Will I Ever Be Healed?
"Even tho' I've forgiven myself and accepted God's grace, there is still a hurt in my heart."
earning to live with the choice you made sometimes takes more time than you wish. There is a saying that "time heals all wounds." I would argue that time may cause us to ignore the wound ¾ we may believe it to be healed. Underneath the surface a potential hotbed of infection could be brewing. Healing takes more than the passage of time. Proper treatment is essential.
What does it mean to be "healed"?
For us who have submitted to abortions, the question is not, "Is abortion wrong?" The question we ask is, "How do I live with the wrong I've done by aborting my baby?" We found that although abortion is a terribly wrong act, healing can occur. However, healing will never include forgetting. Teri Reisser correctly states our "painful memories cannot ever be fully erased, only fully faced and put into proper perspective." The memory will fade with time, but part of our abortion will forever remain with us. That's good. We need to remember God's graciousness in forgiving us so great a sin. We also need to remember our experience because it can affect positively our helping other people when we recall what we have been through.
Right now, as I'm writing this chapter, if I dwelled on my abortion ¾ the horribleness, the tragedy, the cruelty of my sin of abortion ¾ I could fall into a deep depression. It is only by refusing to dwell on my past and its sin that I go forward, useable to God for His purposes. Christ alone holds me together (Colossians 1:16) and only by leaning on His strength moment by moment do I remain whole and healed.
Jesus is our hope for going on ¾ for facing our problems and dealing with them one by one, once and for all. "I can do all things through Him [Christ] who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). Victory is ours for the asking!
I still find it very difficult to see films on abortion ¾ or to get into extensive conversations. Is that normal?
Wendy answers this question:
Viewing pictures makes me uncomfortable somewhat and again I think this is a normal response to violence. At the same time I also want to know and see articles and pictures on abortion because this information is vital in knowing the truth about abortion and its consequences.
I believe abortion will likely always be painful to discuss or read about but I mean that in its best sense. Knowing the pain of the children who will be "choiced" from this [earth] and the women who will choose and the pain that will follow for them makes abortion painful for me. In situations when I am revealing my experience it is uncomfortable and painful for me but I believe this to be a normal human response to self disclosure of any kind.
Can I ever get rid of the pain I have when I watch The Silent Scream etc.? I fall apart. Other times I'm okay.
No human being with normal emotions could watch The Silent Scream or similar videos and not react internally and/or outwardly to it. Teenagers, men, and women who have not personally experienced abortion cry. Miscarried women cry. Post-abortion women cry whether they are healed or not. If they don't cry outwardly, they feel a pain deep inside that says, "You did this." If they have dealt with their abortions, they think, "But thank God, I am forgiven."
We don't want to become so "healed" that we are numb to the pain abortion inflicts.
Why can't I trust God to heal me?
A woman writes, "I want to be free, but at the same time I'm afraid to let go." Problems people don't resolve are a result of failure to follow God's methods and instructions. We become used to doing things our own way, the way that makes logical sense to us. Trusting God involves faith. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (KJV). Dr. Charles Ryrie comments, "Faith gives reality and proof of things unseen, treating them as if they were already objects of sight rather than of hope." We are asked to trust the unseen God with our lives, our souls, and our hopes. Faith is essential for us to keep working through our problems (Job 19:25-27). Patricia Tompkins comments, "I now walk in the full forgiveness of Christ. I realized last fall that my greatest sin still in my life was not accepting God's full forgiveness. I was guilty of not walking in faith. I am happy now for the first time in seventeen years. I am free."
Jesus the carpenter took raw materials and hewed and carved them into beautifully completed workmanship. Christ the Savior takes the raw material of human potential and builds into us the beauty and functionality of a finely finished Christian. We are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). Let Jesus Christ complete the work He has begun in you.
Does the Lord want to use me in this area to help others? Or does He care enough about me to just heal me?
This twofold question implies that God may not care enough to heal a person unless they commit themselves to be used of God in the area in which they are healed. We have found that God does love you enough to forgive you completely for your sin of abortion. Healing takes place as you apply biblical principles to your wounds. However, once healed, many desire to help others out of gratitude for what God has done for them.
Can anything match the shame and humiliation of the perfect Christ dying on a cross for our sins? Just as Christ chose to die to free us, so we can choose to speak the truth to free others. Outward extension of ministry to others done at the prompting of the Holy Spirit indicates our obedience to God. This may mean speaking to only one other woman whom God brings your way to receive love and understanding. God does not call every post-abortion woman to public ministry. Teri Reisser puts it well: "The woman who has experienced healing will find herself willing (though not necessarily eager) to share her story in any situation where she judges the hearer(s) will benefit from her narrative.
A friend shared with me the beauty of Deuteronomy 32:11 and Exodus 19:4. Here we see the example of a mother eagle stirring up her young and moving them out of the nest when they are ready to learn to fly. She then swoops down and catches them on her outspread wing before they can fall and injure themselves. She allows them out on their own only when they are fully prepared to fly. The young eagles attempt to fly because they have faith their mother will be there for them if they should falter. God won't ask you to "fly" until you are ready.
Will I ever be a "normal" person again?
Much philosophical rhetoric could be spent defining "normal." For purposes of this book, "normal" means you can discuss abortion, view films and pictures, and live your private life with inner calm and outward composure. It does not mean you will never cry or feel regret. As Judy Schmid says, "I still cry, but that's okay. I don't want to lose my sensitivity." Yes, you can be "normal" again!
I have so many PAS symptoms. Will I ever resolve them all?
Women have latched on to the term "post abortion syndrome" (PAS) because it offers tangible evidence that abortions do cause genuine problems. Personally, I prefer the term "post-abortion trauma" because many women do not have a syndrome, but simply a few problems they need to deal with once and for all. The word "syndrome" gives the impression of a continuing cycle of problems. "Trauma," on the other hand, indicates an injury that can be treated and will one day heal. The right treatment is vital to healing.
You see, the emotional upheaval which occurs following an abortion is a spiritual problem. That is, abortion's emotional aftermath results from sinful reactions to various emotions that rise up within us. I suggest the term "sin-drome" would be the most appropriate term to use! Once women begin to deal with problems God's way, using His proven methods, healing occurs ¾ the guilt, fear, grief, anger, and shame disperse. Looking for and identifying symptoms may help you understand where you are in dealing with your abortion, but remember to focus your eyes on the God who can forgive, comfort, and restore you. As one woman writes, "You can talk about it, cry, fellowship, go to shrinks, but without Jesus there is NO peace."
I feel that I have victory over the guilt; then if I read some abortion material, or watch something abortion related, I find myself dealing with another layer of healing. Why?
Although healing from your abortion does not occur overnight, God never allows you to face more than you can handle at one time (1 Corinthians 10:13). Once you successfully resolve one problem area regarding your abortion, God may introduce another in order to further your growth as a Christian. If treated properly, eventually all the layers of hurt will heal.
Let me give you an illustration. Two times I cut my little finger. The first time I applied pressure to stop the bleeding and then put a bandage over the wound. The wound became infected and never healed properly. To this day I have a painful scar reminding me I didn't get the proper help when it was needed. The second time I cut my finger, I immediately went to the emergency room of the hospital. There the doctor cleansed the wound, applied antiseptic, and stitched the gaping hole. That wound healed properly. You can barely see the scar and the pain is gone. That is the result of properly treating a wound.
Now think of your abortion as an open, gaping wound. You can use the do-it-yourself method or you can go to the Great Physician, Jesus Christ, for help. His instruction manual, the Bible, will guide you on necessary treatment for your wound. Healing will result when you follow His instructions carefully. Abortion is a terrible wound. It can and will heal, but a tiny scar will remain to remind you that you once hurt.
There seem to be times now when I can talk about it and not get upset, but does that mean I no longer care about what I did?
I think that this is a good sign. I like the attitude of Jill Iversen as she comments, "I will continue to learn from and benefit from this for the rest of my life." Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty because you no longer feel guilty about your abortion. It is normal for the negative emotions to pass as you resolve your problems. Don't fear acceptance of your abortion. Acceptance and peace indicate that healing has occurred.
I kept a journal which started about three or four months before the abortion and continued writing up to a year or so after. I am thinking of burning it or burying it as a sign of putting the abortion behind me. Is that morose or escapist?
Committing our thoughts to paper helps clarify our thinking, preserves memories and gets it out of our systems. Many people keep diaries or journals. Writing down our thoughts and perceptions gives us a subjectively viewed written record of our lives.
I think the record of your abortion should be destroyed when you are done with it. Burning your diary is like putting a stake in the ground to mark a momentous occasion: My abortion is over and done with. It is part of my past . . . just like this record. Now it is physically gone, retained in my memory, but not actively part of my daily thoughts.
An exception would be if you plan to write or speak about your experience. Your diary would prove invaluable to recall specific incidents, dates, and thoughts. If you plan to keep your diary and are not yet going public about your abortion, please put it in a safety deposit box or other place for safe-keeping.
What are the steps to healing?
Healing involves changing the way you think and act. God has the answer to any problem you face, but you must change in order to apply the solution to your life.
The following six steps are essential for this change:
1. Recognize your areas of sin (1 John 1:8).
2. Repent of your sin (1 John 1:9).
3. Request God's help, depending upon Him to hear you (1 John
4. Relinquish your sinful thoughts or actions (Romans 6:5-7;
5. Replace your sinful thoughts or actions with a godly response
(Colossians 3:10; Romans 12:1-2).
6. Repeat the above five steps until your godly response becomes
a habit (John 3:21; Colossians 3:23).
Remember ¾ before you take these six steps, you must first accept Christ's atonement on your behalf. Until you come by faith to trust Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, all attempts to overcome your abortion aftermath are done in your own strength. Resolving abortion's aftermath is accomplished through God's power and only if you are His child.
I fully realize the methods of dealing with your abortion presented in this book are contrary to the way the world would have you deal with your abortion. Without the Holy Spirit to guide you, the solutions I've presented would appear foolish, and you would not understand why they will work. As you begin to practice God's solutions, you will find they do work.
Galatians 5:19-21 contains a list of things that God hates. Included are immorality, impurity, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, and envying. These are the things we practiced in the past, but now desire to eliminate from our lives.
As you begin to deal with your sinful reactions to your abortion in a way pleasing to God, the Holy Spirit will begin to produce fruit in your life. Galatians 5:22-23 lists nine parts to the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These result from proper responses to emotions that once overwhelmed you to the point of despair. Look for them in your life as you begin to solve your problems God's way.
Your natural tendency will be to return to your negative thought patterns. You may be encouraged to go your own way by people who may ridicule you as you apply biblical principles to your life. Expect it, but don't allow ungodly attitudes and advice to keep you from having victory over your problems. Understand that "the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing; but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV).
Where do I go from here?
Judy Bates shares this:
Even as a Christian in the beginning I battled with the abortion issue. It must be okay, its legal, its my body, my life, the practical thing to do. It took a couple of years to realize the conflict of humanism to God's Word and which one is truth. I confessed to God and asked His forgiveness. Mentally, through the promise of God's Word, I knew it was done. But emotionally it has not been so easy. . . . [After learning about abortion and its alternatives] I've experienced more hurting in the last six months! Praise God! I'm still hurting! But I know that I am coming along.
This gal is serious about working through her problem. She has read books, talked to an Open Arms counselor, thought about her abortion, told her ten-year-old daughter because Judy plans to become active in pro-life work, and confessed to a group of three close Christian friends. She prays daily "for God to use me and heal me to a point where I can be used through this experience without becoming so emotional that I'm not functional." She also is opening her home as a support home for women in crisis pregnancy. By focusing on others, she will soon reach out and give back what she has learned.
Abortion was the wrong choice. You know that now. It may have been made from outside pressure or from selfishness. The reason for the choice is behind you. You face the present and future with the reality of living with your choice. Now you have another choice. You can push your abortion into the recesses of your mind hoping it will fade away and cease to haunt your waking and sleeping moments, or you can deal with it once and for all. There is only one choice that will bring you peace and freedom. The choice is yours ¾ what will you do?
I Can Go On
You ask me if I feel the pain
From a sin of long ago;
The answer's "Yes, I feel the pain
And tears sometimes still flow."
My sin was that I took a life
Innocent, unborn, my child's,
For years I carried guilt and grief
That I had been beguiled ¾
That I had cared for self so much
My baby had to die;
And day and night I tossed and turned
Wishing it had been I.
Then I met Someone who could pay
a debt I never could
His name is Jesus, Son of God ¾
Pure, sinless, holy, good.
He paid my debt and set me free
Despair no more is mine,
For Jesus holds me tight with arms
That ease my pain with time.
I can go on with Jesus at my side
I can go on my sin no more to hide;
I can go on to live in victory
Because one day my Savior set me free.
Before I read this chapter, I had a question about . . .
In this chapter I have learned . . .
To resolve my post-abortion trauma, I will . . .
I need to talk to God about . . .
A verse from the Bible which helped me in this chapter is . . .
After reading this chapter, I have hope because . . .
Teri K. Reisser, notes from Post-Abortion seminar, Open Arms convention, May 1987.
Dr. Charles Caldwell Ryrie, The Ryrie Study Bible, New American Standard Translation (Moody Press, Chicago, 1978), footnote p. 1850.
Much of the text of this section is adapted from, Abortion's Second Victim, pp. 208-210.
Lyrics by Pam Koerbel 1989, 2008. All Rights Reserved.