There are so many divisive issues in our society today: immigration, gun control, and abortion. And the list goes on. The one that really grips me is abortion. We get so caught up in the politics of the issues that it seems we forget about the real people caught in the middle and hurting. No matter what side of the “debate” you fall, there is one thing on which we can all agree—God calls us to love. Love those who have been hurt. Love those who are hurting. Just love one another.

For many years, I was so afraid that people would not be able to find it in their hearts to love me. Especially if they knew my secret: In 2001, I had chosen to have an abortion. Regardless of the various factors that influenced my decision and whether you think my reasons were good or bad, ultimately, I was hurting for many years after.

I pasted on a fake smile. After all, I was the first in my family to finish college. A couple years later, I met the man I would marry, went to graduate school, and became pregnant and welcomed a beautiful baby into our family.

Outwardly, I had it all together. But truthfully, I felt abandoned. I felt ashamed. Inside, I wallowed in loneliness, regret, and cover-up. I felt unlovable. Not only did I not love myself, I was not really loving others either.

I didn’t realize it for almost fifteen years, but my decision to have an abortion greatly impacted me and indirectly impacted those around me. The lie I had believed—that once it was over I’d never have to think about it again—failed me. While I carried on with my life, I was not living. I was barely surviving.

Throughout the years that followed, I just couldn’t hold it in. Though I’d told myself no one would ever know my secret, I did share it with a couple of people—but more out of duress than relief. I’d had some precious, private moments with God. And He had tenderly let me know that He’d heard my cries.

And though I had spoken to a counselor and a pastor and I knew God had forgiven me, the pain wouldn’t leave me. I didn’t know how to let it go. So, I tried as hard as I could not to think about it. Bury it. That didn’t work either. Why not? I’d confessed it. I was contrite. I had asked for God’s forgiveness, and I knew that He’d granted it to me. So, why was I still in misery? It confounded me.

Just when I thought I’d have to live a life of cover-up and pain forever, as if it was what I deserved after what I had done, I found Chase Oaks Church just at the right time. God knows what he’s doing!

I started attending Chase Oaks in 2014 and got plugged into a LifeGroup—the year before my marriage completely unraveled. 2015 caught me in a whirlwind, and somehow, I just gave it all to God.

Really, I think He just picked me up and carried me through it because there is no other explanation. It was one moment at a time. I was done striving so hard to maintain that perfect exterior. My walls were crashing down, and that was ok with me. I couldn’t hold them up anymore.

But it was also during this time that I began learning, for the first time in my life (even though it was far from my first time in church), what God actually says about sin, forgiveness, and His call to love one another. It was as if the Bible had always been preached to me in Greek, and now, it was in English!

Looking back on it from the other side, I am so thankful for this time in my life. My LifeGroup ladies supported me at every turn. I learned about the importance of doing life together. I was learning about being authentic and how to come to God and others just as I was. But God wasn’t finished. He was (and is still) working to fully transform me.

I began attending ReNew, Chase Oaks’ recovery ministry, for healing from my marriage and subsequent divorce. Through this process of restoration and transformation, I realized I had more issues than just “divorce.” If I was going to live into God’s purpose for my life and one day make a difference, I needed to address the part of my story that remained locked away in private—my abortion.

I still remember the first time I heard a woman proclaim, out loud, that she had had an abortion. It shocked me! I mean, we were in a very small, closed group of women and it was a safe space—but still! My heart stopped. How could she just blurt something like that out? How could she say the word out loud? That word. She had gone through abortion recovery. I knew God was tapping me on the shoulder.

In 2016, I had the opportunity to attend an abortion recovery Bible study held at Chase Oaks Church’s community partner, Real Options for Women (now known as Real Options to reflect that they also help men). I honestly didn’t think that I really needed it. I was still attending ReNew and had been through lots of therapy. But God was persistent. And the idea of abortion recovery became something I couldn’t ignore.

It changed my life. Now, I am the woman “blurting” it out—I have had an abortion. And you know what, God is using it and my story to help unlock the chains that bind many other women. I am forgiven, and I have been set free.

And that is the name of Chase Oaks Church’s new abortion recovery ministry—Forgiven and Set Free. A group of women who have abortion as part of their stories and I are committed to helping post-abortive women at Chase Oaks receive the healing that is waiting for them.

Our 12-week pilot is launching on Thursday, January 31. Many people at Chase Oaks Church are praying for women to take the bold, courageous step toward the love we want to share with women who are hurting from a past abortion. You are lovable.

Please do not wait any longer. To find out how love, grace, and forgiveness can become a part of your story, email us at . All inquiries are kept private. A pre-registration conversation with one of the leaders is required before joining the January class. We are eagerly waiting to hear from you! It has been long enough. Step into God’s abundance of grace, hope, and love. It’s time for you to experience how it feels to be Forgiven and Set Free.