One Woman's Journey Toward Healing in the Aftermath of Abortion

by Mary Lawrence Comm

"I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these
you did not do for Me."

Matthew 25:45

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Peter. Oh, it isn't really. But it might as well be. You remember Peter, don't you? He was the one who walked with Jesus. The one who loved Jesus. The one who dropped his fishing nets and devoted his life to following Jesus. The one who said others may deny You, but I never will. [1] The one who stood a safe distance away warming his hands at the fire while his beloved Lord stood beaten and bleeding. The one who, in his denial, betrayed his Lord and friend, Jesus.[2]

I too know Jesus. I love Him. I have walked with Him. I believed I would never deny Him. Then it happened. A good friend came to me with a crisis pregnancy. She asked my advice. I didn't want to damage our friendship, so I stood warming my hands while she made the decision to end her baby's life. I was such a "good friend" I even offered to drive her to the clinic. But in being her friend, I betrayed my Lord.

Perhaps you are a Peter, too. The dot turned blue. The pregnancy was confirmed. Panic was born. Abortion, though not a good solution, seemed the only one at the time. After all, isn't it socially acceptable? Isn't it every woman's choice? No one would know of your indiscretion. No one would know of your sin. But God knows. And you know.

Perhaps at first you felt relief. The days of excruciating debate were over. The panic passed. But in the stillness there is growing grief. Guilt. Shame. Remorse. But it's too late. The child you would have held, tickled, comforted -- is gone. Nothing can bring her back.

It took a long time for the guilt and shame to surface in my life. But the years of denial did not diminish the grief. It took an understanding of what abortion really is before the denial was broken. It took standing before God and seeing His broken heart. It was then that the guilt pierced me, as though I had been the one who had handed the abortionist his instruments. I was an accomplice to murder. As sure as Peter betrayed Jesus, in my ambivalence and ignorance I betrayed Him too. I did not defend the least of these, the unborn child of my friend.

But the parallel doesn't end there. Do you remember what Jesus did for Peter after the resurrection?[3] He didn't leave Peter to languish in his guilt, instead He gently led him to forgiveness. Jesus returned to that familiar shore along the sea of Galilee -- where He first commissioned Peter -- to accept the guilty and to alleviate the guilt. Jesus asked Peter Do you love Me? -- not once but three times. Jesus knew everything. He knew Peter loved Him. So why did He ask the question over and over again? It's as though He was saying I forgive you. I want you to forgive yourself. Only then could Peter go forward and continue his work for the kingdom of God. Perhaps Jesus knew that if He did not go back that Peter, in his feelings of guilt and unworthiness, would spend the rest of his life throwing empty nets into the darkened sea.

Are you throwing empty nets into a sea darkened by sin? Or have you accepted God's forgiveness? Have you forgiven yourself? I don't know how Peter forgave himself. Perhaps there was such love and compassion in Jesus' eyes that the guilt simply melted away. Perhaps in having the opportunity to rededicate his devotion there in the presence of the Living God, the depression departed. Perhaps it's not that easy for you. I know it hasn't been for me.

In His mercy God taught me the principles of forgiveness before the guilt of my sin emerged. So before the guilt I knew of His grace. Even so, I have had to choose over and over again to accept that just as He forgave Peter, God has forgiven me. In time, through the working of the Holy Spirit in my life, I know I will be able to hold my head up and look Jesus in the face, having fully accepted His forgiveness, having fully forgiven myself. For now, I continue on the journey to healing.

As you begin (or continue) on your journey toward healing I urge to remember two things. One, your precious little child is not dead, but is living -- safe in the loving arms of our heavenly Father. And two, if you could hear the voice of your child right now, he would be saying -- in unison with our heavenly Father -- I forgive you. I want you to forgive yourself. Please won't you decide today to join me on the journey toward forgiveness?

[1] Matthew 26:31-35
[2] Matthew 26:69-75
[3] John 21:1-17

Principles of Forgiving Yourself and Others

Forgiveness is not a feeling. It is a choice that must be made as a conscious act of the will and has nothing to do with your feelings. The choice doesn't change your feelings any more than your feelings nullify the choice. Making the choice is not the destination. It is only the beginning of the journey toward healing.

Forgiveness does not undo the damage or minimize the pain. It does not sweep the conduct or the consequences under the rug where they will trip you up later. Forgiveness involves facing your feelings and dealing with them directly and honestly. Acknowledge the anger, the hurt, the guilt, the shame. But because your feelings will change daily, you must choose to anchor yourself in God's Word that never changes.

Forgiveness is a product of God's mercy. If you feel that you don't deserve to be forgiven, you're right. Forgiveness is a free gift from God based on the shed blood of Jesus Christ at Calvary. Just as you did nothing to earn the forgiveness that leads to salvation, you can do nothing to earn forgiveness for your sin now. You must choose to accept God's forgiveness and you must choose to forgive yourself. God commands that you do so (Ephesians 4:31-32).

Forgiveness is a command. God never commands us to do something without providing a way for us to obey Him. It is impossible to obey the command to forgive without relying on God's forgiveness to enable you. Jesus said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). In time He will enable you, through the power of His Holy Spirit, to completely forgive yourself and anyone else who may have played a part in your abortion (Philippians 2:13). However, you must first decide to forgive. If you will allow Him, God will work in you to free you from the bondage of the guilt, the grief and the shame.

NOTE: For additional information on Post-Abortion Syndrome, and how to find healing, visit SafeHaven.

For more articles by Mary Lawrence Comm, please visitCrossWalk
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Copyright © 1996 Mary Lawrence Comm for InfoMedia.
Scriptures from New International Version
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