Asheritah Ciuciu is the author of Unwrapping the Names of Jesus and Comfort Food: Overcoming Food Addiction with the Word of God. Asheritah grew up in Romania as a missionary kid and then studied English and Women's Ministry at Cedarville University in Ohio. Her passion is helping women find joy in Jesus through a deeper walk with God, and she shares vulnerably from her own life experiences on OneThingAlone.com. She is married to Flaviu, a web programmer and artist, and together they raise their spunky daughter in northeast Ohio.
I've been mulling over this post all week, hesitant to hit "publish" for fear of being misunderstood. My prayer is that as you read, you will hear my heart's cry beyond the words and be moved to repentance with me...
“I’m having an abortion tomorrow.” Her voice was flat.
I gripped the phone tighter, the wind knocked out of me.
“I just want to make sure I’m not going to lose my job,” she said, matter-of-factly. The twenty-something girl had carried herself with the confidence that comes from turning heads and raising eyebrows. I'm ashamed to admit: I had pegged her early-on as being too easy, too willing, too desperate. I towered over her in my spiritual superiority and felt smug when she hooked up with a coworker in her orientation class, not even two weeks into employment.
But now... all I felt was shame--my own shame at having quickly dismissed her instead of trying to reach her, to love her.
I searched for words to fill the pause.
I felt my baby kick.
“Umm, well, let me see. Give me a second to pull up my screen.” I passed the receiver from one hand to another, the sweat in my palm leaving streaks. Dear God, what do I say? How do I reach her without sounding like a religious nut? I went over her basic information even while my mind scrambled.
I've been thinking about that conversation a lot this week, as the nation remembers the 42nd anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. I've been turning the matter in my head over and over again.
And I struggle.
I prayed almost non-stop the 24 hours following that phone call, knowing that the abortion was scheduled the next day. I prayed that she would seek counseling. I prayed there would be picketers outside the clinic. I prayed the doctor would make her listen to the baby's heartbeat. I prayed she would see the little peanut on the screen and immediately fall in love, just as I did. I prayed it wasn't too late.
And for weeks afterwards, I watched her belly with a small glimmer of hope.
As each week passed, that hope dwindled, until it finally flickered out.
And I carried a heavy load of guilt.
I used to look down on those mothers who ordered their own baby's death. I lambasted the pro-choice community. I ran races to fund pro-life groups. I posted disturbing images of failed abortions on my Facebook page. And all along I thought I was doing God's work.
But that's not what God was after.
For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
~ Hosea 6:6
God is after a broken heart, pulsing with His love and mercy.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
~ Psalm 51
It wasn't until I met one of those mothers myself, until I put a face and a name to the "enemy" that God broke my heart.
I wanted to save that baby. I tried suggesting a pregnancy crisis center, adoption, and even the optimistic, "I'm sure it will all work out it the end." But I was too late.
I had stood aside. Cold. Self-righteous. Pit-bull. And when it really mattered, when someone's life was on the line, I had no way to reach her. The wall I had built between us was too high.
Only then did I realize that intervention should have started the moment I met his mother. Before I knew that I would eventually plead for his life, I should have been loving that woman with the same fierceness Jesus loves me--because He loves her (and her little baby), too.
Abortion is not a "them" issue--it's an "us" issue. We are all guilty. You and I and she alike.
Because lives are saved one at a time.
And while I may have not been able to save the 54,559,615 who have died since 1973, I may have been able to save one.
“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
~ Mark 9:37
I welcome these little ones by first embracing their mothers.
You know them:
They serve up our java at the coffeeshop and give us shots at the doctor's office, bag our groceries and check us into flights. They are the middle-aged neighbor next door and the high school girl seated in front of us at church; the coworker in the office across from us and the dish satellite agent we yell at on the phone. One in three of them will have an abortion during her reproductive cycle. These are the women we ought to love to Jesus--the ones right in front of us.
The problem with our nation is not "out there"; the problem with our nation is in here--in my heart and yours.
Dear friend, please hear my heart on this:
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
~ 1 John 4
God battered my heart on this matter for the last week, and He hasn't let up until I fell face-down before Him in tears and repentance.
Dear friends, please hear me on this: the church has far too long been known for its cold shoulder toward sinners. Let us be the hands and feet of Jesus by loving these women straight into His arms. Tell God you want to see them with His eyes of compassion. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you whom He wants you to love and serve today. And by God's amazing grace and power, He will save and transform lives (theirs AND ours) for eternity.