Did you spend any time looking at the captioned photo? Did it get your attention? What is that, a doll?
Yes, it’s a doll. But it’s a doll that represents a real child.
Saturday, a woman entered the room pictured, strewn with bright pink flower petals, draped in sheer white, and filled with the spicy scent of softly flickering candles. As I shut the door behind her, I heard, “Oh Jesus,” and immediate sobs that followed.
You see, this lady had two abortions decades ago – over 30 years ago. After two months of devoting herself to a biblical study directly addressing the reality and aftermath of abortion, she intentionally acknowledged the lives and grieved the painful and ongoing loss of her children through a memorial service.
About a year ago, Charline* found herself searching for answers, going from doctor to doctor. She could barely walk or talk. And there was no explanation – at least no medical explanation. She took early retirement because of stroke-like symptoms that greatly affected her speech and mobility.
Finally, a doctor explained her debilitating physical symptoms were brought on by severe depression. What does a person do with such sad and seemingly hopeless news?
Charline soon found herself sitting in the lobby at a biblical counseling office filling out a questionnaire. “Have you ever had an abortion?” There was that question nestled among dozens. The others seemed like boring gray matter, but that one question hovered above the paper as a condemning verdict. How would she answer? She had always lied on the medical paperwork. She had always run from the memories, from any thoughts, feelings or conversation about abortion.
But she was desperate for some relief. Her hand slowly and deliberately moved toward the left column, her pen pressed into the page and left a squiggly blue checkmark. She had done it. She had marked “Yes.” There was no going back now.
What she found in the counseling room was an unusually kind man in his early 70’s. His eyes seemed to pierce hers as he listened intently to her every word, and she knew the years of lying had finally come to an end.
The hem of Jesus’ robe had become visible…reachable.
Within a matter of months, she was situated in a group of several other women who had experienced the same fate. Among many other physical ailments, Charline struggled with concentration. But she committed to do what she could to get through each of the eight weeks of daily work found within the pages of the Surrendering the Secret: Healing the Heartbreak of Abortion bible study.
Over the course of the study, Charline has committed to:
- Review her life and begin to recognize the fragmental effects of abortion that have spread like shrapnel.
- Journal and share the details of her abortion story in a confidential setting with other women in the group.
- Honestly face the reality of what abortion is. Leave behind denial and self-justification and begin to walk in truth.
- Allow herself to express and feel anger toward those who directly or indirectly participated in the abortions.
- Give and receive forgiveness.
- Exchange unhealthy pain and sorrow for healthy grief, hope and healing.
- Celebrate God’s gift of life while personally acknowledging loss in the light of God’s grace, mercy and salvation.
- Begin to share her journey of healing, whether in private one-on-one settings or in public.
Before going through the Surrendering the Secret study myself years ago I thought I was healed. I was wrong. The Lord had taken me on a very personal journey of healing, but honestly I didn’t know I was lacking the gift of mourning – a necessary component when life is lost.
For over six years, I’ve been facilitating this study and I’ve literally watched countless miracles happen in front of my eyes – women transformed, set free from prisons of shame, guilt and unforgiveness. Charline has been a beautiful example.
Since completing the study, Charline’s stroke-like symptoms haven’t completely disappeared, but she has experienced a great deal of ongoing physical healing since she first made that confession in the counseling center lobby that day.
Something has happened. Something has changed. A woman who couldn’t freely speak or move about has been loosed. She is smiling, she is able to hold a conversation, to walk and move about without assistance. And within a couple of weeks, she will be courageously standing in front of a church family sharing her story.
A woman who was unable to speak has been turned into a mouthpiece for God’s glory. Jesus has set a prisoner free. She is overcoming by the blood of Lamb and by the word of her testimony (Revelation 12:11 NKJV).
Though many women are talking and walking around, on the inside they look just like Charline did on the outside. If that is you, Jesus, the great physician, can do the same for you. You can be free.
*Not her real name