To the woman who had an abortion… and to the church

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I was sitting at lunch yesterday, on the first day of a retreat, when my friend Nate told me Twitter was blowing up over Planned Parenthood. I didn’t think about it much at the time.

Then last night I began reading the stories. I had a lot of feelings: Anger, disappointment, disgust… Then Messenger buzzed.

It was a young mom I know really well.

She’s a great mom. And I will never forget the incredible courage it took for her to share with me that she had had an abortion, the circumstances surrounding it and the shame-filled self loathing guilt she felt everyday:

Would she ever stop grieving? Could Jesus ever really love her? Forgive her? Could she ever forgive herself? Would I think differently of her and push her away? Would the church?

That was several years ago. And in a moment it seems like all the healing, discipleship and faith building has been undone.

She had gone to a Planned Parenthood clinic to have the abortion performed.

Every angry post on Facebook, every Tweet of disgust, each news article are experienced as deep cuts of a knife to her soul. They remind her to keep believing the lies she has been working so hard with God to overcome.

She wants to hide in her shame, disconnect from others & God and not be known. Like the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, she “knows” she is unloveable, unforgivable, and undesirable. 

She isn’t alone. I know several women who constantly battle with the ongoing shame of their abortions. I also know there are many more who suffer in their shame in silence. That is what shame does, after all.

To every woman who suffers in this shame, even more so in the wake of Planned Parenthood, I want to hold both of your hands gently in mine and look you in the eye:

You are created in the image of God. You are beautiful. Jesus loves you. In fact, Jesus couldn’t possibly love you more than he does right now. His grace is yours and I offer you mine. I do not condem or judge you. I want to know and love you, the real you – in the midst of the mess.

And others want to as well. You don’t always have to hide. You have something incredible to offer all of us – your self. I know it feels impossible, but reach out. Find someone safe to reach out to. Tell your story to someone who will listen and love. Be reminded of the incredible gift you are. 

I know it’s risky and scares you to pieces; but you don’t have to walk alone.

Church – may we remember that our anger and outrage often has the unintended consequences of pushing others away from Christ’s love and grace rather than inviting them toward it. If you know someone struggling in all this, would you share this with them? Remind them you love them?


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