I was 18. A legal adult. I was also pregnant, and the father was nowhere to be found. I messed up. I messed up pretty bad. At first, I was terrified, mostly of my parents, but knowing I was carrying life within me, that I would one day be responsible for, well that was daunting to say the least. I didn't know what to do and I was too scared of my parents to start the conversation. So, I ran. I'm pretty good at that, but this time I did it so I could clear my head and get with God. I knew he would give me the right direction and He did.
It was only for a weekend, but this was before cell phones, and I had left on the sly. I spent that weekend getting quiet, leaning into the enormous decision that weighed on me. I came back attached. The life within me had spoken and I was in love. I was excited, elated, even giddy, except that I still had to tell my parents. I only remember walking into their living room. The rest of the memories are scant. What I do know is, I walked out of that living room different. Days later I made an appointment that would forever change me and would end my baby's life.
Now, this may be confusing, but I am pro-life. I never saw my baby as anything but life. By the definition of science, it is. A clump of cells was always a ridiculous notion to me. It only minimized it's value and importance. It's funny how we humans can convince ourselves that things aren't important. With the flip of a thought, or perspective, we can alter the life of anything we deem unimportant or less than. We value ourselves and our lives over everything, insects, birds, trees, the environment, animals, our reputations and yes, people. We make choices everyday that lives out this very notion. We destroy trees, habitats, our water, our air, animals, our bodies, our mental health and especially each other.
That's the gift of choice. I'm also pro-choice. Just like I can't argue against life, I also can't argue against choice. I don't make the rules on either. Life is life. Choice is choice. It's not "I get to pick what's life and what's not." It's not, "I get to choose what you have a choice in and what you don't."
Love let's both exist. Fear doesn't.
There are times when I wish abortion hadn't been a choice. Times when I look back and wonder how my life would have been different if that option wasn't on the table. I can't deny that I have spent a lot of time in that space. I also can't deny that the three children I have now, probably wouldn't have come to fruition. I met their Dad in the Air Force, where I ran to escape the pain of losing my baby. How can I question their lives, when I reflect back on the life I lost? I can't. My only answer comes from the same bible that we are finding scriptures in to make people wince from judgement and shame, except my preference comes from one of trust, "Lean not on your own understanding..."
I don't have the answers. I'm not well-versed in scripture. Honestly, if we were in biblical days, I'd be right there with Jesus, pushing back against religion. I am however not going to call a pregnancy, at any level, a clump of cells. That's just pretending. It is life. It's a beginning, a seed, and if left to continue, with the right conditions, it will grow and become a baby. I'm also not going to tell you abortion fixes the "problem." It won't. It ends that particular one, at that moment, but it leaves an empty space. It leaves a scar, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It goes against the natural instincts of a woman to lose a child. Like any loss, it needs time to heal. It doesn't need to be buried. It needs talked about. It needs time to grieve. It needs to be recognized, seen and heard. It especially does not need minimized, or shamed or judged. It needs to be treated like any other loss, even if the woman herself caused it.
I'll never be the same after losing my baby, at my hands, 34 years ago. It changed me. Do I think we should protect women from this same devastating and life-altering decision? No. I believe in choice. Jesus believes in choice. God believes in choice, hence why we have free will. We can't pick and choose. That makes us bigger than God, and no matter what ego out there feels they are, that's not true either.
One of my favorite scenes in The Chosen, a series which brings the life of Jesus and his apostles to life, is when John the Baptist is headed back into town to challenge the King. Jesus knows full well what's going to happen if he does it. He knows he's going to literally lose his head. Jesus had a choice. He could have looked at John and told him the flat out truth. He could have tied him to a tree and kept him from leaving. He could have shamed him and guilted him and made him feel responsible for the pain he was about to cause. He didn't do any of those.
Jesus looked at John and simply said, "You don't have to do this." And John said, "Yes. Yes I do" and he did, and he died. Free will at it's best, but Jesus knew John was headed to heaven and that life was eternal anyways. Jesus knew that only fear would keep John in place, but love would let him go and learn his own lessons, even at the cost of his life, even at the cost of us not understanding.
We can't stop all the bad things that are going to happen in this world by putting fear into people. We can't limit their choices or shame them, or guilt them or manipulate them, or force them, or or even make it harder for them. What we can do is educate them. Make sure they know all the consequences of their choices, whether it's an abortion, an adoption, or keeping the baby. All of them come with consequences that need discussed, without bias. We offer up the safe alternatives with love and we support them in their decision, even if we don't like it, even if we know it could cost them their life, or another.
Abortion exists. Guns exist. Drugs exist. Alcohol exists. Cigarettes exist. Poisons exist. Death exists, but so does life, and so does love. I believe in Jesus, with all my heart and soul. I believe I was long ago forgiven, even though it took me 32 years to forgive myself. I believe it's part of my life story now, even though I often wish it wasn't.
Thru it all, I still believe in choice. I believe in freedom. I believe in love. Abortion was created out of fear. It's not going to end with more fear, more rules, more regulations and more obstacles. We can't approach a solution from the same place we created the problem. I don't know how we back out of something that man created, anymore than I know how to eliminate guns, or drugs or alcohol or cigarettes. All that poison is here, as well as a lot of other bad poisons and choices.
What I do know, is that at 18, if I had felt unconditional love, and acceptance, I wouldn't have been looking for it in the arms of a man who was able to walk away without a second thought. We need to find ways to fill our young girls up, our women up, our men up with the love, acceptance, and yes choice, that Jesus brought to the world.
I'll end with a famous bible story of a woman who had been caught cheating on her husband. They brought her to town to stone her. Jesus' reply, "Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone." Jesus gave the crowd a choice. He didn't gather up all the stones. He didn't hide her away. He offered up the truth, gave them a choice, and every one of them walked away. So did she. Jesus didn't condemn her. He loved her, and then he sent her on her way, filled with his love and hopefully, that would give her the power to make better choices. In the end, the only way to win a war is with love.