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Getting Past My Past

April 27, 2016

Is there something from your past that haunts you and constantly interrupts your thoughts?

For many years, that something in my life was my abortion. I walked around in a zombie-like state in the months following that decision with a growing hatred for myself at the root of my pain and confusion.

Up until that point, the things that brought hurt into my life were caused by others. But the abortion was a choice I made myself. It seemed like the only answer at the time. The abortion clinic workers assured me that they could take care of this “problem” quickly and easily, so I would never have to think about it again. What a lie.

I kept my secret buried deep within my heart. I was so ashamed, so horrified, so convinced that if anyone ever found out I’d had an abortion, I’d be rejected by all my church friends and deemed a woman unfit to serve God.

My complete healing began when I was finally able to turn my thoughts past my own healing to helping others in the same situation. It was terrifying to think about sharing my story with another person. But then I heard of a young girl who worked for my husband who was in a crisis pregnancy situation. She’d asked for a few days off to have an abortion.

I was faced with a fierce tug of war in my spirit. I knew if she heard my story, she might make a different choice. But what would she think of me? What would others think if they found out? I knew God wanted me to talk to her; so would I trust Him, or would I retreat back into my shame?

With shaking hands, I approached Sydney, intent on extending God’s comfort and compassion. Maybe I could just share a few Bible verses and offer to help her without making myself vulnerable.

But during our time together, it became clear she needed to hear my story. With a cracking voice and tear-filled eyes, I decided to care more about her situation than keeping my secret hidden. I told her the truth of what I’d experienced and prayed she’d make a different choice than I had.

A year after that first meeting, I sat across from Sydney once again. She choked out a whispered, “Thank you,” as she turned and kissed the chubby-cheeked boy in the baby carrier beside her. As soon as she spoke those two life-defining words, tears fell from both of our eyes.
Hers were tears of relief.

Mine were tears of redemption.

Both were wrapped in the hope that God truly can take even our worst mistakes and somehow bring good from them.

God has brought me so far since that first meeting with Sydney. Now I travel to crisis pregnancy events and tell my story in hopes of encouraging people to support their local centers. I also share my story from pulpits all across America, trusting that the many women in the audience will see it is possible to be healed and restored from the tragic mistakes from our past.

But I can’t reach everyone. There are women in your sphere of influence who need to hear your story.

I realize an abortion may not be the pain you’re dealing with, but I also know few of us have escaped very deep hurts.

Will you go? Will you share? Will you allow God to comfort you and then take that comfort to others? This step could help you start your own healing process.

I think you’ll find that you are the one who winds up doubly blessed as you walk out the truth of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Dear Lord, only You can heal my deepest hurts and use the bad in my life for good. I need You more and more each day. Please continue to work in my life and use me as a light to help those You have entrusted to me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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  1. Sarah

    I think God gives us pain so we can help others get through the same pain. I have recently taken steps to share my past mistakes with others. I wasn’t leading a Christian lifestyle for the longest time but have gotten back on track. At the first, I was worried about what others would think because I use to live a sexual lifestyle but if I can encourage one person to come back to God then that’s all that matters.

    • Sheila

      I am sitting here in deep thoughts and anguish over a few of the things that I have done in my past and I believe from my soul searching that I have been doing and the way that God has been arresting my soul that I need to do as you have done, by reaching out to someone else who is hurting. I believe that God might open a door for me. I’ve really been searching and am grateful that I came across your post, it is up to me, but I believe that you had what I needed to hear. Thank you, sis

  2. J

    Lysa, I too had an abortion although I was a grown woman in a not so good relationship at the time. I have not shared this and am haunted by it everyday. I have thought about volunteering to counsel at the crisis pregnancy center however I have held back on doing so for one reason. I’m not sure about the children that are given life and put up for adoption. I know from personal experience that the Foster Care system is terribly broken and I couldn’t in good faith tell a young lady that her child would be well cared for if put up for adoption through this means. Do crisis center use private adoptions or do you know?

    Thank you,

    • Christie

      i would assume all crisis pregnancy centers have lots of resources abot where to direct women who need help. One near me has information on private adoption as well as support (with clothes, equipment, parenting classes) for women who choose to parent. Maybe try calling the crisis center near you to verify?

    • Lauren K

      3 1/2 years ago I also tried to redeem myself by looking to volunteer at a pregnancy center. I I quickly found out that I was not capable of giving something to others that I did not have myself. That being redemption and freedom from the guilt of my two abortions 35 years before.
      The woman at the pregnancy center told me about Rachel’s Vineyard. It took a lot of courage but I went to a weekend retreat. it is the best thing I ever did. The guilt is gone and I am completely free from judgment because of a Savior who took EVERY sin to the cross.
      I am now very open about my story because it is not about me, it is about His redemption.
      I want to encourage you to seek out a healing ministry like Rachel’s Vineyard before considering anything else.
      You will not be sorry, you will be redeemed.

  3. Carol

    This is so timely. For quite some time I have known about a young mom who is the daughter of a friend of mine, who is walking some very dangerous paths – which I walked years ago. It is scary to be vulnerable – but I have been wondering more and more if God wants me to reveal my past to her in an attempt to help her avoid some of what I have experienced. This gives me so much to think about.

    Thank you for your willingness to share your past and to give others the encouragement to do likewise.

  4. Samantha

    It’s so hard to leave shame behind.

  5. Krystal @ Little Light on a Hill

    Wow!! The Lord has been bringing this idea up again and again in my life. Some of our greatest tragedies/hurts/secrets should be shared with others to comfort them and point them closer to Christ, the Ultimate Comforter!! Thank you for being vulnerable and inspiring so many with your story. You will never know this side of eternity the ripple effects it will have on His Kingdom.

  6. Pamela Sheldon

    My abortion was part of the story of redemption I shared at Stonecroft events. Afterward many women would come up to me to thank me for sharing my pain and letting them know they weren’t alone in theirs. God turns ashes into beauty when we allow Him into the darkest parts of our pain.

    • Lauren K

      Amen. God is glorified and people are being healed because of your willingness to speak up.

  7. Beth Turner

    I am in my 60’s and still having a hard time living with my past. Still so ashame and sorry. Just keeps slapping me in the face!! I know God has forgiven me, just hard to forgive myself!!

    • Melody

      Dear Beth, I am in my sixties too. I carried the same pain that you described from when I was 19. Several years ago I decided to mentally and spiritually lay my unborn child at the foot of the
      Cross. I visualized myself doing this. It was so real in my mind. From that day on I felt complete forgiveness from Jesus. My guilt was gone. When hurt and guilt threaten me, I see that same vision, and Jesus saying, I’ve got your child. Be at peace.
      My prayers are with you. Take your pain to cross and let the Lord Jesus heal you and forgive. That is what He came to do.

  8. Sherri

    Lysa, I have kept this same shame and secret for years and years. When I read your story it gave me chills because it haunts me everyday and it comforts me that if someone like you can be forgiven and move past your secret so can I. Thank you for sharing your story. I had an abortion when I was young and in a bad relationship. I have never told anyone. Its been 20 years ago. Sometimes you see other people and you think they are perfect and don’t have pain or past or secrets but then you post reminds me that everyone has past hurts and regrets and there is only one person that is perfect. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Jenni DeWitt

    God’s forgiveness is instantaneous, and He longs for us to forgive ourselves so we can move on in our relationship with Him. Thanks for the relatable words, Lysa!

  10. Karen

    Thank you for being transparent and sharing your story. I to made that chose nearly forty years ago. And from time to time it haunts me. But God’s favor saw me through two miscarriages and blessed me with two awesome adult sons. Praise God for his forgiveness. Just recently an organization came to our church that helps young women in crisis and I began to weep. I knew this was my opportunity to help and to heal by giving back. Being in ministry I never shared my story.

    God is truly an amazing God. What were the chances that I would read your post at the same time I made my decision to share and to care for someone else? God bless you Lysa and may he continue to bless your ministry.


  11. J

    I have been a part of a sinful relationship for last 2 years that started as close friends 12 years ago. It was recently found out by his wife but was decided to keep my name quiet for my children sake and my husbands temper and their famity sake. I was not a part of decision and actually found out the news when no response had me worried so I drove by. His wife has left him and I have been shunned which was the advice of a pastor, close friend and a consular. I have been told it was an ungodly choice, (agreed) and he is fighting for his marriage that I was told there could have never been a comparison. Knowing it was wrong, and I do, I am completely devastated and have no one and I realize that sin is just that, deceiving. To believe that you were loved when you were actually nothing. I feel so unworthy of everything. I don’t even know how or what to pray except I wish I could die. Your title caught my attention and was so glad to read. I am ashamed to tell this story but I want to believe in your hope of peace. How do I start? J

    • Lysa TerKeurst

      Please know we are absolutely lifting you up in prayer. So glad you reached out. Sending an email your way today.

      Love and prayers,
      Lysa’s Ministry Team

    • Anne

      My heart goes out to you J! I was in a very similar situation several years back. We were very good friends and it developed into more. After some back and forth and lots of heartache we ended up together and are Married. We have regrets, lots of them at the way things were handled and the pain we caused our spouses. I wanted to tell you this… even though we found our way back to each other and are very much in love the guilt is still there. At least on my part. The doubts that sometimes go through my head as to whether I am the cause of his divorce, as to whether I was just an affair. He says he has never felt the way he does for me with anyone else. He says I didn’t break up his marriage that there were already problems there despite what his ex and family have said. Even finding out things about his ex after the fact that she thought was kept hidden during their marriage. Things she never wanted found out that show she was not on in her marriage 100%. I just want you to know if you had gotten together permanently there would still be hurt and doubts. I do not regret marrying this man in the least. I have never felt a love like this but I do have doubts about the way it happened. I pray about it a lot for me to find peace with it all. I have also prayed for forgiveness but wonder if I deserve it since we are still together?

  12. Laura Jane

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is a very brave thing to do and you never know who you may impact. I’m always inspired by your powerful storytelling and hopeful encouragement; so thank you! I’m also a mama who dearly loves Jesus and who’s experienced His healing in overcoming a traumatic past. I would be so honored if you could take a look at my blog: Thank you!

  13. Jamie

    Very touching! Thank you Lysa for sharing! It is hard to think God could bring good out of sin but he does.

  14. Lisa

    Lysa…first, Thank You a million times for giving of your heart, soul, spirit and authentic truth! I am a survivor of Narcissistic abuse and after 11yrs in the situation I was so deeply depleted and broken down that I made decisions I would NEVER have made. I didn’t even know me anymore. My pastor said this weekend “it is what it is, but it’s not what it seems” and these words are so empowering. I can’t go back in time, it is what it is, but I can become closer and closer to God. He is showing me every day that He can and will use all of my story, and two weeks ago I followed His guidance. I gave my very first talk at my alum university about abuse and I did it. I. Told. My. Story. By the end of the talk I had multiple young women that for the first time decided what they went through or are going through isn’t okay and they said I gave them a voice through my story. Wow…He really used my story. I thanked God as soon as I saw what this blog was about, the timing was perfect. The words of you and my pastor have helped heal my heart this weekend. Blessings, Love & Light…Lisa

  15. Jo

    Wow, when I read the first paragraph of your post I immediately thought of my abortion and there the word abortion jumped off the page. Thank you for sharing this. There is not a day that I don’t regret my decision, as I long for a baby now with my husband but has not been blessed with one. It is difficult not to think at times that this is my punishment for making that decision years ago. I pray that I too will have and feel complete redemption one day. Jx

  16. Richell Martin

    Thank you for your honesty and bravery! I love when God gives us the power to turn something around about our past that Satan thought he was victorious in, and allows us to use it for God’s glory!

  17. Alissa

    I had 2 abortions when I was17-18 at college. It was such an awful and dark time of my life. I carried the secret for 17 years. I locked the door and threw away the key on that part of my life not knowing how the shame of what I had done would eat me up inside for years and years after . Later on in life, I stopped running from God, repented and received His forgiveness and even forgave myself, but still carrying the secret and the thought of “what would they think if they found out” just devoured my soul and kept me a prisoner in a dark empty jail that I didn’t even realize I was in. When I began to pursue Jesus, my “secret” just consumed me and it was all I could think about. I just wanted Jesus and I just wanted to be free and Jesus wanted it for me more than I did! That’s what He died for! One day about 5 years ago, in a weeks span God orchestrated a wonderful gift and opened the door for me to tell my secret to my best of friends in my connect group, then my husband, then my was SO hard, but He held my hand and my heart the entire time. I never saw what the devil had convinced me I would see, I only saw love. I saw understanding. I saw forgiveness. I felt so free and so alive for the first time in my life! I physically felt the barriers of darkness breaking and I was finally allowing all that God had for me to pour over me.. His light, His love, His mercy, His grace, His forgiveness, His peace.. all of it! I was in a downpour! It was a beautiful week! I am not proud at all of what I did back in college, it was awful, but God has turned it around and used it for His Glory. I have been able to share my testimony with others and the more I tell it, the less power the enemy has over me! Not everyone has been so nice about my testimony since then. There has definitely been some looks of judgment at times because so many people categorize sin, but that’s ok because if my story ministers to just one person, it is worth it and Jesus is still and will always hold my hand and protect my heart! I encourage you to put your hands up and let God cut those chains of shame off! He has been there the entire time, just raise your hands and allow Him to set you free! and when satan comes back in the morning and tries to get you to put them back on, make your mind up now DON”T DO IT! You are the daughter of the MOST HIGH KING! You are His beloved. You are His chosen one! Walk in the freedom that He died on the cross for and let Him turn your ashes into beauty! Christine Caine says- “you and I are chosen for a purpose, healed for a purpose, called for a purpose and that purpose always involves other people.” We are set free by the Word of our Testimony… BE FREE!- Alissa

    • Melody

      I just want you to know how much your testimony has truly blessed me this morning. Thank you so much, Alissa.
      May the Lord continue to encourage you to share. Love in Jesus.

  18. Holly Irwin Fine Art

    God bless you, Lysa! Thank you for sharing your story and encouraging all of us!

  19. RobinA

    Dear Lysa,
    A friend of mine still deals with the pain of her abortion. I know it haunts her. I thought about sending this to her, but I don’t want to cause her more pain. I’ve always wanted help her with it, but don’t know how. Any thoughts?

    Bless your heart. We are all imperfect human beings and we do the best we can with this life. Thank you for sharing and know, you are always in my prayers – God bless you! <3

  20. Janet Lund

    Thanks for sharing your story Lysa! It is truly amazing the impact we can make on others when we push through our pain to help others. God can do amazing stuff through us when we let Him. 🙂

  21. cristina moreno

    I really needed to read this tonight. I went through something for several years when I was younger and it has been really tough for me to forget about it. Although I don’t like to admit it, I know deep down that I hold anger towards that certain person and in a way has made me a somewhat bitter person now. I’m not going to say I am always angry but I am not always as happy as I think that I should be. I want to let go of it, I have tried several times but I have never been able to accomplish it. I know I am not the only one who has been through this and I know that I can help others but how can I help others when I cant even help myself?

  22. jo wilmer

    There is no doubt…that when you are cleansed and give Him your life, He WILL use your past to heal others. The scars remain, but to be used in His service. “M” Words and the Christian Woman has reached many women with scars and I pray that they have come to know that yes, the battle scars remain, but not to darken our life, but to show the Light to those who cross our path. We often want to push our scars to the farthest crevices of our mind, but He will bring them forth to be used in His Service. Blessings to you, JO Wilmer

  23. Kokila

    Hi Lysa, I thank God for your life. Am really blessed to read your post. It gives me greater hope and helps me to draw closer to HIM. Thank you!

  24. Eva Hyndman

    Dear Lysa, I heard you speak at WCC today and was very moved by your authentic, vulnerable story and how you find the three places for Jesus. I feel i have been living in the ‘I need Jesus space for 30 years and have just begun the ‘can i trust him’ journey these past several years. I look forward to finding what this journey has in store for me. In the meantime, I will be traveling to Israel on the 16th for my mid-life crisis journey and hope to run into you somewhere in the Holy Land!!

  25. P.S elvaraj

    Keep it up Lisa !

  26. Rebecca


    As a young woman I made the choice to have an abortion in June. I was the girl that always attacked those who were prochoice and then when it happened to me I was absolutely devastated. I knew I couldn’t keep it and I was furious because my boyfriend and I were using protection, everytime. I didn’t understand why God had put me through this and why he was forcing me to make a decision. On top of that, my boyfriend wanted to keep it. But I knew that he wasn’t the person I wanted to be with in the end and I couldn’t bare to bring a child into a divided household like the one I grew up in. I realized after reading your book that I was never going to have an answer of why this had to happen and that the shame I feel for my decision may never go away. However, I can’t let it consume my faith and keep hating myself for it. I was convinced God hated me, that my relationship with him was over, and I wouldn’t be able to redeem myself for my decision. Your words inspired me because I see a great godly woman in you who has made the same decision and still kept a strong faith. I haven’t completely forgiven myself but I’m getting there. I hope I’ll find my purpose out of this hardship someday like you have. Thank you for sharing and being vulnerable, you’re absolutely right that there are ashamed, broken, and embarrassed Christian girls out there, like me, that need to hear your message of hope to allow them to start rebuilding their love for themselves. Thank you for being a stepping stone for me in my journey.

  27. Pam

    Thank you Lysa for your story. I was almost aborted by my teenage mom in 1970, but God “hid” me and didn’t allow her to show until after the 24 weeks for a legal abortion in NY. She didn’t know any better then, but I KNOW this would have hurt her terribly later. So thankful that God loves each of us, even in the womb and has a plan for us. And now I have a husband and 3 beautiful daughters who all serve the Lord.
    Abortion is advertised as such an “easy” escape … but so many women are scarred forever by it. Thank you again for stepping out and sharing this story.

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