Loving the Wounded

The grief and trauma of abortion surrounds us daily—one out of every three women in the United States has experienced an abortion, and some have experienced repeat abortions. According to the British Journal of Psychiatry, “Women who have undergone an abortion experience 81% increased risk of mental health problems and nearly 10% of the incidence of mental health problems was shown to be attributable to abortion.”

The great calling for Christians is to bring the presence of Christ to those with wounded hearts. How glorious it is to help women and men speak the unspeakable and voice what they have locked inside for, sometimes, a very long time. This expressing of what feels like the inexpressible is a holy calling—one that is to be handled tenderly with the voice, hands, and heart of Christ.

Unfortunately, many Christians don’t know how to help their friends, brothers, and sisters in Christ speak of their traumatic wounds from abortion. Unfortunately, you may share the wounding of post-abortion trauma but just don’t understand the complexity of this issue that is often riddled with grief and shame. Too often we avoid the issue altogether or just skim over it. Yet, the wounded ones who suffer from grief and trauma haven’t skimmed over their pain—they may feel and experience the agony every day. They may have been devastated in ways they don’t even know. Christians, in order to love well, must understand this issue or they can unintentionally hurt a friend. If not attended to, the wounded may live with the devastation of abortion their whole lives.

There is a natural reluctance to face our abortions. And unfortunately it’s easy to be squeamish when looking at the devastation of our abortion wounds. However, if we deny this devastation, we deny the finished work of our Savior and do not reach complete restoration. Instead, we just pretend that everything is fine when, in fact, something is very wrong. We may feel a dull ache or haunting memories that are played out in bad dreams or troubling thoughts that plague us through the day. Hiding the past always involves denial; denial of the past is always a denial of God. To forget your personal history is tantamount to trying to forget yourself and the journey that God has called you to live.

Forbidden word, forbidden pain

A few years ago I was talking with a group of women and I began to speak on the topic of abortion. The room was filled with strong emotion as several women began to also share their abortion experiences. One woman shared her grief over having two abortions and then not being able to have children after that. Another woman quickly dismissed her grief as she told us that she had experienced three abortions while being a youth counselor at a prominent church. She said, “I know I’m forgiven by God, and I don’t really need to talk about it.”

I shared with her that I, too, had experienced the forgiveness of God, but what was hardest for me was to experience the forgiveness of my children for taking their little lives. At first she was silent, and then she said painfully, “I’m not going there… that hurts too much… I think we need to change the subject now.”

My heart grieved for her and others like her who are afraid to take off their emotional band-aids because, underneath, there could be deep pockets of grief, shame, anger, and regret. It is easy to cover up with superficial statements that reinforce the social perception that abortion is “no big deal.” But the truth is that abortion is a complex and private experience that really doesn’t lend itself to casual conversation.

One of the goals of the series “Into My Arms” is to let women know that there are people who love them and want to let them vent those deep emotions that may have been off-limits in the past. Victims of sexual abuse or sufferers of emotional trauma due to abortion benefit from therapy such as that offered at Transformations Treatment Center, right here in Delray Beach, Florida. At TTC, women join with others who have had similar experiences, in an understanding and sympathetic environment. This can make a huge difference in their emotional recovery.

It is easy after the pain of an abortion to lose heart and live in survival mode because it just hurts too much to live from the heart. God has something better for you. He wants us to hear his call as we join him in the dance of life.

“A cry of anguish is heard in Ramah—weeping and mourning unrestrained. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted—for they are dead” (Matthew 2:18 NLT).

As I shared my deep sorrow for my past two abortions for the first time, I wept deeply not only for myself but also for others who had walked through similar experiences. I realize now that the suffering of the world has worked its way deeply inside of me. I never knew that sorrow could be like this. Now, years later I realize that on the other side of that deep sorrow is abiding, overflowing joy. I have come to realize that our God is not only the God of suffering people but the God who also suffers with us and for us.

I honestly thank God for the valley of suffering, because it is in the despair and bitterness that character is made.

We must weigh this price of discipleship. Some consider it too messy, too inconvenient and too excessive. But once we have been given a drop of the mercy and love of our Lord, we begin to realize that no price is too great; nothing too messy. Once we acknowledge that love and mercy are the most powerful forces on earth, we become unstoppable vessels of our Lord. My greatest desire is to be a wounded healer.

Transformations Treatment Center of Delray Beach implements Julie’s programs “In the Wildflowers” for those healing from the trauma of sexual abuse and “Into My Arms” to help those healing from the trauma of abortion. Help is just a phone call away. Call for more information: 866-211-5538.
Julie Woodley will be training and helping those that suffer from post-abortion trauma. Please go on her website to find out more: restoringtheheartministries.com.

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