Today’s post is written by the President and Founder of Deeper Still, Karen Ellison. Karen has a book that was just released called Healing the Hurt that Won’t Heal, Freedom for the Abortion-Wounded and Help for the Church They Fear.
“MAYBE YOU SHOULDN’T BE SO HARD ON YOURSELF.” These were the words I heard coming from the pastor I had just confessed my abortion to and to whom I had just poured out my heart. His response initially left me feeling stunned. I’m sure I had a puzzled look on my face. But within seconds, I could feel my soul shrinking back like a wave that recedes from the shore. I was expectant or hopeful that my desperate heart would receive some profound morsel that would have satisfied my hunger for relief. But what I got felt like a sip of sugar water.
It takes a lot of emotional willpower to pour out your story to a stranger. But when it’s a pastor, you have certain expectations that he will give you the words of life that your desperate soul needs to hear. Now, in this man’s defense, my mother and I had no relationship with this clergyman. Our shame-filled, abortion-wounded hearts would not dare seek out a spiritual shepherd that knew us or was invested in our spiritual health. We took the cowardly path of anonymity, hoping we would find the words of life we needed from a random man with a collar.
After he told me I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, he then said that the church (referring to his denomination) had not yet taken a position on abortion. The implication was that abortion is a gray area, so don’t jump to any self-condemning conclusions until we get this thing figured out. I was a 22-year-old heartbroken young lady, grieving and feeling as if I’d forfeited all the good things God had for me in life, but in that moment, I felt as if I should turn the table and be the one to minister to this pastor and help him understand what abortion really is and what it does to people. I believe he was a good and caring man. I believe he heard my story and was filled with compassion for me. And he in no way condemned me or tried to put any legalistic yoke upon me. But he also didn’t see my deepest need, nor did he — know how to speak to it. For me to hear that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself was like a man of God telling me that “the blood stain on your hands was really not that bad, and yes, you’ve been through something hard but you’re young and you have your whole life in front of you, so don’t fret; it’s going to be okay.”
So why didn’t those words satisfy? What did I need to hear from that shepherd that day? I believe I simply needed to hear and be convinced of this: that the blood shed by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross was sufficient to pay my debt and that His blood speaks louder than the blood of my children that cries out from the ground. It’s that truth that will lift the yoke of bondage, set the captive free, and will breathe new life into a deflated soul. Receiving that truth would not have been the end of my healing journey, but it certainly would have been a beginning.
If you are a pastor, my hope is that you will take encouragement in this: Your influence, both through your teachings and through the corporate intercession of your leadership, will make a difference in the decisions people make, even if it’s without your knowledge. You and your leaders can create a safe environment for your lambs to be rescued from the thicket if you bring forth the hard truth about abortion and couple it with your shepherding heart of love, mercy, and grace.
A pastor has the influence to affirm this new season of healing, wholeness, and integration into the body. I cannot overstate how significant a pastor’s invitation and affirmation will be in this person’s life as they find their place in the body.
I fully acknowledge that you have a tough job. You want to speak the truth in love, but it’s hard to know how to do that when, statistically speaking, maybe a third of the women and men in your congregations have been involved with abortion in one way or another. Because no matter how lovingly and grace-filled you try to address the subject of abortion, the truth is that many cannot hear it. People with abortion-wounded hearts have a grid of condemnation and shame, and everything they hear about abortion gets filtered through that grid. And trust me, they are squirming in their seats even if they appear unphased on the outside. But here’s my encouragement—please don’t choose to avoid it because some may not yet receive your grace. You can expose that it’s the strongholds of shame and condemnation that keep them bound and unable to confess their sin and receive redemption and healing. When we’re wounded, we let those strongholds define how we hear the message of salvation, forgiveness, and deliverance. Sometimes just calling out the elephants in the room will cause those elephants to bow before the powerful name of Jesus Christ.
Would you be willing to ask your congregation to put away their own sense of taboo about talking about abortion and be committed to becoming a caring and healing community. These shifts will begin to change the atmosphere regarding abortion and the rules of the engagement so these men and women can find healing and freedom.
– Karen A. Ellison,
Healing the Hurt that Won’t Heal, Freedom for the Abortion-Wounded and Help for the Church they Fear (Click on to learn more or to order on Amazon.)
Lord, we pray for the church to be enlightened to the truth. We pray for those sitting in our congregations to find healing and freedom from abortion-wounds. Lord, help your people and bring freedom and healing to this abortion-wounded world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.