“They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.” Isaiah 61:4
The grief is fresh in Tracey’s voice as she describes the scene. Now, more than 20 years removed from the event, the rows of red paper hearts taped to wall of the abortion clinic waiting room still linger in her mind.
“They handed me this little red heart and asked me to write a note to the other women who would come there after me,” she recalls. “We were supposed to write things like ‘You’re not alone,’ and ‘You’re so strong,’ but inside I was screaming, ‘Don’t do this! Turn around!’ I was in so much pain, and internally, I was seething. But I didn’t write anything at all on that heart. I just walked out of the clinic in silence.”
It’s a silence that took its toll on Tracey in the years ahead, years of overcoming addiction and abuse, years of raising children and giving her life to Jesus and learning to walk in freedom.
“Shortly after becoming a Christian, I repented of my abortion, and I thought I was healed and freed of everything related to it,” Tracey explains. “But I hit a block recently. I couldn’t figure out why I was so depressed and heavy.”
Knowing she needed assistance, she turned to the pastoral prayer team at her church, who asked the Lord for guidance in helping her.
“They turned to me and said they had the feeling that maybe I was carrying the guilt of a death,” Tracey continued. “Then my pastor said the word ‘abortion,’ and I knew he was onto something. He asked me if I had ever grieved the loss of my baby. I was kind of stunned. In all these years, I didn’t know that I was even allowed to grieve. I didn’t think I deserved the dignity of grieving a death I had intentionally caused.”
The pastor’s wife referred Tracey to Care Net’s Healing Tide Abortion Recovery program, and the rest is history in the making. “I was able to name and release my lost son,” she explains. The weight has lifted. I know I am forgiven and that God wants to bring healing to so many other women who are silently carrying this burden of grief like I did.”
The number of these women is breathtakingly high. Since Roe v Wade established a woman’s legal right to abortion in 1973, more than 60 million babies have lost their lives to abortion. That is the equivalent of the combined population of 19 US states. For nearly half a century, women have been fed the lie that they must choose between their freedom and their children. Abortion doesn’t liberate; it enslaves. It either breaks a woman’s heart, or it hardens it, and it floods the world with darkness.
But the darkness is not limited to the world outside us. Inside the church, our own lights have dimmed. According to a recent study by Care Net National:
- 78% of post-abortive women claim a religious affiliation.
- 36% of post-abortive women were regular church attendees when they terminated their pregnancies.
- 64% believe that church members are more likely to gossip about a woman considering abortion than help her understand her options.
Thousands of churches across the country recognize the third Sunday of January as Sanctity of Human Life Sunday to honor the precious lives lost to abortion and to recommit to the important work of protecting human life at every stage. It’s a beautiful, sobering, and crucial commitment.
But when we talk about the sanctity of human life, do the women listening know that we think their lives are sacred, too?
What would it take to ensure that your church is a safe place for the abortion-vulnerable to turn? What can you do to help? How can you use your own light to reignite the light of the people around you? How many armies of Traceys are sitting silently in our own congregations desperately needing the healing that would free them up to launch them into their own ministries of restoration and hope? More than 60 million babies and their mothers need us. It’s time to rise and shine.
By the grace of God, Tracey is silent no more. Early this past fall, she was hired as Care Net of Puget Sound’s Healing Tide Assistant Director. She is passionate about wading into the deep waters too many women try to tread alone. “I know this is my calling. I was made to do this work,” she says.
In abortion clinics across the nation, there are walls covered in red hearts, each heart attached to a woman, each woman attached to a child she may never be permitted to grieve. Now, with God’s help, Tracey and the Healing Tide team are working to reach these women and bind their wounds so they can be freed to pay it forward until, one by one, those little paper hearts are replaced by the steady, sacred beating of the real thing.
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