For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. (Romans 3:23-25, ESV)

What a beautiful spring day! I had just had such a nice visit with mom. I wish we lived closer than fifty minutes away so I could visit more often. I was driving home on the highway with my ten-year-old son, Alex, and out of the blue fear gripped my entire body. My heart started pounding and I was afraid to drive.  There was no place to pull over. My beautiful, precious son was in the car; his life was in my hands. What was happening to me? I had been driving for over thirty years. I had to get us home safely. “Help me, God, help me,” I prayed. God got us home safely, but I was a mess. I was trying to understand what had just happened.  When I got home, I shared this with my husband, and he said that I had probably just experienced a panic attack. This was the beginning of several panic attacks and sleepless nights to come.

Several weeks later I walked into the church that I had grown to love. I loved worshiping God and serving there with the congregation. I wondered, “What if they knew? What if they knew what a horrible person I really am?”  I was so ashamed. Thankfully, no one knew my deep, dark secret.

On one particular Sunday the message was on dealing with sin from your past. The pastor said that if you had unresolved sin it would show itself in different forms. There were two that popped out to me, panic attacks and insomnia. I slunk down in my seat. God was speaking directly to me. I knew I needed to take action so immediately after the service I scheduled an appointment for counseling.

On the day of my counseling appointment I walked into church wishing I had a large cape with a hood and sunglasses, or better yet be completely invisible. I dragged my feet into the pastor’s office and sat down in the chair accompanied by my long-time “friends” - Guilt and Shame. This was the first time I would share about the pain of my abortions.

Talking about my sinful past and my abortions (I could hardly utter the word) was difficult, but the counseling was helping. My panic attacks subsided, and my sleeping was improving. I finally gave in to joining a post abortive Bible study provided by our local Care Net. Deep healing was happening in my life.  I was finally accepting the forgiveness that God has freely given. This is why Christ came, to die for my ugly sin. Yes, Jesus Christ took my punishment at the cross and I have been redeemed. (Romans 3:23-25)

Believe it or not, the panic attacks and sleepless nights ended up being a gift from God. They were a way to signal my heart and my brain that I needed to get help. On the days when the guilt and shame try to creep back in, I remind myself that I don’t ever have to live in bondage again. The past is forgiven, and freedom is here.  

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9, ESV)
Thank you, Lord, that there is nothing that can separate us from your love and forgiveness. Allow those who may be living in guilt or shame from past sins to feel your love and know that you are a God of healing. Would you use those scars from our past and bring a story of redemption to our future? With gratefulness and love we ask this, Amen.

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