There’s something I need to talk to you about. This isn’t easy and I’m nervous. In the past these attempts have left me a little bruised, but lately I’ve been feeling this is too important of a conversation to just avoid because you are sometimes downright crazy when it’s brought up. You see, on Right to Life Sunday, the words you choose are usually laced with such venomous anger that I end up leaving with the skin around my heart singed, burned, and hanging in shreds. On Mother’s Day, when you take the time to acknowledge the women who have experienced miscarriages and tell them Jesus is near the brokenhearted, you usually forget to say anything about the dull ache in the pit of my own stomach. I pull out of the parking lot fighting back hot, salty tears until I get home. It’s difficult sometimes based on the way you speak to not feel like because I have had an abortion, I am somehow considered an enemy of yours, some anonymous monster of a woman that must be stopped at all costs.
We get it. We killed our kids. For whatever reason at the time we thought this was our only option. We don’t need to be reminded how awful it was. We were there. We got undressed. We heard the machine. We felt the pain as more than just our dignity was ripped from us. We sat woozily in a recovery room surrounded with many others who were making the biggest mistake of their lives, aware that eating the pretzels wouldn’t actually make us feel better.
We walked out and saw your signs that said, “Mommy, don’t kill me”. Some of us saw the pictures you shoved in our faces of what our children looked like dismembered, dead, and gone. We went home that night, yes, with some sense of relief, but mostly filled with contempt for ourselves. As the days went on, for all of us, it became harder and harder to fight off the despair, the shame, the guilt. And then, the nightmares began. Depression became a familiar fog, a blanket shrouding over all our lives. Denial was the easiest way to avoid the travesty of what one simple choice had taken from us. Suicidal thoughts lurked around every corner, threatening to overcome us. Self-injury didn’t seem like it was so terrible of an idea; at least we felt something.
Oh Church, how I wish you knew how many women come through your doors carrying the scars of motherhood denied. How I wish you were aware that statistically speaking, just as many evangelical Christians seek abortions as a way to hide their sin as do those who are not affiliated with any church. It’s not simply an issue of the poor, the uneducated, the left wing liberals, or the feminists. It’s an issue for all of us because chances are you sit next to one of us every Sunday.
While I don’t know if there’s an exact stance or formulaic response for the church to take in saving innocent childrens’ lives, I do have some inkling that it starts with grace for the women who are normally spoken of as murderers. How powerful would it be if the church became a place of healing for those who have already made the choice? What if instead of talking about how awful it is for so many babies to have been killed by their mothers, we shifted our concern to caring for these women? What would happen if we made sure those women knew Jesus’ overwhelming love, acceptance and forgiveness could cover yes, even this bloody, life altering sin?
Oh Church, I know it’s much easier to feel like we are doing our part by just always voting for Republicans and never supporting March of Dimes in the grocery store checkout line.
Believe me, I know that being committed to offering Jesus to women who’ve chosen abortion will involve sleepless nights, spaces where words aren’t enough, and more anguish than we are humanly wired to deal with.
But what if it was worth it?
What if reaching out to these broken women was the answer?
What would happen if, instead of speaking words that leave us feeling marginalized, abused and pushed aside, you empowered us to share our stories?
What would happen if, instead of failing to address us, you acknowledged that ours is a unique pain that doesn’t have to be dealt with in secret?
What if you focused on making sure we knew the freedom that forgiveness brings and then taught us how to be a part in offering that freedom to others?
I’d like to think if we did this, Church, we could save lives. Not because we passed out flyers, or because we gave our donations to the pro-life clinics, but because we acted like Jesus, who comes to stand in the broken places, and promises us that nothing we have done or are doing or will do can separate us from His love.
An anonymous pew mate