Some newsworthy events get more coverage than others. But unless you’ve avoided all forms of media for the last several weeks, you’ve no doubt heard about some particularly revealing videos. For me, they’ve brought back a memory, and raised some questions.
A long time ago, a friend of mine tearfully confessed that she’d just had an abortion. At the time, I considered myself “pro-choice,” but I couldn’t ignore the physical effect her truth-telling had on me.
I immediately sucked in my breath. My chest tightened. My stomach flipped. And then, pain spread across my rib cage. My mind was intrigued by the details she described – the intellectual process she had used to arrive at her decision (in full cooperation with her boyfriend), and the medical procedure she had experienced. But my body, my heart, leapt fifty steps ahead of my mind in an instant. I recognize now that my physical reaction, impossible to ignore, was the beginning of a grieving process. For her – my friend. For him – her boyfriend. For the child whose fingerprints would never be left on the world.
As my friend told me her story, two things were clear. She was adrift in emotional wreckage, with no firm, fixed landing point in sight. And – her decision had been made largely out of fear of what might happen if she hadn’t made the choice she did. Fear that her parents would reject her. Fear that others would judge her. Fear that she couldn’t provide for a child. Knowledge that the vision she had for her life would have had to change, and fear that it could only change for the worse.
We know this to be true: Fear is a prison. It locks up our creativity, binds our hearts, and crushes our souls.
When I have gone for some time without confessing to God the things I know I’ve done wrong, fear grows within me. I see limits instead of possibilities. I react quickly, instead of responding with an open heart, to those I love. I am burdened by my own thoughts and desires. I am trampled by the world.
And I am less likely to speak out in Love to those who need to hear of Love’s presence, His marvelous power to overcome the world and my entanglement with it.
As long as I kept silent, my bones wasted away;
I groaned all the day.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength withered as in dry summer heat.
– Psalm 32:3-4
In time, my friend and I drifted apart. But I have wondered…What was my responsibility to her? What words should I have said that I didn’t? What was my culpability in failing to support her in her suffering? If I could be there again, would I respond to her differently?
These questions lay on my heart because even today, I still feel her raw emotion, her angst over what she’d done. The abortion hadn’t alleviated fear. It just changed it and fed it, growing it into a secret black spot on her soul and mine.
Now, because of the sheer numbers of abortions performed in our midst each day, I cannot help but fear that as a community, our hearts have hardened. I fear that the world is missing out on the gifts these lost children would have shared with us. While my mind understands the reasoning women go through to make this “choice,” I fear for these sisters of mine – for the guilt they endure privately. For the shame they believe they cannot escape.
But love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.
– Psalm 32:10
Yes, Love answers my trust. So I ask myself – am I truly trusting Him today? If I fail to reach out to women in Love, if I fail to support safe havens where they can talk openly about their pain, if I sit in silence, just watching the undercover videos of secret horrors revealed, am I complicit? Am I contributing to a world that would keep these women and children hidden away? Do they unwittingly forgo healing and the assurance of mercy because I fear I don’t know how to show them Love?
I have but one recourse. One place to go to shed light on this darkness within me. I seek reconciliation with the only One who has the power to overcome my fears, my guilt, my worry.
Then I declared my sin to you; my guilt I did not hide.
I said, “I confess my faults to the Lord,” and you took away the guilt of my sin.
– Psalm 32:5
With renewed strength, I move forward. I reach out to, and into, the places where I see Hope and Grace at work. I envision a world that doesn’t abandon women and their children. A world where the fear of failure to be perfect, to provide, to live fully and creatively in different circumstances, is incinerated by the fire of Love unleashed.
God wants me, a broken vessel, to carry His Love into the world – to work toward offering better, life-enriching choices for those who fear they have none. From age to age, He uses people – us – to spread the message of Life and Love – to break down the barriers erected by fear.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Gracious Lord, show me, show all of us, where to start.
If you are so moved, please visit and support these care providers for women considering abortion, or suffering from its effects. Thank you.
Birthright International; Online for Life; and Rachel’s Vineyard