Living in Color: The Goal of Post-Abortion Recovery
In this blog, Ramah is reviewing an abortion recovery program called Living in Color, by Jenny McDermid. Since I have published my own abortion recovery program, I typically do not review any other resources personally. To do so might indicate a bias on my part. Instead, I ask one of my team of dedicated leaders, that I’ve known for years, to give me their personal perspective on various resources.
Each Ramah reviewer will remain anonymous due to their inability to respond to the numerous responses that typically result with Ramah’s posts. If you agree or disagree with their perspectives, please feel free to write to me directly. I will pass along your thoughts to the particular author of the review and allow them to respond if they wish.
Sydna Massé, President & Founder, Ramah International
I find it an honor to present my insights on the new abortion recovery program called, Living in Color, written by Jenny McDermid (Published by: Createspace, 2010). Our center reviewed this program when it was first published, as we do with all new resources introduced by CareNet or Heartbeat International. This document simply contains my notes from that initial perusal.
First let me address the fact that many people “review” resources. When I’ve asked about the “reviewing process” at other centers, their evaluation process has simply been to skim the table of contents or a couple of chapters. Most feel that if a national organization backs the resource enough to recommend it, it must be appropriate for use at their center.
My review of any resource we are considering involves my personal reading of the resource. Then at least one other leader will do the same. We will work through the resource over a matter of several weeks. Whether we approve or question the resource, it then goes to at least one other leader for the same process. Three people went through the Living in Color program so the remaining part of this document includes our joint conclusions.
Please know that I take this review process very seriously. I believe God has placed us in a position of leadership where we are responsible for the information disseminated just as a teacher is held responsible for his teachings.
In looking over my notes from my initial review of this resource, I discovered a number of pages on the Living in Color study turned down. Typically, this is my way of outlining things I liked about the program. When I reviewed these pages with one of our leaders, she made the comment, “Everything you’ve liked is a quote from another source!” I looked them over and that indeed was the case!
My first perspective in this review was that the very first Scripture passage in the resource appears on page 46, toward the end of the third chapter. There are two verses quoted – Psalm 32:5 and Isaiah 1:18. The entire resource is 177 pages.
I am concerned with the delay of introducing God’s word to these wounded hearts. If we’re basing our ministry on Scripture, forty-six pages is a long time to wait before introducing the possibility of a spiritual component to the healing process. I need our groups to be based upon the healing power of Scripture and Christ, even when working with the unsaved heart. There is no need to delay so long in referring to God’s word.
My next major point is about how this study addresses the emotion of anger. On page 71 of Living in Color, it reads:
“A significant part of keeping anger in check involves separating our physical arousal from our emotional arousal. Feelings always underlie anger, but before we can calm down enough to examine our hearts, we must find ways to use up the surge of energy. Healthy options may include physical activities such as running or taking part in an acceptably aggressive sport such (sic) squash or an hour at the golf driving range. Using a punching bag or pillow, playing a musical instrument loudly, breathing deeply, or even finding a secluded place to shout or scream can also release energy.”
I believe that feelings certainly do underlie anger. However, many women have absolutely no idea that their anger is related to their abortion experience. One of the greatest gifts is to help a woman understand the source of her anger and to assist her in diffusing it forever.
At another level, sometimes the way I know if something is “off” is by the physical arousal it produces in my heart. If I totally defuse the emotion, then I may just go merrily on my way without ever looking at the emotional side of the feeling. That means nothing has been resolved in my heart and the emotion will come again and again, like a wave on a shoreline.
Dr. Linda Mintle, author of the book, Breaking Free from Anger & Unforgiveness: A Biblical Strategy to Conquer Destructive Reactions, had a great commentary on Living in Color’s method for diffusing anger. She states,
“What about Proverbs 29:11 – A fool gives full vent to anger, but a wise person quietly holds it back.” The beating on the couch methods we used in the past just redirected the anger rather than actually finding its source.”
It is our goal in abortion recovery to connect the anger to its source. Typically, post abortive women are masters at denial and avoidance. Therefore it is important that anger is addressed directly. We do not want to continue to encourage the avoidance of any emotion, particularly anger.
In discussing abortion “triggers” on page 82, the author of Living in Color writes:
“#5. The previous notes on triggers suggest strategies for defusing a trigger reaction: ignore, confront, distract, redirect, calm, place, and record.”
One of her suggestions to diffuse a trigger is to, “Choose a tune to whistle, hum, or sing that gives you a feeling of confidence and strength.”
The suggestion of whistling a tune particularly discourages me. Our confidence and strength must come from a lasting source – God. Once again, the goal of the study seems to be to attempt to redirect and move away from the emotion. It almost seems like the author believes individuals might cower in fear from the anger or trigger.
Our experience in abortion recovery work has shown us that when triggers are confronted and treated with the truth of God’s word, they can provide valuable information to the woman’s soul and lead to healing. There are methods that can be beneficial and may help us understand or “see” our anger, but healing will always come through God’s word.
Finally, on page 86 under “Anniversary Action Plan,” the author writes about things one can do when an anniversary date arrives:
“Morning: Focus on your child. Pray as you invite your child into your consciousness . . .
Afternoon: Commit to living the life that you child would want for you.”
My goal for our clients is that they live the life Christ has designed for each of them. My aborted children, just like my living children, are certainly part of who I am and have shaped my life. However, the ultimate director of my life is God. I commit myself to living the life that God would want for me — not the life that my children would want for me or anyone else.
There certainly is some truth presented in Living in Color. However, a measure of truth with inaccurate information is still troubling and can cause further damage to the wounded heart. Think of it like a brownie that has a tiny bit of salmonella included in the recipe. Would you eat that brownie if you knew about that extra ingredient? I wouldn’t. So we have made the decision NOT to use this program at our center.