“Congratulations, you’re pregnant!” As she heard the news from the voice on the other end of the phone line, she let out a scream of terror.
What will the neighbors think?
Will I be kicked out of my home?
How will I support myself and my baby?
What do I need to do to survive?
Kay Lyn Carlson was in a crisis situation, and at 17 years old, she could only think about tomorrow, not the future. She had been taught in sex education classes as early as grade school that abortion is an option for a woman facing a pregnancy she did not plan. What a relief it seemed to be when she walked through those doors of the abortion facility and was greeted by comforting voices.
It’s not a baby.
It’s just a blob of tissue.
It’s just a product of conception.
After you go home, you’ll never have to think about this again.
But Kay Lyn would discover that those words were lies. She did think about it again, and the grief and guilt consumed her. She knew that blood had been shed that day. She had lost a baby, a human soul. She tried to suppress the enormous beach ball of shame that kept forcing its way to the surface of her life, but it would not stay down. Even 7 years later, as she and her husband welcomed their oldest daughter into the world, she could not attach. In her mind, she was a horrible mother, for she had allowed one of her children to be killed. She believed the consequences of her sin would loom over her forever, and she begged God to take her life. Finally, the pain outweighed the shame, and she sought help in Christian therapy.
Kay Lyn sat down with her pastor and unloaded the burden she had been bearing. “My dear, Christian friend,” he responded in love. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:17). As a woman who felt doomed to hell for committing the unpardonable sin, she had believed in salvation for everyone but herself. This was the first time she felt she could experience God’s love rather than His anger.
Not Alone: In Pain or In Potential Healing
Kay Lyn is not alone. As a result of more than 60 million abortions reported in the U.S. since 1973 (http://www.numberofabortions.com), there are untold millions of women, men, and families suffering the aftermath.
Just as Kay Lyn has experienced healing, her passion is to help others choose grace over the shame and condemnation they feel today. “Many are afraid of seeking help because they fear they will never stop crying, but that’s not true,” she insists. “God is with you the whole way. Even at that abortion table He was with me, and He cried when I cried, and He felt every emotion, and I left Him, He did not leave me.”
In 2018 she launched the organization Choose Grace International to tend to the heart of reproductive loss. Today, she passionately shares God’s grace to the hurting and educates individuals and communities on giving the gift of life.
How Can We, the Church, Help the Hurting?
“If Christians would stop having abortions, we would really hurt Planned Parenthood,” she insists. “What is going on in the church that would make Christians want to have abortions?”
Part of the answer, according to Kay Lyn, is to wipe out shame and guilt. Distinguishable from the conviction of the Holy Spirit, “Shame is a soul-eating emotion,” she explains. She knew her pregnancy was a result of her sin, and in her crisis, she did not know how to make the right decision. Though her pregnancy was unplanned by her, she needed to understand that God has a plan for every pregnancy and every life. She needed to trust that the church would respond like Jesus.
Open the conversation in love just as Pastor Derek did when he gave her a platform to share her testimony of God’s grace and faithfulness, so that those who need help will not be afraid to seek it. Others need to know that they can come forward, even in their sin and shame, and they will be loved. Their child will be loved. They need to know that the body of Christ will be a safe place to come to for healing.
Follow Jesus’ example of the woman who was caught in adultery and brought to Him by the Pharisees. In John 5 He instructs the Pharisees, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Not one of us is qualified to cast that stone. With compassion, He forgave her past and directed her towards the future.
“Neither do I condemn you,” Jesus comforted her, “– go and sin no more.”
Unplanned Movie Event
This Thursday evening, at 6 p.m. on March 28, Parkway Baptist Church, along with Old Powhatan Baptist Church, Choose Grace International, and the Pregnancy Help Center of Chesterfield will be hosting an Unplanned Movie Red Carpet Event at Westchester Commons. The event will begin with Kay Lyn Carlson sharing her story before the movie and include prayer and counselors on-site. The movie is based on the true story of Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood employee and advocate whose life and mission was changed forever when she witnessed an ultrasound-assisted abortion.
Carlson, who attended the movie premiere in Hollywood, urges anyone who can to go see it in its first week of running. The movie earned an R rating by the MPAA, meaning that minors under 17 years old, who are legally allowed to get an abortion in many states without parental involvement, are not qualified to see what actually happens during an abortion. She cautions that for those who have had experience with such loss, the movie may contain triggers, but it is eye-opening and urgent that believers have no doubt that life is on the line when a woman walks through the doors of Planned Parenthood.
Valuable resources will be posted at the end of the movie, and counselors will be on hand throughout the event.
A Healing Devotional
Kay Lyn’s story is one of five featured stories in Planned from the Start: A Healing Devotional. As an interactive companion to the movie, it reveals areas of emotional turmoil that often trap women and men in a prison of pain.
''Our prayer is that this devotional will be the catalyst that begins a personal healing journey for every person who has been affected by abortion.'' — Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman, writers-directors of Unplanned.
Hope for the Hurting
Right now, hurting women, men, and families are sitting beside us in the midst of a crisis. Do you know one of them? Are you one of them? Seek support. If you or someone you know are in need of hope or have experienced such loss, reach out to Pastor Derek Futrell or Parkway staff who can lovingly pray for you and direct you towards resources and help. Visit Choose Grace International and contact Kay Lyn Carlson. She seeks to help everyone she can to learn, just as she has,
“My dear child, God’s grace is sufficient for you.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Written by Hollie Gilman,
A member of Parkway Baptist Church