“She was forgiven even before she had an abortion”

Below are some reader comments (or excerpts from them) written in response to my post From a Christian Woman Who Chose Abortion that I felt particularly helpful. (If your comment doesn’t appear here, it does not mean that I judged it less worthy; it only means that, for whatever reason, it didn’t as readily lift from its context. There were very few reader responses that in spirit don’t belong with these.)

Thank you to every single person who took the time and effort to reach out and comfort a stranger on the Internet. Many of you also left comments in which you expressed a lot of love to me personally. I want you to know how much that meant to me.

* * *

From Mindy:

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.

From Ken Leonard:

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.

From Ingrid:

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 God’s saving grace after such a decision. God still loves her.

From BVT:

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.

From 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.

From zoni:

The death of an unborn child is tragic, but is not murder.

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

From 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.

From Cathy:

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

From Amanda:

I wish many people who have judged women for their choices, and who condemn them without knowledge of their true agony over their 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 that their babies, whom they have shed so many tears for, are safe in His arms.

From 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.

From Danielle Perata:

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.

From Emily:

In my case [getting an abortion] was life-saving. Not for physical health reasons, but because having a baby would have tied me forever to the father, a sociopathic man who tried to murder me. 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.

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.

From YellerKitty:

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.

From Vivian:

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.

From Ric Booth:

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

 

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. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • Kara K

    Beautiful, kind, generous, loving and Christ-like responses. I love this community.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Susan-Jones/100000770277573 Susan Jones via Facebook

    Beautiful loving responses.

  • 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.

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

      Thank you, Letter Writer. Saturday’s a pretty dead day, Internet-wise, so you may not have gotten to this striking note the same sort of response you surely would have on another day. But whatever; it’s certainly no less trenchant for that.

  • Mindy

    All I can say is thank you , Letter Writer, for being brave enough to share, and having a heart big enough to hear. What YOU wrote is such a huge part of the healing – - –

    Blessings to you and yours.

  • Donald Rappe

    I like this summary format.

  • Robin

    Dear Letter Writer:

    Through opening your heart, you have brought about the beginning of not only your own healing, but the healing of many. God’s love has made it possible, that all may be healed. Thank you for your openness and for your sweet spirit. Thank you John for allowing the healing to begin here.

  • Dirgham Tamas

    “In my case [getting an abortion] was life-saving. Not for physical health reasons, but because having a baby would have tied me forever to the father, a sociopathic man who tried to murder me. 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.”

    This. I had an abusive boyfriend once, and if I had gotten pregnant, this is what I would have done, and for this very reason. Thank you for having the courage to say this.

  • Michael

    So, I understand we emphasis forgiveness, and I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad about a decision they made, good or bad as that decision may have been. But several of these comments seem to be saying that abortion is not only not something to ruin your life over (which is true, it isn’t) but also not even really bad. I have to disagree with that. I understand that it’s a difficult circumstance, but I that’s no reason to encourage abortion’s the way some of these seem to be, or approving of them, the way others are.

    • Letter Writer

      Michael, I appreciate your comment and completely understand it completely. The seriousness of that decision is not something anyone should take lightly. No matter what your religious beliefs, it is not a simple nor nonchalant procedure. I certainly hope no one reads my letter or the responses here and feels that it is some sort of stamp of approval or encouragement for someone to have an abortion or think forgiveness is a free ticket to make it an easier decision. My personal opinion was and still is that education about birth control and prevention is the preferred way to deal with this situation. Unfortunately, that does not always happen and people are put in difficult positions. Whether my decision was right or wrong soon became overshadowed by guilt and regret and separated me from God, my real comforter. I think anything we view as sin in our lives has that capability and forgetting about real forgiveness can sentence you to a life of defeat. I hope that is the message that comes across to others.

      • Michael

        Im glad you understand, and I certainly dont think theres any sense in feeling guilty, and I hope you are able to recover a from that guilt. I was really just referring to several of the comments, more than to your letter or the issue in and of itself.

  • http://google michelle g.

    I recently separated from my husband, and have filed for divorce.

    This time of opression has been a blessing for me because it drew

    Me closer to god and I re dedicated my life to him, I committed

    My self to being obedient to gods words. … my soon to be ex husband

    Does not care for god and doesnt care much about his life

    Or orhers he can be mean and cruel….. he is not responsible….and comed from a dysfunctional bk ground….. I found out this morning that I am pregnanr when I told him about how I didnt think it was the right thing to do allowing a child into this world only to live in a dysfunctional

    Environment he said he didnt care about nothing or no one….im having a hrd time because I feel like an abortion is the best choice to make at this point in my life….. but I feel as though god will punish me and im scared

    • Matt

      He will not punish you, Michelle. God is big enough to understand your pain, and He knows what you’re going through.

      You are person, a valuable person. You belong to you, no one else. And if you think abortion is your best option, then it is. Period. Take some time to care for yourself, to attend to your needs. Give yourself space to grieve the hard choice you’ve had to make. And be so very proud of yourself for having the courage.

      I’ll be praying for you.


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