“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” — Edith Wharton
Did you know light heals? I’m not talking metaphorically, though that way is just as true. I mean literally. Sunlight acts as a natural antiseptic and is capable of killing all sorts of ugly stuff – bacteria, fungi, yeasts, molds and mites, whether in air, water or on a surface.
I couldn’t stop thinking about that fact as I left a luncheon talk the other day. The event, “Out of the Darkness, Into the Light,” featured a panel of five post-abortive women invited by our local FirstChoice Clinic to talk about their dark journey to and through abortion.
I realize this sort of topic can be extremely divisive, so if you’re inclined to click out of this post immediately, I assure you, “I come in peace.” And even if it’s a bit uncomfortable for you to delve into this issue, I hope you’ll stay long enough to absorb what I learned through these brave, beautiful women who have dared to let light come into their lives and heal them, and in turn, help heal others.
How could this topic not be divisive? Life is the most powerful force there is, and as such, there’s bound to be tension and emotional upset when such topics emerge. Everything hinges on life. Without it, there is only silence and darkness. God said first, “Let there be light,” and that changed everything. The same is true today and for all time. When darkness takes over, life on earth will cease. Even though we as Christians fully believe that life and light brighter than any we’ve known here await us in the hereafter, we have some power now to either hasten that process of the earth darkening, or temporarily reverse it.
After listening to these women the other day, I’ve come to believe that they and others like them will be key in transforming and unifying our world’s hearts and minds on the issue of abortion. It is imperative we listen to women who have experienced the devastating effects of abortion and lived to tell. Listen I did, and having done so, I can’t get their brave voices out of my head.
A little background on the women who formed the panel: they all came from Christian homes, though varied religious affiliation, and they all admitted on some level they knew that by choosing abortion, they would be killing their child. But as is always the case with abortion, other forces took over; mainly, fear. Fear that their parents wouldn’t love them if they found out they were pregnant. Fear that they would be publicly shamed. Fear that this life within them would compromise their goals if left to grow and thrive. As their fears grew, so did their capacity to trust the lies to which they eventually succumbed.
Each of the women told their ages at the time of the abortion and how far along they’d been in their pregnancies. Four were in the first trimester; one had had a late-term, partial birth abortion. As a teenager, she endured labor following the premeditated death of her child. Some remembered every detail of her abortion while others had repressed much of the experience. Most remembered at least some of the details of that day: the emotional coldness of the abortion facility and how the women in the waiting room were all stone-faced; being called not by a name but a number; sobbing while the abortion was being performed and then hearing the staff muttering with disdain, “What’s wrong with her?”; being offered cookies and juice after the procedure; being assured there’s really no reason to be sad, “It was only a blob of tissues.”
Some repressed details that would seem obvious, like the season in which the abortion took place (winter, fall, spring, summer?) and where the clinic was located (“I remember the city, but that’s it.”). All remembered the resulting fall-out – the digression of their lives, how things quickly began spinning out of control. One, a mother of two, started drinking heavily, even drinking and driving with her children in the car. All engaged in self-destructive behavior in one form or another.
The moderator of the panel explained this phenomenon, saying that even when we don’t want to believe that abortion is murder, God’s law is written on our hearts, and so is an innate sense of justice. “Andrea Yates went to prison for killing her children. We just went on with our lives, or so we thought,” she said. Because there was no physical repercussion for their actions, they subconsciously punished themselves, she explained. Guilt and shame and grief drove them to self-destruct.
All of the women expressed in varying ways how the further down into their souls they pushed the reality of what they had done, the more it festered in the dark and grew, fueling their shame. They also all shared examples of being pulled out of the darkness and in some cases, being saved from physical death, and in all cases, being saved from spiritual death. They expressed the deep healing that occurred once the source of their shame was brought to light and recognized for what it was: murder, yes that, but not unforgivable.
“With abortion, there are two people who die,” the moderator said. “The baby dies, and the mother dies inside, too.” She described one post-abortive mother who committed suicide after planning her funeral in detail. She was buried in black with a rose in her casket to represent her dead child.
I know – this is hard stuff to read. I am not sharing it to cause anyone distress or an unnecessary rousing of emotions. I’m sharing it because these women gave me the courage to do so. They helped me see clearly that to believe abortion is a help to women is an absolute deception. No matter the relief that might happen immediately after an abortion, no matter how free a woman might feel for a short while, it cannot and will not last. Sooner or later, it will catch up to her. Women are just as at risk as the babies. If that is truly grasped by the wider public, there is a strong chance the tide will turn.
I don’t believe in hearing a life-changing message without taking some kind of action. How could I listen to these women bare their souls and walk away without any effort to affirm them in their courageous move to try turning darkness into light? In this case, I am simply the mirror hoping to reflect the light to which I was exposed the other day so others might feel its warm, healing capacity as well.
We all have turned away from the light at times, and in doing so, turned our backs on the very God who created us. Many of the reasons we used to justify these sins were fear-based, just like in the cases of these women, but in the end what we did hurt someone else, maimed us and saddened God.
The only way any of us can make our wrongs right is for light to enter in. The natural antiseptic qualities of sunlight have the capacity to make our bodies whole, just as the Light of Lights can heal our wounded spirits.
I stand in awe of women who have had abortions, and later, have gone through a reconciliation process and come out healed. I admire those who have been on the inside and have found the courage to shine their lights out into the world. We are all children of God first, and as long as we recognize this first and cooperate with Him, God can and will make all things good. No sin is unforgivable.
One in four pregnancies ends in abortion, which means it’s possible someone reading this has had an abortion. If you are one of them, please know that healing is possible. Contact Rachel’s Vineyard to take part in a confidential, post-abortive healing retreat. If you’re pregnant and scared and live in the Fargo-Moorhead area, FirstChoice Clinic will treat you with love and compassion and help you explore life-giving options that you will never regret. If you know you’re going to keep your baby but need assistance, contact the St. Gianna’s Maternity Home or The Perry Center. No one should have to travel this dark road alone. These organizations and others like them exist to bring light to lives and help heal wounds.
For all others, what are your thoughts on the healing capacity of light?