It’s our human inclination to hold a grudge…keeping it tightly guarded so that at the appropriate time, we can brandish it as a reminder to all parties of how badly we’ve been hurt. Let’s face it: it’s much easier to keep a tight grip on our unforgiveness than it is to cede our “right” to be offended.
If you’ve had an abortion, then you may be grappling with the burden of unforgiveness in your own life. I know this is true because at Human Coalition, we’ve heard from countless post-abortive individuals who call our contact center, visit one of our participating life-affirming pregnancy centers, or meet with caregivers at one of our five women’s care clinics.
These are women and men who carry the burden of guilt and pain from an abortion. Amazingly, many clients who visit one of our women’s care clinics have also watched sisters, mothers, and aunts abort their family members. Every aborted life leaves a family tree with a gaping hole, and the subsequent pain often descends through multiple generations.
The caregivers at our women’s care clinics meet regularly with men and women who suffer from post-abortion trauma. Whether they were pressured by their parents or their partner to abort (which is true for roughly 70 percent of the clients we’ve talked to), they now live with the shame, grief, and regret of having ended their child’s life. And these negative emotions are further compounded by the hurt and betrayal they feel toward whomever imposed the abortion decision upon them.
At Human Coalition, many of our staff members are post-abortive. And one common theme runs among them all: the driving need for forgiveness—not only of themselves, but also the people who were complicit in their abortion.
If you’ve journeyed with Human Coalition for any length of time, then you’ve most likely been introduced to Jeff Bradford, Vice President of Development. He and his wife Tricia aborted their child over 20 years ago, just three months before their wedding day. For almost two decades, they discussed neither their child, nor what happened that day. But like any traumatic event, it still percolated beneath the surface and eventually erupted, nearly tearing their marriage apart.
After much professional counseling and by the grace of God, Jeff and Tricia were finally able to forgive and be forgiven for the abortion of their daughter Sarah. But they will be the first to admit that forgiveness did not come easily. While they’ve gone on to have four beautiful children who are their joy and delight, someone will always be missing from their family.
I came across this quote recently, and I think it perfectly illustrates the reality of forgiving those who’ve offended us:
Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness. —Marianne WilliamsonForgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness. —Marianne Williamson Click To Tweet
It’s true. If you want to find peace in the midst of your post-abortion trauma; if you want to heal relationships that were severed by a past abortion; if you want to help strengthen marriages, churches, and communities that are wrought with the scourge of abortion, then you must take the first step toward forgiveness.
So what does that look like? Obviously, it isn’t something that comes easily, as Jeff and Tricia can testify. But here are a few practical steps you can take toward making forgiveness a reality in your life:
- Seek out a life-affirming pregnancy center that offers post-abortion counseling. At the three women’s care clinics owned and operated by Human Coalition, we offer post-abortion peer counseling, which is part of the holistic care we provide to women and men to help them overcome the aftermath of abortion.
- Call on your church to begin a post-abortion ministry. It’s estimated that between 25 percent and 33 percent of the women in our churches are post-abortive. Due to the shame and stigma associated with abortion, these congregants secretly carry their grief, which prevents them from enjoying true fellowship with God and other Christians. The Church is key to ending abortion in America, and it begins by providing for those who struggle in the shadow of a past abortion.
- Visit AbortionMemorial.com and share your story with others, or post a memorial to your child. This site, created by Human Coalition, is a safe place to acknowledge your post-abortive pain and begin taking the first steps toward healing.
- Volunteer, Give, and Pray. Human Coalition is committed to helping those who struggle with post-abortion trauma. Through our women’s care clinics in Grapevine, Raleigh, and Pittsburgh, as well as our participating life-affirming pregnancy centers across the nation, we desire to walk with post-abortive men and women, and guide them to a place of healing and forgiveness.
On June 26, begin the conversation that leads to forgiveness. Share this article with someone who needs to hear the words, “You are forgiven.” And then visit HumanCoalition.org/get-involved/ to discover how you can take the next steps to ensure that future generations never have to struggle through the pain of post-abortion trauma.
Forgiveness is never about the other parti, it is always about the individual. An action no matter how bad or how long ago must be forgiven for the well-being and health of the individual. Unforgiveness is like a cancer that is untreated. It will fester within us, it will affect… Read more »
Thank you for the work that you do here. As horrible as abortion is for the child- to be the survivor, the instigator of the death, must be something very traumatic to live with. I have known women who have had an abortion and it haunts them from the time… Read more »
Thanks, Liz. Great points.
I loved this article. I have worked with Piedmont Women’s Center for 25 years facilitating and developing leadership materials that supports Linda Cochrane’s Abortion recovery Bible studies. You are right forgiveness is key. I would love to connect with your ministry in some way. Jeannie Stoner Ex-director AbortionRecoveryAssistance Piedmont Women’s… Read more »
Jeannie – thanks for doing such great work! You might consider reaching out to Frances Peters in our office. She works with our church team and connects with various abortion recovery groups. You can reach her at [email protected]. Thanks!
Thank you I was blessed by this today. I am a pro-life worker ..so I needed to hear this today.. Also I struggle with people who say they are christians.. make pro-abortion statements. I acturally melted down to a man who was just talking favorable about pro-abortion H..I yelled..no..we can… Read more »
Very enlightening. I am post abortive (36 years. Mine was hidden from my mind for 20 years and began to come to my consciousness through deep depression and sorrow. The last 16 years have been very difficult. I went through my 2nd recovery program in Feb. 2015. During this time… Read more »
How do you handle the subject of seeking God’s forgiveness?
Luanna – can you clarify or expand on your question please?
It is unfortunate that in this pro-abortion mentality era, women aren’t given the correct counseling BEFORE the fact. So many fewer babies would not be aborted if this was done. My heart hurts for those who have realized what they have lost, but after the fact. Actually, I feel even… Read more »
Forgiving yourself seems to be the hardest and most painful even with the knowledge that I am forgiven by God.
I would like to offer free pro-life counseling to anyone considering abortion or recovering from abortion.
Patricia Murphy, LCSW (licensed in IL, living in Oceanside, CA)
Although I have never had an abortion or physically lost a child, I’ve lost an adult child (and grandchildren thru unforgiveness). A mere misunderstanding can be debilitating when unforgivesness takes center stage. So I deeply understand the cause and effect of unforgiveness. Let ys remember that it is very important… Read more »
Thank you for sharing, Sheila. Powerful testimony.
I don’t disagree with your article, but there are some scriptures that need to be honored in true forgiveness ( Mark 2:7; Luke 17:3; 1 John 1:9).
Thanks, Brian. Lord be with all who suffer from this guilt. I pray. Joan