An Open Letter to Toni Braxton on God’s Love After Abortion

Dear Toni,

Toni Braxton Signs Copies Of Her Book 'Unbreak My Heart: A Memoir'Thank you for being honest and candid in your book Unbreak My Heart.

I especially applaud you for sharing your fear that God punished you for an abortion by afflicting you with lupus and your son with autism. I hope my words may bring you some release from any lingering anxiety related to these fears.

Fear of God’s punishment after abortion is a common problem among women who choose it. We know in our hearts, as you said, we have participated in the taking of a life. Also, you are correct in saying that while you are a mom of two, you know in your heart there is a third child in your family. These are huge steps in your healing journey. I applaud you for breaking your silence to speak the secret, acknowledging your need to repair your relationship with God, and accepting the reality of the existence and intrinsic worth of your missing child.

So many women continue to justify the decision. When you appeared on The View I noticed Whoopi trying to appease your conscience with the excuse, “You weren’t ready [to parent]!” She continues to justify her own abortion past with that line of thinking. But it’s a trap which cannot satisfy the wounded conscience since it denies the worth of the child and places us above God as the One who gives and takes when it comes to life.

The fact that there is spiritual abuse in your past makes your experience that much more poignant. I too was very ignorant of the truth of God’s love toward us when I chose abortion. And financial and social pressures drove the decision in my case too. What I have learned and teach others in the aftermath is that our guilt often stands in as a way to avoid experiencing the grief we feel as mothers of lost children. The grief is so difficult to see because our culture continues to deny the worth of the unborn child. And we may even feel we don’t have a right to grieve what we ourselves destroyed. In our confusion we may come to believe that to grieve (and thus be relieved of the sorrow) might also mean to lose the one connection we feel to our missing child.

These complications all land in the envelope called guilt. And any new grief seems only to serve to compound the issue. Surely it was a moment of grief to hear your child diagnosed with autism—just as any chronic health condition is initially troubling news for any parent.

I hope you can begin to see the pain we experience as parents as grief rather than guilt. Doing so allows us to turn toward God for comfort rather than hide from Him in shame.

As to the guilt, Toni, if you believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins then I hope you can accept that your sorrow is ending soon! The punishment that brings us peace with God is upon Christ—not you nor your beautiful autistic son. By the suffering Christ endured we are healed. It is already accomplished. Just believe and you will find your peace.

I am very proud of you for not sugar-coating the truth that stands at the center of so much heartache in your life. I hope that you continue to grow in grace as you experience the truth of God’s love. He’s promised never to leave you nor forsake you. He’s welcomed into His eternal presence the children you and I rejected in this life and He’s always in prayer for us and our living children for our good.

The afflictions we and our children suffer are not God’s punishment but rather a taste of what Christ willingly took on for our sake to make us right forever with the Father of us all. As we share in that suffering we look forward to sharing in His glory. May it be so in your life and in your heart today.

Gimme Shelter shows cowardice at the heart of abortion

Prolife Movie Review: Gimme Shelter

Forget what you know about teen pregnancy.

You are likely not prepared for the true-story raw reality faced by Agnes “Apple” Bailey in Gimme Shelter opening in theaters this weekend.

When we meet her, Apple (played by Vanessa Hudgens) is willing herself into the courage to make a phone call, reaching out to the father she has never met. She has a plan to flee her abusive mother, June (Rosaria Dawson) so strung out on meth that she begs, threatens, curses, hits, and professes love in an unbroken string of desperate profane venom when she sees Apple in the cab ready to go. Apple makes it out alive. But when the cabbie asks to see her money to pay for the interstate ride to New Jersey, she tries to steal the car and gets literally kicked to the curb on the highway.

We don’t know her well, but her surly demeanor makes us wonder if Apple doesn’t just deserve the trouble she’s trapped in.

Things only get worse when she’s arrested for prowling outside Dad’s mansion. Tom (Brendan Frasier) brings her inside, and while she’s wolfing food asks, “How old are you now, Angie–14? 15?”

“I’m 16,” she spits, “And my name is Apple, don’t you remember? Apple, not Angie!!”

Somehow the bright interior of this lavish home suddenly appears much more menacing than the dingy squalor Apple just escaped. And right on cue Tom and his wife Joanna (Stephanie Szostak) respond with civilized contempt, offering money and referrals to a social worker before coercing Apple to abort the pregnancy that is a revelation even to her. (“I only did it once.”)

Apple decides to run from the abortion Joanna has arranged. Now forced to sleep in cars and on the street, she lands in the hospital where Chaplain Frank (James Earl Jones) befriends her and arranges a placement in a shelter for pregnant teens. Apple is infuriated, seeing her history of foster care and shelters as proof of her lack of value to anyone.

But she clings to a pair of ultrasound images of her unborn child. And for the sake of the child, she agrees to go.

Kathy (Ann Dowd) welcomes Apple to the shelter home with a mix of bulletproof faith and maternal warmth. It’s disarming–not just to us but to those who oppose her steely and measured determination to protect her girls.

I’ve seldom seen a portrait of courage so achingly portrayed as the heart of young Apple Bailey. As the adults around her call in the parents, she must stand them all down in order to stand. She also faces down a rebellious roommate at the shelter and an attempt on her life. By meeting others who are learning to cope in the same circumstance, Apple learns to trust–and when not to.

At the end I was grateful for such an unsympathetic introduction to this character. For the Apples of this world don’t need our pity. Teen pregnancy is not an insurmountable social ill requiring case workers and big budgets either. Not even when the teen is a homeless desperate runaway dragging trunks of baggage just trying to survive.

All they need is love.

I’ve often wondered what I would have done if a place like Kathy’s had been offered to me when I was young and pregnant on the run. I wasn’t fleeing abuse, just chasing hard after a good life without the burden of unwed motherhood. Unlike Apple, I had the advantage of loving parents and enough education to secure not just a job but a career. But I had a poverty of spirit and moral backbone that would have made me bold to face down my fears and give life to my child. The beauty of Apple’s choice betrays the cowardice from which I suffered and which I believe is at the heart of every choice for abortion. Forgive me if you are suffering from the effects of a coerced abortion–the cowardice is often not that of the mother. Having been victimized and brutalized by so many for so long, Apple rejected the choice of her own well-being over the life of her child. If, instead your strength failed, as mine did, just know that God can change the coward’s heart and make us brave today. And if you coerced another, look to Tom’s redemption as your hope. It’s never too late to do the right thing now.

Gimme Shelter is a soaring triumph of the human heart–a blessing of a film and one I can’t wait to watch again.

A reluctant activist confronts abortion “rights” extremism

The 41st annual March for Life is taking place in Washington DC today.

I’m a reluctant activist. I’m not sure that marches are the best way to win hearts and minds. Yet, for various reasons I have taken my stand in the public square, joining forces with those who oppose abortion.

I attended the 2013 event in DC and made my stand with Heartbeat International on behalf of the pregnancy help movement which is daily offering women love and support in a time of need. That’s me in the pink hoodie.

Heartbeat International 2013 March for Life banner

Heartbeat International 2013 March for Life banner

A year earlier, I marched in Georgia in 2012 as a memorial for my child lost to abortion.

Both events were eye-opening. Other than our banner depicted above, at both of these events, everywhere I looked I saw only signs picturing the children.

I wondered What about the women? Would a young woman making choices about her relationships and her future see this as a friendly crowd in tune with her needs?

There were those expressing postabortion regret, but overall it seemed these events were all about the babies. The March has taken action to amend that this year. The March for Life Education and Defense Fund website states their purpose:

We march for moms and babies. Abortion not only snuffs out a life filled with potential, it harms a mother emotionally, psychologically and physically.  We embrace every woman and child with hope for happier tomorrows.

Yes! Activism on behalf of the unborn must equally voice concern for the women. But will abortion proponents correct their lopsided message?

President Obama today issued a statement in support of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade:

Today, as we reflect on the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, we recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health. We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom. And we resolve to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children. Because this is a country where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams.

Do you see who’s missing in Obama’s utopian statement?

What about the “child health” of the child before birth? Why are they not somehow included in “all our children”?

I’ve been called extreme for my position against abortion. But how extreme is it to deny that pregnancy means the existence of a child? Or to deny any and every unwanted child his or her right to exist? And to deny any and every father a voice in the life or death of his child? Women cannot flourish in a vaccuum where our so-called rights are secured at the expense of children and men. It works against the natural order. And it’s unjust.

I learned this the hard way. Legal abortion makes women both victims and victimizers. And nobody should have that right.

Here I take my stand.

The #1 reason women can’t get over abortion

Istockphoto credit © MaleWitch

Istockphoto credit © MaleWitch

Abortion is a conversation stopper.

The topic is not just taboo, it stops the free flow of our talking about who we are and what we’ve experienced.

You want to forget and put the past behind you. Yet you may also want to remember, sometimes even dreaming of what might have been.

But. Who could possibly understand? How can we speak about it and share what’s in our hearts?

Listening to Abortion – What helps/What hurts

istockphoto @juliefenton

 

I wasn’t trying to probe into anyone’s past or coax out a confession.

In fact, I was so new to this church that I was reluctant to share something so personal. Yet, when I disclosed an abortion in my past, I heard from several other women in our thirty-member Bible study group who had also lost a child to abortion. Perhaps these women were relieved to hear someone, anyone, bring up the subject at church. Maybe I just seem like a safe person since I mentioned having written a book about spiritual recovery after abortion. But each one eagerly shared her secret with me that day.

And each story was as different as the woman who told it.

Mental health community protests abortion pain

Spending a day shopping can be an excruciating exercise in decisions and reflections on what I can and can’t afford. Lots of friends find shopping relaxing and fun. Others go way overboard and buy things they know they’ll have to return. Some are very methodical with lists–they never forget their cloth bags at the grocery store. At times you may fit into any or all of the above groups. My point is there is no universal reaction to the common female experience of shopping.

So how can mental health professionals say that 55 million abortions have left women with a uniform emotional reaction? And how could abortion possibly be a uniquely positive event in every woman’s emotional and spiritual life?

Dripping faucet a metaphor for men and abortion

I went to NRB last week and met with some of the most prominent Christian broadcasters from the US and around the world. I had the chance to speak with Kay Arthur and June Hunt, and listen to Chip Ingram and Jack Graham. I’ll tell you a little more about meeting Maxim Maximov in a future post–a little closer to our departure for the mission to Perm, Russia.

But the reason I mention the big players is that I’m still most impressed by a student production called ‘a faucet drips’.

“A short film produced as a senior project at Northwestern College (St. Paul, MN) in Spring 2011. The story follows a young couple through the decision to abort an unplanned pregnancy and examines the results of relational passivity. Director Laura Hoffman. Producer Erin McGregor. Editor Mel Magnuson. Director of Photography Micah Murray. Starring Zach McClellan & Ashley Young.”

This is film is so heartbreakingly real. This is what abortion does to men. Tending to the details of the relationship is his responsibility and yet it seems to be unfolding completely outside his control. The emotional distancing he experiences allows him to tell himself that everything will be all right. Until it is much much too late.

I posted this story when the film was completed last year, and I share it again to offer congratulations to the young filmmakers for the screening at the NRB Showcase.

Please share this with others. Not only do these students deserve a wide audience for this accomplished work, but I haven’t seen any other film which shows the impact of abortion on the average guy who gets caught up in it. I thank God once more that He is the Lord of second chances–infinite chances to do the right thing now–and unmeasurable mercy.

KFAX Podcast ~ When abortion is someone else’s choice


                                                   

Here’s the podcast from my November 30 interview on KFAX San Francisco on Lifeline with Craig Roberts. You can download the podcast and listen for free. My interview appears midway through the 2-hour broadcast.

We discussed the hard-sell pressure tactics abortion providers engage in to coerce women to make a quick and ill-informed decision. Abortion coercion can take so many forms. As Roberts pointed out so clearly, withholding information about alternatives to abortion is not offering women a choice. I tried to help connect the dots to this strong-arming as the starting point on a continuum which all too often ends in a hurried and harrassed decision. This exploits the vulnerability of women in need of real help. It is no less predatory than the homicides which result when a woman stands up to an angry partner who would force her to abort (see When abortion is no choice at all)

I’ve met many such women who fought the battle to carry a pregnancy forward and give birth, but who were forced to abort due to pressures too great to bear. I know the brokenness and loss of hope we suffer when abortion is a result of someone else’s choice. If that describes you, please reach out for safe and confidential help today. Call 1-866-4-My-Recovery or 1-800-395-HELP. There is someone who cares who can offer you real help, even if you are trapped in an abusive or violent situation right now, and even if you feel nothing will ever change the trauma you have suffered in the past because of abortion and abuse. You’re not alone. There are those of us who sorrow with you for your losses, and we are here to build you up in the love God has for you.

Thanks to Producer Wanda Sanchez and Host Craig Roberts for presenting and speaking truth on this issue so freely and forcefully. 

When abortion is no choice at all

I remember the first time a nurse asked me a routine screening question about whether I was subject to domestic violence. A new law had been passed in my home state at the time, she explained, and the law was a way to help break the silence which so often keeps victims trapped in a cycle of abuse, denial, and shame. Thank God, I was able to say that I did not need support for that problem. But I recall that  I wondered how many women would admit to the need for help in the setting of a routine physician visit. I came to the conclusion that even aiding a few would be better than doing nothing at all.

I feel the same way about a protection being considered by the state of Wisconsin to ask women whether they are making the choice for abortion as a free choice or whether they feel they are being coerced. Yet, the Daily Cardinal reports that there is a pushback from representatives of a group called Young Progressives Issues, who somehow managed to miss the point entirely, claiming that this screening process limits a woman’s . . . reproductive freedom. 

If women are being coerced, as the research reported by Physicians for Life indicates, invoking reproductive rights is ludicrous at best. At its worst, feminist non-thought like this serves to enable threats, coercion, and violence against a woman at the most vulnerable time of her life–while she is carrying her young.

I’ve heard the stories firsthand from women who feared for their lives because they were pregnant–a phenomenon reported in 2005 by ABC News. The Associated Press reported almost ten years ago that women are most at-risk for homicide in America when they’re pregnant. This was also confirmed in Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health study in 2001. A 2004 Washington Post report was exhaustive and made for devastating reading–your heart will break thinking of how the families of these women must feel as we continue to debate such a basic need for public safety in the lives of women in America today.

Why are we still discussing the need to intervene? And if not us, who will hear their cry?

See the heart

We prayed outside an abortion facility in Atlanta today as a joyful act of obedience to God’s call for Day 38 of the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil. I arrived early and joined three women already in prayer. We stood across the street and faced the facility. It was cold and windy and quiet. The sun had not yet come up. As I faced the building something beautiful caught me eye.

                                                          

Do you see the heart in the trees?

It’s a shaky image, I know, but the sky was still so dark that my little Nikon couldn’t capture the shutter speed of the flash without the blur. 

Our  prayers took us to God’s heart as we offered requests for mercy and for healing to all who have participated and those who will participate in abortion. If that’s you–I really hope and pray you see God’s heart today. Here is what He wants you to know:  “Don’t be afraid for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41: 10 Holy Bible, New Living Translation)

If you are suffering after abortion, even if your faith is shaky, keep looking up. See the truth of love pouring out to you from Jesus Christ today, and see the heart of God.