Monday, August 10, 2015

Don't Look Away

I hope you have been as devastated as I by the recent undercover videos in the news exposing Planned Parenthood for selling aborted baby organs and tissue.  My pastor’s passionate sermon this past week bravely discussed a topic that most would prefer to look away from.  And I get that, it’s a pretty gruesome to think of tiny baby parts being sold for negotiated prices, and imagining "clumps of cells” who are denied life but valued for research. But this evidence should be a call to action, not a dismissal of an uncomfortable subject.  My pastor pointed out all the ways the bible supports life, celebrates it and honors it as a gift from God.  Then he gave details about the callous, horrifying way Planned Parenthood casually discussed aborted babies and the life ending techniques that guaranteed the most profit.  I wanted nothing to do with it; in fact I wanted to be as far from those types of choices and actions as possible. It was easy for me to tearfully want to pick up my pitchfork and join the rally cry against this practice but I also was confronted with the realization that I am also guilty in making this a reality. The truth is I am already a part of it.

Listening to my pastor speak this past Sunday, I also remembered for the first time in a long time that as a teenager, I used Planned Parenthood in order to get birth control pills and I also visited their office for the morning after pill.  At the time I was sneaking around in order to engage in premarital sex.  Like many of my friends, I was choosing a sinful path instead of making choices I knew would please God.  And I did it despite what I knew the bible told me, despite what my mother expected of me and despite the risks.  There was no ignorance in my actions and until recently no real remorse either.  I have thought many times how thankful I was to never see any serious consequences for my sinful behavior during the years that I choose to sleep with boyfriends; I never faced an unplanned pregnancy or STD.  But my choice to use an agency like Planned Parenthood also means I ignored their pro-abortion agenda and contributed to their overall mission.  I signed on the line, I played a part, I looked with blind eyes because I wanted to get away with keeping sin in my life.  I can’t point the finger at them without first dealing with my own heart and sinful past.

Sitting in the pew this past Sunday was the first time I ever repented for those choices, even though I have known they were wrong all along.  I had to start with my own past before I could speak out against anything else. 

In graduate school I will never forget the day a friend told me she had recently choose abortion.  I recall our conversation on the walking trail around a lake, where we both shed tears from her decision with every step.  I was adamantly pro-life, a mostly known stance in my circle of friends and yet I found myself surprisingly heartbroken that day.  It’s easy to be pro-life before you have faced a challenging situation that was influenced by a lot of gray area.  This had always been a black and white issue for me, but she helped me truly understand the struggle behind making the choice to get an abortion, even the lure to end a pregnancy.  I cried that day because her child was gone, and I felt the permanence of her actions as a distinct loss, even though I also heard the reasons for her choice. I didn't agree with her choice, but her pain made the entire topic feel very different to me.

Later, days after our conversation, my heartbreak turned to anger.  She never came to me while she was wrestling with the decision, only opening up after the procedure had been done. I convinced myself this was because she didn’t want to face what she knew I would have said, that she feared my reasoning would sway her from finding a way out of her situation.  I was mad she didn’t seek my counsel and denied me the ability to help.  But now looking back, I wonder did she avoid me for fear of my judgement?  Did she keep me out of the problem because I wouldn’t have offered her a solution, just denied her an option?  Would I have said all the right things but done so with a righteous attitude? Would I have been the true Christian friend she needed or would I have scorned her sins that got her here in the first place?

I can’t know her motivation for leaving me out of her decision, but I want to find a way to be the right kind of influence that could make a difference for someone in the future.  I won’t apologize for having an unwavering pro-life stance.  But I do want to be the type of person who would still hear someone’s story and sympathize with their situation in a way that allows me to minister God’s love and influence a biblical decision.  I don’t want to stand in a place of judgement, but I do want my love for God and all the life he creates to influence others to make Godly decisions for their own life.  I want to be a resource that others can come to, not to make choices for them but to help them find God’s will for their life and support them through difficult times.

Perhaps the good news in all of this- for me, my friend and all those affected by abortion -is God forgives.  Recently I applied to become a volunteer with my local crisis pregnancy center and in my statement of faith I wrote “My hope is now to make an impact on the young women in my town. I hope to use my Christian influence and heart of love to help others recognize the path God wants them to choose.  Because of my own struggles with the temptation of sex and sin I believe I can relate to a common path young people choose, and I am open to understanding and listening to stories that greatly differ from my own. Even if abortion is a legal option, I don’t believe God ever would support the end of a life.  As a mother, I know it can be a challenge but I hope to find ways to be equip and support women so they can face those challenges.  As a Christian, I hope to find ways to share God’s love and forgiveness to those in difficult situations.  I believe I was called to serve young mothers and I want to allow God to work through me for his glory. Though my background is not spotless, my soul is thanks to a forgiving God who sent his son to die for my sins.”

I am thankful for my pastor's powerful sermon this week.  I could tell he felt passionately about the situation and though not a popular topic he choose to speak out even if it made others uncomfortable.  I have been planning on volunteering for sometime, his words were the final motivation to get me moving toward that goal.  How can I truly be pro-life if I am doing nothing to support that decision?  How can I be a better Christian friend if I don't seek ways to make that impact?  I wasn't there for my friend in the past, but I can change that in the future.