In 2009 God called me to share my abortion story publicly online.
When I first felt this call, this unwavering prodding in my spirit, I thought, “No way. I can’t do this. I cannot put this in words in public where my family will see it and other people will see it and . . . it’s just too vulnerable of a thing.” I shared this prodding and my fears with my husband and he said, “If God is calling you to do this, you need to be obedient.”
Shoot. I knew.
So I did it. I sat at my computer, closed my eyes, and typed my story. I cried through the whole writing of it, not only because I needed to relive it in my mind to write the story with authenticity but also because I was scared.
After I hit publish, I took my shaky self and went to bed. The next day I had nearly a hundred comments and emails coming to my inbox that said, “Me too, but I’ve never told anyone.”
Women wrote to me and told me how even years later they felt locked up and unable to fully enjoy their own kids or be honest with their husbands. They didn’t know how to process it. They wanted to tell someone, so they told me. Many of them thanked me because it caused them to choose to finally seek help or tell someone their secret.
I received other comments that said they were on the verge of an abortion but then read my story and they weren’t going to go through with it.
Only heaven knows how many women began a path of freedom because of God’s story in me, or how many women turned back to the Lord or turned to Him for the first time believing for healing and hope for them too.
If God has worked in your life — and He has — then our songs of redemption and healing and grace and truth and freedom are begging to be sung to each other and to the world.
I waited patiently for the Lord
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.
Psalm 40:1-3 (ESV)
When we tell our stories of what God has done and who He is, people perk up. We all love stories because stories draw us closer to one another in the humanity we all share. And the thing about our stories is they aren’t our own. Our stories aren’t meant to be hidden for safe-keeping; they are meant to give glory to the God who gave you the story.
David, the Psalmist-poet-king knew this. He knew that his life and his words were God’s. He knew that people would see and hear of what God did in his life, and through that people would put their trust in the Lord.
What we have in Jesus is what the world needs. And a lot of the world, people you and I know, feel forsaken by God because of the pain of this life. They may not say it that way. They may say it like this: “If there was a God, why would He let all these bad things happen? No thank you to a God like that.” What they need to know is that Jesus knows what it is to feel forsaken.
Many of you know the words of Jesus on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 ESV) But what people don’t know that you and I know is there’s more to the story.
In Psalm 22:1, there is this prophetic utterance from David: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Now if we skip to the very last verses in that Psalm, we read this:
. . . it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation; They shall come and proclaim
his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.
Psalm 22:30-31 (ESV)
He has done it. He has made the ultimate covering for all the bad, in us and in the world. And He has the victory over the darkness that right now is present and active in the atmosphere.
But as we tell the coming generations, as we proclaim His righteousness, His goodness, His faithfulness in our own pain, in our own feelings of forsakenness, and we tell of what God did and what He does, God uses our words and our lives and our stories to soften the hearts of others toward Himself.
Stories thread us all together, and God uses the voices of victors to reach the hearts of hearers.
Our job isn’t to save anyone, just to be obedient to the telling. I believe one day in heaven we’ll get to see all those who bent their knees to Jesus because of our willingness to be vulnerable with our lives.
We must not restrain our lips. Let’s tell our stories to those around us and to future generations. Let’s step into the vulnerable space of truth-telling and speaking because He has done it.
Our stories aren’t meant to be hidden for safe-keeping; they are meant to give glory to the God who gave you the story. - @sarahmae: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Praise that you were obedient to God to share your story, even if it meant having to put it out their publicly and risk shame and ridicule. In sharing our stories, there is that chance, but even greater is the probability that we will strike a chord with a reader and that they will know one of the greatest truths…that they are not alone. Greater still, is they will know that God forgives, redeems, and heals. Psalm 40:1-3 is my life scripture. I speak openly about my battle with mental illness because 1 in 4 people struggle with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and all forms of mental illness. It’s rampant and we hide it due to shame. When I speak up, I find more people who reach out to me…like they did to you and sometimes that is the gateway to finding help and ultimately victorious living. I also talk about living through 25 years of a verbally and emotionally, and sometimes physically abusive marriage because I don’t want another daughter of the King thinking that they are not worthy of being treated better. Our stories are hard. The facts are painful to share, but if one other person can be led to the loving arms of Christ and His great love for them, then it’s worth it and God will ultimately be glorified….”Many will see and fear (be in awe), and put their trust in the Lord.” He is able. Amen and Amen. God bless you!
Bev, You have encouraged me greatly in the past and I want you to continue speaking on mental illness. It is real and it affects so much people around us, people we think are the strong ones. I am learning to deal with this issue and it is an ongoing process. Just to see all your wonderful posting of encouragement to others makes my heart smile. So thankful for that. Just wanted to let you know that.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
You’re right, mental illness is no respecter of persons…those we least expect, struggle. Though I would not wish the debilitating and tortuous symptoms of ocd anxiety and depression on my worst enemy, there has been a blessing in the “curse”. Having been so low that the only thing my spirit could groan was, “Jesus, help,” I came to learn and know that He will help me in my hour of need. He humbled me to seek help from medical professionals, Christian counselors, accepting that I need medicine to restore my chemical imbalance, and to ultimately free me from the shame and stigma. I have learned utter reliance and dependence upon Him. This struggle has developed in me a compassion for others who are hurting (from mental illness or anything) that I KNOW I would not have, had I not been through the crucible. It keeps me in His Word to strengthen my spirit because the enemy loves to hit with his lies when depression or anxiety lay us low (kick you when your down). I have been encouraged by others (including this wonderful community here) and so if I can come along and encourage someone else that there is help and hope, then that is bringing beauty from the ashes. Praying for you Maylee. Please seek professional help or continue if you are already doing so. Know that mental illness is NOT a flaw in character or a lack of faith….it is an illness. Feel free to reach out to me if you ever feel a need. I’m no expert, but I’ve lived with this all my life….firstname.lastname@example.org or through my blog: http://walkingwellwithgod.blogspot.com/
Blessings sweet sister,
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I wrote a response to you and it didn’t post for some reason…so I’ll try this. Here’s a post I wrote on “Can Christians Truly Have Mental Illness?” https://walkingwellwithgod.blogspot.com/2018/10/can-christians-truly-have-mental.html . And, please feel free to reach out to me personally through my email on my blog under “Contact”. I’m no expert, but I’ve lived with this all my life and if I can help someone else be encouraged then that brings beauty from the ashes….
Blessings sweet sister,
Michele Morin says
Your story is a reminder to everyone that God will stop at NOTHING to spread redemption like a cloak over all the world, that no sin is beyond His ability to forgive, and no one is outside the sound of His good news. So often we forget that the angel said, “Good tidings of great joy for all people.” Thanks be to God!
Sarah Mae says
Yes! Love how you say that, how God will stop at nothing! So true.
Lara Sadowski says
Sarah Mae, thank you for sharing your story. Your obedience to God’s leading has and continues to bless many. You have inspired me to keep telling my story!
God Bless you today and everyday, friend! Praise God from Whom all Blessings flow! <
Joy in Jesus,
Sarah Mae says
Grateful! Yes, keep telling it!
Thank you for sharing your story Sarah. You are so right when you said that stories are meant to be told and not meant to be hidden. It is in these stories where we can encourage someone, lift them up and be that hope for them. We all dealt with our own stories of heartbreaks, loss, struggles and as a result someone willing to share and pour their vulnerability out to us, we understand that we are not alone. So continue on the conversation and share life with each other.
sherry jordan says
Thank you for your encouraging words and the wisdom to go forward. My God! Blessings!
Thank you, Sarah Mae, and (of course!), thank God our compassionate Father (see Psalm 145 in it’s entirety). I’ve a story (or two) within brewing – for some time – and, as our Lord leads, and with your courage and encouragement, it shall be told. Melvin Jones advised, “What you give to humanity you get back. Bread cast upon the waters is much more wholesome and nourishing than pie in the sky”. As I’m (WE’RE) informed, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”. (Acts 20:35) Vogue la galere!
p.s. I was pondering the next years’ ‘resolutions’ (keep ’em in prayer & simple w/eternity in view), you’ve helped immensely fill in a gap. Again,
Thanks for your courage and honesty. Peace and blessings to you as you continue to let you story help others.
Thank you for sharing and being vulnerable! God truly uses our stories to help others. You are a beautiful writer! God bless!!
Sarah Mae says
Thank you, Erin. Love back to you!
Beth Williams says
I can only imagine how hard it was to type out the story for the whole world to see. Thank you for being such a willing obedient servant. Now many woman can say you too?! You’ve opened the door for us to see the real you. To often women put people on pedestals. Our belief is that since you’re in or running a ministry your life is perfect. Thank you for shattering that unrealistic dream. We all have stories that need to be told over & over. Others need to hear how God helped us through a crisis. We need to know that we’re not alone down here. There is someone who can sympathize with us. Someone who has walked this path before & understands it better than we do. My redemptive story deals with geriatric psych. Dementia in all stages. I try to offer help & advice to others dealing with those issues. It is important for them to know that someone cares. There is hope & a light at the end of a tunnel. Women-please keep telling your stories. We need to hear them. To know there are others like us down here. We all need a friend who can pray with us & help us through. Who knows it may lead some to Christ!
Sarah Mae says
Truth: “To often women put people on pedestals. Our belief is that since you’re in or running a ministry your life is perfect.” WE are all just so normal and so human and so God-needy.
Love what you’re doing, and I know it can’t be easy. Thankful for you.
Lynn D. Morrissey says
Sarah Mae, I understand your pain and fear. I can’t thank you enough for your gracious vulnerability. And I know too that Satan uses our fear of public disclosure so that either post-abortive women will suffer in silence never receiving the healing they so desperately need, or else so we can’t share the hope of redemption in Christ’s healing and forgiveness to others who need it. I had an abortion in my early twenties as a new Christian, which later made my shame all the greater. How could I–a Christian–do what I did? There are always extenuating circumstances which, while they don’t make this sin acceptable, at least help us to have compassion and understand. But I have also found that many Christians are not compassionate towards post-abortive women. The react angrily and condemningly. This further sends us underground in shame and suffering and silence. Just recently did I hear a pastor at a prolife dinner/fundraiser read a horrific poem called “The Abortion Tree,” meant to burden women like you and me with further shame and guilt. The poem never mentioned forgiveness possible in Jesus Christ or that we were not the only ones involved. Surely the abortionists themselves who actually commit the act bear their own guilt (unless they come to Jesus for forgiveness). My story is known in my book and in other places where I have written about it, and I have spoken publicly. But I had never told our entire congregation. Two years ago, our pastor gave me that opportunity, and oh how I wrestled, because an older woman there (whom I loved and admired) had called women like you and me callous murderers. After I gave my tearful testimony, she changed. Also, two years later (now), a woman who’d heard my testimony would come to me to pray for her niece who was to have an abortion. I was able to rally many to pray for the young woman and her baby. She has chosen to keep the child, whose “due date” is my birthday! I can’t tell you the joy I feel. Sincere vulnerability, if directed by God, is always worth it. I’m so glad He led you to humbly disclose your past and your healing. I recently wrote about my church testimony and healing from shame at Dr. Charles Stanley’s In Touch Magazine. I share it here, in the hopes, like you have, that even if one woman can be healed or one child saved, my daughter Shannon (as I chose to call her) will not have died in vain. We must come out of hiding, and the Church must show compassion. Women like you and me are the ones who speak truth from experience and our voices need to be heard. I thank you for your courage in sharing.https://www.intouch.org/read/magazine/faith-works/without-condemnation
Sarah Mae says
WOW WOW WOW.
You are so inspiring, and the fact that sweet baby is due on your birthday?! Affirmation from God. Beautiful.
Lynn D. Morrissey says
Yes!! Sarah Mae, when we obey, we never know (literally!) whose lives we’ll affect. Wow, is right: Happy birthday from the Lord! And thank *you* for your obedience! xo L.
karyn j says
Thank you for being obedient and having the courage to share your story! Like you, I think there is so much value in sharing. We often feel shame because of something we’ve done in the past that is not “Christ like.” But sharing our stories can release the hold that situation has on us and can lift the weight of shame from our shoulders. If we haven’t already done so, it can put us on the path to healing and forgiveness. It helps others see our humanity and conversely allows others to see ours. We tend to deal with (or not deal with) things in isolation. If we realized the impact our testimony could have on someone struggling with a similar situation, how much more likely would we be to share?
Thank you for helping others just by speaking (or in this case typing)!
Becky Keife says
“Our job isn’t to save anyone, just to be obedient to the telling.” Yes. This. What marvelous, miraculous, healing work the Spirit can do when we’re obedient to share our stories, to shine a light on God’s fingerprints in our lives — even and especially when they first appeared in our own dark places. I just love you, Sarah Mae. Thank you for being an example of courage and grace. xx
By sharing your bravery and honesty, you have given those who might of otherwise had none a glimmer of hope, thank-you. This morning as I opened my sons’ blinds to reveal that the sun was shining after days of storms, not one but two rainbows appeared. Not more than a few moments had passed when as I stood in my front window two eagles flew directly through them. Since my son has been six he’s had ongoing health issues that can make life for him at times a struggle. No matter how many times we can try to reassure him no to give up Hope today I think that the Lord confirmed it.
“But those who Hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint.”
I hope that you all have a Merry Christmas and a blessed day,
Michelle Stiffler says
Sarah, yes, yes, and thank you. It’s the stories that are most personal that I can’t publish/post without feeling like I’m going to puke. I know where I’ve been and who I am and to Whom I belong, but fear is powerful. Fear of being misunderstood, maybe, or fear of being put forever in that box or dark place. I can’t always put my finger on it. Thank you for your gentle coaxing today to let people judge away if they must. We don’t have to hide – and that’s Good News.
Amy Harper says
Thank you for sharing your story. I have not had an abortion but have a lot of other things I have been through. It is funny you wrote this because I shared my testimony a few weeks ago. It is hard to be vulnerable but we all need to share more. The stories God gave us speak to others and help them realize that they are not alone. It also helps us realize that everyone is fighting a battle and we need to be kinder to each other. God bless and Merry Christmas!