We sat on a picnic blanket near the river, a Bible spread open before us and a small speaker sitting beside it. Several pink and blue balloons bounced in the gentle breeze, tugging at the white ribbons which held them fast.
The balloons were bound at the moment, but a woman’s heart was being set free that beautiful summer day.
It almost didn’t happen.
“Kelly” had faithfully worked through a post-abortion Bible study with me. She was engaged and connected. She was doing the work. It was clear she really wanted healing.
Kelly had not had an easy life. Her pain and regret over her abortions was part of a larger collection of issues, including poverty, disability, abuse, and addiction.
Despite all those factors, she hung in there and completed the study like a champ.
We set up a time for the memorial service.
Kelly planned to purchase the balloons representing the children she had regretfully lost to abortion. We chose some Scriptures and other thoughts for me to read, and a couple of worship songs to play. Kelly would take a marker and write thoughts on each balloon before they were released.
The memorial was all set up—and then Kelly left a message saying she couldn’t make it.
I tried to call her. She wouldn’t pick up.
I didn’t hear from her for over a year.
When I did see Kelly again, she explained that just when she was about to fully receive God’s grace, she self-sabotaged. She’d been using again, up until a couple of months before we reconnected.
We began meeting again, tying up the loose ends of her healing process.
(Not that a healing process is ever completely done, but closure is certainly a critical part—which is why she had gone into a tailspin over it.)
This time, Kelly didn’t bolt. She didn’t mask the pain. She walked right into the healing arms of her Father and let Him wash her clean.
The day of the memorial, we stood by the river in the warm sunshine. One by one, she released the balloons, tears streaming down her cheeks, her face radiant, a perfect mixture of grief and joy.
Along with the balloons she released that day, Kelly let go of something else.
She released the guilt over her abortions. She knew her sin was paid for, forever. From this day forward, she would no longer allow the guilt of the past to hold sway over her.
She would continue to experience grief and sorrow over her lost children, but not guilt—because the weight of sin is no match for the length, width, height, and depth of Christ’s love (Ephesians 3:17-19).
That’s the gospel.
In pregnancy center work, we look for opportunities to share the good news about Jesus with our clients. We want them to receive the love of God. We want them to spend eternity enjoying our merciful, compassionate, heavenly Father’s presence.
We may have an opportunity during a conversation about an unplanned pregnancy to discover the spiritual needs of a client. We may have a chance to share along those lines during Life Skills classes.
But post-abortion recovery is often the deepest demonstration of the power of the gospel which we can possibly witness in the lives of those we serve.
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I’ve watched the process numerous times. I never fail to be amazed.
Clients tend to begin their healing journey in various states of depression, disassociation, anger and anxiety.
As they work through the process, they gradually come to peace. They taste joy again. They move forward in life with a new sense of humble gratitude.
Perspective radically changes. It’s a miracle, every time.
Isn’t this the same journey we’re all undertaking? As the gospel penetrates our hearts over and over, we face a choice each time.
Will we run away and medicate the pain—perhaps, in our case, with an acceptable, Christian drug of choice?
Will we self-sabotage and put off the healing?
Or will we let the gospel do its transforming work in us?
I deeply admire and respect Kelly. She fought a good fight where much was at stake. She conquered fear and accepted a love which is difficult to wrap one’s mind around. She let the gospel do its deep, transformative work.
I’m so grateful for the example she has set for me.
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