Sometimes we get the privilege of watching God work through a plan and bring it full circle. This week I had the privilege of holding a new baby. At to say it was emotional for me is an understatement. Yes, I am a sucker for babies, but this one really got me choked up. (photo not the baby I held – but great representation of God holding them in the palm of his hand!)
At times I get to encounter hurting, vulnerable people. Months ago I was able to pray with a mom a young daughter about the daughters unexpected pregnancy. Mom shared openly in private with me about how she thought that abortion was the best option in this circumstance and was encouraging her daughter to look into it. And, in that moment I had a choice…. You see, often as Christians we place blame and shame and say harsh things like “How could you ever consider that? or are you kidding me you’d murder that baby?” But instead I said a quick prayer and asked the Lord to guide my words and to give me eyes to see like he sees, and he gave me the perfect way to love this mom and daughter. Let me explain.
Some of you may have read my sweet friend Lelia Chealey’s guest posted on Renee Swopes blog last week. (Click here to check it out!) http://reneeswope.com/2013/04/confessions-of-an-empty-heart-2/) In it, she shared her adultery/abortion story. Little does she know, but the first time she shared that with me a couple of years ago, she planted a seed deep within.
In listening to Lelia share with me, here’s what I heard… She didn’t need anyone to tell her that abortion was wrong or that she was ending a life. She knew those things. She didn’t need people to say “I can’t believe you would murder your child.” That wasn’t going to help her. When she was making that decision, she was recoiling from bad choices, and being put into a really hard spot. She didn’t need others “judgement” of how wrong her abortion would be (don’t get me wrong – it IS WRONG). It as because of those things that she chose to hide her pregnancy and abortion. Our responses often add to the shame that is already overwhelming. What Lelia needed most was to feel supported and understood and loved; inspite of the circumstances that she was in. She could see the depth of her choices and her sin. The reminder she had growing inside of her made that abundantly clear. What she couldn’t see was a way out. She couldn’t see repenting fixing what she perceived as a problem in that moment. And because she felt alone, because she feared judgement and the consequences, she turned to what she knew was wrong.
Here’s the thing that came to me when she originally shared her story with me; she didn’t have anyone to be Jesus to her. Think about how Jesus might respond to her situation, to her fears. And then think about how we as Christians often respond… Let’s be honest, society is cruel. Lelia was human and hurting and knew that if people found out about her affair, they would be cruel and spiteful and hateful. At the time, hiding an abortion seemed like an easy way to repent and put the situation behind her. I made a mental note that, as I encountered people in tough situations, I would be intentional about asking Jesus how he would respond if he were talking to that person.
SO, back to this sweet baby I held this week. When I first met this mom, I walked her through loving her daughter right where she was. And I used Lelia as an example. I talked about how, because she felt alone and was scared to death, she chose something that she never imagined she would. And the mom of this young girl, well she was much the same. She was a realist, and she knew how society would “mark” her daughter, and it broke her heart. Even though she was upset with her young daughter, she still wanted to protect and defend her. When we first started visiting, she looked right at me and said – I know you think abortion is terrible, so I don’t want to hear it. My casting the guilt was not going to change her mind!
After I prayed for eyes to see like Jesus would, here’s what I knew I had to do; I had to reassure this mom that she had someone to love and support her in working through a young teenage pregnancy. Sometimes knowing someone is on our side makes a huge difference.
I made a point of ensuring the mom knew that she was supported and loved and so was her daughter. We talked about the reality of what people would say, but also in the concept of letting Jesus minister in their brokenness instead of trying to “fix it” in the only way she could see to keep her from the public shame. We walked through how they might build a system around them to walk through the pregnancy.
Now, I don’t take abortion lightly, at all! But here’s how, in this circumstance Jesus led me. Here’s the deal… as humans, we all make decisions to sin. But when we get “caught” it’s easy to do something to take away the shame. For some of us, it might be a little white lie. For others, it might be stealing something small, or cheating on a test. Whatever the sin is, when we get caught, we each tend to try to find a quick way to cover our sin. The Holy Spirit in us convicts us, but our human nature is scared of the judgement. As the Mom and I talked through how many teenagers were sexually active and how really much of the difference was that her daughter would now show visable signs of her sexual activity as she had this baby growing inside her. And because it was “visible” then people would talk.
At the end of the conversation, I had no idea whether this baby would be born, or aborted, but I knew that I loved this lady like Jesus would have. I didn’t belittle her, but instead spoke in love and truth. I didn’t give her permission to force the abortion AT ALL…. But for her to encounter me as a christian and to see love, well, I think it made a difference. To hear me say, I will pray for you no matter what you decide and to pray over her for wisdom as mom in deciding with her daughter what to do about “this” well, I think it made a difference.
I wasn’t a part of the entire journey, just one small part, and I fumbled and didn’t say everything perfect. BUT, I can tell you that I was overcome with emotion this week as I got to hold this precious baby. And as I reread Lelia’s story last week, I was reminded of how important our reactions to hard stuff is to people. I know for me, seeking him in the midst completely changed my reaction. I could feel love instead of shock that this mom might suggest this. I’ll be honest, I’ve had similar circumstances that I haven’t handled nearly as gracefully!
My point here isn’t to dismiss abortion as not wrong, or insignificant. My point is that we all need to examine how we respond and chose to be intentional with our words. As this new baby wrapped their tiny fingers around mine, I will tell you that I was very relieved that I had responded in love and couldn’t help but think that it made a difference and that this little one might have become a statistic had I not…. .