Are you the survivor of an abortion? Adopted? Someone who wonders about the truth of their past? Have you had an abortion? Adopted a child? Given a child up for adoption? Are you a married woman or man who has kept the secret of your past from your spouse? Have you ever worked in a crisis pregnancy center or an abortion clinic? Whether you are these people or not, I’d like to let you know that God forgives you.
Last week, October Baby released on DVD and Blu-ray. If you have not seen this incredible film, I encourage you to rent it, buy it, watch it. The film tells the story of Hannah, who discovers that she is having medical issues because her mother had attempted to abort her. Oh. And, she’s adopted. The movie chronicles Hannah’s journey to find her birth mother and to get answers about who she is.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. – Revelation 12:11
One of the key themes of October Baby is forgiveness. One of the keys to living a life of freedom from guilt is forgiveness. As a woman who chose to abort my child when I was twenty years old, I learned the power of forgiveness.
Just after I had the procedure done, I called my mother to confess. She invited me home to recuperate, and I gladly accepted. Her one condition was that I attend church while visiting. Desperate for the One I knew I needed, I willingly agreed. See, I knew God held my hand through the entire process, despite my decision to go against everything my heart cried for. I knew God existed, and I knew I’d made the wrong choice even before I laid down on a cold, steel gurney and allowed a stranger to alleviate my problem. No one else wanted the baby. What was I to do?
The problem is, that decision is one I carry with me every day of my life. Every time I see a baby. Every time I watch my children grow into God’s plan for their lives. Every time I think about college. Every time I watch a movie like October Baby…
I “got saved” the first weekend I was home. Sitting in a room, listening to a friend of mine play his guitar, I gave my life to the Lord. I was baptized in the river that Sunday. I found who I’d been looking for. A Savior. Jesus. The moment I rose from the chilly water, everything washed away. My anger and hurt caused by my father when I was sixteen. My disappointment with the baby’s father for not wanting another child for his mom to raise and to get in the way of earning his nursing degree. My frustration with the stale doctor who performed the procedure and the overly peppy nurse who cheered me through the pain of the sharpest needles a woman will ever feel as the unpleasant Shop-vac hummed its tune and sucked the life out of a womb. I forgave them all. Easy peasy. Done.
But forgive myself? Ultimately, it was my decision. I took the life of my child with one moment’s choice. Freedom of choice brings more burden than any law that says I don’t have the right to take the life of my unborn child.
Your path to forgiving yourself will likely be different than mine, but watch for it. It is there. Back in my dorm room, I cried out to God and begged Him to reveal Himself to me. My heart yearned to forgive itself. I didn’t want to carry the burden of unforgiveness forever. I fell asleep that night, crying into my pillow. I dreamed. I saw my child. Beautiful. On a sunny day at the playground. She lifted her arms to me and smiled her request to pick her up. I wrapped my arms around her three-year-old body and held her close, her feet dangling near my waist. She spoke. “I love you, Mommy.” I wept. Not only had God forgiven me; my child had forgiven me as well. At those four words, I knew I didn’t need to carry the weight of my decision any longer. I could forgive myself.
Is the pain gone? Not completely. Is the guilt gone? Absolutely. And it can be for you, too.
I know this is supposed to be a review of the movie. Let me just say this: Every time I’ve seen it (three, now), something else stands out and brings one more drop of healing to my heart as I relate to the characters and their emotions, their stories and their words. Every time I hear from people who’ve seen it, I hear testimony after testimony of healing, changed opinions, changed hearts, changed lives. Why wouldn’t anyone want to see a movie that has had such an incredible impact on so many?
For your viewing pleasure, I’ve included a clip of one of the few “forgiveness” scenes. This is the one that stood out to me this last time I saw October Baby: