Originally published Wednesday, 30 September 2015.
“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. The twenty-something girl had carried herself with the confidence that comes from turning heads and raising eyebrows.
As her HR Coordinator, I had pegged her 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.
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 reviewed her basic employee information even while my mind scrambled.
That Time "the Abortion Problem" Became MY Problem
It happened over two years ago, but I've been thinking about that conversation a lot these weeks as Planned Parenthood has been in the news. Many women have abortions because they feel they have no other option, not knowing how their decision will follow them and their baby. I've been turning the matter in my head over and over again.
And I struggle.
I prayed for that young woman almost nonstop 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 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.
But as each week passed, that hope dwindled, until it finally flickered out.
And I carried a heavy load of guilt.
Because for all my pro-life activities, I had failed to save the one life that had balanced precariously before me.
I used to look down on those mothers who consented to 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 is after.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
~ Psalm 51:16-17
I had it wrong all along. And the day I failed to save a baby's life, God broke my heart.
That day, I realized that we can become so focused on the mechanics of defunding and outlawing abortion that we're too busy to love and support the very mothers who will face that hard decision.
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. I had built a wall between us that no amount of pleading or cajoling could scale.
What God Says About "the Abortion Problem"
All of Scripture vibrates with this message: We've all screwed up and deserve to be separated from God; but God, in His rich mercy and love, sacrificed Jesus to reconcile us to Him; now we get to love Him by loving others as He has loved us: richly and extravagantly and joyfully.
Whether you've had an abortion or hated those who have had abortions or simply ignored the silent cries for help from those who have had abortions: we're all in the same boat. We all fall short of God's glory, and we all desperately need Him. We can all have hard hearts, and we call all ask Him to break through with His love. We can all experience His forgiveness and fresh mercy, and we can all have our slates wiped clean.
Every single one of us.
Let's not be like the Israelites, getting so wrapped up in our good deeds (and pro-life efforts) that we fail to see that God is after broken hearts that pulse with His love and mercy.
For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
~ Hosea 6:6
Each of us who makes this into a political issue while ignoring the person in front of us--we are the problem with abortion.
Abortion is not a "them" issue--it's an "us" issue. We are all guilty. You and I and she alike. God doesn't need or want our hell-and-brimstone messages. He wants our hearts--broken, contrite, and pouring His love and mercy on those around us.
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.
What We Can Do About "the Abortion Problem"
Quite simply: we beg God for broken hearts and we pour love into those precious women in front of us.
You may not know them, but they're all around us.
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.
They serve up our java at the coffeeshop
....and give us flu shots at the doctor's office
...bag our groceries
...and check us into airplane flights.
One in three women 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. And until we're broken and filled with the extravagant love of Jesus, we will see little change in the abortion industry.
Dear friend, please hear my heart on this, as John penned these words so long ago:
We love because he first loved us. 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. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
~ 1 John 4:19-21
God battered my heart on this matter for weeks, and He hasn't let up until I fell face-down before Him in tears and repentance. I missed one chance to love a precious woman who faced that hard decision of abortion; I don't want to miss another.
How about you? If you feel convicted by God's call to broken hearts and extravagant love, ask for and receive His forgiveness. Tell God you want to see others 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.
The church has 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. Then when that fateful phone call comes, we'll be ready to respond with His love and kindness.
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