they are only allowed in if they have their lives together?
Yes, we need to be a voice to our culture and those within our churches that life is given by God and that no matter how small the life the imago dei is grafted into each and every human soul at conception. This is not a debate, but as I have listened to the stories of women within my own church walls and our community what bigger voice to heed warning and truth than the women that have walked through the brokenness of their own dark sin.
My hope is that our churches will become places of refuge and Truth. That our pulpits will fight for life and for freedom. That woman will be willing to have broken hearts for their sisters and walk beside them through the hard work of repentance, grief, and redemption. Let’s be reminded of the mission that Jesus (and us) are out to seek and save the lost, and the lost and hurting are right in front of us.
To My Post-Abortive Sister,
My heart is so tender for you. I know even the word abortion brings about a raced heartbeat and nauseous feeling as your palms start to sweat. You may be like my friend who has kept this secret for years, maybe even decades. Can I gently tell you that in your pain and guilt there is a Savior who knows all that you feel and wants to show you healing and freedom. The secrets you hold of that day, the colors, the smells, and the sounds are all markers that Satan uses to remind you of the lie that you are too far gone and unworthy of God’s love. As those lies creep up into your heart and soul I pray that a gentle whisper of the Spirit shows you in this moment that there is freedom in confession, there is grace waiting to hold you, and forgiveness waiting to free you. Don’t hold onto the secrets and lies anymore. I pray that you can take the steps toward Truth and freedom, and that you will see despite us we have a God that works even the most horrible and scar filled parts of our lives to bring about His name and His glory.
This is the ministry (Surrendering The Secret) that I have had the privilege of ministering with and they hold groups all over the world for women just like you. Feel free to reach out to them or to me, as I’d love to hear your story and help you find healing. God has a plan for you. He has a story of your child, that even though not here on Earth, can be used to proclaim His goodness, love, and mercy. It’s time to come out of hiding, to take off the mask, and step into freedom. You can do it. I’m ready to listen.
You are loved, cherished, and prayed for.
(1)Abortion Is a Common Experience for U.S. Women, Despite Dramatic Declines in Rates. (2017, November 22). Retrieved from https://www.guttmacher.org/news-release/2017/abortion-common-experience-us-women-despite-dramatic-declines-rates
(2) Green, L. C. (n.d.). New Survey: Women Go Silently from Church to Abortion Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.care-net.org/churches-blog/new-survey-women-go-silently-from-church-to-abortion-clinic