Friday, January 22, 2010

Do It Now, If For Me


If you linked over from Aspire To Lead A Quiet Life, thank you for following me here. And if you found Healing Hearts, Renewing Minds from another blog, welcome. I am Darlene. This is a place inspired by God out of a very wounded woman’s past. My past. I spent twenty-two years heavy-laden with guilt, pain, and shame due to a teenage abortion. Oh, I never really expected to be healed of that wrenching heartbreak and the deep-rooted pain, shame, and unforgiveness. Actually, it all practically strangled me. Thankfully when I started walking with the Lord nearly seven years ago, He had other plans…



As dawn broke December 25th, God spoke to me. Our Lord whispered in my ear as I lay in bed with my head resting on the pillow of Christmas morning. This is what I heard:



- “you…such a time as this”



- I rescued you from your own self, from your sins, and from your past;

your future was doomed without Me.



- You have a letter – share it boldly, in My name



- You know women who will help, pray, guide, encourage…


elicit them, ask them.



- Look, I gave you my son, birthed in the dirtiness of a barn,


what are you waiting for? Do it now, if for Me.



One year ago this week, I penned the Letter. And for the past year I held onto it. Tightly. But while I was clinging, God ever so diligently was busy working, molding, changing, and shaping me. With divine tools in-hand, He chiseled, refined, scraped, peeled, de-gunked, and fired me red-hot in the furnace heat. After all of this intense sculpting, one might erroneously think I emerged as a finitely finished, delicate ceramic bauble. Indeed not. Rather I am a work in-progress and it is in this very condition that I gently come to you.



On bended knees and with tears streaming down my face, I humbly hand you not only the Letter, written one year ago, but I tenderly hand you my heart. Because He wants this of me, I must obey.






Dear Pastor/Church Leader,



Consider for a moment the way the church acknowledges “Sanctity of Life Sunday.” Facts are spewed, data is presented, images are shown, pamphlets are handed out, books are dispersed, and preaching is perfunctory. And wait a minute, what is happening right there in the church pews?



In some, folks are squirming with discomfort of public discussion regarding such a horrid topic. It is an atrocity they cannot even imagine and don’t want to spend a lot of time thinking about.



In a few, people even are shouting “Amen!” out loud as a battle cry to join forces and money and prayers to hinder such an appalling act.



In most, congregation members are joining forces quietly. They put money in the offering plate for their local pregnancy care center, while some even make baby blankets sewn with love and prayers to donate to those moms who keep their God-given babes.



But in an alarming number of those wooden, hymnal-lined pews, women are dying. Dying because they have never felt the forgiveness offered to them by their Heavenly Father. And they are dying because they haven’t taken His hand in order to forgive themselves. One out of every three women sitting in church pews across America are suffering unknown pain, agony and torment come “Sanctity of Life” Sunday. Often times they do it discretely and silently. Some even do it right next to you, but behind a mask. A great deal of our church-going women are being overlooked. Neglected. They line the pews.



“Sanctity of Life” Sunday is an honorable and worthwhile day, but for many, it is a day that bashes them against the cold, hard brick wall of their reality. They had an abortion. They did the unspeakable. They committed the sin of murder. They killed a baby. They broke God’s heart right in two. While “Sanctity of Life” Sunday revelers spout the statistics and pass the offering plate, the broken sit in the pews. And they bleed all over the place.



If they haven’t taken their burden to the cross and have not rested their head in God’s forgiving lap, they remain broken, bleeding, and dying. And what is the church doing about it? Rubbing their faces in it. To those precious women sitting in your midst, it feels like their sin is being held up front for everyone to see. It feels personal.



How do these women cope? Why don’t they seek help? Many may harden their hearts and push it deeper down into the pits of their being. Bury it way inside. After all, they are sitting in a church pew.



What would the other proper ladies think? Would they turn away in disgust? Would they shake their heads, lower their eyes, and walk away from me? There is no way I could confess my sin. Not here. Not in God’s House. No way.



If I tell them of my history, will they understand my choice? If I tell them of the troubled teenage promiscuity I experienced, could they relate? If I tell them of the rape, would they pity me? If I tell them of my drunken stupor, would they still listen? If I tell them someone else made me get the abortion, could they, would they, comfort me?



And what about my family? My husband. My children. Do they know they are living with a murderer? How could they endure the shame? The whispers? The guilt of being related to me?



I should tell somebody. I hear that God forgives. But how could He forgive this mess? How could He forgive me? Why would He? Look, it is a big deal they are making today. It even has a name and a national day of recognition. Oh, I would mess up their service with my truth. With my pain. But I feel like I need to talk.



Oh, no. I won’t even bother. The service will end soon. Who will care after today? It’s a touchy subject. What does the man preaching know about women anyway? Who could I turn to? Not the pastor’s wife, she definitely won’t understand. Not the elder’s wife, she couldn’t possibly relate. Nope. No one.



So, I will stuff it down. Oh, my. I am bleeding all over the pew. My tears. Oh no, does anyone see? What’ll I do with the mess I have made here in my pew? Smooth it over with a weak smile. Wipe it up with a donation to the pregnancy center. There you go. Shove it back inside. Until next year.



It may cross the mind of a suffering woman to find help, but when the focus is on the atrocity, on the act itself, and on the innocent baby, the broken woman, although surrounded by Christians, often sits alone in her very own church pew. Hoping no one is on to her. Her secret. Her past.



I know. I was that woman. By God’s grace, mercy, compassion, and infinite love, He helped me lay down my burden. I am one of many who bore that cross, but only one of the few to lay it down. To really lay it down. I had a couple of trusted women on my side. They knew. They prayed. Twenty-two years after the abortion, God spoke to me and filled me with a supernatural strength. I reached out and someone was there. Right there.



Very soon after, and in God’s strength alone, I literally went to the cross and wept. I did it when no one else was at the church. I placed my heavy burden of guilt, shame, fear, sorrow, remorse, and depression right into God’s hand. I wept for the baby. I wept for myself. I wept for could-have-been grandparents. I wept for the doctor and nurses who took my baby’s life. I wept for the baby’s father. I wept for my family.



That night when I gave my burden to the Lord, I accepted His forgiveness. And I forgave myself. You see, that is the component of the equation that often gets overlooked. Forgiving ones very own selfish self.



Forgiving the one that is being talked about at church. Forgiving the one who feels like her sin is absolutely unforgivable. Now, that is hard to do. And the burden gets oh so heavy every “Sanctity of Life” Sunday. So heavy that I, being free from my sin, but knowing other women are weeping and bleeding from their wounded past, felt God gently tapping me on the shoulder to write this note.



Please know that there are precious daughters of Christ right in your midst who sit broken and bleeding and dying among you. Some may be young, some may be up-town, some may be down-and-out, some may be elderly—but all are children of God who deserve grace, compassion, mercy, their Father’s forgiveness, and your tender love.



Consider for a moment the way the church acknowledges “Sanctity of Life” Sunday.



Sincerely,



Darlene





Only because God healed me, do I have no shame in sharing this part of me with you. And in doing so, I pray that God will intervene and bring other wounded women to a similar place of peace and freedom as they rest their whole heart and head in His forgiving lap. It is in the Lord’s name and by the Holy Spirit’s urging, that I boldly dedicate Healing Hearts, Renewing Minds as a ministry to and for post-abortive women.



Even though my initial thoughts to His Christmas morning prompts were laden with doubt (What? Why me? Why now? But, I don’t even know how!),He lit a fervent fire deep in my soul. So, it is with a burning desire to trust and obey that I am here, doing this. In hindsight I see that God divinely wove together my sinful past, my current forgiveness and healing, some rather lengthy and painful periods of refinement, all to bring me right here. Right to this very place.



Friends, I trust you with the utmost and most tender places of my very being. These nooks and crannies used to be dark and scary and tormenting, but ever since I set my burdens down at His feet, I am no longer haunted. I am forgiven! I am free! It is my prayer that this ministry will be used for His glory. He is the only One who can heal hearts through His loving salve. He is the only One who can renew minds through His Truth-filled words.



Gently join me, please, as God continues to move in Healing Hearts, Renewing Minds. If you are a post-abortive woman, come, take my hand and let us bow before the King in humility, seeking His forgiveness, grace, mercy and love. If you are a church leader, please spend some time getting to know the hearts of these wounded women. Please remember that God’s mercy and His Truth have no boundaries or condemnation, rather it is steeped in love and forgiveness.




Healing Hearts, Renewing Minds is here solely because God whispered to me, “Do it now, if for Me” and I unabashedly am saying, Yes, Father!




* I must mention that part of His promptings included a list of requirements for getting this ministry started and a list of wildly wonderful women to elicit for assistance. God graciously met need after need with and through these ladies. In addition to prayer support, personal encouragement, insight, and sisterhood in Christ, they gifted me with contact information to other post-abortive women (some of whom you soon will meet here as they share their stories and healings), other purposeful leads, inadvertent contacts (thus resulting in this uniquely beautiful site), technological assistance, refinement of the written word, marketing assistance, and so much more. Thank you God for blessing me with such beautiful workers for Your Kingdom.




* Just like you and me, this site is a work in-progress. There are still links to piece together, connections to be shared, pages to be filled, and stories to tell. If you like what you see, please grab a button from the side bar for your site. Thank you for stopping by.



16 comments:

Jennifer said...

Halleluiah!! Wow, Darlene, it looks amazing! Oh sweet sister, isn't God something else? He so loves his children and wants to see them whole, complete, and set free. I am honored to join you on this journey. God has entwined our hearts as healed post-abortive women and lit a fire in us to see other women be set free by the ONLY ONE who can do it.

Love you sweet sister!!!

Amber said...

Darlene, this blows my mind. Thank you so much. I'm honored to be be able to encourage women in need of healing to come here.

Your letter is right on.

Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus said...

Yay! God bless you for your obedience in responding to His call to set up this site.

I love you.

deb said...

{{hugs}}

Laura said...

Cheering you on in this ministry, Darlene. What an important task, to help others heal. God is calling you to some gut-wrenching work...And I am so proud of you! Know that you have my prayers and my love.

Lilah said...

Thank you for the letter. I am touched by you, who share the misery of abortion healed through the forgiveness of Jesus. Christians need to understand the long-term violation to a woman's spirit that occurs with abortion. Bless you as you walk with others through the strength of Christ.

REG said...

Thank you for bravely stepping out in faith to heal the hurting. May God bless your work for his kingdom.

Claire said...

shouting a massive huge gigantic hallelujah!

this is God at work!

cheering you on...

xox

The Duenes Family said...

Hello Darlene,
I came to you through Holy Experience. Thank you for a beautiful letter. Last Saturday, Jan.16, marked 23 years that I had an abortion at age 16. I never forget the date. Praise God, that only 5 years later, He forgave me and restored me to him. I do not feel condemned or unloved by Him. Yet, the regret will never leave my heart. I think how I would have a 22-23 year old son or daughter now and what they might look like. I know that one day I will meet this precious life in eternity and rejoice along with them!

Melinda said...

Amazing to read that letter again...it's time has indeed come. SO proud of your obedience and what God's going to do through it!

Love you,
Melinda

Michelle said...

I'm in tears now. I haven't had an abortion, but know others who have, and pray that God reaches many, many of his precious children through this.

Jocelyne Sade said...

Just stumbled here... and glad to have done so. I have my story too... and have told few, though I'm not one to hide it. I hope to learn much from coming here. I'm not sure what I need... thinking I have already been forgiven of my one abortion, some 30 years ago, as a Christian woman. Can it be I need healing, on top of forgiveness? Can it be I have something to learn, to unload, yet to experience? because my marriage is dead, and I, well, pretty close to it.

I'll be back.

April said...

Darlene,

Thank you for stepping up and following our Lord ... Thank you for sharing of yourself and for being open to minister to bleeding hearts and to proclaim truth and love - forgiveness and grace that abound in the arms of our Beloved.

I appreciate you stopping by and leaving me a comment and the link to visit your site! I pray that those who are hurting and seeking will find their way here and into the forgiving arms of Christ.

Blessings! Your sister in Christ -

RissaRoo said...

Oh, wow. What you are doing here...I pray that it catches fire and spreads to heal many broken hearts. God breathed, you answered, I'm in awe. Wow.

gabi dickinson said...

May He strengthen your hands and heart for the glorious call upon your life!

Tea with Tiffany said...

I could have wrote your letter. I like you have found freedom. And it's so important we continue to extend a hand to others who are still hurting.

I pitched an article about this topic of Sanctity of Human Life to Focus on the Family. But they chose another writer and another pitch. It's true what you said about those in church. I was one of them. Thank God for healing and freedom.

I'm going to Pat Layton's Surrender the Secret Leadership training tomorrow all day. I've already done her study and another one. I too speak out about this topic as the LORD leads.

Go boldly where HE sends you and watch the fruit grow.

Much love and support,

Tiffany

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