My Abortion

I had an abortion.

And it was a secret I was going to take to the grave.

My decision to abort was made in a moment of fear and panic and it left me destroyed for years by the horror and shame of the choice I made.

In silence, I carried a heavy burden of heartache.
In private, I struggled with intense guilt, shame, and depression.
I never talked about my abortion to anyone. Ever.

I suffered from symptoms of post-abortion grief and trauma.
I was depressed, anxious, self-destructive, angry, full of regret and always ashamed.
And I believed that I deserved all of the terrible consequences of my decision.

There wasn’t a single day that went by that I didn’t think about it. It was always there, always weighing on me. My choice haunted and negatively affected every single aspect of my life.

When I made the decision to abort, I turned my back on God, believing that I could never be forgiven for what I had done. Sure, other people could be forgiven for their sins, but not me. I had done the unthinkable. I killed my own baby. I selfishly took the “easy way out.”

It turned out that the simple solution to my problem turned into a living nightmare.

There wasn’t a single day that went by that I didn’t beg God for forgiveness. I remember sitting in church and even trying to “get right with God.” But the truth was… I felt like a complete fraud and never FELT forgiven.

Little did I know, however, that everything was about to change for me on one unsuspecting Sunday.

During this time, I was attending a church in Dallas, Texas. One particular Sunday morning there was an announcement that stood out to me on the big screen in front of the entire congregation. Among other announcements advertising various Bible studies the church offered, the slide that hit me like a wrecking ball was one for a post-abortion recovery group. Yeah, a post-abortion recovery group! I could not believe it! A church actually acknowledged that there could be women attending their church who previously had an abortion. Not only did they acknowledge it, there was actually a group for it!

Despite my initial enthusiasm and shock, I was very reluctant to make that first call. I knew I needed to go though. And so I did. I am still not sure how I mustered the courage to show up, but I did it. I nervously went to the first meeting.

At first, I thought the facilitators were completely crazy. They spoke of healing and restoration. They spoke of complete forgiveness and freedom from their abortions. I have to admit that I desperately wanted the peace they had, but didn’t think it was possible for me. My heart was too wounded and so hard.

But something was happening to me. Each time I showed up to the group, God would reveal Himself to me. Each week He began to pick up the pieces of my broken heart and make it whole again. I left the group, no longer defined by my abortion, but DEFINED by who I am in Christ- loved, forgiven, whole, and healed. What Christ did on the cross was truly enough to cover my sins, EVEN my abortion sin.

I love this truth from God’s word, “No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. I can make you white as wool.”

That very truth became evident in my restored relationship with God and then in every aspect of my life. Only by the grace of God, I am whole and healed from my brokenness. And I cannot begin to explain all of the ways that accepting His forgiveness has liberated me.

God’s forgiveness is a beautiful gift. And it is a gift to ALL of His children – no matter the sin. We have all fallen short of God’s glory no matter how great the sin. Whether it is the sin of abortion or any other sin, we all need God’s forgiveness and the freedom from our sin that is only found in Jesus Christ. You may be reading this thinking, “Ok, God can forgive abortion, but he surely won’t forgive me for (fill in the blank).” That is simply not true. There is no sin that cannot be forgiven. Restoration and healing is what God wants for every single man and woman.

After my healing, I knew that God was calling me to minister to women, like me, who had an abortion. I knew that God wanted me to be public about my abortion and to proclaim His love, forgiveness, and freedom. God has given me complete freedom to speak on this issue through my own personal testimony and through His word, because there are still so many women bound up by the secrecy and shame of their abortions. God has used my story and testimony to free so many women from their own guilt and shame and to bring them into His loving grace that He so desires for them.

Finding this peace through a post-abortion recovery group is a life changing experience. As a facilitator I love seeing how God heals, and restores, and forgives. The compassion He pours out is so humbling. It is so incredible to see the transformation of broken women at the start of each study and how beautiful and redeemed they are at the end. That is why I am so passionate about post-abortion ministry and care.

It still seems surreal that I have been able to publically share the secrets of my past, but I thank God daily for the opportunity.

Sarah Lowry Dismore is the wife to Craig and mother to their three awesome kids. She is a photographer, singer, and most importantly a follower of Jesus, flawed but forgiven.  You can find out more about her and her post-abortion ministry at her website Someone Cares Ministry (http://someonecaresministries.com).

Someone Cares Abortion Recovery Group (someonecaresministries.com) from jonathan earley on Vimeo.

If Death is Not the End

My grandma died when she was 62 and that was way too early.

Our rides in her beat up old red car that we lovingly referred to as “the Klunker,” our hot summer evenings talking on her front porch, and our quick trips to the local restaurant with the best milkshakes in town… were all cut short by an insidious and dreadful disease called Alzheimer’s.

She would never get a chance to meet my beautiful wife or hold my kids in her arms.

Neither would my grandpa who died of cancer when he was 80.

When I held his hand as he lie asleep in his hospital bed just a couple of days before he passed, I thought about the countless nights I spent at his house, the smell of breakfast and pipe smoke each morning, his flat top haircut, and either a Bible on his lap or Andy Griffith on the television.

Some memories never fade.

But while there is immense joy in being able to remember all of the time we spent together, it is coupled with the haunting reminder that our lives have absolutely no power over death. Whether it is my grandma, my grandpa, me, or even you, our end is certain.

And that reality, our powerlessness to death, is one of utter sadness and despair, because death is our final ending.

So much for family and friends and relationships.
So much for our pursuits and endeavors.
So much for parties and celebrations and having friends over for dinner.
So much for art and music and creativity.
So much for sunsets and mountains and shooting stars.
So much for the smell of breakfast in the morning and sitting on front porches in the summer.

It all comes to a crushing, brutal, and inconsequential end in death.

And you can’t help but feel as if we have been short-changed somehow, like it all should have meant something.

All of this time on earth for absolutely nothing in the end… except for the assurance of death.

But if death is our end and our end is meaningless and inconsequential… then wouldn’t all things leading to that end be meaningless and inconsequential as well?

Said another way- if death is the end toward which all life is moving… then why does anything in our lives matter at all?  Why ascribe any purpose to it whatsoever? It is all death in the end anyway.  

Yet we live and breathe and act each day as if it matters, like it has some sort of importance or significance.  We ironically fight for life as if it is worth something, like it has meaning and value. We grieve when loved ones die. We treat cancer and search for the cure for AIDS and go to the family doctor and try to eat healthy… because we prefer life over death. We spend our time, energy, and resources protecting and defending life and standing for those who cannot defend themselves.

But why do this if it is all death in the end… and life is of no consequence?  Why do we even have a preference for life over death?  Why involve ourselves in any pursuit or endeavor while we are alive?  Why waste our time on anything at all?

Why should we paint and design and build? Why should we continue to create and imagine and dream?  Why play music and write stories and cry when there are happy endings in movies and plays if it all just tragically ends?

Why?

I think the answer is simple:  Death is not our end.  

And if death is not our end, and if there is actually a purpose toward which we are moving, then all things leading toward that purpose is full of meaning and is well worth our time.

That is precisely why the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so important for humanity… because it gives us hope and assurance that, while we were powerless against death, only God has the power to defeat it.  Therefore life, not death, is the purpose toward which we are moving and everything we do to that end is valuable.

That is the very foundation of faith.  It is the belief that God is working toward the renewal of all things, and by virtue of asking God to be the active and present center of our lives,  we begin participating in that renewal right now.  It is a life that looks like Jesus in everything we do.

And it is that reality, God’s power and victory over death demonstrated in Jesus Christ, which is the pinnacle of human happiness and joy… because life prevails and gives us meaning and purpose today.

Family and friends and relationships all matter.
Parties and celebrations and having friends over for dinner is a foretaste of how life will be one day.
Art and music and creativity is a reflection of what we were made to do and what we will continue to do at the renewal of all things.
Sunsets and mountains and shooting stars are a present glimpse of new creation when death is finally exhausted.
And yes, the smell of breakfast in the morning and sitting on front porches in the summer with everyone we love is just the beginning of how good life will be when Christ returns.

No more pain. No more tears. No more death. No more decay.

So live and breathe and act each day as if it matters, like it has some sort of importance or significance… because it does!

For in Christ’s resurrection… all things are made new…. even and especially you.

The World Would Be a Better Place If We All Died

I was watching a reality television show last night in which the contestant, who had been stranded on an island all by herself said, “Being in solitude for ten days makes you realize what things you really value.”

This was a very insightful and introspective comment.

All too often we become attached to and dependent upon so many inconsequential and non-life giving things that we lose sight of or take for granted those things that are of the utmost value and have the most meaning in our lives.

As I sit here and reflect, my wedding ring is a great symbolic illustration of this idea. My wedding ring means everything to me. It represents the commitment my wife and I have with each other. It represents the union we have that will never be broken. It represents the vows we took and depth to which our love will always endure and never fail. All of that and more in a simple ring. It’s absolutely beautiful.

Yet the truth is that on a daily, and even more indicting, a weekly basis… I don’t even think about my wedding ring. It has become so commonplace in my life that it can’t compete with the million other things I have going on in my life or the million other things that I think about on a daily basis. I would even be willing to say that these other thoughts and pursuits pale into comparison to the importance and significance of my wedding ring, yet I never think about it.

So does the fact that my wedding ring has been buried by my lack of attention to it take away it’s symbolic value and power? Absolutely not.

Does it’s symbolic value and power lose influence in my life on a daily basis when it is rarely (if ever) thought about over the course of my daily routine? Sadly yes.

It’s completely possible that the most important things- those things that we hold to be most dear, those things we hold to be most valuable, and those things that remind us of who we are, can become quite ordinary and even forgotten when having to compete with the clutter and interests of lesser things in our lives.

I have had this principle ring true for me over the last 18 months since I stepped down from leadership at our church and began a significant time of rest and flying under the church radar, which I have jokingly referred to as our “40 years of wandering the concrete desert of Columbus.” And little did I know how much I needed the desert to rediscover what is most important to me and what I value the most.

But it is in the solitude of the desert where God strips away everything- everything we think we are, everything we think we know, our attachments, our false identities, our idols, and those things that are inconsequential and non-life giving- and then reminds us of those things that God values.

The last year and a half caused me to ask a ton of questions about who I am and what I value as God began to strip away everything.

What’s the point of it all?
Why do I do what I do?
Does anything ever really change?
Am I wasting my time?
Does any of this even matter?
Do I matter?

Amidst the difficult questions, the seemingly aimless wandering, and the solitude of the desert, God had finally stripped away everything.  And it was in that place where I stood naked and alone with only God and God’s love surrounding me, reminding me of the one thing, the most valuable thing, that answers all of my questions… the cross of Christ.

Sometimes we need the desert to find our hearts and souls… and to remember who we are and what our purpose is. And no matter the endless circles and varied pathways we take in this desert life, the point at which they all converge is at the cross. For it is when we come to the cross that we choose to no longer go our own way.

But I really wish there was a way to write about the cross that isn’t weighed down by all of the religious baggage it has accumulated for so long. And I wish there was a way to introduce you to the cross for the first time without you thinking of it as a throwaway, anachronistic icon. Much like my wedding ring, the cross has become so commonplace, to the point of being lost as a ancient relic of another time, that it can’t compete with the million other things we deem as “important” in the 21st century.

I wish I could write about the cross in a way that isn’t shackled by religious baggage or buried by a mountain of inconsequence, but rather in a way that truly means something for you today and that impacts your life and your relationships. If I could do that I am certain that every person (Christ follower or not) would see the cross’ simple and symbolic beauty and importance… and how it has the power to transform individuals, families, and communities.

At it’s very core, the cross represents a confrontation and revolt against anything that puts us, rather than God, at the center of our own lives. Picking up our cross and denying ourselves daily is the pathway to holistic and abundant living in perfect union with God.

And why would anyone not what that?

Can you imagine what the world would look like if every person would pick up his or her cross, deny his or her self, and follow the selfless and other-centered way of Jesus?

Can you fathom a world in which we give up all of the gimmicks, fads, and self-help schemes and simply picked up our cross daily and denied ourselves?

Can you envision a world where entire communities are redeemed and look to the interest of everyone else in grace, humility, mercy, and love… by simply deciding to pick up our cross and deny ourselves daily?

Can you comprehend a world in which real power is demonstrated by sacrificing ourselves in grace, humility, mercy, and love for the sake of others by picking up our cross and denying ourselves daily?

The cross is the power of God to put to death and then bring to life- first in Christ and then in us.

To put to death curses and bring to life blessings.
To put to death impatience and bring to life patience.
To put to death indulgence and bring to life self-control.
To put to death hostility and bring to life compassion.
To put to death blame and bring to life mercy.
To put to death neglect and bring to life care.
To put to death excuses and bring to life honesty.
To put to death busyness and bring to life balance.
To put to death pride and bring to life selflessness.
To put to death hard-heartedness and bring to life kindness.
To put to death negativity and bring to life positivity.
To put to death resentment and bring to life forgiveness.
To put to death division and bring to life unity.
To put to death labeling and stereotyping and bring to life seeing the beauty in every person.
To put to death complaining and bring to life praising.
To put to death entitlement and bring to life contentment.
To put to death brokenness and bring to life wholeness.
To put to death bitterness and bring to life joy.
To put to death war and bring to life peace.
To put to death hatred and bring to life love.
To put to death defeat and bring to life victory.
To put to death my kingdom and bring to life the Kingdom of God.

That is why the world would be a better place if each of us would pick up our crosses and die.

There is so much of me… so much of us… that needs to die. And so much more that God wants to bring to life in each of us.

The cross of Christ is so much more than a nice symbol, a holy representation, an obscure necklace piece, or an optional wall fixture in a church building.

The cross demands blood and sacrifice. The cross promises that there will be pain. The cross beckons you to come and die.

For without death… there is no Life.

The cross is the very pattern and shape our lives should take demonstrated by Jesus Christ. And that is the pattern and shape for a new and better humanity… the pattern and shape of a new and better world.

What is keeping you from denying yourself and picking up the cross of Christ daily? There is no better time than to begin it than today. See how your life, your relationships, and the world around you begins to change.