Dear Pastor/Church Leader,
Consider for a moment the way the church acknowledges “Sanctity of Life Sunday.” Facts are spewed, data is presented, images are shown, pamphlets are handed out, books are dispersed, and preaching is perfunctory. And wait a minute, what is happening right there in the church pews?
In some, folks are squirming with discomfort of public discussion regarding such a horrid topic. It is an atrocity they cannot even imagine and don’t want to spend a lot of time thinking about.
In a few, people even are shouting “Amen!” out loud as a battle cry to join forces and money and prayers to hinder such an appalling act.
In most, congregation members are joining forces quietly. They put money in the offering plate for their local pregnancy care center, while some even make baby blankets sewn with love and prayers to donate to those moms who keep their God-given babes.
But in an alarming number of those wooden, hymnal-lined pews, women are dying. Dying because they have never felt the forgiveness offered to them by their Heavenly Father. And they are dying because they haven’t taken His hand in order to forgive themselves. One out of every three women sitting in church pews across America are suffering unknown pain, agony and torment come “Sanctity of Life” Sunday. Often times they do it discretely and silently. Some even do it right next to you, but behind a mask. A great deal of our church-going women are being overlooked. Neglected. They line the pews.
“Sanctity of Life” Sunday is an honorable and worthwhile day, but for many, it is a day that bashes them against the cold, hard brick wall of their reality. They had an abortion. They did the unspeakable. They committed the sin of murder. They killed a baby. They broke God’s heart right in two. While “Sanctity of Life” Sunday revelers spout the statistics and pass the offering plate, the broken sit in the pews. And they bleed all over the place.
If they haven’t taken their burden to the cross and have not rested their head in God’s forgiving lap, they remain broken, bleeding, and dying. And what is the church doing about it? Rubbing their faces in it. To those precious women sitting in your midst, it feels like their sin is being held up front for everyone to see. It feels personal.
How do these women cope? Why don’t they seek help? Many may harden their hearts and push it deeper down into the pits of their being. Bury it way inside. After all, they are sitting in a church pew.
What would the other proper ladies think? Would they turn away in disgust? Would they shake their heads, lower their eyes, and walk away from me? There is no way I could confess my sin. Not here. Not in God’s House. No way.
If I tell them of my history, will they understand my choice? If I tell them of the troubled teenage promiscuity I experienced, could they relate? If I tell them of the rape, would they pity me? If I tell them of my drunken stupor, would they still listen? If I tell them someone else made me get the abortion, could they, would they, comfort me?
And what about my family? My husband. My children. Do they know they are living with a murderer? How could they endure the shame? The whispers? The guilt of being related to me?
I should tell somebody. I hear that God forgives. But how could He forgive this mess? How could He forgive me? Why would He? Look, it is a big deal they are making today. It even has a name and a national day of recognition. Oh, I would mess up their service with my truth. With my pain. But I feel like I need to talk.
Oh, no. I won’t even bother. The service will end soon. Who will care after today? It’s a touchy subject. What does the man preaching know about women anyway? Who could I turn to? Not the pastor’s wife, she definitely won’t understand. Not the elder’s wife, she couldn’t possibly relate. Nope. No one.
So, I will stuff it down. Oh, my. I am bleeding all over the pew. My tears. Oh no, does anyone see? What’ll I do with the mess I have made here in my pew? Smooth it over with a weak smile. Wipe it up with a donation to the pregnancy center. There you go. Shove it back inside. Until next year.
It may cross the mind of a suffering woman to find help, but when the focus is on the atrocity, on the act itself, and on the innocent baby, the broken woman, although surrounded by Christians, often sits alone in her very own church pew. Hoping no one is on to her. Her secret. Her past.
I know. I was that woman. By God’s grace, mercy, compassion, and infinite love, He helped me lay down my burden. I am one of many who bore that cross, but only one of the few to lay it down. To really lay it down. I had a couple of trusted women on my side. They knew. They prayed. Twenty-two years after the abortion, God spoke to me and filled me with a supernatural strength. I reached out and someone was there. Right there.
Very soon after, and in God’s strength alone, I literally went to the cross and wept. I did it when no one else was at the church. I placed my heavy burden of guilt, shame, fear, sorrow, remorse, and depression right into God’s hand. I wept for the baby. I wept for myself. I wept for could-have-been grandparents. I wept for the doctor and nurses who took my baby’s life. I wept for the baby’s father. I wept for my family.
That night when I gave my burden to the Lord, I accepted His forgiveness. And I forgave myself. You see, that is the component of the equation that often gets overlooked. Forgiving ones very own selfish self.
Forgiving the one that is being talked about at church. Forgiving the one who feels like her sin is absolutely unforgivable. Now, that is hard to do. And the burden gets oh so heavy every “Sanctity of Life” Sunday. So heavy that I, being free from my sin, but knowing other women are weeping and bleeding from their wounded past, felt God gently tapping me on the shoulder to write this note.
Please know that there are precious daughters of Christ right in your midst who sit broken and bleeding and dying among you. Some may be young, some may be up-town, some may be down-and-out, some may be elderly—but all are children of God who deserve grace, compassion, mercy, their Father’s forgiveness, and your tender love.
Consider for a moment the way the church acknowledges “Sanctity of Life” Sunday.