How Can I Forgive Myself for Getting an Abortion?
- 2022 4 Aug
The following is a transcribed Video Q&A, so the text may not read like an edited article would. Scroll to the bottom to view this video in its entirety.
One of the things that I have heard many people say is that if you haven’t overcome your problems after abortion, then you are putting yourself above the mercy of God. You are saying that the cross wasn’t sufficient. And I think that is a really incomplete understanding of the emotional dynamic of what happens after abortion. First of all, there is an unresolved grief. And it is a disenfranchised grief. You will hear that with women who experience miscarriage. The church doesn’t know what to do with it, particularly those denominations who practice infant baptism. Where is that child? Was it really a child? Do we need to be concerned about that life before birth? Grieving a child you have never met, often when there is no body to bury, is very difficult for people to work their way through.
But the problem of holding yourself apart form the forgiveness of God, I’ve heard some people say the answer is forgiving yourself. If you know that God has forgiven you then you need to go ahead and forgive yourself. I think that can be true, but even that sometimes will not be the final thing that leads to peace. In my case, what I think needed to happen was that I needed to accept exactly who I was.
At the center of my choice for abortion was a moment of cowardice. I had not reflected upon this as moral decision making when I went in to make the appointment and even when I went in to have the procedure done. The attendant took my hand and asked if it was alright, right before it was set to begin. And I believe the Holy Spirit came to let me know that it was wrong in that moment.
As I said, I had not reflected, it was just desperate problem solving. But knowing that it was wrong there was then a calculation. What can I do? My fiancé is out in the waiting room—to his credit he at least accompanied me. I knew our relationship would be over. How could I possibly get up and walk forward being pregnant? So, I passively allowed the abortion to happen which reflected cowardice on my part. Until I could accept that if I am put under enough pressure I will behave like a coward, until I could accept that about myself, nothing changed.
But knowing that Jesus does not hate that cowardice in me. He says no cowards will go to heaven, he says that in Revelation, but he can make us so we are not cowards. He can make us brave. To me one of the things I try to do is help women pinpoint—what was the spiritual problem that put you in that position? Because it is likely a thread that runs through other aspects. And it is likely a thread that you need to accept about yourself and give it to the Lord.
As Corinthians tells us when it says “God made him to be sin for us so that we may become the righteousness of God” unless we give that to him, we render him ineffective in his ability to change us. So, I think that very deep self-acceptance is important to be able to truly come before God without excuse and say this actually is who I am. And then we learn that by His grace he makes us what we never were.
Photo Credit: © Unsplash/Tiago Bandeira