“I needed your ministry, Sydna,” a pastor’s wife screamed during our last meeting many years ago. “You just sat there in my congregation and never offered me any help…”
This ministry leader’s deep trauma and pain were obvious in her rant. Up until that moment, I had absolutely no clue that she and her husband had chosen abortion.
After she exhausted herself, she suddenly realized that she had spoken her abortion truth out loud. My body language revealed she had shocked me. She then grew harsher and more condemning.
It began to dawn on me that this meeting was to expel our family from her midst. My ministry efforts to help abortion’s wounded hearts had become a thorn in her side. Just seeing my face reminded her of a horrible past choice that was unresolved with God in her heart.
All I could do in that moment was quietly and calmly admit that I never knew she was post-abortive. I got down on my hands and knees and asked for her forgiveness. Sadly, my act of contrition did not calm this ministry leader. It was time to end the meeting.
The lesson I learned that day was that I must assume everyone around me is post-abortive. As I mentally reviewed the years I had spent in her presence, subtle clues of her post-abortive pain came to mind. I asked God for His forgiveness and for not realizing the obvious signs.
I was then reminded of a difficult conversation I had with my mother many years earlier over the phone. She declared, in an angry tone, ““I know you had an abortion, Sydna!”
My abortion four years earlier had been a difficult secret to maintain with my family. My mother’s secret knowledge of my choice had clearly festered in her heart. With no one to offer her advice, my mother floundered in the best way to address the fact that she knew my abortion truth.
Dr. James Dobson revealed his compassion for post-abortive people during my first day working for Focus on the Family in 1991. He detailed his pro-life stance and then included this perfect soundbite of healing:
“I know I’m talking to many women who have experienced abortion. I want you to know that there is no sin that God cannot forgive. The problem maybe you don’t forgive yourself and you may need help.”
Dr. Dobson shocked me in that declaration as no Christian leader had ever addressed me directly as a post-abortive person. Then he revealed the source of my internal angst whose bitter root was unknown to my heart. How could I have made such a choice?
I received the gift of compassion and support that day. If I knew what was wrong with my heart, perhaps it could be remedied. Within six months I was attending an abortion recovery program. My life was transformed by God through that simple Bible study in grief.
If you know someone who may be maintaining an abortion secret, bringing up your knowledge of their abortion directly can be wounding. A better way is to compassionately address those that have chosen abortion indirectly versus confronting them.
Here are eight steps to offering indirect compassion to anyone who may have experienced abortion:
Learn About Abortion PTSD – Obtain and read the book, Her Choice to Heal: Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion and visit HerChoicetoHeal.com. This book and online abortion recovery website will help you understand the impact of abortion. Understanding Abortion PTSD builds empathy and helps one endure difficult emotional reactions from the potential post-abortive person.
Offer Indirect Compassion Statements – Addressing this clandestine truth with grace and mercy is always possible in an indirect manner. Pastor’s and friends don’t have to address abortion politics to reach wounded hearts. Just include Dr. Dobson’s sound-bite of healing when discussing abortion in any setting.
Abortion Gossip – Unless a person shares this truth directly – or you were involved in their actual abortion decision – you could be wrong in assuming they had an abortion. The symptoms of PTSD can impact them for other traumatic reasons and still explain their behavior.
A Need to Grieve – Abortion decisions impact the whole family. If the aborted child was related to you, understand you could be experiencing a secondary aspect of Abortion PTSD. Emotions of grief are to be welcomed as someone has been lost from your life. You can grieve the aborted person in a private and healthy way, apart from the potential post-abortive person.
Don’t Avoid the Abortion Topic – Media coverage of abortion is a constant in our society, particularly with efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. You can talk about abortion but always include compassion. For example, “I heard recently that one third of all American women have made this choice. I rarely hear anyone confess to this choice. It must be a difficult thing to confess. My heart goes out to anyone who made this choice.” Whether they respond or not, you’ve made your compassion known to their hearts.
Don’t Misjudge Silence – Post-abortive people often “practice” how to contain their grief reactions when abortion is discussed. Silence doesn’t imply we aren’t emotionally impacted by your comments or by our past abortion. We often respond internally versus externally, working to process these comments privately. But a seed will be sown of love and that can make all the difference in years to come.
Forgive Them – Someone once said that holding bitterness and anger against another is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. My mother’s secondary abortion pain festered in her heart for several years before that argument unleashed her rage in my direction. I’m happy to say that God helped her forgive me for the role I played in her grandchild’s death. God can help you forgive these loved ones as well.
Pray for Them – God knows their pain intimately as well as how He can turn abortion pain for His good (Romans 8:28). Praying for wounded loved ones is encouraged, particularly when you cannot discuss their pain directly. It releases the burden for their care into God’s hands.
Visit HerChoicetoHeal.com to build your empathy for the post-abortive demographic. Then you can provide compassion along with this healing website of hope to anyone who may confess a past abortion decision. It is packed with compassion and Godly truth to lead them through post-abortion healing.
Thank you for caring for abortion’s wounded. Ramah International exists to help everyone that could be impacted by an abortion decision. We truly appreciate your prayers and tax-deductible donations as God continues to help us minister to abortion’s wounded hearts.