Saturday, January 31, 2009

Why I Am Pro-Life

Honestly I was just sitting here playing Mahjong tiles when suddenly I had this compulsion to write this post. I think the reason it's even come to my mind is because of an email that was sent to me the other day that led me to this video:

Honestly, I think it's one of the best ads I ever seen on the topic. I wonder if it will actually give some pause to thought. I actually kind of doubt it. I think I heard someone say this ad will never get to be aired. I don't know if that's true or not, but it wouldn't surprise me.

As I write this post, I do it with an understanding that I will probably offend many. In fact, some so much that it could cost me friendships, or at least cordial relations. So I will give the disclaimer now that I do not do this to pick an argument or to try to convince anyone who disagrees with me, whether it be in strength or mild consideration, I'm just sharing my perspective.

I give you my opinion first as a woman who has actually been in a crisis pregnancy. I also give you my opinion as a woman who at the age of 19 chose to have an abortion. I will say until I found myself in a crisis pregnancy I considered myself to be neutral on the matter. I honestly felt it was a "to each his or rather her own" opinion. I had never really considered the possibility of actually having one myself. I would even go so far as to say I don't think I thought I would ever have one. It actually was not my first choice even when I was in the circumstance, but without rehashing old wounds and wrongs that have since been both healed and forgiven, I will say that I personally bent from pressures and went through with the abortion. Having said that, no woman can ever consider herself innocent of her choice to have an abortion, ultimately (without a gun to her head) she participates in the choice.

Saying that, I do know what a painful and difficult decision it is to make. And when it's made, it is made in trade for something else. When all the options and considerations are made, it is determined that something else is of greater value than the life inside. Whether it is relationship, or plans, whether it be imagined freedoms or education, something else takes precedence and a woman proceeds. I honestly believe that most women find it a painful decision to make.

In my case, I chose relationship over the unborn baby. And for me, I never questioned whether or not it was a "baby." No one ever tried to convince me it was tissue or something other than a life, and when I went into the clinic for my abortion at about 9 weeks, I mistakenly saw my ultrasound. I wasn't supposed to but I did. I now know what I saw, the beating heart of a little child. I've since had the joy of seeing the same kind of ultrasounds with two of my other children as well, I know even better now what I saw that day. There is no doubt when I had my abortion that a baby died. It's the one fact that is true about all abortions.

Those who are for the "right to abortion" call themselves pro-choice. I find it interesting because it has been my personal experience that abortion is the one choice that ends all other choices. Once the abortion has been done, there is no going back or undoing any regret. It is a decision that can never be changed or modified. On the other hand, a woman who chooses not to have an abortion keeps the door of choice wide open for herself to make many other decisions in the future. There is the choice to have and keep the child, with that comes choices about marriage, education, working. She can choose to postpone other plans and revisit them, she can choose to make new plans or set new goals, or she can make the choice to stay on the path she's already been on and do it in a different way. Or she can choose to continue on her same path apart from being a mother by giving her child up to a loving family for adoption. Even the choice of adoption leads to more choices. She can choose to have an open adoption with ongoing contact with the adoptive family. She can choose to walk away, and with that she can choose to never look back or she can choose to pursue the relationship again in the future. To me, choosing not to have an abortion is, without a doubt, the road to a plethora of future choices.

Another reason I am pro-life is because of my extensive experience of working with women who have had abortions. Without quoting volatile statistics, I can tell you I have personally dealt with hundreds of women who have suffered from the choice of abortion. I have seen women who have suffered physical complications such as infertility and miscarriage. I myself have had two miscarriages after my abortion and my aborted pregnancy was the only pregnancy I ever accomplished without some form of intervention. I have also seen a lot of women with deep psychological scars. I'm not saying all women are affected this way, but my experience indicates that some women undoubtedly are, ranging from chronic nightmares all the way to attempts of suicide, I have seen these responses and a great range in between. I have also seen emotional damage from shame to depression, and there are of course spiritual consequences as well.

Interestingly enough even though my abortion experience was very traumatic, my initial response was to become extremely pro-choice in the aftermath of it. No, honestly I personally became pro-abortion. I can specifically remember having one conversation that I tried to convince a woman I knew to have an abortion. Looking back now I realize I did so because I didn't want to feel alone, it wasn't enough to be a statistic, I wanted to personally know someone else who'd actually been through it. I am thankful to this day that she didn't listen to me, especially when I see what a treasure her son has grown up to be. I also have great guilt to know that she did abort a later pregnancy that I never knew about till years later. I do feel some sense of responsibility in that, because I lied to her and told her it was "no big deal." Abortion is indeed a big deal.

That leads to another reason why I am against abortion. I have an adopted child. So every day living in my very own home is a reminder at what cost abortion comes. A beautiful loving child, who was given life in the most dire of circumstances, and he's never brought anything but joy into my life. More and more I hear about children who've been adopted, and I think, each one of them has been a choice. Truly every child born since 1973 has absolutely been a choice. They have been given the gift of life, chosen first by God and then my their mother. And those adopted have been chosen yet again. And it is sincerely an incredible thing to experience the joy of adoption.

Now having said all that, you will probably never find me picketing a clinic or lobbying on Capitol stairs. I will always vote pro-life (sorry Mr. President) and I will sign any solid pro-life petition that comes my way, but I know that isn't where the answers lie. Would I love to live in an a world where abortion didn't exist? I would. Do I expect to? I do not. I also don't believe the solution is in sexual education or making birth control more available. You can keep telling me teenagers are "going to have sex" and I will continue to tell any of them who will listen, not to unless they are married. If only a few listen, I will have at least done my part to make an impact. And even if I only change one opinion, I will have at least changed that one opinion. I'm not speaking from a soap box, I'm speaking from my experience, and that no one can deny.

The battle of abortion is not a mass war, but hand to hand combat, and it isn't to be fought against the woman who is making the choice to have one, but rather against the mindset she's been given to believe as absolute. It's a battle against the thought that it is the "best" way or the "only" way. It's a fight against hopelessness and fear. The day I walked into a clinic to have my abortion, I was looking for a way out, I was open to another road of thought. One of my saddest memories about that day is driving into the clinic parking lot. As I looked out the passenger window there were well intentioned people there picketing the clinic. I honestly believe their hearts were for the well-being of the babies. As we drove up to the lot though, they pointed fingers and began to yell. It was with harsh and angry tones that they cried out "Murderer!" at me. And it was in that moment that the clinic that I questioned entering suddenly became the safest place for me to go. I'm by no means judging the people who were there that day, but I do offer it as a warning to any who may feel called to do such a thing should do it in peace and love, whatever their motivation.

To a woman considering abortion I would say, weight your options yet again, there is only one direction that continues down the road of choice. To a woman who has already made the decision and is hurting from it, I would say, you are not alone, there is hope. I never cease to be amazed at how in a world where abortion is so acceptable, so few women who've had them are willing to talk about it. And they are everywhere, in your workplaces, even your churches, your families and many of them are in pain. I pray that both these groups of women discover there is help out there and there is hope.

It is hope that makes me pro-life, I choose to keep it alive. Of course, having said all of that, there is one reason greater than all I have written for my pro-life convictions. The strongest belief I hold about why I am pro-life comes from the scripture.

Genesis 1:26 says, Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness."

Human life was created with inherent value. It's value cannot be separated from the very life itself. Created lives are not accidents or mistakes, human life is made to reflect the image of the Creator Himself. Whether treasured or neglected, it loses no value, it is no less precious, only less appreciated. You are valuable because God created you. He chose to knit you together in a very specific way for a very specific purpose. From the color of your eyes and hair to the personality, strengths and talents He's given you, you are His precious creation. You just may not realize that. And unfortunately people don't realize that is the case with all human life, and so much valuable life is squandered through abortion. Babies being unplanned or unwanted don't make them less valuable, but unfortunately there is no coming back from abortion, the "choice" that ends all choices.

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! Psalm 139:13-17

For more of my personal experience with abortion, click here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Anxious for Nothing

I have been thinking about this phrase a lot lately.

"Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-8

It's a command of God, and a tall order to fill, very hard in times such as these. Everywhere you turn it seems the world is buckling under pressures beyond its control. The economy is bad, people's jobs are at risk, companies are closing, families filing bankruptcies. Yesterday here in Southern California the breaking news story in the morning was of a man who committed suicide after killing his wife and their five children. He sent a fax to the local news station indicating that his wife had planned everything and that both he and she had lost their jobs recently. Their anxiety must have been great.

Sources of anxiety are never lacking. This morning as I was laying in the chiropractor's office for what is supposed to be 7 minutes of relaxation, my mind started to reel. I could worry about my kids, our finances, our family's business, medical bills, our health. There's plenty to be anxious about.

Sometimes I think back to the years 2001-2004 when were battling out our child's adoption. We were on a veritable 24/7 anxiety cycle. In fact even after everything had been settled and it was finalized and irrevocable I had panic attacks for the months that followed. I would lay in bed at night and my heart would just rush. I found out later that it's not uncommon after a prolonged period of stress that your adrenal gland can actually misfire, and the panic attack comes because after having been on a sort of "high alert" for so long your body gets accustomed to being there. I would lay there in a cold sweat, so anxious. I suppose that was a different kind of "anxious for nothing."

The anxiety and worry it births really bring no good. Matthew 6:27 asks the question, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" The truth of the matter is that worry doesn't add anything to your life, but it can rob you of so much, your time, your peace, your hope. I wonder what the statistics are of how much we worry about actually coming to fruition. Worry reminds me of the old dog who is chasing his tail, he never really gets anywhere, but he certainly can wear himself out. Proverbs 12:25 says it like this, "An anxious heart weighs a man down..." The only thing I am pretty sure I've ever gotten out of worrying is a few gray hairs.

I've been worrying lately. We have a lot of bills and debt. Our business is struggling. I can always worry about my kids. Jake rides his bike in traffic. Ethan still isn't totally settled in at his new school. It's been almost a year since the last time Victoria lost consciousness, are we due? Every time she gets sick, I worry. I think I've rebooted that old adrenal gland again too. I often wake up in the early morning hours with the overwhelming sense of anxiousness, and then I have to stop and decide, "what am I afraid of?" I have to come up with the source of the fear.

What about you? What is making you anxious today? Is it your finances? Your job? Are you worrying while you wait for those test results to come back? Is it the state of the economy? The state of your marriage? Bad news? Bad weather? Anxiety can be contagious. You can be feeling fine and someone starts to talk about something that worries them, identity theft, their children's safety, their investments, and human nature responds with the thought, "could that happen to me?"

And yet I am drawn back to the first scripture I shared. It's a command. The Lord says, "Be anxious for nothing..." I know how the rest of the passage goes, and when I feel the anxiety rising up, I do, I try to pray and focus, not in some Pollyanna foolishness, but because I know it's my only hope. If not in the Lord, then where lies my hope? It helps, it does, at least until anxiety tries again to rear its ugly head.

"Anxious for nothing..." Today I pulled up this passage to read it again and I looked at it in it's entirety. And something caught my eye I'd never noted before in its context. Not what comes after the command, but what comes before.

"The Lord is at hand."

Suddenly I realized it is not the prayer that resolves the trouble of anxiety, it is the knowledge that I, as a Christian, am not in this alone. Whatever it is that concerns me or overwhelms me is not mine to face alone. The Lord is here, right here, with me. I often hear a passage of scripture misquoted and it's a bit of a pet peeve with me. I have heard so many people say, with confidence. "I know the Lord doesn't give us more than we can bear." But it isn't true. What the bible says is that God will not give us more temptation than we can bear without making a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13), but He never said in life there would not be more than we could stand up under.

What he did say is this...

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:29-30 (NKJV)


"Be humble under God's powerful hand so He will lift you up when the right time comes. Give all your worries to Him, because He cares about you." 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NCV)

One of the things I love about my husband is that he is a gentleman. If he were walking and saw another weaker than him struggling with a load they were carrying, he would not even hesitate to take it from them and carry it for them, to lighten their load. Knowing his strength was greater, he would help them, and they would be foolish not to allow him to do it. Imagine if you will a little old lady trying to carry a television set or some such thing for herself. A man far stronger comes and offers to help and she refuses, you would think to yourself, what a fool.

And yet, isn't that what we do each day when we struggle carrying our anxiety and worries, overwhelmed and awkward beneath them, when there stands the Lord beside us, a true Gentleman offering to carry our load. Whatever the load, the Lord is big enough to carry it, and He is here, He is at hand.

Worry is sin. We miss the mark when we do it, and when we dwell in it, we hurt ourselve and hinder our walk with the Lord. He commands us not to be anxious, He tells us we don't have to because He is here, and that He cares for us. And yet the temptation to do so remains. Ahh, but what was that about temptation? God said he would make that way of escape. That is where the prayer comes in, the supplication with thanksgiving, it is our escape from the temptation to dwell in the worry and be ruled by anxiety and fear.

Anxiety and worry serve no good purpose but to draw us from the One who promises He will care for you, meet your needs, provide the way where there seems to be no way, and even in the darkest times, He promises to remain by your side and mine and see us through it all.

"Be anxious for nothing..."