If any of us have had those words spoken to us as a child; most likely we would have recoiled in horror. Our eyes downcast in a jester of hiding, we were certain that the entire world could see the act we did to bring on such a statement and that shame had found its permanent dwelling in neon lights above our head. It would be a while before we would venture out before our accuser, hoping the lights had burnt out, or at least dimmed so as not to draw attention to ourselves. We would watch the reactions to see, if in fact the shame was lifted and we could go on with our lives, or if we needed to continue, half-alive for a while longer.
Many women and men who are post abortive live every day of their lives with this shame. They can never get away from the accuser, and the light never dims because the accuser and accused are one and the same, themselves.
Hidden shame is projected on all of their relationships, causing them to live in the fear that they will be “found out.” That everyone will see the light shinning down on them. Where most people would shrug off an event, they are certain all reactions have something to do with this light.
One woman I know expressed this in a recent trip to a cemetery that has a tomb for the unborn. "I wanted to pray before the tomb but it is right near the cemetery office. I just could not bring myself to let anyone see me there." When I asked her if she thought everyone who prayed before that tomb was post abortive, that in fact many people who are not probably stopped to say a prayer, she expressed that she had never thought of that. For her, it was a sure admittance of the death of her unborn child, a neon sign pointing to her shame.
Snuffing Out the Light
Until the post abortive person opens up and shares their feelings with an appropriate person, whether a mental health professional, ministry or trained lay person, there is little chance of freedom for the bondage they are living with. They need to “face it honestly” as Pope John Paul II reminds us in “The Gospel of Life”, and understand what has happened to them and the impact it has had on their thinking and actions. They need to learn that most often, it is they who are shinning the light on themselves.
The solution to this shame is humility. An admittance of what we have heard over and over in the scriptures. A deep acknowledgment that without God we are all capable of any sin, and that it is Him and His love and mercy alone that brings us out of the darkness. That of ourselves we are nothing, but through Him all good things come. If we truly believe this, there is no place for shame for we would know that each and every one of us, no matter what the sin is saved only through the grace of God. Our sinfulness would not surprise us, but instead humble us knowing our need for dependence on Him. The brilliance of the light of His glory will surely outshine our shame leaving us gazing at the goodness of the Lord instead of ourselves.
(*Pamphlet available at www.postabortionhelp.org)