CHAPTER ELEVEN

 

I Have a Right to Be Angry,
Don't I?

 

 

h

 

 

"Angry?  Of course I'm angry!  My abortion took my baby's life and left me in a state of devastation."

Pam

 

Y

ou've been hurt and now you're angry.  That's probably an understatement, isn't it?  Actually, you're weighed down with bitterness or hate or rage over the lies and deception that helped con­vince you to abort your baby.  Since anger is one of the most common emotions post-abortion women experience, let's take a look at what it is, what causes it, and what we can do about it.



What is anger?

 

            "Anger" is the generic term for emotions usually expressed by ventilation (blowing up) or internalization (clamming up).[1]  Blowing up is aimed at hurting others and may include impatience, indignation, sarcasm, hostility, vengefulness, ire, rage, fury, or wrath.  Clamming up focuses your energy on your own self, resulting in resentment, frustration, bitterness, brooding, irritability, and depression.  Any one of the various forms of anger can consume your thoughts, your actions, and ulti­mately your life if left unresolved.



What causes anger?

 

            Anger is caused by physical or emotional hurts that are not resolved; injustices to ourselves or others that aren't corrected; and the inability or failure to control our circumstances.  If you look at specific reasons for becoming angry regarding abortion, you will see they fit into one of these cate­go­ries:

            ·  Getting pregnant

            ·  Realization human being was aborted

            ·  Lack of information prior to the abortion decision

            ·  Being lied to

            ·  Betrayal of trust

            ·  Sense of worthlessness

            ·  Compromise of values

            ·  Poor medical care

            ·  Involuntary sterilization

            Anger can be directed at people or events.  We can become angry with ourselves because of our stupidity or selfishness.  We can become angry with others ¾ doctors, father of baby, men in gen­eral, parents, friends, counselors, clinic ¾ because of lies, encouragement, or actions.  We can even become angry with people not having any connection with our abortion, such as pregnant women because they have what we now want, or with other children.  And we can become angry with God for not stopping the abortion.[2]

 


If God has forgiven me, why am I still so angry and bitter?

 

            Being forgiven by God doesn't mean He also wipes out our emotions and memories.  It does mean we now have a way to resolve our problems ¾ God's way.  If you draw on God's power through Bible study, prayer, and applying biblical principles to your life, your anger and bitterness will even­tually be replaced with love and peace.



I'm hurting inside so much.  I don't want people to know.  How can I keep it from showing?

 

            Many women sacrificed their unborn baby in an attempt to salvage a relationship, only to lose their boyfriend or husband.  That hurts.  Many women can't have more children because of complica­tions related to their abortion.  That hurts.  Your emotions are probably topsy-turvy and you think no one understands.  That hurts.  The hurts you feel are deep and real. 

            It's good to admit you hurt.  Here are ten reactions that may be present when a person has been hurt:

            1.  Showing a lack of concern for others

            2.  Being overly sensitive and touchy (thinks others are always talking
                 about her)

            3.  Possessiveness with friends; rarely having any close friends

            4.  Having a tendency to avoid meeting new people

            5.  Showing little or no gratitude

            6.  Usually speaking words of empty flattery or harsh criticism

            7.  Holding grudges against people, sometimes for a long time ¾
                 unforgiving

            8.  Exhibiting a stubborn or sulky attitude

            9.  Unwillingness to share or help anyone

          10.  Being prone to extreme mood changes (either very "up" or very
                 "down")
[3]

            Look at yourself.  Are you happy?  Are you at peace?  Or are you in turmoil ¾ churning inside?  Trying to hide your hurt by keeping it buried inside of you only causes more problems.  Hurting inside can be an indicator that bitterness is brewing.  God tells you to beware of bitterness because it springs up and multiplies until it overtakes you (Hebrews 12:15).  Many people wounded by an abortion experience try to bury their hurts.  However, hurt is difficult to hide because people tend to react negatively once they have been wounded.  When a person reacts sinfully to having been hurt, guilt results.  Admit your hurt, but don’t allow yourself to become bitter.



What will help me to deal with my hurt?

 

            Following are ten principles to help you to effectively deal with your hurt:

            1.  Hurts come from living in a fallen world (e.g. people weren't trying to hurt you when they encouraged the abortion).

            2.  You are to treat those who hurt you kindly and with love.

            3.  It's okay to tell God how hurt you are.

            4.  Hurts are usually temporary.

            5.  Retaliation only adds sin to sin.

            6.  Wallowing in self-pity is an offense against your Savior.

            7.  Good can come from the hurt.

            8.  Trust God to judge.  Leave vengeance to Him.

            9.  Find someone to share your burden.

          10.  Forgiveness reflects your understanding of what Jesus has done for
                you.



What can I do to resolve my anger?

 

            Life is going to present us with situations that anger us.  Resolving each incidence of anger as it occurs should be our goal.

            I have a confession to make.  I'm frustrated and irritable because my kids are running around the house (acting just like kids!); I have a publishing deadline looming only a few days away; and I'm having difficulty putting my thoughts into words that will help you to deal with your anger.

            When I need to resolve my anger these are the steps I take:

            1.  I admit that I am angry.

            2.  I confess and ask God’s forgiveness for my sinful reaction to the situation.

            3.  I ask God to help me resolve the situation that led to my becoming angry, and then

            4.  With God's help, I refuse to keep mulling over in my mind the circumstances which led to my becoming angry.

            Anger keys you up.  For the past several hours I haven't been thinking clearly because all my energies were going into my mounting anger rather than into accomplishing the goal before me. 

            Writing this section has helped me to better understand my own anger and how to deal with it when it rears its ugly head again (and it will).  I trust you will find help here too.

 


How should I react toward those involved with my abortion?

 

            There are two common reactions to anger.  One is to adopt what I call "The Incredible Hulk syndrome."  Someone hurts you, and you lash out at him or her in a fury of rage.  You turn from an ordinar­ily gentle person into a monster.[4] The other reaction to anger involves "controlling" your anger by keeping it chained inside of you.  Neither reaction resolves the problem and may ultimately cause great harm to you or others.

            In order to respond appropriately to those involved in your abortion, your own heart must first be cleansed.  I believe you will find Psalm 51:10-13 a good model to use in asking God to cleanse you.

            Before responding to those involved in your abortion, commit yourself to changing your atti­tude.  By an act of your will, lay your sinful anger aside.  However, when you put off anger, you must put on something in its place.  Pity, sorrow, love, compassion, and forgiveness should be your response toward those involved in your abortion.  Jesus teaches something no other prophet taught.  He teaches us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48).  We are told to love God first, then our neigh­bors as our­selves (Mark 12:30-33).  When you think of neighbors, remember that your "enemies" are your neighbors too. 

            Like anger, love is an emotion. But unlike anger, love must be learned.  God would not tell you to love if He did not enable you to accomplish it.  "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love" (1 John 4:7-8).

            If we love those involved in our abortion, we will seek to direct our anger to their good.  Love demands that sin be dealt with.  This means we must confront those involved in our abortions.  Dr. Adams states, "Turning anger towards the problem, however, almost always involves confronting another in anger.  Yet the way in which they are confronted makes the difference.  They must be con­fronted to the extent that they are involved responsibly in the solution to the problem. They are con­fronted not in order to embarrass or hurt them, but to help them to move in the proper directions.  The purpose for the confrontation is to help them to solve the problem (Ephesians 4:29)."[5]

            It is impossible to love someone and not forgive him or her.  Forgiveness implies heartfelt love.  I know at this point you probably don't feel love toward those people who hurt you, nor do you want to forgive them.  You will find if you, by an act of your will and in dependence on God, forgive and love those involved in your abortion, the appropriate feelings will eventually follow.  Taking our eyes off ourselves and the wrongs done to us will help us to look at others and forgive.  Focus your energies on finding the solution to the other person's  problem with respect to your abortion rather than on the per­son who made the problem.



What about the people who are making money by killing unborn babies?

 

            The same solutions apply to these people also.  Sometimes it's frustrating to see others con­tinue to do wrong.  Because we know the truth, we expect everyone to know the truth and act upon it.  We don't understand why God allows abortion to continue.  It will help you to understand that "When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong.  Although a wicked man commits a hundred crimes and still lives a long time, I know that it will go better with God-fearing men, who are reverent before God" (Ecclesiastes 8:11-12 NIV).  Know that those involved in abortion will be punished one day by God if they do not repent (turn away from their sin).  At the same time, use your anger constructively to help people avoid God's anger by guiding them away from their evil ways. 

 

 

I still feel angry sometimes toward my former boyfriend who wanted me to get the abortion.  How can I deal with this bitterness once and for all?

 

            Although you may have forgiven your boyfriend (or parents or husband), feelings of resent­ment can crop into your thoughts.  At those times you should consciously ask God's Holy Spirit to control and focus your thoughts on something else.  Our object is to live in peace with ourselves and others (2 Corinthians 13:11), and that can only occur when we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit.



I find it nearly impossible to trust medical personnel.  I wonder how to decide on doc­tors and, sometimes, whether or not to follow through on their advice.  What do you sug­gest?

 

            My first suggestion is to forgive in your heart before God the medical personnel involved in your abortion.  Next, actively seek physicians who do not refer patients for or perform abortions.  Finally, ask yourself, "Have I stopped eating just because Mom once burned my dinner?" People make mistakes.  Some mistakes are harder to live with than others.  It is wrong to judge everyone by the mistakes someone else has made.

 

 

How should I feel about the guy who got me pregnant?  How do I act around him?  I see him every once in a while due to mutual friends.

 

            You should feel remorse over the relationship which resulted in your becoming pregnant out­side of marriage.  You should hurt for the boy who has lost his unborn son.  Because I lived through this very situation several years ago, I know how difficult it can be to come into association with your aborted baby's father.  One thing that helped me was to realize that I played an equal part in becoming pregnant.  It allowed me to forgive my ex-boyfriend for his role in our relationship. 

 

 

What if someone doesn't know I'm angry with them?

 

            Oftentimes people do not realize they have said or done something which has deeply affected you.  For instance, when my parents heard I was pregnant, they wanted me to have and keep the baby, their first grandchild.  But as we talked, my mother said, "You know, Pam, you will have to quit school to care for the baby."  That one sentence closed my mind to the reality of the baby to be born and opened my mind to the possibility of aborting the pregnancy.  Although my mother was not aware of it, my anger toward her grew for years as I blamed her for her callousness at that moment in my life.  She was not even aware that her words had affected me so adversely.  She is a practical woman and was merely stating a fact I needed to consider.  She never dreamed that leaving school was my worst fear with regard to my pregnancy.  The very logistics of finishing my education and caring for a child had been foremost on my mind.  My mom had no idea of the anger and resentment my mind had built up due to her words.

            The fact that the other person may not know you harbor sinful thoughts toward them does not negate your responsibility to forgive.  Because my parents did not know how angry I was, I chose to forgive them in my heart before God.  Since then, I have had an opportunity to explain why I had been angry with them.  They appreciated knowing what had been going on in my mind. 

            The other side of the coin is that you may find the person knew all along you were angry with him or her.  Anger is difficult to conceal.  It comes out in our words, actions, and expressions.  Don't be too sure that the other person doesn't know how you feel.  You might approach him or her with the statement, "I don't know if you realize it or not, but I've been harboring some wrong thoughts toward you regarding my abortion."  That opens the doors for the other person to express his or her thoughts.  Communica­tion is vital in resolving abortion conflicts.  Unfortunately, it is too often lacking.


What will happen if I don't resolve my anger?

            If you refuse to resolve your anger, you may find yourself using that anger to condone your abortion or to confuse the issue.  You may allow your anger to exit through your mouth in gossip or in speaking evil of those involved in your abortion.  You may develop an "I'll get you" mentality and seek revenge from those who were involved in your abortion.  You may swing to extremes, becoming either violent or totally withdrawn.  You may even become physically ill.  One thing is certain ¾ as long as you remain angry, you
have not dealt with your abortion.



Does God get angry about abortion?

 

            Yes.  Abortion wrenches the heart of God.  Proverbs 6:16-19 tells us God finds abortion (shedding of innocent blood) abominable.  He is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11).[6]

            Those who continue their involvement in the pro-abortion movement will not go unpunished. "Be sure of this:  The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free" (Proverbs 11:21 NIV; see also Exodus 34:6-7). 



Does anger ever serve a good purpose?

 

            Yes.  Anger is an emotion.  Our emotions were given to us by God.  Therefore, any emotion can be used for good.  However, emotions in themselves are neither good nor bad.  Any emotion can become constructive or destructive, depending upon how we respond to it.  Anger is a tremendously powerful emotion.  To attempt to turn it off or deny it is wrong.  Instead, we must seek constructive methods of directing it.

            Anger is not sinful when its expression is justified and controlled.  For example, you should be angry at the fact of abortion.  Anger over something evil or wrong is justified.  This type of anger is often referred to as "righteous indignation" and is exemplified in Jesus' cleansing of the temple (Matthew 21:12-13).  Although Jesus was angry, He dealt with the situation in a decisive but sinless manner (Hebrews 4:15). 

            Since God is perfect, we know God never sins in His anger.  Always He directs His anger at correcting a specific problem.  Being imperfect human beings, we must be careful we don't use a right­eous cause as a platform to vent sinful anger.  Being justified in your cause is not enough.  Your anger must also be released under control.  When I am responding to anger in a righteous man­ner, I have inner peace and am under control outwardly.  Then after prayer I earnestly seek to correct the situation in a way that allows people to see Christ in me.
            Did you know God tells us to be angry?  However, we must be careful to respond to our anger properly. In the same verse that God tells us to be angry, He also tells us not to sin in our anger (Ephesians 4:26).  Anger becomes sinful when we focus it on people and things rather than on the problem.  If we are to be angry and not sin, the words of our mouths and meditations of our hearts must be pure (Psalm 19:14).  Righteous anger properly directed and under control always aims for constructive and positive change.  

            Abortion angers me personally.  I find the laws surrounding abortion to be absurd.  Doctors work feverishly to save prematurely born babies, while in the same hospital doctors kill babies the same age because their moms don't want them.  Yes, our laws make me angry.  What do I do?  I write and speak (in love) to educate people about the truth.  My anger is used constructively to cor­rect the problem. 

            Whenever we find ourselves in a situation that might cause us to feel or express anger in one of its various forms, we would do well to meditate on these words: "But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God" (James 1:19b-20).



Your Thoughts

 

 

Before I read this chapter, I had a question about . . .

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In this chapter I have learned . . .

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To resolve my post-abortion trauma, I will . . .

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I need to talk to God about . . .

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A verse from the Bible which helped me in this chapter is . . .

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After reading this chapter, I have hope because . . .

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[1]  Adams, The Christian Counselor's Manual, p. 349.

[2]  I answered the question "Why did God allow this to happen?" in Chapter One.  In our grief, it's easy to become bitter against God.  That does not give us the right to shake our fist at God over the fact that He "let" us get pregnant.  Diane has a healthy attitude about her abortion:  "Why did God let this happen to me?  My pregnancies and abortions were consequences of sinful choices I made."  Don't get mad at God.  Trust Him during the hard times.  Apply His Word to your hurts and problems.

[3]  Winkey Pratney, Hurt and Bitterness (Last Days Ministries, Lindale, Texas, 1984), pamphlet. 
[4] It's helpful to understand that although ranting and raving may appear to make you feel better, it serves no helpful purpose and only makes others angry and upset.

[5]  Adams, p. 354. 
[6] There are several other specific events in the Bible which incurred God's anger. 
For examples, see 1 Kings 11:9-10; Deuteronomy 9:7; Isaiah 5:20-25. 



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