Silencing Shame from Abortion: A Brave Story of God's Redemptive Love

By Carla Edmisten

God's Brave Women - Carla's Story


I did not have the courage to do the right thing over thirty years ago.


I believed my choice allowed me to escape the judgement, ridicule, and rejection that an unplanned pregnancy would have brought. And it did, at least from other people.


But the toll that the secrecy of my abortion took was a heavy weight to carry alone for many years. Although engaged to my husband and about to graduate from college, the thought of facing my very conservative Christian parents transformed me into a disappointing, shame-filled little girl, craving the approval of a mother and father whose love felt very conditional. I justified my decision by believing I was doing my parents a kindness, sparing them embarrassment and disappointment.


"The toll that the secrecy of my abortion took was a heavy weight to carry alone for many years... the thought of facing my very conservative Christian parents transformed me into a disappointing, shame-filled little girl, craving the approval of a mother and father whose love felt very conditional."


As soon as the procedure was over, I began asking God to forgive me. Despite how hard I had tried to convince myself that maybe the “pro-Choicers” were right - maybe I really didn’t kill a baby - maybe it was just a blob a tissue - I knew they were wrong. How could God so easily forgive that kind of blatant disobedience?


Several months later I walked down the aisle to my wonderful husband, our secret safe between the two of us. We had swept it under the rug and were moving on with our lives, but I had no idea how bumpy that rug would get under my feet.


For the next decade my mental health, my relationships and my parenting all suffered despite being treated for anxiety and depression. I worked hard to earn forgiveness and worthiness. I volunteered for everything at church, joined the drama team, attended women’s Bible studies, served in Mothers of Preschoolers. I never said no to any opportunity to try to prove to myself, to other people and to God, that I was not the kind of person who would kill a baby.


"I worked hard to earn forgiveness and worthiness... I never said no to any opportunity to try to prove to myself, to other people and to God, that I was not the kind of person who would kill a baby."


I couldn’t tell you what the sermon topic was, but one Sunday, our pastor said the words, “There is nothing you can do to make God love you any less and there is nothing you can do to make Him love you any more.” I am sure I had heard these words many times throughout my life, but in that moment, I finally believed them. No more begging for forgiveness, no more trying to earn His love. I could physically feel weight lifted from me.


There is nothing you can do to make God love you any less and there is nothing you can do to make Him love you any more.” I am sure I had heard these words many times throughout my life, but in that moment, I finally believed them. No more begging for forgiveness, no more trying to earn His love. I could physically feel weight lifted from me."

I was so grateful to feel the unconditional love of God and to be free of the weight of shame, that I could not believe what He was saying to me a couple of years later. It became clear it was no coincidence I heard and read repeatedly about Christians using their ugly stories to lead others to the redemptive love of Christ. I argued with Him, “You can’t be telling me to do that. I thought it was over, I thought we didn’t need to talk about it anymore?”


With the support of my husband, I began to pursue resources for leading post abortion Bible studies. I attended workshops and trainings, not knowing where or when I would put it to use, just knowing that I needed to prepare myself.


It was impossible to think the conservative Southern Baptist Church I was a member of would want any part of it. But the more research I did, the more I was convinced I was not the only one sitting in our pews who was burdened with the secret shame of abortion. There was no doubt that churches everywhere held women suffering silently, in search of redemptive freedom.


"The more research I did, the more I was convinced I was not the only one sitting in our pews who was burdened with the secret shame of abortion. There was no doubt that churches everywhere held women suffering silently, in search of redemptive freedom."


But still the fear of rejection by our church was great because our family was so enmeshed there. I could not picture our lives without the friends we had made and everything we were a part of there. I envisioned deacons dragging me off the stage with a giant hook during a skit with the drama team. And my husband being plucked from his seat while leading our Sunday School class.


With much uncertainty, I finally trusted my story with a dear friend who was also on staff at the church. She helped me take the idea to the leadership and I was shocked to hear they were open to the idea, although somewhat reluctant to believe women would actually attend.


With preparations underway, my training completed, the Sunday arrived. The announcement that our church would be holding a Post-Abortion Bible Study would be in the bulletin, along with my name and phone number. As the announcements scrolled across the screen, I braced myself for gasps and finger pointing, waiting for an usher to come along and slap a scarlet letter on my chest. It was done. I had been obedient. If no one called, I had the peace of knowing I had done what God had asked me to do.


"The announcement that our church would be holding a Post-Abortion Bible Study would be in the bulletin, along with my name and phone number... It was done. I had been obedient. If no one called, I had the peace of knowing I had done what God had asked me to do."


When the service ended, I dreaded the walk into the lobby. What would happen when people came face to face with me? I entered the lobby to see an old friend headed straight toward me. Assuming she wanted to express her disappointment in me, instead she said, “I want to help you, because that’s me too.”

Together she and I built a ministry that reached women within our church and throughout the community. It was our pure joy to embrace hurting women and let them know they were not alone and see them become fully free in Christ. I am eternally grateful to serve a God who so gently and lovingly redeems even our ugliest of pasts.


"It was our pure joy to embrace hurting women and let them know they were not alone and see them become fully free in Christ. I am eternally grateful to serve a God who so gently and lovingly redeems even our ugliest of pasts."

Brave Woman Manifesto


Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story!

And by the way...


You are Brave!


No matter what you are facing, God has made you in His image, which means you are full of His strength and power. I would love to connect with you more and give you a FREE gift - the BRAVE WOMAN MANIFESTO: Five Things to Tell Yourself When Life Gets Hard. Click HERE to sign up for my monthly newsletter and you’ll receive the FREE Manifesto, as well as recent blog posts, updated resources and personal details delivered only to my lovely email tribe.

AS A BONUS… Subscribers will also be the first to receive news regarding the BRAVE WOMEN BIBLE STUDY coming out later this year and a sample chapter! *insert happy dance here* SIGN UP for more info on the study’s release and availability!


About Carla


Carla Edmisten lives in Ladysmith, Virginia with her husband, Jeff and is mom to two adult children. She is a social worker, freelance writer, and speaker. She has been published in various compilations, including the Chicken Soup series. She speaks to women on issues of abortion shame and creating authentic relationships.


If you would like more information on post abortion resources or having Carla speak at an event (currently only virtual) feel free to contact Carla at carla.edmisten@gmail.com or visit her website at carlahope.com.