I’m a mom to three girls; two of which are still at home. They are 12 and 14 years old. Teenagers. You know what that means? I’m the dumbest person on the planet. In my forty years on this earth, I have accumulated zero knowledge about anything. I know nothing!
Some of you with little babies right now can’t imagine the ways in which your children are likely to turn on you one day. And some of you have already walked this road of parenting teenagers. Feel free to share some wisdom with me! And some of you are teenagers right now.
As the parent of teens, I’ve learned some things recently about brain development. Much like when they are toddlers, the teenage brain is growing rapidly. The prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain used for problem-solving and understanding consequences, doesn’t finish growing until teens are in their mid-20s!
That means that for most of us, until we are about 25 years old, we are more likely to figure out a way to survive the present than think about long-term consequences to our actions and decisions.
But this isn’t a blog about teenagers and brain development. I started by introducing myself to you as a mother of three girls. My first child is in heaven. Sadly, her life ended before she ever had a chance to live it.
When I was a teenager, I got a positive pregnancy test result just three weeks after high school graduation. College was on the horizon in the fall. I had plans, and they didn’t include having a baby right then.
My first thought was that I could just undo this. And I didn’t want to let my parents down. I acted quickly. I was going to take care of this myself, and it would be like it never happened. I had an abortion.
I found a way to survive the present without much thought to the consequences. It took about two weeks for me to realize it could never be like it never happened. Guilt, shame, and horrendous regret crept in.
Ironically, by trying to avoid the shame and disappointment that I was sure my family would feel towards me, I actually brought more shame and pain on myself than I ever imagined. I spent the next 21 years of my life hiding my secret. I was sure that if anyone ever found out what I’d done, horrible things would happen to me.
Statistics tell us that as many as 1 in 4 women have had an abortion. They also tell us that statistics don’t change when referring to women within the Church. If we apply that statistic to our attendee population at Chase Oaks Church, then it is possible that around 1,000 Chase Oaks women have experienced abortion. A thousand women that we interact with each week, that we serve and worship with, that we do life with, are keeping this secret in their hearts. That number doesn’t even include men that have gone through this as well.
I’m sharing my story with you for three reasons:
1. Transformation is possible.
I have been changed by a ministry that is for women who have experienced abortion. It is called Forgiven and Set Free. It is a safe place to heal after abortion.
Chase Oaks launched its first group this past spring. I was one of the first four women that signed up and completed a 13-week Bible study.
It may have been one of the single best decisions I’ve ever made for myself. But it wasn’t easy.
I reluctantly reached out to the leader of the ministry. I reluctantly agreed to come see what it was all about. As I walked up to the door that first night, I was more than nervous. I was still planning my exit strategy, actually.
But I kept coming back. And I should also mention I was far from a model participant! I emotionally armored up before each meeting. I wasn’t going to let these ladies get to me. After all, I already knew everything they were going to tell me. I knew I had messed up. I knew I had sinned. I went in expecting to be beat over the head with the Bible. I didn’t always do the homework, and I scoffed at some of the activities.
But somewhere along the way, something changed. I finally quit fighting the process. No one was beating me up. No one was telling me I had messed up. These women were all just like me. We all had some version of the same story. We could sit together and look each other in the eye and say, “Me, too. I know what it feels like. I know the pain you’ve been carrying around.”
One of the greatest healing opportunities about coming to this group was simply being in the same room with people that were like me. These were my people. This became my tribe. They understood me. And I understood them.
All of us took a vulnerable risk. We stepped out of our comfort zone and shared the hardest, deepest story in our hearts. And we found we weren’t alone!
When you keep something a secret for so long, you begin to believe the lie that you are the only one. That is just not true! That is exactly where Satan wants to keep you. Alone. Isolated.
There is a song by Matthew West called “Mercy Is a Song” that I discovered and clung to during this Bible study. I want to share these lyrics with you here:
“Guilty is a lie
Spoken by a thief
Saying after what you’ve done
You don’t deserve to be free
But I can look him in the eye
And say, ‘This time you’re wrong’
‘Cause guilty is a lie
Oh, but mercy is a song.”
I spent many years believing I didn’t deserve to be free. I didn’t deserve love. I didn’t deserve anything good after what I did.
This Bible study sincerely changed the way I viewed myself and my understanding of how God views me. I watched true transformation take place in the lives of my friends. I quite literally moved from the darkness of shame into the light of freedom and forgiveness.
I’m rolling my eyes right now at myself. I don’t use language like this often. Forgiveness. Freedom. If you could have been a fly on the wall during those 13 weeks, you may have thought that I would have been the last one to admit that I found healing and freedom and, dare I say, joy? But I did. I truly did.
2. My story can make a difference.
After experiencing such a dramatic healing of my heart, I feel like I have to share it. I have to tell my story. God made a way for me to find a safe group to heal after abortion and a safe church to explore what that healing means for how I express His love for me and for you.
What if, by sharing my story, it leads to the healing of someone else? What if God uses what I thought was the worst thing about me and makes something beautiful out of it? What if He does that for you, too?
3. We experience freedom through healing.
By sharing my story and being a part of the next Forgiven and Set Free study, my healing continues. We all know healing is a process. I’ve started an amazing journey, but I’m not done. This study was transformative, but it was also hard work. The more you bring your secret out of the dark and into the light, the less control it has over you. That’s where the freedom comes from.
I’m coming back this fall. Our next group is starting at the end of August. If abortion is part of your story and you are looking for a safe place to heal after abortion, please consider joining us. If you can relate to anything I’ve shared, please think about sending an email, however reluctant you may be, to the leader, Anita, at and connect with her today.