“There is no sin that God can’t forgive – even abortion,” Dr. James Dobson outlined during my first day working at Focus on the Family in October of 1991. “The problem may be you don’t forgive yourself, and you may need help.”
His simple point was amazingly accurate in my heart. No one had ever spoken to me directly as a post-abortive person. Dr. Dobson’s voice had deep compassion when he outlined the exact point of pain in my heart. He gave me an amazing gift of understanding. If I knew what was wrong, perhaps there was a path to recovering from the weight of my sin of abortion.
At that point, a decade had passed since my child’s death. I had worked through forgiving my former boyfriend who forced my abortion decision, the college that would have expelled me as a pregnant, un-wed student and others who thought abortion was a good idea in my situation. Forgiving myself seemed impossible and wrong. I felt that I deserved the worst in life because I had allowed my child to die.
While I certainly could blame others for encouraging my abortion choice, I had walked into that clinic out of my own free will. Therefore. I was ultimately responsible for my child’s death. In going against my female “genetic code” to protect my “young” at all costs, there was a huge fine to pay in regret. A decade was a long time to carry that weight.
Then I discovered a Focus booklet that outlined the symptoms Abortion PTSD (also called “post-abortion syndrome” or PAS). The list documented my regret perfectly – depression, suicidal tendencies, difficultly bonding with future children, anniversary syndrome, grief, anger, etc.
As God lifted the curtains from my eyes regarding this past choice, Scripture outlined His grace, mercy and forgiveness regarding ANY sin. My abortion seemed to not fit any biblical criteria, however. I felt like I was the worst of sinners, deserving any pain I encountered for sacrificing my child on the altar of “choice.”
Spiritually sensitive post-abortive individuals often view their choice to abort as unforgivable in the eyes of God. Many also struggle in forgiving others who participated in their abortion choice. Post-abortive people are often the hardest on themselves for participating in their own child’s death. Few realize that regardless of the sin, it isn’t in God’s character to hold our sins against us. He wants to forgive and heal our hearts.
Many post-abortive people pursue self-punishing behaviors like drugs and promiscuity as a result of the internal self-loathing that can result after abortion. It is easy to embrace a false belief that we deserve the worst in life for ending our child’s time on Earth. Post-abortive people are our own worst enemies.
When I gave birth seven years after my abortion, I had no concept of motherly love. Holding and caring for my tiny son ushered in the understanding of what I had lost in making that choice.
During my own abortion recovery program, God used the parable of the Unmerciful Servant found in Matthew 18:21-35 to help me forgive myself. My abortion recovery leader asked me to view myself in two distinct ways:
- As the richer servant whom the King forgave – the current Sydna whom God had just forgiven the debt of abortion
- As the second servant whom the richer servant would not forgive – the 19 year old Sydna, who had chosen abortion
If God had forgiven my sin of abortion, He was requiring that I personally forgive the younger version of myself to realize His peace. It helped to know that younger Sydna no longer existed. Everything the former Sydna had been was extinguished with each step of maturity God brought to my life.
The bitterness and anger I was holding against the younger version of myself had developed into a “bitter root” that prohibited any harmony in my life. Forgiveness was the only way to peace.
With a simple prayer, I asked God for help to forgive the woman I had been when I made that choice. Over several days, through Scripture, prayer and encouragement from others, I was able to end the war in my heart and release myself from that prison of regret.
With the depth of this sin removed from my heart, God gave me a deep peace and a job to help other women considering abortion. Since 1991, I believe I’ve spoken to more post-abortive individuals than anyone else on Earth, offering the same hope of God’s healing. Second generations of families are enjoying life because God helped me share my abortion regret with mothers considering abortion. Being involved in ending abortion helped my heart as well!
Ending abortion, one life at a time, is something we can all do. Please offer the same compassion to post-abortive listeners whenever your discuss defunding Planned Parenthood or the Center for Medical Progress video exposés. Speak to us directly, offering us the hope of God’s healing, even after abortion. Always have a local pregnancy center’s information available so you can refer to their abortion recovery program visit:(https://ramahinternational.org/help-in-your-area/)!
I’m glad God is in the business of forgiving each of us, no matter what the sin!
Sydna Masse is President and Founder of Ramah International and the author of the book, Her Choice to Heal: Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion. Write to Sydna at [email protected].