This January, all across our Nation, people in the pews will celebrate Sanctity of Human Life Week culminating on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Many of us will hear sermons on Psalm 139. We’ll learn how God lovingly knit us together in our mother’s womb, how He has a plan for our lives—a GOOD plan. But will we see the woman sitting next to us who is grieving her abortion that day?
We might miss the signs of her grief because we don’t know about her past—she doesn’t talk about it.
Because she doesn’t know how we’ll react. She doesn’t know if she can trust us with her secret. She doesn’t know if we’re safe.
Statistics show that as many as four in ten women have experienced one or more abortions. The next time you’re in a large group of women look around and let that statistic wash over you. Our churches, women’s organizations, PTA’s, salons and spas, and gyms are FULL of women who are hurting from an abortion, suffering in silence because they’re afraid if they tell us, we won’t understand.
Do we understand?
There was a time when I really didn’t. I said things like, “I don’t get how a woman could ever have an abortion.” Or, “It’s a child, not a choice.” What I didn’t understand was that in all our efforts as a society to make sure women have a choice, what we’ve done is make them feel they have no other choice. I know now, after having served in crisis pregnancy ministry off and on for almost 20 years, that most women faced with an unplanned pregnancy don’t want to have an abortion. They just don’t feel there’s another option.
A woman’s choice to have an abortion affects every part of her being, but the good news is that the choice to abort is not outside of God’s ability to forgive and heal. The bad news is that many times the way we talk about this option—like it or not—makes the woman sitting next to us in the pew who desperately needs to heal feel we’re unworthy of her trust.
And if she doesn’t trust us, how can we help her?
Here are a few ways you can help her feel safe.
1. Lay down stereotypes
Go through the counselor training at your local crisis pregnancy center and learn more about who she really is. You might be surprised to know that the stereotypes don’t always fit. Your child’s PTA President is just as likely to have chosen abortion as the mom on welfare in the inner city. I spent years studying for a masters degree in counseling, yet found some of the most practical application of the Gospel—how to love those who are hurting with a message of hope—in these amazing centers.
2, Don’t use loaded words.
Murder is a word that gets thrown around all too often when we talk about abortion. And while it might be true, saying it in mixed company might be all the post-abortive woman in your group needs to hear to know you’re not safe. Always look at the crowd you’re in and think, “she could be here. How can I help her know I care?”
3. Get rid of black and white thinking.
I freely admit that I’m a black and white thinker by nature. I have to work hard to see the grey in the world. But after working with women in unplanned pregnancy for almost 20 years of my life now, I can truly say that I DO understand why a woman would choose abortion. I’m not saying I think it’s the right or even the best choice for her, but I get it. I’ve heard stories that would curl your toes. I’ve counseled women who would’ve been murdered for being pregnant outside of marriage, others who arrived at our doorstep black and blue—a “friendly” reminder from the father of the baby about what her choice had better be. Until you hear her story, you simply can’t know why she made the decision she did. Be open, and welcome her story.
Remember that left to yourself, apart from the work of God in your life, you could just as easily be the one with a story of abortion to tell. If you caught yourself saying, “I would NEVER have an abortion” as you read that last sentence, consider spending some time reflecting on the nature and definition of sin. The sin of abortion is no worse than the sin of gossip in the eyes of God. And the truth of the matter is that you can’t possibly know what you might’ve chosen if you were walking in her shoes.
5. Support your local crisis pregnancy center and the work they do bringing freedom, forgiveness, and healing to both post-abortive women and women in unplanned pregnancy.
I have found that some of the most dedicated, amazing, self-sacrificing people serve in these ministries. And yet, because the world generally opposes their position on life, they endure an incredible amount of opposition. CPCs are a compassionate response to the crisis of unplanned pregnancy. Be an ambassador for them, taking time to understand their positions and incredible free services so that when someone in your circle of influence needs their services, you can, with confidence, send them there. To find a CPC in your area, click here.
So many women in our world today need to know freedom and forgiveness from their choice to abort, and there’s no better place for them to come find it than in the body of Christ. Make yourself a safe haven for women in need by following the tips above.
TWO lucky winners will receive a copy of Brooke’s book, Gospel Centered Mom. Enter below!
Brooke McGlothlin is the President and Co-Founder of The MOB Society and the author of Gospel Centered Mom: The Freeing Truth About What Your Kids Really Need. Gospel Centered Mom has been called a “Come-To-Jesus” book for moms, encouraging them to embrace the truth that they are not enough for their kids, but serve the God who is.
Brooke is married to the man she’s had a crush on since the third grade, and together they’re raising two boys in the mountains of southwestern Virginia.