Guilt from an abortion consumed a woman until she began to believe and hold on to God’s promise of forgiveness.
Pamela K. Manske
A soft, gentle rain was falling that August morning. It was on my daily walk that I saw in the distance the figure of a woman sitting on a concrete step. She was huddled over with her arms clasping her knees and her head buried in her chest. As I drew nearer to her, I heard soft, muffled sobs. When she heard me approach, she got up suddenly to dart away, but she slowed when I called out to her: “Wait! I want to help you. Come and sit with me.”
I asked her if sitting on the steps of the pregnancy care center had anything to do with her crying. She was silent. I told her that I was a volunteer there, along with many other women. I explained that we were there to assist any woman in need of anything. She dejectedly replied, “That wouldn’t be me. I am beyond help.”
Gently encouraging her to let me try, I told her that I knew I could offer hope for her. She looked at me distrustingly. I waited. And I waited some more. Finally, through her sobs, her story slowly unfolded.
Amy1 told me that on this date in 1994, her then-boyfriend deposited her with cab fare at a nearby abortion clinic. He instructed her to “just get it over with.” After that, she never heard from him again. But soon her nightmare of the past eight weeks would be over . . . or so she thought. She confided in no one. No one else knew what she was about to do. She was 19.
Amy entered the clinic hesitantly, telling herself that this was the best way to deal with this unplanned pregnancy. She saw no way out of her situation. She did as she was instructed by the abortion clinic personnel and had little recollection of what happened that morning until she realized in her groggy state that she was in the recovery room. This is where she saw an image that would haunt her in the days and years ahead.
Afterward, sleep eluded her. She would close her eyes, only to envision that recovery room where she saw a bundle of pink sheets on a surgical tray. In her dreamlike state, she saw herself pick up the bundle, walk about, and sing to it softly. Suddenly, without provocation, she threw the bundle into a blazing fire. Awakened with fright at the thought of the horrific thing she had done, she tried once again to erase the image from her mind. Soon the flashback would begin again. She interpreted this dream to mean that it was a baby girl whose life she had terminated. This dream continued for the next 20-some years.
Many triggers took Amy back to that day. Her grief never seemed to end, and it was magnified whenever she encountered things such as baby showers, newborns, strollers . . . and yes, the color pink. She couldn’t shake the feeling that the hundreds of days of sadness she experienced were the punishment she deserved. She saw no way out of her guilt and grief. She was overwhelmed with feelings of shame and regret.
Her personal relationships were hampered by the walls she had built around her heart. In her insecurity, she was unable to trust anyone, let alone herself. Though she was able to hide her choice from everyone, she was unable to escape the guilt. She eventually married, but her grief tore at the fabric of the marriage. Being repulsed by human touch, the intimacy of marriage was unattainable. She was paralyzed in her emotions, and she found herself unable to shower affection on the son that she bore. No one was able to provide the compassion she needed and craved. Wrapped in her guilt, Amy felt hopeless.
Our encounter that morning led to many more morning walks. I used God’s Word to point Amy to the hope of God’s healing forgiveness for her, using such verses as Psalm 103:12 to remind her that “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” She slowly peeled away the layers of shame, sadness, and regret. In time she began to see how much she needed Jesus. In time she began to know that the Lord was near to her in her brokenness and would never leave her. With a heart filled by the Holy Spirit, Amy began to believe and hold on to God’s promise of forgiveness. It was not until she realized that God lavishes all of us, sinners all alike, with his sacrificial, unconditional love that she was finally able to forgive herself. Finally, no longer crushed in spirit, she could truly rejoice as a redeemed child of God.
No longer consumed by her memories, new joy has entered Amy’s life. By coming to know God’s truth and his grace and love, she is free to forgive herself and others. She is free to love and be loved. Her heart is at rest, and she feels restored. No longer does she feel the need to turn inward, shutting out the world as she wraps her arms about her knees. Instead, she eagerly wraps herself in Jesus’ arms of love and mercy.
She can now fully rejoice with her son and his wife as they eagerly await the birth of their daughter, a granddaughter who surely will learn of Jesus at Grandma’s knee. Lord willing, Amy will now be able to cuddle that baby girl in a soft, warm blanket . . . and yes, it will be pink!
Read more at alife2.com about WELS Lutherans for Life.
Help after an abortion
An estimated 60+ million babies have been aborted in the United States since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision to legalize abortion. More than 4 in 10 women who have had an abortion were churchgoers when they ended a pregnancy. 2 Pamela shares advice of how you can help a friend or fellow church member face the pain caused by an abortion:
- Talk less, and listen with your heart. She will feel that you are helping her shoulder the burden with true compassion.
- Require nothing from her. Don’t try to fix her pain, but let it surface. It is a necessary part of healing.
- Encourage her to think of her child as a person. She could name the baby or write a letter to her child.
- Offer Bible passages showing her God’s forgiveness.
- Pray with her, pray for her, and pray that God would help you to show her Christ’s love.
Learn more at apsmke.com if you or someone you know needs help.
1 name has been changed
Author: Pam Manske
Volume 107, Number 01
Issue: January 2020