My Dear Readers,
Now and then, I receive correspondence which challenges me to integrate my personal experiences and beliefs with my professional insight. Often, these are times in which I may be asked to step outside of my professional training.
Occasionally, people feel tormented regarding decisions they have made and must now contend with. They often feel regret, fear, loss, and a sense of abandonment. However, finding balance in these situations is not about debating what is right or what is wrong. It is about the feelings that are associated.
Below is such a story…..
Dear Visible Man,
I need some advice. I am an African-American female in her mid-30s who was raised in the church. My husband and I are college educated and have been married for 14 years. We are a deeply religious couple. We have been blessed with two children and have been looking forward to having more children.
Recently, my husband and I were laid off within months of each other. Afterwards, I found out that I was pregnant. Due to our fear that we would not be able to financially support another child, we made the decision to terminate the pregnancy.
I am now experiencing intense anxiety, feelings of loss, and guilt regarding the decision to terminate the pregnancy. As I stated earlier, my spouse and I are a deeply religious family. I consider myself to be pro-life. I feel that that I abandoned my faith and sought the termination out of fear, and now, I feel guilty.
I have not been able to reconcile my actions and my faith. I have ceased attending church or participating in church related activities. The pastor and members of the congregation are inquiring about my absence. I don’t know what to tell them. I am so ashamed.
I have questioned whether God would abandon me for my actions. Although I know that I did the right thing, I seek forgiveness. After wanting another child all these years, I feel terrible having made the decision to terminate the pregnancy.
My husband and I want to have another child in order to get back to where we were. I am in good physical health. I pray that God will bless us again. Do you have any advice for me?
Feeling Lost, Federal Way, WA
Dear Young Woman,
In all honesty, I have the desire to pass up this question and leave it to the members of the clergy to answer. However, to do so would be a disservice to you as well as a missed opportunity for me as we continue down our individual Journeys of Self Discovery.
The questions that you pose are challenging ones, and to answer them, I will empower myself to share my personal beliefs as well as professional insights.
You have unresolved guilt due to your decision to terminate the pregnancy.
In seeking God’s forgiveness, you fail to seek forgiveness from self. By holding on to your guilt, you berate yourself for making that decision now, when you are no longer pressured by the fears that drove your decision to terminate the pregnancy. Times have changed, and hindsight is 20/20.
Given this, have the willingness to return to where you were when this decision was made. Empower yourself. Please do the following:
- Have the willingness to recall and review those dark and difficult days.
- Have the willingness to acknowledge the difficulty of your joint decision.
- Have the willingness to have empathy and compassion for yourself and the pain you carry.
You are experiencing intense fear and anxiety.
In your haste to bear the burden of fear and anxiety that God will punish you, you are minimizing your blessings.
- Be reflective: you are not alone. Your spouse of 14 years has been with you through the darkest times.
- Be reflective: you have the blessings of two beautiful children.
- Be reflective: you have good physical health and hopefully are capable of conceiving and carrying a pregnancy to full term.
You are unable to reconcile your actions with your spiritual journey.
The gulf that has developed between you and your church congregation may be a result of your shame, which comes from your belief that you have strayed from your spiritual walk. Empower the self to explore your feelings associated with shame.
- Be vulnerable to self. Be willing to sit with your feelings of shame behavior.
- Be exposed to your shame. Be willing to embrace your shame. It is yours and yours alone. Cease avoidant and distracting behaviors.
- Be open to trusting your journey. It is your journey. It is for you to trust the experience that is to be gained from this journey.
You are worried that God has abandoned you.
If we know that God is Love and about Love, why would God abandon you in this most difficult time? Reexamine your spiritual walk.
- Embrace your belief within yourself.
- Be willing to explore and revise your faith as you learn through your spiritual walk.
- Empower the self to honestly walk your Journey of Self Discovery.
You desire to have another child in order to get back to the state of life prior to the termination of the pregnancy.
There is no going back. In your memories you can return to what happened, but you will NEVER be able to go back to the state of life you had. You are a different person now, and you must want to embrace that. There is no going back.
So, what now?
1) Extend the gift of apology to the self for the pain and suffering it has endured during these many years.
2) Be willing to accept the gift of the apology and work towards letting go of the pain and suffering by providing forgiveness to the self.
3) Embrace the self. Extend love to the self and in doing so, “love me more.” More.
We share a common background. I was also “raised up” in the church. As a child, I was taught to read the scriptures and through those heavy, intense messages from the pulpit, to love God and fear his wrath, but I was also taught that when I did wrong, I was to get on my knees and cry out to God for forgiveness.
It was in my adulthood and during the Journey of Self Discovery that I arrived at the crossroads and sought a different path. Too often, we seek out God for forgiveness and if those prayers are not answered, we assume that God has forsaken us.
I would hope that throughout the world, what we all share about God is that God is about everlasting love, mercy, and most importantly, forgiveness. The one thing that we know for sure is that God will not abandon us. So, it’s not God that you seek forgiveness from—he has already forgiven you. What is true for you is true for me and for everyone else in the world: forgiveness must come from within the self.
As you indicated earlier, you were raised in the church. As you are now an adult, it is your right and responsibility, as you stand at the crossroads to view the journey of life as that adult.
You are the captain of your ship and the master of your destiny. It is for you (and your spouse) to set the direction for the journey or journeys you are about to travel.
Letting Go, Moving On
The past is gone yet not forgotten,
Today is fading yet not gone.
Tomorrow has not yet be written or determined.
Let go of the past.
Experience the today.
Prepare for the tomorrow.
Let us not forget.
Let us have the willingness to forgive The Self and Accept the apology.
Let us honor the past, today and tomorrow.
-Dr. Micheal Kane
I wish you and your family the best and safe travels in your upcoming journeys.
The Visible Man