Friday, October 28, 2005

The Abortion Recovery Process and God's Grace

This weekend, beginning this afternoon, and going through Sunday evening, Linda and I will be leading an abortion recovery weekend for some ladies through Rachel's Vineyard. I am going as a minister, so my role will be more for spiritual support. Linda is the leader/facilitator, and we have a counselor and two others on the team. I'm looking forward to what God will do in the lives of all that will be attending, including the team. I'll share a little about my own experience in this area.

25 years ago, I took part in a decision that separated me from the life of my unborn son. I can only imagine what type of young man he would be today. Sometimes when I mow the lawn or am doing work around the house, or on my car, I think how much I miss not having him here next to me, helping me, telling me about his day, learning from me, sharing jokes, or telling me his plans. The decision for abortion didn't seem like much of a 'choice' at the time. It seemed like there was no other choice. We were pressured by the doctor, society's view at the time, and the fact that we weren't married. It seemed like such an easy thing to do at the time, and I had no idea how it would impact my life for years to come.

I lived with this silence for the next 16 or 17 years. There were many manifestations of my shame and guilt, mainly in the way I related to women and even other children. I could never get close to my daughter, who was a year younger than what my son would have been. Even though I loved her so deeply, there was a part of me that could just not let her in too close to me. How I wish I could have dealt with the grief and shame earlier in my life. Abortion recovery is not really talked about openly in most churches. Even though the subject of abortion is sometimes addressed in churches, it is usually brought up in the context of sin to be avoided, not something of the past to be dealt with. I'm afraid many pastors or congregations are not really equipped with the understanding or sensitivity to deal with post-abortion recovery, especially when it comes to men.

We can all relate to why a woman who chose abortion would need to deal with that decision at some point in her life. Certainly, any woman who would carry her baby to full term, and then lose it suddenly would be looked on with compassion and be recommended for counseling. And even worse, if a woman gave birth to her baby, and then purposely ended its life, she would be looked at as evil, sinful, and judged by society, the church, and the law. But because ending a life while still in the womb is 'legal' under U.S. law, that 'choice' can be made in secret, and it is between a woman, her doctor, and only those who she shares it with. Many women live with shame and guilt, in silence; grieving alone, and dealing (or not dealing) with the loss of her child. It is an awesome burden, and for some, one too great to bear alone.

One thing we tend to conveniently forget, though: for every woman who terminates a pregnancy, there is a man involved too. Until a few years ago, I never thought about that impact on my life, my decision-making process, or my inability to be emotionally or spiritually intimate with my wife and daughter. Even more of a disconnect was evident with my 2 step-sons. Today I can look back and see a pattern of self-destructive behavior and sin that was directly related to my part of a 'choice' that was made in ignorance.

in 1997 I met Steve, and together we met weekly for several months to walk me through the beginnings of a painful process of healing and restoration of a very damaged and shame-filled heart. Over those weeks, I began to see how my 'choice' influenced many of the other decisions I made, especially when it involved women and children. Over the years that followed, I realized there were many other things I needed to deal with, and even today, I continue to have new revelations. The healing process is a long and sometimes painful journey. I haven't 'arrived' yet.

I'm not through sinning or making bad decisions, but now the process of recovering from those decisions is shorter, and I tend to not be so easily influenced by things I know will have long-term or fatal consequences. Every day presents new challenges. At the beginning of this year, I had a profound revelation of how short my life is. As I continue this process of healing and discovery, I am comforted by a very merciful and forgiving Father. His grace is what gets me through, and allows me to be changed, on day at a time.

Pray for us this weekend, especially for the women who are just beginning the journey toward recovery; and also for those of us who are seeking an even deeper healing, and a closer, more intimate walk with God.

[One woman's story] from the blog "Transitions"
[Another blogger writing on abortion] from the blog "JivinJehoshaphat"
[After Abortion] blog

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