As I often share, being transparent can free your soul (read Part 1 HERE). Your shame can also be your testimony. And, as hard as telling others may be, when we learn to face the truth, it’s our hard stories that lead others to real freedom.
It was a story I did not want to tell. But as Sanctity of Life Sunday approached, my pastor asked me to share my story I had kept secret for many years with the church—my abortion story. And while I understood this message could help other women find forgiveness, I also knew it meant I’d have to face the truth and tell my kids—something I dreaded.
My kids were ages ten, seven, and five. Although I was their mom, I thought they’d hate me when they knew the truth. After all, just how do you tell your kids they’d have another brother or sister if it weren’t for their mom’s bad decision?
John and I prayed about how to tell our children. We knew that although they’d heard the word abortion before, they most likely didn’t understand what it was. Since they were still young, they didn’t need to know the details. We also wanted them to know why many women terminate their pregnancies—because of fear, worry, or pressure from other people.
A few days later, my husband and I explained to our kids that abortion meant a woman did not want to be pregnant and had an operation to end the life of her baby. I could tell from my kids’ faces they were horrified. John shared why a woman might do this, and they expressed sadness for those women. Then, with tears in my eyes, I told them my story.
When Sin is Allowed to Grow
With a shaky voice, I explained that when I was in high school, I had become pregnant. I said that when I visited a clinic, the workers told me it really wasn’t a baby yet and that everything would be better if I had the procedure. I told my kids that I had always wanted to be a mom, but I was afraid of having a baby as a fifteen-year-old. I was worried about what people would think.
I told my kids I wanted to believe what the clinic worker said was true because it seemed like an easy way out. So I ignored the nagging voice in my head that told me I was ending a life. After the abortion, I was heartbroken and numb. It took many years for the emotional pain to go away.
John and I also explained I had not been following Jesus, and that I had wanted things my own way. I read James 1:14–15 to my children: “But your own evil longings tempt you. They lead you on and drag you away. When they are allowed to grow, they give birth to sin. When sin has grown up, it gives birth to death” (NIRV). In this case, my sin led to the death of their brother or sister. My kids listened, and I could see the sadness on their faces.
Months after my abortion, I saw a woman wearing a Precious Feet pin on her sweater. When I commented about it, she told me that her pin represented the size of the feet of a ten-week-old fetus. I knew then that my baby had a body, feet, hands, and a beating heart. The reality of my decision became clear. Overwhelmed with guilt, I became self-destructive and made more bad decisions.
But when I was seventeen, I accepted Jesus. I realized I’d been making the wrong choices, and I asked God to do something with my life.
I told my kids I had asked Jesus to forgive me. I asked for their forgiveness, too, for ending the life of the sibling they’d never know on earth.
It only took a few seconds for three sets of arms to wrap around me. “It’s OK, Mom. We love you, and we forgive you!” they told me.
It was like a dam broke within my soul. For so long this secret had been swelling against the wall I had built. To share and face the truth and seeing they still loved me made my chest light and warm. Tears spilled as I held them in my arms. As a mom, the last people I wanted to disappoint were my kids.
Their hurt was evident, but their love was even greater.
Facing the Truth by Sharing the Story
Whenever my children brought up the subject, whether it was weeks, months, or even years later, we would talk about it. A few times they told me about friends who asked them about what I’d shared at church, and they were able to explain my story. Later, when I told my story to other groups, I shared with my kids how my story helped those who needed to know about Jesus’ forgiveness, too. We would talk about how God could use even the painful stuff in our lives to help others.
When my daughter was sixteen, she returned from a youth social gathering and told me that the subject of abortion came up.
“Mom, many of them said a woman should have a choice,” she reported, “but then I told them your story.”
My daughter had shared with her peers about my heartache and pain. “Many women do not know what they are choosing, and they suffer for years afterward,” she told them, “just like my mom.”
Originally, keeping my secret seemed like the right thing to do, but sharing my experience has allowed others, my children included, to better understand decisions and consequences—and the truth about pain, loss, and regret.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 ESV
Steps You Can Take:
1. Pray, pray pray.
2. Write down key points you want to make before you share your story
3. Be open to other opportunities to face the truth and share your story—and for others to share their stories with you.
God, thank you for your forgiveness and for your forgiveness exemplified in others. Please give me courage as I share my story, and give me a heart of understanding toward others and their stories.
These are some books I have written that might bless you as well:
Young people (and old) earn the importance of “scripting” their own responses BEFORE challenging life situations arise so they are able to think about, pray about, and consider how to face these situations before the scene begins. By contrasting real life with TV or movies, teens will understand they don’t have to get caught up in the drama.
My Life Unscripted