“There is no sin that God can’t forgive – even abortion,” Dr. James Dobson outlined during my first day working at Focus on the Family in October of 1991. “The problem may be you don’t forgive yourself, and you may need help.”
His simple point was amazingly accurate in my heart. No one had ever spoken to me directly as a post-abortive person. Dr. Dobson’s voice had deep compassion when he outlined the exact point of pain in my heart. He gave me an amazing gift of understanding. If I knew what was wrong, perhaps there was a path to recovering from the weight of my sin of abortion.
At that point, over a decade had passed since my child’s death. I had worked through forgiving my former boyfriend who forced my abortion decision, the college that would have expelled me as pregnant, others who thought abortion was a good idea in my situation. I even forgave people indirectly involved that were no longer alive!
Forgiving myself simply seemed impossible and wrong. I felt that I deserved the worst in life because I had allowed my child to die.
While I certainly could blame others for encouraging my abortion choice, I had walked into that clinic of my own free will. Therefore. I was ultimately responsible for my child’s death. In going against my female “genetic code” to protect my “young” at all costs, there was a huge fine to pay in regret. A decade was a long time to carry that weight.
Then I discovered a pamphlet that outlined the symptoms of Abortion PTSD (also called “post-abortion syndrome” or PAS). The list documented my regret perfectly – depression, suicidal tendencies, difficultly bonding with future children, anniversary syndrome, grief, anger, etc.
As God lifted the curtains from my eyes regarding this past choice, Scripture outlined His grace, mercy and forgiveness regarding ANY sin. My abortion seemed to not fit any biblical criteria, however. I felt like I was the worst of sinners, deserving any pain I encountered for sacrificing my child on the altar of “choice.”
As stated before in module 1, spiritually sensitive post-abortive individuals often view their choice to abort as unforgivable in the eyes of God. Post-abortive people are often brutally hard on themselves for participating in their own child’s death. Few realize that regardless of the sin, it isn’t in God’s character to hold our sins against us. He wants to forgive and heal our hearts and cleanse us from all the junk that surrounds us.
Many post-abortive people pursue self-punishing behaviors like drugs and promiscuity as a result of the internal self-loathing after abortion. It is easy to embrace a false belief that we deserve the worst in life for ending our child’s time on Earth. Post-abortive people are our own worst enemies.
When I gave birth seven years after my abortion, I had no concept of motherly love. Holding and caring for my tiny son ushered in the understanding of what I had lost in making that choice.
As I’ve shared already, during my own abortion recovery program, God used the parable of the Unmerciful Servant found in Matthew 18:21-35 NIV to help me forgive myself. Read that passage now before continuing.
My abortion recovery leader asked me to view myself in two distinct ways:
- As the richer servant whom the King forgave – the current Sydna whom God had just forgiven the debt of abortion
- As the second servant whom the richer servant would not forgive – the 19 year old version of Sydna who had chosen abortion
If God had forgiven my sin of abortion, He was requiring that I personally forgive the younger version of myself to realize His peace. It helped to realize that younger Sydna no longer existed. Everything the former Sydna had been was extinguished with each step of maturity God brought to my life.
The bitterness and anger I was holding against the younger version of myself had developed into a “bitter root” that prohibited any harmony in my life. Forgiveness was the only way to peace.
With a simple prayer, I asked God for help to forgive the woman I had been when I made that choice. Over several days, through Scripture, prayer and encouragement from others, I was able to end the war in my heart and release myself from that prison of regret.
The results have been amazing. With the depth of this sin removed from my heart, God gave me a deep peace and a job to help other women considering abortion. Second generations of families are enjoying life because God helped me share my abortion regret with mothers considering abortion.
Even if none of that had taken place, I was certainly a better wife, mother, friend, etc. It was worth the time seeking God’s healing because it restored my soul to forgive the younger Sydna. I’m glad God is in the business of forgiving each of us, no matter what the sin!
Take a moment to journal any negative thoughts you may have towards the younger version of yourself that made that choice. You may even want to write a letter to her, despite the fact that she no longer exists. It will help you pour out any remaining emotions that might be directed towards your own heart.