To a Christian woman who chose abortion


Got this in a couple of days ago:

Dear John,

I don’t really know you well enough to share this, but there will never be anyone in my own church I could share it with. The article you did on abortion [Christians and abortion: what are we, babies?] really touched my heart.

I was once a judgmental Christian who, on one occasion, even got up before a congregation and gave my testimony about how thankful I was that I had not ever had an abortion, and never would.

This was just after a very very dear friend of mine had decided to have an abortion. I felt smug and somehow better than her—like somehow I would have made a better, more godly choice than she did.

Well, I lived to regret every word of that perfect Southern Baptist testimony, when, in years to come, I faced the very thing that I had been so sure was so wrong.

Many times I have wished that I made the choice I did because I was in a life or death situation. I think I even told myself, many times, that I was in such a dire situation. But that is just not true. There were circumstances that were unusual, but not physically life-threatening. I had just had a baby; he was four months old when my father died after spending a month on life support. I didn’t even know I was pregnant until about a week after my father’s funeral. I had been given every kind of sedative and tranquilizer medication during that month and after the funeral. I was left with a broken mother, three kids under six years of age, a husband out of work, and a very shaky marriage. I had complications with all my pregnancies, but no one told me my life was at risk. No one said, “It’s your life, or your baby.”

I prayed, “Dear Lord, I cannot do this. What am I suppose to do? Do I give up my three children, and my mother who needs me desperately right now?” Because I knew that, in the mental state I was in, I would not make it through another pregnancy. So I quickly made the arrangements and went through the process like a robot.

My youngest son, who will soon be 25, was four months old when I had the abortion. (Wow…I have never written those words before.)

I have lived with the shame and disgrace of what I did for twenty-four years, and basically condemned myself as a murderer unworthy of God’s love.

I lost my precious mother in 2005 without ever sharing my story with her. She would have been the one person who would have never judged, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I have held it in and let it hold me back all this time. I regret the act and I regret all the things that I might have done if I had not let the guilt hold me back. I have sold God short on what He was capable of doing just to punish myself. That will end up being my biggest regret and burden.

But I have never given up on God. I continue to read the Bible, and ask for His guidance for my own understanding. I try to live my life in service to my family and to others, but not a day goes by that I do not feel unworthy of any of the many blessings I have. Each day I wake up with that guilt and shame that I will never truly be forgiven. Not because God will not forgive, but because I stood up in front of people, and said what I thought I believed—and then did the exact opposite, because I did not have a clue what I was talking about.

Now, everyday, I hear people talking about what a sin abortion is, as if it is the only sin (except maybe being gay) that will send us to hell. And I don’t think about myself, but about my dear friend, and how hard it must have been for her to go through that process without my full support. I never told anyone about her decision. But she knew that I did not approve of it.

She died a few years later of breast cancer. She was like my sister, and a wonderful person. She never pretended to be anything she was not. She was like the rest of us—just doing the best she could with what she had at the time. I deserve to be judged, but she did not. So I will always stand up for people who honestly thought they were doing the right thing.

Thank you for at least demonstrating that not every Christian turns their back on people who make mistakes.

God bless you and your ministry.

Dear woman who wrote me this:

My God. How you have suffered.

So the house of your grief has four walls: for your unborn child, for your departed friend, for your parents, and for the separation from God you think you’ve suffered.

That’s a dark house, sister, a cold place to live. I’m so glad you wrote me. It means you’re moving toward the door of those unhappy quarters: that the sun and Son are beckoning you to come outside and start a better, warmer life.

You’re a Christian. And so you understand the raw, visceral horror experienced by Christ on the cross. And you know why that awesome sacrifice transpired. You know that God incarnated as Christ took into his corporeal form all of our pain, our suffering, our heartbreak, our grief, our shame, our disappointment, our misery, our fear—and obliterated all of it with the blazing white fire of his love for each and every one of us.

You know that. You know who Christ was; you know what he did; you know why he did it. And just like you know the nature and purpose of Christ, you know who and what you are. You know you’re not supposed to be perfect, unblemished, wonderful: the best friend ever, the ideal daughter, the flawless mother. You know being like that was never the plan. You know that no one ever gets to be the person they wish they were.

We were born needy and weak, and we spend our lives the same. No one gets out of that. All of us are afraid, confused, alienated, lonely, angry, selfish, appetitive, greedy, opportunistic, unjust, immoral, crazed for love. All of us are hounded by our own insufficiencies and failures.

Life, after all, is a vale of tears.

You know that. You of all people know that.

We were born to lose. We were born broken. We were born nailed to a cross.

You and I and everyone else in the world were designed, ultimately, to turn to God—to come to him with our sorry lives in our hands, pleading, “Please, take this. It’s no good to me. I can’t do it. I have failed, and know I can do nothing but. Help me. I’m yours.”

And sure enough, Christs’ consciousness begins to fill us. There, at the cross, we find the relief we seek. We find solace. We find the source of the love we cannot create for ourselves.

We find absolution.

We find that we—even we!—are forgiven.

The phenomenal thing about the forgiveness of God is that it’s very specific: it shows up with actual, specific, easily comprehensible reason behind it.

God doesn’t just forgive you; he tells you why he forgives you.

It’s obviously supremely presumptuous on my part—but, since you wrote me, let me share with you my belief as to how God sees the transgressions of yours that have for so long been causing you such grief:

Your unborn child: When you made the decision you did relative to your pregnancy, you were barely functional. You were as distraught, stressed, and grieved as a person can possibly be—and it sounds like you were suffering postpartum depression, which of course can be dangerously debilitating. And you were intensely medicated. The condition you were in was more than “unusual.” It was ruinous. I absolutely, 100% guarantee you that God forgives you for the decision you made in the condition you were in. I wouldn’t give a rat’s patoot for any god who wouldn’t. Would you? You were a mess; you prayed to God for guidance, and then you made a difficult decision. You’re not guilty there of anything. You did your job: you prayed to God. You’re innocent.

Your friend: It’s true enough that you weren’t the friend you might have been. But because that failure is emotionally tied up with the choice you later made during your pregnancy, that transgression has taken on for you a great deal more weight than it deserves. You were young when you went before your church to say how you would never have an abortion. That’s such a young thing to do: it’s so immature, so obviously an effort to be praised, to belong, to assert a winning identity. And it’s so informed by one of the primary defining qualities of youth: moral certainty. Young people can only see right and wrong in clear, black-and-white terms; they haven’t yet developed an appreciation for the infinite means by which moral blacks-and-whites become infinite shades of grey. The real failure with your experience lies with the adults who encouraged and allowed you to make such an insipid speech. An actually mature person would have told you to sit down, and be quiet. Who wants to hear a young person bragging about their moral superiority? The only reason they let you make that speech is because it served their own agenda: they essentially used you as propaganda, and no two ways about it. That’s a shame on them—but no shame to you. You’re not guilty of anything there except being young. And that (thank God!) is no crime.

Your parents: Of course it’s awful to lose one’s parents; I’m terribly sorry that happened to you. But you don’t need to feel bad anymore about not sharing with your mother the decision you made in the weeks following your father’s death. She knows now, doesn’t she? And I’m positive she forgives you that. Wouldn’t you, if you were her? You wanted your mother to think as highly of you as possible. Who doesn’t want that from their mother? I am certain that right now your mom is waiting, with God himself, to hug you long and hard, and tell you how much she loves and certainly forgives you.

Your separation from God: To me, the jump-out thought in your letter was that even though you know that God forgives you, you don’t forgive yourself. That right there is a problem; that’s a place you want to focus. What you’re doing with that calculation is putting yourself ahead of God. You’re saying that your judgment that you are not forgiven carries more weight with you than does God’s judgement that you are. It shows you’re not really letting God’s will for you be done. It means that you’re denying what Christ did for you on the cross.

That is (for lack of a better, nicer word) ego. You need to let go of that.

You are forgiven by God. Christ did die so that you could avail yourself of the absolution of God.

If you’re a Christian, you believe that.

So be a Christian. Believe that. Know that. Accept that.

Live in that.

Don’t keep your curtains closed against on the new day dawning. Throw them open. Let the Son in.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Kathleen O’Donoghue via Facebook

    beautiful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/realgranola Julie Sharpe via Facebook

    <3

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    Thanks for this, John. Thanks for your compassionate response; thanks for reminding her about the depths of Christ’s love.

  • http://dragonmommie.wordpress.com Debbie

    I really liked your response to this woman. I believe, and am testament, to the fact that God forgives everyone. No matter what we have done, if we are truly repentant, He will forgive and we are worthy of that forgiveness by His grace.

  • Christy

    Her letter is so heavy….and your reply so beautiful. How true it is that forgiveness is the gift we give ourselves.

  • Libby

    Brilliant John… simply brilliant. I hope the woman who submitted this letter is able to really see the message you are trying to convey to her. I am also hopeful that many who read this but didn’t write it also see the message. One dear friend of mine, when I continued to punish myself for a sin after I had asked for forgiveness, put it this way: It is arrogant of you to think you know better than God – that somehow your sin is so much worse than anything He could have imagined or covered with His sacrifice. Get over yourself.” Those words freed me, and I hope the woman who wrote you likewise is freed and turns her face back to the Son. Many blessings, John, on this vital ministry of yours.

  • http://www.facebook.com/meg.crockercurtis Meg Crocker-Curtis via Facebook

    Very beautifully written.

  • W. Lotus

    Your grace and compassion towards those who are hurting is a blessing to behold. Thank you for sharing your light with others.

  • slp

    Thank you John! This is a wonderful response to all us sinners – no matter what our transgressions.

  • Cynthia Haug-West via Facebook

    Beautiful response, full of grace and love. Bless you, John, and may the woman who wrote to you really hear and accept the pure love and forgiveness God has for her.

  • http://rayodiorne.com Ray

    John: First off, let me thank you for your insight and compassion not only for this suffering woman, but others who have reached out to you. (I just read UNFAIR and am still dealing with its impact.)

    But most of all, you have identified one of the central issues in this case: the ability to feel forgiven rather than the expectation of being forgiven. As someone (I think it was Voltaire) said, “Of course God will forgive, that’s His job!” But we take on our own authority whether we can be forgiven, denying that possibility and not checking back with God about it. In essence, we make ourselves more powerful than God! (“What? God’s grace can overcome even my own obsession with sin? I don’t think so!”)

    People get fixated on that one reference to the “unforgivable sin,” with a free-floating definition. Actually, the only “unforgivable sin” is thinking we either don’t need to change a thing, or can’t be forgiven anyway. We get in the way of God’s unconditional acceptance.

    I have come to terms with my own flaws and failures, which was only possible because I knew that nothing can separate me from the love of God.

    Thanks again for what you are doing.

  • Been there

    I love what you’ve written here, John. My only concern – and I know this from personal experience – is that the inability to let yourself be forgiven by God is like a physical disease. It feeds on itself. You start to feel guilty about your inability to let God forgive you (it’s your own *ego,* after all), and that just makes you feel worse, and so on and so on. In my case, it took an extreme personal crisis to break out of that vicious cycle: all the psychotherapy and pastoral counseling in the world had done absolutely zero good. I *understood* that I couldn’t forgive myself, and that that lack of self-forgiveness was an expression of my own ego, but it didn’t make the slightest difference, and being told that it should shamed me even further.

    Basically, God had to kick me in the butt by making me lose both my job and my marriage at the same time. Nothing short of that would have done it.

    I’m not saying that something comparable has to happen to this woman. What I *am* saying is that the trap she is in is exactly like a physical disease, and if she succeeds in finding her way out, it will be no less of a miracle than a spontaneous remission of cancer. My psychological healing was a miracle on exactly that scale, but it really did happen, and that’s why I’m living now with a mature faith that lets me appreciate the things you write here. I pray fervently that God will do the same thing for this woman who wrote to you.

    • Richard lubbers

      I agree with you. Unforgiveness towards self is much like a physical addiction. I was fortunate in that my freedom didn’t need to come through difficult loss. But I lived for decades in its prison before He called me to risk believing I was someone He died for. Thank you for your comment.

      • Been there

        You’re welcome. BTW, just to clarify, I didn’t have an abortion (I’m not the right sex). I didn’t do anything specific to engender such self-hatred, other than letting myself be bullied for years by people bigger and meaner than myself. What I hope the letter writer will come to understand is that self-hatred is a demon in its own right, and the abortion she had is merely the pretext under which she is practicing it on herself. In doing so, she has been egged on by a church hierarchy that also consists of bullies, dressed up as they may be in garbs of smug self-righteousness.

  • ellen

    “moral blacks-and-whites become infinite shades of grey. ” Wow, I don’t ever want to forget the meaning of these profound words. Thank you John.

  • Richard lubbers

    John, a very sad letter, and your usual gifted response. You are author, humorist, counselor and bartender!

    You were right on with your assessment that ego is what keeps us from forgiving ourselves. We continue to punish ourselves because we feel we need to add to the payment for our sins. And that is a slap in the face to Jesus. Several years ago He cut through my darkness to tell me that I have been listening to the wrong voices all my life. Once I dared to believe that I could be light, it became possible to let go of a lifetime of self-doubt and guilt.

    I hope this dear woman will dare to believe she can let go of the guilt. It’s unknown water for her, but once she dives in, she will swim in His wondrous depths of love!

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com/ Ric Booth

    John, I love your words.

    Dear Letter Writer,

    I have lived in the house of grief myself. Different address, same decor. I write about that place in poems. I wrote Hidden in the days following my father’s death. Your letter and John’s response took me back to those days.

    my hidden hurt, i cannot shake

    i love to long, i feign escape

    i fear to leave, i loath to stay

    my paradox, please go away

    but do not leave, come visit me

    just do not stay, lest you may see

    my self’s encased, alone again

    my longing is, a lonely friend

    i feel i must, inside remain

    to enter is, to know my pain

    experience, my darker side

    just turn away, to run and hide

    yet still you come, you take my hand

    you sit with me, you understand

    all others gone, all pushed away

    yet still you hold, this potter’s clay

    my time is come, i see your face

    and sip at last, the cup of grace

    • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

      This is lovely, Ric. Thank you for sharing it with us. Your poem, the letter writer’s pain, this house of grief all remind me of Anne Lamott’s dark hour not unlike the letter writer’s own of which she writes in Traveling Mercies where she realizes while in those pain filled walls she was never alone.

  • Dallas Jenkins

    I thought this was a beautiful post and a beautiful letter, and yes, the beauty of the cross is that God forgives even the worst of sins and the worst of sinners (which pretty much includes all of us). This woman is forgiven and loved.

    However, this confused me:

    “I absolutely, 100% guarantee you that God forgives you for the decision you made in the condition you were in… You did your job: you prayed to God. You’re innocent.”

    If she was innocent, what did God need to forgive? She has been made clean and is forgiven, but her act was sin, it was wrong. Isn’t that the overall point of the piece? That her act, as wrong as it was, is forgiven? If she had all the “legitimate” excuses you say, then are you implying she did nothing wrong and that God didn’t need to forgive her, he just needed to excuse and/or justify her actions based on the circumstances?

    To be clear, I agree that she was in a ruinous state, and to judge her or claim that her sin was too bad to forgive is despicable and a lie. But we can’t dismiss or diminish the sin–not because she needs to be reminded of it, of course, but because we need to know that God forgives even the most disturbing of wrongs. That’s the beauty of redemption.

    • Gordon

      “…but her act was sin, it was wrong. Isn’t that the overall point of the piece?” John will have to speak for himself if he is so inclined, but for my part, I don’t think that was the point of his piece.

    • Diana A.

      Dallas, is your nit-picking helpful to this situation? Or are you trying to throw this poor woman back into a state of shame and guilt?

      Sometimes we argue theology on John’s blog. Sometimes we just offer a safe place for other people to tell the truth about their lives. It’s good to understand under which circumstances theological arguments are welcome and when it’s better to offer the peace and love of Christ. When in doubt, peace and love are the way to go.

      • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

        I have to agree with Gordon and Diana. “…but her act was sin, it was wrong. Isn’t that the overall point of the piece?” No. I don’t get that at all. For me, the point of the piece is to comfort the suffering by helping them deeply know how forgiveness makes us whole. And how holding on to our sense of unworthiness (so often conditioned into our psyche by those around us but ultimately self-imposed) impedes our relationships.

        Dallas, having lived at both ends of the conservative/liberal Christian spectrum and spending quite some time reflecting on these things it has been my observation that some within Christianity seem to have a need of focussing on the perceived wrongs of others and making sure they know it, while others within Christianity focus on the need to help heal those who feel utterly broken and making sure they know they are loved. The beauty of redemption is that the Divine is much more concerned with making us whole than on the cracks themselves. It seems like such a tiny shift in perspective – but one that makes an enormous – healing – difference.

      • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

        Dallas clearly has some issues with women, it’s too bad he’s allowed to spew his misogyny here but I trust John with the reasons why.

    • Lyn

      Here’s what I wrote on my FB when someone commented on whether the woman needed forgiveness or not:

      Well, it’s obvious that this woman needed to feel forgiven, whether forgiveness was needed or not. I also think it’s important to understand that her need for forgiveness extended further than choosing abortion, but also for her holier-than-thou stance when she was younger and the brokenness it engendered in her friendship and for the secrecy she has maintained to keep up the illusion that she was the person she claimed to be which has also undoubtedly kept her at arm’s length from those closest to her.

      My personal definition of sin is anything that causes harm to yourself or to a relationship– to God or to others. For some people, acts that are in and of themselves innocent cause self-harm. For instance, Paul talks in a couple of his letters about eating meat sacrificed to idols. This meat was often sold at a much cheaper rate in the market of these cities, so those who bought and ate meat were aware that they might be eating meat that had been used in pagan rituals. Paul pointed out that there is nothing in and of itself sinful in consuming that meat. But, for some, the act of eating that meat would have caused them guilt or made them feel in some way connected to the god to which it had been sacrificed via the ritual of eating that meat. For them, Paul says, since they feel it is a sin, this is a sin and they should avoid it, and those who are aware of that struggle in another should not tempt them with it, even if they themselves partook in their own homes when not entertaining company.

      In today’s world, there are a lot of “meat sacrificed to idols” issues and we need to be sensitive to those suffering under the guilt of having done what, for them, was wrong. For instance, if someone were to walk into my house and threaten my family with a knife or gun or their fists, and I had the opportunity to take them out with extreme prejudice? I would and feel perfectly justified in my action. But I would also feel the need for absolution for that act. That’s the beauty of Christ’s grace. I don’t need to justify why something is a sin or engage in a long debate about the sinfulness or innocence of an act to seek his forgiveness. I have it, period. His grace covers everything, from the worst, blackest, most selfish act, to the one that was justified but continues to haunt.

      We look at what this woman did and the circumstances and wonder whether it was a sin or not. But to her it was a sin. And to her forgiveness is offered, so that she can find the strength and resolve to be a whole person who can live with her past and go on into a better future loving herself, her husband, her kids, her friends, and her God.

      • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

        This is a wonderful perspective, Lyn. Thank you.

    • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

      I find your focus on your own agenda here so repulsive. Dallas I’m curious – why are you such a hit and run poster? This is the third time you’ve made a comment with the intent to insert your agenda and it’s also the third time you have been countered and asked some follow up questions that you don’t respond to. Are you not comfortable enough in your own positions where you feel like they can weather the storm of confrontation? It’s odd to see someone who wants to be bold but appears to be so afraid.

    • Donald Rappe

      Abortion is a tragic choice. Mr Jenkins is confused because this fact goes beyond his capacity to understand. May God give Mr. Jenkins a more sensitive heart.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jen-Sidlo-Henley/100001122887039 Jen Sidlo Henley via Facebook

    Wow. What a beautiful response. Thank you, John. It spoke to me, too, even though I am not in that woman’s shoes (I’m in my own self-judgmental shoes;-)

  • Saralinda

    Dear Letter Writer,

    Abortion is a horrible thing, but God does forgive. Just because this happened, does not make you a bad person. The fact that you having second thoughts shows that you are a very good person. In my faith tradition (Catholic) we have something called the Rachel Project offering a safe and non-judgemental place for healing from abortion. It is open to all people involved in abortions, not just Catholics. Check it out. I am praying for you.

    • Emily

      Saralinda,

      Abortion is NOT a horrible thing, not for everyone. Unpleasant, yes. Horrible, no–not if you decide it is best to have one. In my case, it was life-saving. Not for physical health reasons, but because having a baby would have tied me to the father, a sociopathic man who tried to murder me (he did not know that I was pregnant, it just coincided–I had recently left the home), forever. It would have ruined my life, and I deserved to have my life. An embryo’s value does not trump mine, a full-grown woman with hopes and dreams and a desire to have a reasonably good life.

      She did not express second thoughts about her abortion, she expressed guilt. Those are different things. I did not read any part of her letter saying she thought she shouldn’t have had an abortion. If you feel that she should go to a non-judgmental group to to get over her abortion, then you have already judged her. She doe not need anyone else’s permission to be at peace with her decision.

      She needs no healing from her abortion; she needs healing from the socially-induced guilt she’s felt for years. She made the only decision she felt she could at the time. We do not have the benefit of playing forward the videotape of life to see how things will turn out if we do A versus B.

      Letter Writer, if you’re reading these comments, you have NOTHING to feel shame over. You saved your own life, and consequently gave your children and mother the person THEY needed. YOU are an important person, and YOU had a right to live your life and be there for the PEOPLE who love YOU. Let go of your guilt. Having an abortion was the best decision I ever made, given the information I had at the time. It sounds like that was the case for you, too. I have never had a single regret, and neither should you.

    • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

      Saralinda, be so terribly careful with comments like these. Please. No one who’s written something like this needs to have “abortion is terrible” written out, it’s a passive-aggressive way of condemning her. I know you feel compelled to state that and I understand why but please, please – stop it. You’re not helping and when you attach the Rachel Project to it (which is an amazing organization) that kind of thing – even though you mean well – diminishes the Rachel Project and other types of support offered. Thanks for considering it.

  • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

    Last night, coming home from work, I saw a car ahead of us obviously owned by a devout Catholic – the bumper was plastered with bumper stickers of the like: “Pray the Rosary for World Peace” and, of course a ribbon-sticker declaring “God is Pro-Life.”

    It got me thinking about the issue again and how – I used to be black and white about it (as a churchgoing teenager) but I’m so much more “gray” about it now. I’m pretty sure both “sides” of the issue hate me just because I think both have valid points and valid reasons for their stances — I’m like that with a lot of things, pacifisim vs. war as a sometimes necessary evil, believe in God/Spirit/Higher Power vs. Skepticism, I have a high respect for vegitarians even as I love meat and have thoughts regarding the brutality of nature that keep me eating it… I’m the kind of person who just refuses to “stand with you and point at the other guy saying he’s got devil-horns and no brain in his skull.”

    The heavily politicized issue of abortion, in my mind, boils down to a simple, two-pronged, universal philosophical conundrum: The first part is – “At what point does ‘personhood’ begin or end?’ and the second part is “Under what circumstances is it justifiable to take a life (‘person’ or otherwise)?” To me, that’s it, and that’s why everyone fights over it. Everyone’s perceptions on the “personhood” and the “justification” parts are different.

    As for the rest, I cried reading this because the idea that this lady didn’t feel like she had any shoulder to cry on, anyone to share this with and lived with such fear of judgement tore me up. All I can say from my (relatively milder experiences) is that … life really just has a way of breaking one’s pride. You say things in your youth about how you would, or wouldn’t, or would never and then when you get out into reality, it puts you through a meat-grinder and you find yourself in desperate circumstances doing desperate things or just snapping. You wind up being that person you swore you’d never be. You make a kind of mistake you thought you were “too good” for. My own experiences are not the same, (but I have done something that will bar me from ever holding certain jobs – let’s just say that).

    I wasn’t there – but I can’t say there was really any other option in this woman’s life. It was just one of those breaking-point things.

    And from those kind of things, the only way to move is forward. Accept what you cannot change and just keep going forward.

    • Adel

      Shadsie,

      You’re the kind of person who sees all the shades of gray, that every decision and choice is a special little snowflake. You’re the kind of person willing to stop and listen long enough to understand that each side has valid points. You’re my kind of person.

      • Gordon

        Mine too.

    • Valerie

      I feel we are kindred spirits.

    • LSS

      Yeah you just have (probably due to your weird life experiences as much as your innate intelligence) a really good grasp on the complexity of reality.

      • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

        “Innate intelligence” – Me? *Looks around*

        You’re too kind. Really.

        The weird life thing – now that’s where you hit the nail on the head.

  • vivian soul

    I read this and just cried so hard. I to had an abortion when I was 17. It was a horrible time in my life. My parents had, had an ugly divorce, not an excuse, just a fact of many things that accumulated to making a bad decision. I mourned the loss of what I had done for 11 years. I had always loved Jesus, but like many felt unworthy. What kind of person was I to murder an innocent being, a gift from God? I had a deep depression for my poor choices. I later at 21 got married, then in Jan 1985 found out I was pregnant with my 2nd child. I for whatever reason, thought God would punish me. I felt I would lose my children for what I had done to God and to myself. The anniversary of the abortion, my daughter was born. God found a way for me to celebrate his forgiveness, and a birth instead of mourning a loss and a sin. I could never be whole again until this happened, God did a great and wonderful thing for me. I will never feel unworthy of his forgiveness again. I hope to someday help young women who struggle with such decisions, maybe God willing I can be an instrument for his purpose. We will see, and time will tell if that is where God wants me to be. Thank you for this very touching story.

  • mike moore

    dear letter writer,

    I don’t know if this provides any comfort to you … but please know there are many of us who believe you did nothing wrong, nothing requiring God’s, or anyone’s, forgiveness, excepting perhaps, forgiving yourself.

  • erika

    dear sister in christ,

    i do not judge you at all.

    i would have done the very same thing. really

    you were able to be the mother you needed to be to the children you already had.

    g*d is bigger then any abortion.

    he is.

    ((((hugs)))

  • http://www.facebook.com/merry.ressler Merry Williams Ressler via Facebook

    I am thankful I found your website. Blessings…

  • Gretl Riedel-Simonson via Facebook

    Beautiful…

  • http://www.facebook.com/patty.simmons Patty Simmons via Facebook

    What a sensitive response, great for many of needing an open door of forgiveness. Walk toward it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stacy-Tomson-Rispin/1469444896 Stacy Tomson Rispin via Facebook

    This made me cry — wonderful words to her. Thank you.

  • Joanne Burns via Facebook

    Wow what a sad letter..she pretty much missed out on her whole life walking around in that grief and shame. I don’t get it? Why do people beat themselves up so much?No one has ever taught them about the finished work of Christ..He not only became our sin II COR 51-21 ..but he took our sins into HELL and Everyday His LOVE IS NEW. GOD IS LOVE..If you don’r gt that folks you won’t receive anything he has for you..He only wants to BLESS us and if we don’t receive the ABUNDANT LIFE..He died in vain. Falling short of God’s Glory is simply failing to TRUST in LOVE..Sin is over and done with.

    • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

      “Getting it” means having empathy.

  • LJ Burton

    As that child who was not aborted, but born, handicapped by the medication, the mother who did not pray or believe who was broken by the last straw she could not handle, I believe in abortion. It may have saved my mother and sisters, if not me, exactly. But, God would still have a place for me. As it is, after decades of therapy, medication, learning disabilities, and abundant faith, I finally am able to say that I don’t hate the fact that I was born. You may have done a kindness greater than you can imagine. Trust that God led you to the best that could be under the circumstances, and forgiveness is there for women such as you.

    • Nan C

      LJ,

      My heart goes out to you. But it does seem you’ve found some measure of peace after all, and I’m grateful.

      When it’s most important to say exactly what I mean, that’s when it’s the hardest for me to find the words, but here goes.

      My heart goes out to you. I wish we lived in a world where every child was welcomed and cherished and anticipated with joy and hope. Unfortunately, we don’t. You’ve had a mighty rough time of it, borne the brunt of this world’s imperfections and you’ve worked hard to live with or even overcome those obstacles.

      Kudo’s. My hat’s off to you, good job.

  • YellerKitty

    It is estimated that at least one in every 4 conceptions ends up being spontaneously aborted, usually before a woman is even aware that she is pregnant. If you believe in God and believe that such things are all part of God’s will, then it would seem that God doesn’t have that much of a problem with ending pregnancies that are not right. And neither do I. Nobody is ‘for’ abortion. It’s as difficult a decision as most of us will ever have to make. We would all love for every pregnancy to be planned and wanted, and for every woman to be safe and loved and supported before AND AFTER the birth of every baby. That is not the world we have. Sometimes the hard choice is the best choice, and sometimes that choice is to not give birth, for whatever reason. And any woman who makes that terribly hard decision deserves to be able to make it in private and to have safe and supportive options available to her.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Storm-Longhauser/1028238171 Storm Longhauser via Facebook

    What a beautiful response. And more than that I also love the kind and loving responses of your followers. A testament to your influence I think.

  • Valerie

    Dear Letter Writer,

    You are not alone and you are forgiven. Please find someone in your church or out of it to talk to if for nothing else than a shoulder to cry on. It is ok to grieve, it is ok to cry, and to find someone who will accept you for who you are warts and all is what you need right now. I hope you read these responses and I hope you find what you need in John’s response and in the support you get here. God bless and prayers sent.

  • Susan in NY

    Some statistics from the Guttmacher Institute.

    To read more, you can go to http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html

    Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States

    August 2011

    INCIDENCE OF ABORTION

    • Nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended, and about four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion.[1] Twenty-two percent of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion.[2]

    • Forty percent of pregnancies among white women, 67% among blacks and 53% among Hispanics are unintended.[1] In 2008, 1.21 million abortions were performed, down from 1.31 million in 2000. However, between 2005 and 2008, the long-term decline in abortions stalled. From 1973 through 2008, nearly 50 million legal abortions occurred.[2]

    • Each year, two percent of women aged 15–44 have an abortion. Half have had at least one previous abortion.[2,3]

    • At least half of American women will experience an unintended pregnancy by age 45, and, at current rates, one in 10 women will have an abortion by age 20, one in four by age 30 and three in 10 by age 45.[4,5]

  • Danielle Perata via Facebook

    You brave, brave woman. I cannot imagine the horrors you have been through. Please know that God is with you always. God abandons no one. Like John said, the feeling of separation is yours, not God’s. If you truly believe in Christ’s sacrifice, then know that you’ve been forgiven.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Linnea-Hart-Parker/746519778 Linnea Hart Parker via Facebook

    You are a great man, John Shore!

  • Jen Neale MacDonald via Facebook

    Wow, that is an impressively honest and loving response. She was very brave to share with your her torment, I hope she feels lighter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dwayne.g.mason Dwayne G Mason via Facebook

    Wow, John. Sometimes you’re good and sometimes … like it or not I think sometimes God speaks through you and you just try not to get in the way. Bless you.

  • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

    My heart breaks for the letter writer who has experienced such guilt and shame and has lived with that for so many years. I love your response here, John, this ranks right up there as one of your best.

    My husband and I were discussing abortion the other night after listening to some of what’s going on in Iowa. I have most all of my adult life felt very strongly that access to safe medical abortions need to be available to all women. Further than that, loving & supportive counseling needs to be available as well. I have never had an abortion, but I know many women who have. Nearly without exception, they all have pain and regret over the decision, even though I would never question their reasons for making it.

    We belong to a God who loves us so deeply, who suffered everything to reach us with that love. Thank you for this reminder.

  • M

    Thank you. Both you. Just: Thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jean-Ehrman/100000222848986 Jean Ehrman via Facebook

    I thank God for you, John Shore, that you are able to clarify such conundrums in His name.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-McManus/674138204 Kevin McManus via Facebook

    Beautiful post John. Thank you

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kristi-Adams-Johnson/1640195052 Kristi Adams Johnson via Facebook

    I am so thankful I found your site. Nice to find fellow believers in what I hold true, too. Many blessings to everybody

  • Penny Lee Hummel via Facebook

    Thank You, John, for your loving, heartfelt counsel to this woman. You are a Blessing…

  • Rob

    I’m a male math teacher at a junior high. I read this just after the last bell. Thankfully, no one walked in just now. I was a blubbering mess.

    First, I shed tears of sadness and sympathy for my poor sister in Christ, then I totally broke down witnessing the grace of God shared through His servant John.

    Please, sister, listen to John’s words. God is using him to bring you home.

    My eyes are dry now, but I feel a little closer to God. Thank you both.

    • Andrew Raymond

      Thank you, Rob. Now I know I’m not the only one that her story moved to tears.

      • Andrew Raymond

        That should have been only ‘man’. :-)

  • Brenda Moore

    I know that it must of taken everything you had in you to write that letter, but the strength came from God for you to open up & finally let it all out. Yes, your guilt has kept you in limbo for years, but that guilt just didn’t come from yourself but from others that are “holier than we are” types. Yes, you got up one day & spoke about never,ever doing such a thing, then things change & you did something that you never thought you would. The fact is you are human, you are a sinner, you make mistakes, BUT WE all are, and we all do. None of us is perfect, & those who claim to be without sin, well they claim to be equal with Jesus (Emanuel God with us), I wouldn’t want to be them when they face our Father. There is only 1 that walked without sin, and He gave His life so that our sins would be covered. You have to give it ALL to God and don’t take the guilt back (only Satan gets pleasure when we do that). Ever time you feel the gulit coming back, thank God for His forgiveness & for taking away your guilt, it might sound corny but it has gotten me through some hard times. I will be praying that you will have peace of spirit & mind soon..

  • http://www.worthingtonpost.wordpress.com Aliza Worthington

    What a loving, intelligent response to this woman – thank you both for sharing. In my mind, your response regarding her friend (and the adults around these two young women) is the most powerful. That may say more about my ambiguous ties to religion in general than anything else, but that is the part of this I would plagiarize, if I could. Again, thank you both for sharing this – so incredibly brave of the letter-writer, and tender of the one who answered her.

  • Laura Gossert via Facebook

    Truely beautiful! Thank you from all women!

  • Christine McQueen

    In 1993, at age 43, I found myself pregnant for the fourth time, with three sons approaching or just past 20 years of age. My husband and I were beginning to look forward to his retirement, which would happen in about five years time. I had no one to go to for guidance except God. I was already more than a dozen years beyond the point where I no longer attended any church (for totally unrelated reasons). Mom had already been gone six years at that point and my mother-in-law was not a woman I felt I could confide in. And my sisters both lived hundreds of miles away in opposite directions.

    After several days in prayer, I came to the decision to abort. Though, yes, there were times I regretted that abortion (I sometimes wonder if that would have been the little girl I always wanted), for the most part I feel it was the right decision for me, not only at that time in my life, but also for later times. See, my husband’s retirement came through only two days before he died. I would have been left to raise that child alone. Of course I didn’t know that at the time of the pregnancy and abortion. But it only proved to me that I had made the right decision.

    Like the lady who wrote to you, I have never told anyone about that abortion. But not for the same reasons. I feel no ‘shame’ in having made that decision, but I never felt it was anyone else’s business. Though I haven’t attended church for more than 30 years, I still consider myself to be Christian because I still make every effort to live by the teachings of Christ. And I know, deep in my heart, that, if God considers abortion to be a sin, I am forgiven.

    • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

      I am continually amazed by the secrets that we keep and why we keep them and the number of women who look to and long for woman wisdom yet who so rarely find it. And somehow we persevere…and become resilient. Thank you for adding your voice here.

  • Jane E Weisner via Facebook

    I’m a Roman Catholic and during my child bearing years never had to face an abortion decision. I wouldn’t allow certain tests because results didn’t matter I wasn’t having an abortion. My children were planned for and their were no real burdens in my life.
    But I have known others not blessed with the best conditions and I stood by their right to choose. Unless you’ve walked in her shoes you should not judge. Christ told us Let He Who Is Perfect Cast The First Stone. And if your a Roman Catholic and know the Apostle’s Creed you know only Jesus judges….”and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.”

    Christianity is all about forgiveness. Jesus forgiving our sins and we forgiving each other there sins against us.

    Thank you John for your great kindness, warm words and support to this woman and others like her. God’s Blessings Be Upon You.

  • Amanda

    If the world itself were as compassionate ad understanding as you are John, and all of the people that have posted giving condolences and sympathy for what is the most difficult decision any woman could ever have to make, it would truly be heaven. I wish many people who have judged women for their choices and condemn them without knowledge of their true agony over the choice could see this and learn that God is accepting of us as the sinners we are and loves us in spite of our imperfection, extending His grace to all of us. I sincerely hope all women who have made this gut wrenching decision find peace in the knowledge that God loves them and their babies, whom they have shed so many tears for, are safe in His arms.

  • Evelyn Marie via Facebook

    Wonderful.

  • Cathy

    Beautiful ! She was forgiven even before she had an abortion. Not one of us is innocent.

  • Dana

    Beautiful. I think to speaks to all of us who have faced hard decisions.

    “An actually mature person would have told you to sit down, and be quiet. “Who wants to hear a young person bragging about their moral superiority?” I had to laugh at this. As a young person and newlywed, I bragged in a Bible study that I would never get divorced. The wonderful people in that group quickly put me in my place- including the pastor, who himself was divorced (I didn’t know this, as he was remarried).

    Two years later my “forever love” and I were divorced. Initiated by me. Ah irony.

  • Stefanie

    I wish I could speak to this woman, and tell her that I feel for her and want to help. I am studying to be a Christian counselor, and it is exactly in situations like this that I am most passionate to help. Those who have felt lost, and unworthy, because I have been there and can relate. God Bless this woman for coming forward, may He now help her to heal! And Mr Shore, your response is amazing and inspiring! I have read several of your responses and posts, and I find them very helpful for ideas about how I can help people, and I also find them helpful for myself and my own spiritual understanding.

  • forgiveness and restoration through confession

    As a first time reader I am bowled over by the amazing grace poured out here. Life is messy and Jesus came to reach out to those in need of restoration to God.

    Dear sister, please keep on meditating on 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” You have confessed your sins. You need to hear over and over, especially from those you love, that God loves you and forgives you. (I mean, strangers on a blog are a good start, but it’s only a start…)

    Please please please seek out a professional faith-based councilor or therapist who can help you talk it out and walk through the grief that you are still experiencing after all these years. (If that person ever voices condemnation towards you, walk out.) Also, there’s an organization called Celebrate Recovery – it’s to help people through hurts, habits and hangups, and as you’ve said, you are a deeply hurting person! (Just another option…)

    “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Seek restoration and healing, sister!

    John – you are so full of grace and people need over and over to hear it! Thank you for sharing your insights.

  • Mindi Palmer Fried via Facebook

    Incredible. John Shore, you make me think about coming back to church.

    • Andrew Raymond

      Mindy, he’s moved me in much the same way. If only I can find a church which doesn’t preach that kind of hate!

      • Andrew Raymond

        John, if you read this, we are in the same geographical neighborhood. Would you have any communities to recommend? I know that none of our Roman Catholic ones qualify.

        • Christie L.

          Andrew: I just found this site where you can search for churches, this site focuses on LGBT welcoming churches, so I don’t know if that’s exactly what you are looking for, but there are many in the SoCal area, including Catholic denominations. There are links to the churches’ websites so you can contact them and find out more. http://www.gaychurch.org/ Good luck!

  • Tschussle

    This is very moving, yes, but John’s response suggests that the difficult decision to end a pregnancy is only forgivable if the mother is not in her right mind: “The condition you were in was more than ‘unusual.’ It was ruinous. I absolutely, 100% guarantee you that God forgives you for the decision you made in the condition you were in.” The letter writer made a very rational decision: given her (irrational/stressed) condition and all the dysfunction around her, she and her family were not in a position to raise another child. If exercising one’s right to manage one’s body and life even needs forgiveness, it should be granted under other/all circumstances as well.

  • Kay

    I’m so glad you reached out here and that you reach out to God. Never stop doing that. He will always be there for you. He loves you, and all true Christians love you. And not just Christians. We are all the same. You are God’s child, just like everyone else, just like every other Christian. Walk in His love, and have a wonderful life. Like a loving parent–and so much more–it’s what He wants for you. Everything is o.k. now. Just breathe in the good. And God bless you. It sounds like you are very thoughtful of others, and that’s what it’s all about.

  • Doxy

    I believe that God–having been human–understands the difficult choices that we face in this life. Sometimes we have to choose the lesser of two evils–and I believe that abortion is often that choice. And let’s be honest–sometimes abortion is a blessing. I have known a couple of women who would be dead now if it weren’t for legal abortion–women who have contributed many good things to the world.

    God is merciful and has a deep understanding of human brokenness.

    • Christie L.

      I think it was meant more to “frame God’s forgiveness for [her] abortion” in the context you mentioned.

      John’s response is meant for the letter-writer. Her situation was absolutely framed by those things. And of course those things don’t apply to every woman who faces the decision to have an abortion. We are all unique in our histories and present situations. I think John meant that God would understand that. For her. For us.

      I also think that it might help the letter-writer to be addressed using the information she provided as a way to develop emotionally toward accepting the forgiveness of God. Such a deeply personal and intense situation is hard to work through without dealing with the specifics.

      I agree, we are forgiven.

      Yes that is enough, spiritually.

      However, emotions tend to process differently (from my own observations).

  • Andrew Raymond

    Very simply words fail me. John, your dark house analogy is completely apt. Reader, My heart goes out to you so VERY deeply for all you suffered, and I hope that John’s wonderful words bring you to the joy which we should all experience in the Lord’s love.

    Always remember — Our Lord will ALWAYS forgive if we have the strength to ask.

  • Brian Erickson via Facebook

    Your response letter was absolute beauty. Thank you John.

  • Andrew Sellers

    Dear Letter Writer,

    God knew every choice you would ever make before he made you. Before you were ever born, he knew you were going to be in that exact position, making those exact decisions. For God is all knowing and nothing is hidden from him. So to think no matter what the sin, if he accepted you once, then you sinned, that he would ever give up on you? God never gives up on you. Free will and free choice come from you not knowing what the outcome is going to be.

    • Angela

      Mr. Sellers,

      Thank you. You will never know how much I needed to read what you wrote.

      • Andrew Sellers

        Blessing to you and yours. I struggled w my post for years. Thinking that there was no free choice, or free will since God was all knowing. But I finally got it. I fell like this life is just a school to get us ready for something greater.

  • Robin

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for these words John. For allowing God to use you to give love to those who need it so much.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Linnea-Hart-Parker/746519778 Linnea Hart Parker via Facebook

    You are a good man, John Shore!

  • Mary Ellen

    Dear Heart, you are loved, totally and unconditionally, by God and by all of us here…I appreciate the ultimate strength of heart and spirit it took for you to write this letter to John, and through him, to us. If I had you in front of me, I’d give you a big hug….

  • Pastor Paula

    Forgive us grown-ups for not helping you and others like you from the youthful pride and exuberance you and all of us come to regret; from the trap of simplistic faith; from being alone in depression and grief work that just doesn’t get worked out and makes decision making insane. Christ is a gentle salve for your soul eternally, he has suffered as you have, and walks with you without a doubt. Peace be unto you, sister in life and faith.

    • Donald Rappe

      Amen.

    • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

      Wow. This is so beautiful, made me cry.

  • Narelle Friar via Facebook

    nawwww……..I need you in my back pocket John – that is AWESOME!!

  • Peggy Taylor

    Amazing letter and response. I kind of wish I could scoop all the people up who have commented here and create our own church family. I guess that is actually what we are doing here. Isn’t this what Jesus commanded us to do? Love God and one another. Thank you John Shore for forcing me to live consciously as a Christian.

  • Rev. Carl Johnson

    Bless you, child. I wish I could help ease your pain. Leave it behind you and share the love that shines from within you. Find your Peace. Own your Peace.

  • Karen

    John,

    I have been following your blog for approximately 6 months or so, and I find your views insightful and honest. I appreciate that. I never thought that you would become a very personal answer to my prayers and guilt. If you will allow me to ramble and explain….

    I am 34 and 18 months pregnant with my second child. I have a wonderful husband though the stresses of parenthood are at times apparent in our marriage, we are blessed. Everything was great until this past Friday, December 30. I got a call that left me, well, I cannot even find the words to describe it.

    About two years ago I watched as one of my girl friends lost her 4 month old little girl to a congenital heart defect. I have seen the effect it has had on her, her husband, and their two young children. Seeing that, my husband and I felt we had a responsibility to have our unborn child checked for abnormalities that would lead to a premature death. One such test is called a quad screen, which checks for Trisomi-18. This is a chromosomal disorder in which the child lives less than a year. We decided that if our baby had this disorder, we would terminate.

    Thus the testing and the call; the good news was that our baby had very little chance of trisomi-18. The bad news was that our baby had a heightened chance of having trisomi-21, or Down Syndrome. I cannot find the words to describe the feelings, fear, anger, terror…

    My husband and I are both public school teachers so neither of us have any romanticized ideas about what a special needs child demands. I knew that this would be life changing, and not in a way that I desired to see my life change. I saw play dates with our friends’ kids, normal trips to the beach and Disney, retirement with the kids in college, grandchildren, all the things that you hope and pray for, go out the window. Mostly I saw a huge burden on my life. Already I was starting to distance myself from my unborn child, referring to it as “the fetus” not our baby. Secretly I began resenting it for taking the life that I had planned from me. The more I thought about the “what-ifs” the more I asked myself “Is this the future I want for myself and my family?”. I didn’t have a definite answer.

    When I discussed our options with my husband his answer was definite and direct. He looked me squarely in the eye and said “I could never live with myself if we killed our child”. It doesn’t get more cut and dry than that does it?

    It was like he punches me in the stomach. Here I am, the mother of this child, and I was considering and maybe even desiring to “kill our child”. What kind of woman does this for her own selfish reasons? The child was not going to die, my health was not in risk, we are both employed full time, we have health insurance. The only reason to terminate was because it would inconvenience my life.

    To make a long story short, we had a high definition ultra-sound with the high risk doctor, and everything seems to be fine. There were no hard or soft markers for Downs. So I never had the make the ultimate decision.

    And I will thank God every day for the healthy little girl growing inside of me. I thank God that I never had to make that decision. However, I will always have the guilt of wanting to “kill our child” for nothing that was her fault. As I said, it was because I did not want to be burdened with a child that was less than perfect. It was completely for selfish reasons.

    I feel like I do not deserve the precious creature growing inside of me. I have guilt that feels like it may never go away. When I deliver this little girl in June, I do not know what I will do when I look into her eyes and say “I was going to get rid of you if you were not prefect”.

    I will have a lot of future conversations with God and forgiveness to give to myself. It is funny, when a girlfriend of mine had basically the same thing happen, I counseled her that there was no shame in maybe terminating a pregnancy with a special needs child. I cannot allow myself the same consideration.

    Your words have been a huge comfort to me. Thank you. I feel like God has spoken to me through you. I will be reading and re-reading your words for weeks to come. I see the logic in your words, and I know that your words will be a vital part of me finding peace.

    Thank you for your words and for allowing me to ramble.

    • Andrew Raymond

      Karen, I am so VERY happy to hear that you had the wisdom to trust in The Lord and not make the rash decision. Blessings upon you and all your family.

      • Karen

        Andrew,

        I am confused by your comment… what do you mean when you say rash decision?

        • Andrew Raymond

          Karen, my intended meaning was that you listened to The Lord and did not rashly rush into a decision to abort.

          As I write this, though, I’m seeing a deeper feeling. I am myself autistic, and many women would never have hesitated had autism been detected, much less Downs. I have no doubt that, having sought The Lord’s guidance, you would have aborted if had been His will. Buti also know that if He knew you had the strength, you would have kept the child. You had grace enough to trust in The Lord, and that may have given one of my neurological brethren a chance at life. And in that you were also blessed.

          I apologize if this is unclear. I know that with my condition I don’t always put feelings clearly.

          May the peace of Christ be with you.

          • Donald Rappe

            And also with you.

          • Karen

            Andrew,

            I can understand that with the difficulties you endure why this is a post that struck a nerve with you. Thank you for taking the time to clarify what you meant. Communicating what we truly mean is not always easy for ANY of us.

            I assure you that for most women who choose to terminate a pregnancy, the decision is not rash. It is painful, agonizing, and something that never leaves their mind. I am blessed that I didn’t have to make the decision one way or another. From your second post, I believe you see that.

            It is funny. When I read your first reply, I was kinda ticked. My thought was, this judgmental SOB, he is agreeing with me only because I did what he would do. With your second post, I saw that I could not have been more wrong. You are correct in that if there is ever a fetal test for other difficulties, such as autism, then the rate of terminated pregnancies would probably increase. Knowing that, you manage to post about God’s will and you do so without judgement. I am humbled.

            I do believe that God is using this ordeal to teach me many new lessons. Consider yourself yet another lesson in “holding my tongue” and “entering into a civil dialog” category.

            Blessings to you.

          • Andrew Raymond

            Blessings upon you as well Karen. I know many parents of autistics, of varying degrees of function. And frankly the parents (and the mothers in particular) deeply love their ‘flawed’ children. I trust you know that the reason for those quotes around ‘flawed’ indicates that it is NOT my assessment. Nor is it the assessment of most of those women. Frankly, I would nominate most of those mothers for sainthood if I could. Their strength in a very difficult situation of raising their children is continually humbling and touching to me.

            Thus, I can scarcely comprehend the strength it must take to raise a Downs syndrome child.

            I am glad I could teach a lesson here. I’ve gotten a few revelations myself :-)

            Peace and grace be upon you.

      • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

        Andrew, remember that some women also have the wisdom to trust the Lord and they still make the choice to not have the baby. No one could blame you for reading this and responding how you did! But I think it’s pretty important to be careful what we assign God’s Wisdom to as well.

        • Andrew Raymond

          DR, I thought that I said pretty clearly that I would have agreed with the decision to abort, provided she had not done it rashly. If I assigned The Lord’s will only to terminating the pregnancy, I apologize, and I pretty clearly mis-expressed myself.

          • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

            No worries at all! I hope you didn’t think I was jumping on you, I wasn’t. I’m glad you offered what you did.

          • Andrew Raymond

            Not taken as jumped on, DR. I’m always open to lessons from The Lord, for I know that I too am flawed.

    • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

      Karen, I went through two pregnancies where I was considered “advanced maternal age” and highly at risk for Down Syndrome. I know the panic and stress over being told you are high risk and the immense relief at getting scan results that told us everything was OK. I am so grateful that you guys got good news, and I know very well the anguished feelings of wondering whether or not you could successfully parent a child with needs.

      I am glad that John’s post helped you have some peace today. I wish you a happy and healthy birth and an uneventful and comfortable rest of your pregnancy.

      • Karen

        Thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kilecarr Karen Kile Carr via Facebook

    Thank you John, thank you, thank you

  • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

    I understand what it means to live a life where you’ve condemned yourself. It’s an isolating, miserable, anxious existence. We tend to organize our lives around the judgments we decide are true about ourselves – I pray you’d open yourself to releasing yourself from the ones you’re currently organized within. Life outside of them is something I never knew could exist. Much love to you. This is so hard.

    • Grateful Letter Writer

      Thank you DR…I truly feel you understand.

      • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

        I do.

        When I was in my 20s I saw a therapist/spiritual director I’d previously had a really wonderful experience with. I was in a pretty fragile state at the time. During the course of treatment he told me I had “blasphemed against the Holy Spirit” – I don’t even remember what the reasons were, what I’d done/said to act as that catalyst but this was someone who had truly changed my life and to have him say this – to hear it -was terrifying and I believed him. I almost immediately went down a path that severed me from any hope I had of heaven. It took years to undue.

        The hard part about keeping secrets and the self-loathing that accompanies you almost constantly in the quiet of the secret is that the loathing – hatred even – gets louder and louder and louder. It’s like a house of mirrors, it distorts everything. *Make* it go away. Make yourself step outside of the judgments you’ve created for yourself. Shift gears very quickly and will yourself to stand outside. It helps and it gets easier.

        I’m glad you’re here, I’m glad you’ve written and your suffering will purify and soften. Let the strength rise in you. Much love.

        • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

          *undo – ugh! :D

  • Inacat

    I have lived my life surrounded by Christianity in its forms both bright and dark, and I wonder when it was that this story became lost.

    before a child is born, its spirit dwells at the foot of God’s throne, and the angels teach it Torah, and all the names of God, and all the things it will need in this world. As it time arrives, Gabriel takes the child up into its arms, and hushes is, and spirit joins body with first breath – so children are born into this world crying for the glories they can not convey to the world.

    you did not sacrifice your child for your life – you sacrificed yourself so that your unborn child would not suffer as so many children do, the terror of watching their parents suffer, knowing themselves to be the cause.

    I am glad that you have finally found your way to this point, where you can start to accept that you are loved, and understood, more than you thought yourself capable of at a dark moment, many years ago.

    Be Blessed.

    • Grateful Letter Writer

      I have never heard that before, but what an incredibly beautiful description of life. Thank you so much for your prayers and kind words. Blessing to you also.

  • gretchen

    Both letters are truly remarkable. John, thank you for talking about our immaturity. There are things in my life I did young, and now I realize that I was just that…young. I need to let it go and live.

    Ma’am, thank you for your honesty for your choice you made. I’m sure it was hard in every sense of the word. Please let this comfort you and continue on with a renewed heart!

    God Bless you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lowcountryweek Margaret Shinn Evans via Facebook

    Exquisitely beautiful. Just right. Thank you.

  • Angela+

    Thank you for such a grace-filled, loving and Christ-like response, Pastor! You really proclaimed release to the captives.

  • Jake

    Please read Exodus 21:22. God never calls the ‘abortion by punch’ described ‘murder’. He only fines the perpetrator for the time lost for the woman’s recovery. No other mention is made of the fetus. Only if SHE dies is it murder. The far right Christians who think it’s murder ignore this, despite it being clearly what God thinks of abortion. God said life begins when we are born and breathing ‘the breath of life’ on our own TWICE.

    Some try to say God’s saying he knows of us in the womb makes him ‘anti-abortion. No it does not. It means he knows everything, which we already know. He knows exactly how long your toenails are. Does that mean clipping your nails is a sin? No. There is nothing else in the Bible even close to being anti-Abortion. Jesus never spoke of it, despite herbal-induced abortions of his day. If it meant as much to him as the far right makes of it today (along with gays) he would have spoke of it (and gays) but he did not. God says at that birth, we get our soul. Not before, and not at conception. So not only is the lady ‘forgiven’, there’s nothing to forgive, there is no ‘sin’. Jesus himself said only one would not enter Heaven. The rich man. Not the abortion doctor, etc.. Blessings.

    • Lyn

      A premature birth is a death sentence in those days and times (as it often is today). The NIV and King James translators both had political reasons for obscuring the full meaning of the text.

      A true translation would basically be that if the mother miscarries, but it does not cause the mother further injury, then the man who punched her owed the father a fine. If, however, the mother suffers permanent harm or dies as a result of the miscarriage, then the man who caused injury takes the same injury up to losing his life. The mother’s life is the important point, not the unborn child’s. The death of the unborn is a loss, but it isn’t murder or manslaughter. A BORN child less than a month old has no value according to Leviticus 27:6. Tamar was condemned to be burned to death while pregnant from committing adultery and no special consideration was given to the unborn twins she was bearing. There’s nothing specifically anti-abortion in scripture, except through intentional obscuring of the text.

      • Jennifer

        Lyn,

        As I do not have the education to do this myself, please translate Exodus 21:22-25 from the original language into English for me, so that I may read this true translation for myself. Thank you.

        Assuming that the original did in fact speak to the matter of miscarriage due to violent attack, that section still is not talking about abortion.

    • Jake

      In simple terms. As stated below, premature birth in those days was death. Unlesss the fetus was like 8 or more months along, then it maybe had a slim chance of survival. But face it. A woman punched in her first or second trimester would deliver a dead fetus or one that would die within minutes or hours. The ‘injury’ it speaks of is to HER, not the fetus. Nice try. But you’ve failed. Eye for an eye only for HER life.

      God spoke early on in Genesis of a person taking their breath of life, which is at birth unless you are just plain ignorant. That’s when life begins according to God. While it is known that during Jesus time, women used herbs to miscarry on purpose (abortion). Why would Jesus, who was God, and knows all, not once say it was wrong, or try to stop that?

      To obsessively focus on abortion or sexuality, as your kind do, which Jesus never spoke of, while supporting every politician with a screw the poor policy, blaming victims (which Jesus never did) is contradiction to the Christ who was focused above all else with helping each other. Born humans, he never once referred to a fetus in such statements.

      Christ spoke on helping each other, no questions asked, no drug tests, etc. Thousands of times in The Bible. Rick Warren himself said this same thing.

      Christ spoke of the abortions that took place in his day, the value of the fetus over the well-being of the mother, and gays, how many times. I rest. You lose.

      • Jennifer

        I’m not playing a game.

        • Jennifer

          I have searched again for a passage about breathing the breath of life twice to be considered alive, or born, and still cannot find it. I just specifically searched Genesis for the word “breath” and had no success on that. I want to learn about the Bible, always. Can anyone please direct me to this/these verse(s)? Thank you.

  • Grateful Letter Writer

    John,

    Thank you so much for your loving and without a doubt God inspired reply. My mama always said, “If you have to ask the question, you probably already know the answer.” But, when you live in the dark long enough the light hurts your eyes. It is sometimes easier to crawl inside yourself with the pain than expose it to others. You are absolutely right, the same thing inside me (ego) that made me feel self-righteous years ago is the same thing that has held me back from truly accepting forgiveness. Like I am special, like of all the sins and all the people in the world, God would not forgive me. The precious words of grace from all your readers brought even more tears, that complete strangers would reach out with love, kindness and sincere encouragement. But once again, how would I know how anyone close to me would react, I have never given them the opportunity because I have been too worried about myself and my own shame. I do not know what tomorrow holds for me, but I don’t think I will ever be the same because I see now that the only real enemy I have been fighting has been myself and my preconceived notions of what other “Christians” might think or say about me. I forgot that Jesus has already fought this battle for me and won. I don’t think I will ever sing “Victory In Jesus” again without remembering your words.

    Romans 8 has been my anchor scripture over the years, especially v. 26 and vs. 38 & 39. I guess I’ve read them a thousand times, but they have taken on a new meaning. I’ll be completely honest, I am not flinging the curtains wide open, but I do feel that there is good reason to get up and walk to the window for the first time in a really long time. Who would have guessed that God would have used the internet across thousands of miles to speak in a kind and gentle voice. Somehow, I think my mama had something to do with that. :) Thank you again for being obedient to God in your ministry and touching so many lives.

    • SL

      It is so easy in shame to hear all of the “noise” that the ignorant throw out. I had to drown out that noise to hear the truth. And if anyone turns their back on me, I needed the reminder that God would never turn his back on me, and it is truly their loss.

      • The Letter Writer

        Thank you SL..very much.

        • SL

          Never hang your head again, you my friend have learned the truth about God’s love and the love of your fellow humans. It was a painful journey, but what a gift to be given. You are blessed to see the path that many will never come to understand.

    • Valerie

      Blessings to you beloved sister in Christ. May you find the peace you so deserve. You are a good person, and even though I do not know you, I love you.

      • The Letter Writer

        Thank you Valerie..that means so much.

  • SL

    I am reading this now, and her story is my story, in reverse. I was that best friend, making the hardest, most soul-scaring choice of my life in the worst possible circumstances. My best friend, who had a “perfect” Christian life made the immature choice to turn her back on me, even went so far as to tell me of her “good” Christian husband thought I would ruin their perfect Christian marriage. Needless to say, our friendship was and is still over.

    Forward 14 years ago this month and I can say, I forgive her. But had to forgive me first for loosing sight of my faith. I had to understand that I did pray and ask for guidence. I know now thru personal and spritual growth that I am still a good, worthy person. I am NOT a murderer. And you can not be defined by those who live a “pious” life, for the pious are really poison.

    I do wonder if she regrets her choice to turn her back on me when I was down, and your letter gave me some comfort. Your friend knows your heart, she hears your apology and she forgives you.

    • Grateful Letter Writer

      You don’t know how very much that means SL..you have touched my heart more than you will ever know.

  • http://al.com Kay Campbell

    Dear John: I love your “4 walls” approach to understanding this woman’s misery. But I think you’ve ignored the ceiling on that misery: The fact that she feels she has no one, as she says, in her church who would understand her. Jeepers.

    When Christians presume to build a barrier between the sinner (all of us) and God, surely that’s the worst sin of all!! I’d urge her to consider finding another congregation, one more full of people in touch with the truth that we have all made life-killing choices, even if apparently less dramatic and painful than hers. I’d hope she could find that at her local Presbyterian Church (USA) congregation (because I am one), but I know that may not be the case, but there ARE Christians (as you demonstrate) who would gladly clear the ceiling between her and God again!

  • Susan

    In my young teenage years, I had a very best friend named Emily. She and I spent the night at each other’s house, sang in the youth choir together and shared everything. We grew up – she to become a nurse, me to wander a little. I had an abortion at 18. I didn’t really know enough to make a good decision but there it is. Years later, I’m “counseling” (read “protesting”) outside abortion clinics. I hear of clinic personnel being severely harassed, doctors being hounded and think “is this really the right thing to do?” Aren’t we supposed to be showing God’s love to them as well? Then I find out that my old best friend Emily, who I haven’t spoken to in years was the severely injured nurse in the bombing of the abortion clinic in Birmingham. I stopped counseling that day and began a slow, thought-provoking journey. In that journey, I was waylaid by a group in my town that “counseled” women who had “abortion grief”. They attempted to convince me to feel enormous guilt (I had already resolved my abortion – I hated I had had one but what was done was done and I knew God had forgiven me). They seemed extremely disappointed that I had not lingering issues with this. I have come to the conviction (not conclusion, mind you) that abortion is a difficult decision but it is between a woman and her God. Government and the church have no business in determining that choice. Government’s RESPONSIBILITY is in making sure such procedures are done safey just as any surgical procedure. The church’s responsibility is to love these women.

    • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

      Thank you for these insights, Susan.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nancy-Inotowok/1243427237 Nancy Inotowok via Facebook

    beautiful response reminding us again what it’s all about…

  • Pat Fox

    I am very disappointed in your comment that this person’s choice to terminate a pregnancy that was clearly an awful situation for her was a “sin” that God needed to forgive her for or that she needed to forgive herself. What is selfish and potentially sinful is blindly gestating when you are clearly in no shape physically and/or emotionally to properly care for one. How much more loving it would have been if you had focused on the compassion and love of God rather than making the all too common decision to judge a woman for making a reproductive choice.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Um. Read much?

    • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

      Would you please copy and paste where John calls what she did a sin? Several of you seem to see this and are subsequently scolding him for it.

    • LSS

      FEELING the need to be forgiven does not require actually having done something terrible.

  • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

    Going over commentary here – already having made some, I get the feeling like I want to say something with more substance.

    Reading the letter reminded me of something that happened with a friend of mine when I was a late teenager. It wasn’t an abortion, it was having a child out of wedlock (which is seen by many of the “churched” as just as “bad”). My friend hid her pregnancy and distanced herself from all her friends (I seriously thought during those months of not knowing what was going on with her that she just wasn’t interested in being my friend anymore. I was used to people “outgrowing” me, being something of a freak – I’m awkward, non-neurotypical, not too social, wasn’t the “typical” teenager in that I’d rather stay home and paint than go to parties and whatnot. I was “outgrown” by a lot of my childhood friends around then).

    She came to my house and confessed to me after she’d had the baby and she was…. so scared that I’d disown her then and there. When I’d been in pain because I thought she’d disowned me. I hugged her and told her I didn’t care that it was “a pretty big sin.” I told her I was going to be the awesomest “aunt” to her little girl. – Which… didn’t happen. Premature birth, the baby didn’t make it and the first and last time I saw the child was in a coffin at the funeral. I could say nothing to my friend but a hug.

    The most painful part of that memory was… I know I wasn’t the only one in our community/among her friends who would have stood by her had she come forward with her preganancy. I knew for certain that I wasn’t going to disown her like she was so sure I would for the longest time. She inflicted so much pain on herself.

    I almost want to say “Try the people around you – maybe they aren’t as judgemental as you perceive them to be” but I also don’t want to say to be so sure in that, because I know some people *really are* condeming sorts. I want to say “If they’re your true friends, they won’t condemn you” – but that sounds like something a mom would say to her kid about the other kids in school and I’ve never been a mom. Trust can be hard and broken trust is even worse. Yet, maybe, just maybe there is someone out there not just on the Intertubes who wants to hug you and love you and doesn’t care a bit about you being a “sinner.”

    The friend of mine… is someone I have lost touch with. I worry about her whenever I think about her because she’s been been a part of fighting a war (she joined the Air Force shortly after graduating high school and made a career out of it. Last I heard of her she was being stationed all over the place).

    • Andrew Raymond

      Shadsie, I’m glad to see another adult non-neurotypical person here. May blessings be upon you for your pain, and for the pain we share as brethren in our conditions.

      • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

        I think I saw you were autistic (down on the thread)?

        I’m bipolar, myself. Different thing, similar hurdles?

        • Andrew Raymond

          Aspergers Syndrome along with some characteristics of Bipolar II and some really bad social phobia (one reason John Shore has been such a godsend — getting out and trying to find a non-hateful church is doubly hard for me.)

          Definitely similar hurdles. So yes, I would be happy to call you my sister in my condition if you would have me :-)

          • LSS

            another aspie here… probably more borderline. definitely OCD/anxiety stuff. been close to bipolars and depressives all my life, including my dh has depression.

            doubt we could find a church either.

          • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

            I think it’s lovely that you’ve resonated with John’s little community.

  • Craig Roper

    No mater what is right or wrong, left or right, up or down, or whatever… that was and always will be a hard decision that you had to make. Your whole situation was extremely hard. We’re here for you and if anyone wants to condemn you or tell that you’re awful, we’ll go to bat for you so you don’t have to, and we’ll do it with a smile on our faces. I hope you keep finding the peace, acceptance, love, and serenity that you deserve more than words could say. You are a very strong and amazing woman.

    P.S. There’s a song I think would really help you smile, it’s Red Light – Live at the Ryman, by Jonny Lang. Here’s a link to it. *Everything’s gonna be alright :)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ed9GKZ0ITA8

  • Melissa Chamberlin

    John,

    Your wisdom and words continue to change the world for many people. Thank you for this church. The church is an organism, not a place. That organism continues to grow with your loving attention.

    • Donald Rappe

      I agree with you. This seems to be what the Kyrios is doing now. The salt here seems not to have lost its flavor. I also need direct human contact as well. The real presence of Christ.

      • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

        Yes, Don. Jesus with skin.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        Thank you, Donald.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Thank you, Melissa. This is very touching.

  • http://pedagogicalpilgrim.com Phil Little

    to John and perhaps to the woman who wrote the letter “From a Christian woman who chose abortion”. Indeed this woman is living in a house of tremendous grief. Some of this grief I would suggest comes from a “Christian culture” that is not so “Christian” in its spirit or teachings, certainly less compassionate and understanding as it would seem Jesus would have been (Jn4:7-27), depending of course how one might read the text. The problem of abortion has long troubled me – perhaps it still does – although fortunately it has not been a personal choice. But I have met a number of women over the years, in my role as an ordained priest and as a teacher/counselor, who made the choice to have an abortion. In most cases I think they made the right choice – not because abortion is acceptable but because abortion was the least harmful choice among the few choices available. If everything was perfect, and all pregnancies were planned and welcomed by two mature adults able to commit themselves to “responsible parenthood” (for at least the next 18 years) there would be few reasons to logically resort to abortion. But that is not the reality in which we live. Even our biology fails us, as many pregnancies simply terminate on their own especially in the early stages, for reasons that still we don’t understand. But clearly in our evolution, all pregnancies are not meant to survive to the live birth of a healthy child. Does that make God the author of millions of “abortions” and thus the worst of mass-murderers. Of course not?

    Were I called upon in a similar situation to counsel a woman who grieves the decision to have had an abortion, I would seek to help the person understand her decision at the time of that decision. Few of us can ever claim to have made perfect decisions – we try to make good decisions and many of us are blessed because we can make good decisions easily because things are good “pretty good” at the moment. But most of the women who have spoken to me of their abortions related conditions where the context was not good and there were no good decisions that could be made “at that time”. All decisions came with difficult consequences. This woman made a decision considering what she considered best for a number of people who were dependent upon her for their care. I would suggest that her decision was courageous and charitable (out of love) knowing that an abortion runs against the natural grain in our parenting programming. We do what we have to do. I do have a problem with abortion as a form of birth control, or abortion as a simple medical procedure as if to remove a wart. I do not read any hint of such a careless attitude in the letter from the woman – what I read is a woman of great strength and compassion who made a difficult decision without perhaps finding a counselor (professional or just a good friend) with whom to share this great burden in a life time of making big decisions about the care of others. Forgiveness is of course the path to healing – but I would not worry about being forgiven by God. It is necessary to forgive oneself – which comes along with accepting one’s personal frailty and fallibility in a life time of making the right and sometimes the wrong decisions. Even the right decisions can be difficult and with undesirable consequences. So we try to do our best and we don’t need to downgrade our humanity because we are not angels. In all things – compassion!

    • Donald Rappe

      Good words.

  • BVT

    Dear letter writer,

    It would be rank arrogance for me to decide if what you did was a sin- it seems to me you were in no condition to make the considered choice necessary for true sin- but even if it was I cannot imagine that God did not feel your suffering, ache with you, and forgive you right then and there. I am certain that His love surrounded you then and now.

    Dear John Shore,

    You continue to inspire. Thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Darcy-Dore/100000520847902 Darcy Dore via Facebook

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Elizabeth

    John Shore, your words are a gift from God. Thank you for sharing them with the rest of us.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scottrjensen Scott Jensen via Facebook

    This is the Grace of God lived out on the internet.

  • Wendy Young Callaway via Facebook

    I wish I could respond as eloquently as the others have, but I’m still crying. The grace and love that has been shown is a true example of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. To the woman who wrote the original letter : never forget that Jesus loves you even in the midst of the darkness and there are so many people who love you in Christ. God bless you my sister.

  • Monica Neiderman via Facebook

    That’s the thing with sin, it prevents us from rejoicing in the Lord and separates us from Him because we’re too busy flogging ourselves over rules broken and being disappointed in ourselves.

  • Heather Lantry via Facebook

    This is exactly (one of a few reasons, truthfully) how I ended up converting to Catholicism as a full-grown, liberal feminist. I love confession! I deeply need to have someone say to me, God forgives you! Thank you John Shore, for giving this sister in Christ the gift of hearing those words.

  • http://sillama1.xanga.com Sil in Corea

    Bless you, dear lady! Bless you, John, for saying such good things!

    {{{{{Hugs}}}}} to both of you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alice-M-Namale/100001641885806 Alice M Namale via Facebook

    God bless tht woman

  • Camille

    Our ego truly is a blockade when we try to reach towards God. Thank you for being brave and sending in this letter dear woman, and don’t ever forget that God loves and forgives you and I.

  • Soulmentor

    Beautiful John, but it’s what we’ve become accustomed to expect from you, one of the most gracious persons I have ever come across. My mind plays with the wonderful fantasy of sitting down to a meal with you and the regretful knowledge that it can never happen. This is probably as close as we’ll ever get.

    But I’m honored to have this much of you. Ah, why am I crying……….?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      My goodness, Bar. What a lovely thing to say. Thank you for this.

  • http://ingridspeak.wordpress.com Ingrid

    John, as always you have a gift for projecting Gods Grace. I know first hand this woman’s pain. I know first hand the guilt and shame that accompanies the decision to abort. I know first hand Gods saving grace after such a decision. Thank for letting her know God still loves her and my hope is she reads this and knows she is not alone.

    • The Letter Writer

      Thank you Ingrid, for those kind words of encouragement.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jannis.hallford Jannis Hallford Jones via Facebook

    One of the most lingering things my mother ever asked me was, “If God can forgive you, why can’t you forgive yourself?” I was taking too much away from God and His power and His wonderful gift to us…that gift of forgiveness.

  • Libby Smith Serkies via Facebook

    This is what a community of compassionate people is capable of… remarkable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sharon-Aldridge-Kaufman/1328865837 Sharon Aldridge Kaufman via Facebook

    So many times, God speaks to us through each other. Jeus had to leave, but he left the Holy Spirit in our hearts to continue to minister. Your heart, your thoughts, and your words are a conduit for that, John. Thank God for Kleenex.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cindy-Shields/575253125 Cindy Shields via Facebook

    Her story and your response, John, were so compelling and significant I had to share on my wall. Thank you and God bless this precious sister. XO <3

  • Robin Wright McCormick via Facebook

    John, this simple post, on facebook, healed me as well. Glad to have been a part of it! Thank you.

  • http://thethreews.wordpress.com Ken Leonard

    First of all, Dear Letter Writer, I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to get back to this sooner. I’m sure that by now, whatever I’m about to say has been said several times, and probably several times more eloquently.

    But here it is again.

    Jesus did not come to condemn people. Not even people who do things that are wrong. He came to heal, to love, and to forgive.

    You made a choice. Right? Wrong? Doesn’t matter … it’s past. Yelling at you won’t change it, so there’s no point.

    What matters now is how you feel about it. And what Jesus wants is for you to know that He loves you and wants you to know that He loves you. So do His people. I’m sure that you’re seeing that from most of the comments here and from John’s response.

    If you did something wrong (and I’m not touching that question), it’s long past and all that remains is for you to heal.

    It’s worth noting that the only people for whom Jesus has any harsh words in the Scriptures are religious leaders who beat down people for being imperfect. For everyone else, He offers nothing but love and healing.

    That’s you. So, those of us who want to live by Jesus’ example are offering open arms to help you know that God has never stopped loving you. And anyone who tells you otherwise is NOT speaking for God or Jesus.

    You were in a tough spot, you had to make a hard choice, and no one has any business judging you for what you did. We weren’t there.

    I’m sorry that it’s been so long and that you’ve had to carry this for all of these years. I’m sorry that we in the Church have not made you feel more welcome to share that feeling.

    I’m sorry that the idolatry of political rhetoric was more important than the virtue of love, and that so many of us (and I say that because I am an Evangelical Baptist, and I know a lot of the people who would be a problem) are more interested in condemning a policy than helping women in need.

    Thank you for having enough faith to give us a chance to show that we might still deserve your company.

    And thank you, John, once again, for standing up front and making a visible, comforting place for people to share this kind of story.

    • Andrew Raymond

      Ken, this is a small threadjack (sorry, John) but please let me offer that your identifying yourself as an Evangelical Baptist reminded me just one more time of the danger of labels. Thank you.

  • Brian Erickson via Facebook

    Hope.

  • Mindy

    So many thoughts have rolled through my mind as I’ve read all of this – including gratitude to John for his wisdom and compassion. I relate in many ways – I, too, had an abortion many years ago. And I have lived with depression and the fragile state of mind the LW must’ve been in during that time. I’ve lived with guilt, but my guilt was mostly for not feeling guilty about having had the abortion. I went through it in stoic robotic fashion, and that was that. I’ve never forgotten it, and when cancer robbed me of my reproductive system just before my marriage, I was certain I was being punished by God for having gone through with it. But I never found myself wishing I hadn’t – to this day it feels like it was my only option at the time. Selfish? Maybe. But I was not mentally or emotionally capable of bearing a child back then. Later, after cancer, when I was subsequently blessed with my dear daughters, I knew then that if God had punished me, He had since forgiven me – because they are the greatest blessings in my life.

    Letter Writer, you did what you had to do to make sure that the three young children you had already brought into this world grew up with their mother in their lives – there for them when they were young and vulnerable. You’d been thrice-blessed and you knew they needed you. They loved you. You couldn’t risk not being fully in their lives. I have no doubt that God was grateful for the commitment you showed them through self-preservation. So many have said it more eloquently than I – but please, forgive yourself as I truly believe you were forgiven long ago.

  • Chris

    Have you ever noticed how many trolls come out when you post something on the issue of abortion? And how much grace, love, hope, glory come out when a real person talks about her real experience? This thread (and the thread on your earlier post on the “issue”) are why I won’t discuss the “issue,” only talk about real people.

    Letter Writer, lots have said it, but I’ll say it, too: Jesus was about grace. Healthy people don’t need a doctor; perfect people don’t need forgiveness, but who is perfect? You’re forgiven. You’re loved. Just as you are. Right now. Then. Always. Through and through. No caveats, no exceptions. You. Are. Loved. Amen.

  • Narelle Friar via Facebook

    me too Cindy – <3

  • Erika Beseda-Allen via Facebook

    we rule!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cindy-Wood/1130734009 Cindy Wood via Facebook

    So many women are broken spirits after this decision, which was the best they felt they could do at the time. And they suffer feels of shame and heartbreak utterly alone….. It’s the untold story. They need exactly what you gave them, Mr Shore- the good news of God’s grace…..thank you for allowing this community to be a part of the healing.

    • Letter Writer

      Thank you Cindy…alone…you just described it perfectly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chiaroscuro3 Richard Lubbers via Facebook

    So my brother, this is why you do what you do. Whenever you feel down about your career or your life, remember this woman, and the countless other readers you have helped in and through your marvelous gift.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      What a kind thing to say. Thanks, Richard.

    • Mindy

      Yes. What Richard said. Every time.

    • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

      yes.

  • Ben Timmons via Facebook

    John – that makes my day!

  • The Letter Writer

    I don’t really know how to begin to thank everyone for all the love and support and precious words and sharing of God’s grace. I have cried tears of shame, grief, regret, relief and now at last…some tears of joy for the first time in a really long time. It has taken several days to read all the comments and I had to stop and just take some time to let each one sink in. Was it possible that complete strangers could feel and show this kind of unconditional love? Then, it hit me. We are not strangers. We may not sit in the same building or share the same doctrine or theological beliefs on every issue, but we are all God’s children. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. Across the miles, across the oceans, across the mountains, we are one, part of the body of Christ. That is the only thing that really matters. My heart is over flowing with gratitude and a feeling that it is possible to come out from under the heavy burden and move on. From someone who has felt so alone for such a very long time, I cannot begin to tell you what that means. I thank God for each and every one of you and for this forum to safely express pain and suffering and reveal scars way too long hidden. The healing has begun and I only ask that you continue to pray for me and my family, that somehow this event in our lives will help share God’s love and mercy to others. And thank you, John for this wonderful community.

    • Andrew Raymond

      I am so glad to have played even a minor role in your healing. Your story touched me deeply too and I know that, though I will never know even who you are, your journey is now linked with mine in the lessons I’ve learned here myself.

      Thank you so very much for being part of my Christian growth as well.

      Peace and Grace be with you!

      • The Letter Writer

        Thank you Andrew..so very much.

  • Line Merrette Vincent

    I am thinking about politics, politicians and elections. about people who pass judgment without regard for reality.

    It is so easy to portrait abortion as an “easy picnic” (not a bigger decision than taking the bus…) and women who have to go through the procedure as immoral (and a whole bunch of things) and whose life should be sacrificed to save a fetus that is not nec. viable.

    This story is a lot closer to reality. It IS reality. Women do not take this decision lightly. They suffer. Often they have to take it alone, without support, in secret and at great cost, personal and otherwise. And they have to stay silent. Sometimes it is to save their own life.

    Too bad so many people have a Leviticus mentality (why did Jesus come ? to accomplish the Law for us, because we cannot do it). Anfd they judge and condemn everyone.

    To me they are heretics who adore a book, and not Christians.

    • http://bleachbrulee.tumblr.com Elizabeth

      Amen, sister. Judgmental Christians are born from a decision to stop following Jesus and to start evaluating, as if God is incapable of doing his own work.

      • Letter Writer

        Elizabeth, I have never heard it said better!

      • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

        Wow. Amen.

      • Jill

        Elizabeth, I will reread this statement as many times as necessary to emblazon it in my memory. Perfect.

  • dub

    i wasnt a christain woman when I had an abortion, but as one now, I know what I did was murder. If the writer feels nothing about having done this, she hasnt dealt with it. God forgives, but if you feel nothing about having taken this action, there is deep denial there

    • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

      Your personal story is yours to own – it certainly doesn’t trump the millions of women who’ve had a different experience. How totally gross of you to come onto a thread where a woman is processing all of this out loud, apparently your moral clarity doesn’t involve those moments where you’re a completely insensitive asshole.

      • Hannah Grace

        “apparently your moral clarity doesn’t involve those moments where you’re a completely insensitive asshole.”

        well said.

        Abortion is a complex issue. Simple, pat answers seem the product of ignorance, the lack of compassion for others or one’s self, a lack of understanding for the grey areas between what seem clearcut moral stances, or all three.

    • Letter Writer

      dub,

      I understand what you are saying completely. But, if you read my letter you will see that “the writer feels nothing about having done this” could not be more false. It actually says I woke up everyday with guilt and regret. The one thing I just realized is you sound exactly as I did before being in a position of no good choice, where you have to decide which life is worth more. My prayer is that at some point, earlier than later, you will realize you may very well be the one in denial. May you experience the same overwhelming feeling of grace, mercy and love that has been shown on this page. The kind Jesus had in mind. I do respect your opinion and your belief. But, please remember when dealing with others when you use such harsh words, it does not helps but just pushes them back into the darkness. Please tell me when enough “feeling something” is adequate to come into the light?

    • SheaShea

      IF and I do mean IF you are truly a Christian woman what in your soul lead you to post this insensitive, negativity, and spirit crushing message to all of these women sharing their stories? The writer obviously felt something but God does not want her to live the rest of her life hung up on her sin and not moving past it. He wants her to forgive herself just as He has done and even perhaps help others as she has done by sharing her story. I personally am pregnant right now and I also believe in God and my Lord Jesus but there are many a day when I sometimes wish I had chose to have an abortion. Reading the stories I have on here help me find peace with my decision and the fact that no matter what your circumstance God will make a way. Either way women definitely feel something when it comes to being pregnant and the decisions we make regarding our pregnancies; however, the world does not make situations such as these any easier to deal with by throwing their unnecessary and insensitive emotions into the mix as though they are the ones personally dealing with someone else’s life decisions. Perhaps you should go and read about love, mercy, and forgiveness in the Bible to grasp a better understanding of the faith you claim.

  • Letter Writer

    These are the people who will keep women hiding in their grief forever.

    “Virginia State Delegate Bob Marshall (R) spoke at a press conference against state funding for Planned Parenthood. He blasted the organization for supporting a women’s right to choose, saying that God punishes women who have had abortions by giving them disabled children:

    “The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children,” said Marshall, a Republican.

    “In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There’s a special punishment Christians would suggest.”

    http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2010/02/22/83337/disabled-abortion/

    • Andrew Raymond

      Has anyone else ever noticed that people like these NEVER quote the gospels?

      • Letter Writer

        You are right Andrew!

    • http://kellythinkstoomuch.wordpress.com KellyK

      These guys really need to make up their minds whether children are a punishment or a gift. They can’t have it both ways.

      In addition to how vile and sick this is, I also notice that they’re assuming that women who have abortions don’t already have kids.

    • vj

      Disabled children are a punishment from God?!?!?!? That is utterly despicable! (and I very much doubt that there is any credible evidence to support his assertion)

      When Jesus was asked “who sinned – his mother or his father?” about the crippled man, Jesus was very clear that the man’s condition was NOT a result of any sin, but simply to demonstrate the glory of God. I believe this meant not just because Jesus went on to heal the man, but because when we love and serve those among us who are disabled in some way, we both gain a deeper understanding of how much God loves US and demonstrate that love to others.

  • Dear Letter Writer

    I have to say it was God that led me to this site. I’m a twenty-year old christian college student who had an abortion last Saturday. in reading your letter i see so much of myself. my reasons for doing what i did though in excusable were in essence selfish. coming from a christian home my father would have had nothing to do with me while my mother would have willingly supported me, i was terrified. my father and i have always been close. currently my parents are considering a divorce. I know how my father is and he would have refused for my mother to have helped me in anyway if i was ever pregnant. I can’t afford school on my own and i couldn’t bare to be the problem between my parents marriage again. so when the test came back positive i knew i would hide the pregnancy and choose to put the child up for adoption… but as the days went on i started thinking about how hard it would be to hide a pregnancy. I am extremely fit there is no way that they wouldn’t know and so due to the reasons stated earlier i made an appointment last weekend and i had an abortion. i grieved for my child before i even did it… i cried and asked my child to please understand, forgive me… i couldn’t bare to ask God because like you i was so upfront about how wrong it is. I never shunned my friends that have done it but i definitely didn’t agree. I have only told three people. none of my family members know and neither do any of my closest friends i just don’t want to hurt anybody. it’s easy for me to detach from myself go numb. so i don’t think about it really now. i cried right after the procedure and haven’t slept much but i can’t even bring myself to ask God to ease the pain because i did it knowingly… reading all of the responses to your letter tell me (though i already know) that God will forgive me and that i can go to him. but i feel sick, and i’m at times disgusted with myself b/c i honestly felt relieved when i left and some part of me feels like i made the right choice. how am i not a monster? how can i ask God to forgive me for sending back something so precious? i have been a Christian since i was just a girl and never in my wildest dreams did i think i’d be this person or that i would have ever been capable of making the decision that made last weekend. i don’t even really know what i wanted to get out of writing this, maybe peace of mind or maybe just to thank you for writing your letter so that i could read it and be able to bring myself to talk to God again even though i still have a hard time believing he’d want to talk to me.

    • Letter Writer

      Thank you so much for writing to me. My heart is with you this very moment and I understand every emotion that you are feeling. It is hard to explain how you can do something that seems to go against every single thing you have ever been taught and truly believe in your heart. I so relate to your words, and your pain. But, what this whole experience has taught me I think, is that God never left me for a second, I left Him. He was there all the time and I didn’t know how to claim the promise of forgiveness and even if I needed to be forgiven. There are so many different scientific and political opinions about the subject, but what really counts right now is how you are feeling. Please, I beg you not to do what I did and keep the pain or guilt inside, it will rob you of true living. God is talking to you right now, that is why you wrote the letter, that is why He brought us together. He wants you to just turn it over and then …let it go. Living in the darkness of shame gives no glory to God and as John said to me…that is ego talking. That is not we were created for. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” …and His grace is sufficient for all our real sins and even our perceived sins. You talk to God, today, tonight, tomorrow, and the next day. He is waiting for you right now. God bless you for your strength and your faithfulness.

  • Linda Burton via Facebook

    Thankyou for sharing, I wish these ladies peace and trust in themselves again.

  • Tammy Watson via Facebook

    ….safe and affordable, please!!!

  • Aliza Worthington via Facebook

    John, this is the post that made me a faithful, forever fan. Signed, Me (a proud Jew.)

  • Kathleen Smith-Jones via Facebook

    Thanks, again, John. There are many more ‘letter writers’ than anyone knows.

  • Liza

    John, your response was beautiful. A real example of Christian love and compassion.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      thank you, liza

  • Rebecca

    Did you know sometimes I don’t click on your column because I’m not sure I can cry right now? John, you give us a tremendous gift in words – my life is different because of you and the words of so many I read on your blog. Thank you for the laughter, and today for the tears. Don’t ever think that what you do isn’t extremely important to your fellow humans in our search for God

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Thank you so much for this, Rebecca.

  • Renee’

    I reply with apprehension even though after reading many of the comments this is the safest place for me. I lost my baby at 26 weeks after being told he had several anomalies. We didn’t want to believe it because i had lost two babies before and couldn’t believe God was allowing bad again. We were offered to terminate or go through with the pregnancy to have him die after birth. I knew i would not terminate. My heart was broken but i ran to God then i got to a place where i couldn’t pray but only receive prayer because the weight got so heavy i couldn’t open my mouth. I waited for U/S to be wrong every time we went to the doc but it got worse. Then physical pain came to which i had to be in the hospital every 4 days. I have s 3 yr old so that left her going from person to person until i returned. I began to pray more earnestly because i had a unborn child suffering and living child suffering from lack of instability. I began to physically feels as though i was dying because of the pain inability to eat or breathe properly. I was lost. All the while my husband has a look of terror and defeat in eyes. We decided to give our son back to the Lord in hopes that he could save him outside of me and i could live for all of them. O was praying for a miracle. Our so didn’t survive and since i have felt like i gave up on him and if i had prayed harder or pushed past my own sickness he would have made it. I know God loves me but loving myself and forgiving myself had been impossible. Noone knows our truth except for here now. Sorry so long. Thanks for the kind words to to the other post. It made me feel safe enough to share.

    • Writer of this letter

      Praying for you Renee…you don’t know how much sharing that means to me. Feeling safe to share is such a gift and thank you John for giving us all a place to share.

  • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

    (We’re working on importing from my old blog all the comments to this post: they should be here soon.)

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

    Reading this for for the first time and am close to tears. What a heartbreaking story, and what beautiful words of love and solace you offered John. For every woman who’s faced a difficult choice, no matter which decision we ultimately made, I thank you.

  • Stephen

    So everything aside, this woman needs to know that there is nothing that can separate he from God’s love and that she doesn’t need forgiveness, God knows the mental state she was in and only HE knows what her circumstances were at the time she made the decision. Nobody should be judging her. Furthermore, Christ did not die so that she could be forgiven for having an abortion when she was in a compromised state both emotionally and physically — Christ died at the hands of tyrannical people. This woman did the best she could as far as we can tell and I hope she knows that.

    Lastly, I am Catholic, and gay and pro-life and I realize this means nothing coming from me because I am a male, however I will say it anyway. Abortion is a decision that should be treated with discernment, prayer and reasoning as well as medical advice both psychological and physical. I do not believe everyone should have an abortion just because it’s a “woman’s right to chose.” There are also the unborn child’s right to live, the father who created the child whom might want to be a father figure to this child, ect. I hear a lot of ridiculous, selfish and unreasonable arguments for abortion BUT THIS IS NOT BY ANY MEANS ONE OF THEM. God bless you and may you heal. Amen.

    • Guest

      [comment deleted]

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

        She doesn’t need forgiveness, because she didn’t do anything wrong. You ask forgiveness for things you’ve done that you feel are wrong, and that is the key. Asking for forgiveness for something you don’t feel is a need, but because others do, is not honest or necessary.
        And then there is this, whether or not we ask God for forgiveness for something is really no one’s business but our own. That is between the pentitent and their God. If someone insists on knowing if, they are butting in.

        • Guest

          I am actually replying to Stephen and seeking his response… since he is a Christian man i am assuming he knows what the Bible says about repentance… so that is an accurate question for him, not you

          • James Walker

            in case you missed it, Allegro63 has a little tag next to her name that says “Mod”. that indicates she’s one of the moderators of this page.

            perhaps telling her off for interjecting herself into your conversation thread is not the wisest of choices…

          • caroline

            [comment deleted]

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            Considering that Stephen’s post was over two months ago, the odds of his response is a tad low. he may say something, he may not. Someone else, like my self may enter in and add a comment. Its the format of such a place as this. Its an open ended conversation. ANYONE can jump in at any time and add a comment, or question. We don’t need permission, its not being rude, its just the nature of the beast.

            For the record, I stand by my statement. I am also a Christian, yet not easily pinned down by dogma.

          • caroline

            [comment deleted]

          • James Walker

            there is no word in the Bible that calls having an abortion, for any reason, a sin. therefore, the teaching that having an abortion is a sin and requires repentance and forgiveness is a dogma.

          • caroline

            [comment deleted]

          • caroline

            [comment deleted]

          • James Walker

            wow. you’re kind of all over the place there, aren’t you?

            I challenge you to find one passage in the Bible that clearly states having an abortion is a sin. if it requires two or more passages from different writers to “prove” your case, then the teaching is a dogma rather than a doctrine.

            that’s all I’m saying. all that other crap you just tried to lay at my feet is.. crap…

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            The history of methods of pregnancy termination is lengthy and has not only been practiced throughout Christianity, but methods of such were quite known. Most ancient laws regarding abortions had to do with a husband not giving permission, or about whether a fetus would have been an heir (son).

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            Being Christ like means being compassionate, and a friend, and looking past social boundaries and seeing the human there, being willing to ask questions, to have people think badly about you, to not be retaliatory, or judgemental, or thinking of others as less than oneself. Being Christlike is not dividing people into sinners (them) and us (who of course)aren’t.

            Being Christlike is not thinking its our purpose and right to teach anyone anything about what is right or wrong, or what we think being Christlike is supposed to be, because we certainly haven’t perfected being so ourselves.

            we want to be loved completely, which means our faults don’t matter, our ideas of righteousness don’t matter, we are easily forgiven, and then that thing we did is utterly forgotten. That is how we want to be loved. If we don’t want to love our neighbors the same way, which is everyone we meet, and could possibly meet, and will never meet …then we are failing at being Christ like

          • Scooby Stephen

            I received a notification, so I have seen your post. What was your question? What does the bible say about repentance? The world repent means to change direction or to return to God. Maybe John Shore can help me with the literal translation of repentance in Greek. The bible actually says nothing about abortion. However, I am Catholic and believe in respecting life. I do not support abortion, however in some cases I think it’s acceptable. This is my opinion. This woman’s specific situation seems very complicated and nobody should be judging her was my point. Only God knows her heart and mental state and as followers of Christ we shouldn’t be focusing on her repentance, which she seems like she is affected deeply and is sorry, we should be helping her heal.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            I am not a fan of abortion either, but feel it should be left as one of several options on the table for a woman, including the choice to prevent pregnancy. Our biology is complex, our individual situations, state of health is also complex. What is the right choice for one, is not for another. But we should respect that someone is trying to make the best ones for themselves.

            I totally agree, being all worked up about someone’s repentance is barking up the wrong tree. We as people of love, should be offering solace, understanding, time, hope as we give her the space, the respect and the means to heal.

          • James Walker

            it is impossible to read your comment, however gently phrased, as anything other than an attempt to correct Allegro63′s manners for having “spoken out of turn”.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

    Good, Lord! She did. But because of where she was and the culture she was surrounded by that told her that what she had done was unforgivable, she just had a hard time believing it.

    Here’s the thing. She never needed to ask forgiveness. God already knew what she faced, what she was enduring, which was completely overwhelming, and terrifying, and having face it alone. God loved her through things, and has helped her get to where she is today, and doesn’t hold her decisions against her.

    Its sure is easy to give such useless advice if you’ve not had to face what she has, or any woman who’s found herself in similar dire straights.

  • Michael Brian Woywood

    Letter-Writer, you are loved.


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