Shortly after my abortion I got an email from the Women’s Ministry at The Austin Stone. Feeling broken and spiritually defeated, I nearly deleted it. As I read, I learned it was an invitation for women who had experienced abortion to join Forgiven & Set Free. I was immediately overwhelmed with emotion. I had never received an email of this nature before and did not know studies like this existed. The timing felt divine. The email included a video of a woman sharing her abortion story. She had an abortion when she was young, prior to becoming a Christian. I wanted desperately to join the study. I wanted to find healing and community like the email suggested, but the thought of admitting to other women that I had experienced an abortion while I was a Christian was terrifying. I assumed the other participants would be like the woman in the video – having an abortion before becoming a Christian. It seemed like grace and forgiveness were readily available to them, but not to me. I was afraid of judgment and the perception that if I had an abortion while a Christian, could I really call myself a follower of Jesus? It felt like my choice could not coexist with my faith.
Forgiven & Set Free took me through an in-depth study of scripture that helped me realign my beliefs with what Jesus says about my sin, my shame, my humanity, and my faith. Walking into this class, I didn’t believe I could accept God’s forgiveness, or that it was honoring to God to forgive myself. I thought justice looked like writhing in guilt and shame endlessly. How God changed my heart! He used each woman’s unique story to foster connection and community. God’s ultimate freedom and forgiveness were found by the willingness to bring to light one of the darkest and shame ridden moments of my life.
As Sanctity of Life Sunday approaches, I don’t feel the anxiety and shame like I did before. It used to be too painful to think about my abortion within this context. It was easier to focus on myself and not the loss of my child’s life. God’s healing has brought peace, and my decision to have an abortion is now able to co-exist with my belief in the sanctity of human life. Please consider Forgiven & Set Free if you’ve experienced an abortion. No matter the circumstances - know that hope, healing, and freedom are readily available to you.
Sign up for Forgiven & Set free here.
Listen to another story from two Forgiven & Set Free participants here.
Read our Sanctity of Life paper here.