I saw our son for the first time when he was barely the size of a peanut. At twenty weeks an ultrasound revealed that he was, in fact, the boyest of boys and we named him Sam, which means "Heard of God; asked of God." And that's what we had done, like Hannah, we asked God for Sam for fourteen long, sometimes unbearable, months. And then there he was, a little nugget on a grainy screen, hardly visible, and yet the most beautiful picture I have ever, ever seen.
Soon after our next two pregnancy tests told us "Yes!" to a baby, our doctors told us no, that we wouldn't be meeting those children, would never name them or hold them and we grieved faces we would never see. I remember one of the doctors who was more compassionate than the first, told me that his wife had lost a child in miscarriage and how he knew that even at just a few weeks gestation, the feelings you have for that child are already deeper than you could have imagined. And so is the grief when the ultrasound screen reveals that they will not be coming home.
Mae was born a week early because, as a second time C-section patient and an "aged" mom at 35, the doctor wanted to deliver her before her due date for her safety and mine. At 39 weeks, she was born perfect, just as perfect as she had been when we had seen her in that ultrasound at 8 weeks and again at 16 weeks when the technician showed us the fully-developed bones in her pinky finger, which apparently meant she wouldn't have Down Syndrome. I remember marveling at the fact that we could see every detail, her eyes and her nose and her perfectly tiny feet. She probably weighed less than half a pound at that point, but she was fully herself, fully Mae, fully our daughter. And we loved her more than we had words for.
In light of those joyful and heartbreaking chapters in my story, every time I read a story about abortion or about militant women's rights activists or about the politicians whose campaigns benefit from Planned Parenthood's donations or the companies who give and give to organizations that encourage women to abort their children, I find myself reaching for my babies. Just this morning, after reading yet another rebuttal of the recent videos that surfaced about Planned Parenthood's selling baby parts to "simply re-coop costs," I scooped up Mae and sat with her in my lap, pressing my lips against her hair and feeling grief over those babies who have been discarded like so much tissue and medical waste. And I realized that, very literally, the only difference between those babies and my own, is the grace of God in my life and my heart and my story.
I don't know exactly what our response as believers should be to the abortion crisis in our culture. Sometimes I think that we should rush the Capitol steps and petition Congress to, for the love, stop bankrolling the death of innocents. Other times I want to loudly boycott all the businesses who gladly send money to organizations who facilitate the unraveling of small children's bodies. And then there are the days when I want to wholeheartedly promise every woman considering abortion that I will adopt their child and love it like I gave birth to it myself. The range of emotions I feel about this issue run from grief to anger to fear to despair to grief again.
That woman is not the enemy. She needs compassion and grace and forgiveness. In the very same desperate way that I do.
A few nights ago, as I went on and on to Matt about how angry I was about all the people who are part of the abortion machine and all the people who thinks it's okay to abort babies and all the people who rant and rave about their right to "choose," he just looked at me with grace and compassion and said this: "The principalities and the powers of this world are the trouble. Everybody else, Jesus is trying to rescue. Everybody." And, he was right. He is right.
You and I are not going to solve this abortion issue by being mad or by boycotting companies or by calling politicians and threatening to not give them our vote (that's not to say we shouldn't speak up.) You and I can never fix this problem. But, what we can do is show Jesus to the people who are fighting so hard and so desperately for something we oppose. We can offer them compassion and grace and hope and life.
I have no idea what that looks like most of the time. I'm thinking it might be something as simple as volunteering at a local pregnancy resource center. Or praying for a friend's teenage daughter who just found out she's pregnant at 16. Or donating to organizations who are providing support and counsel for abortion-minded moms and for the broken-hearted ones who have already chosen to abort their babies. Maybe it's adoption or supporting another family who's struggling to come up with the funds to take home a baby without a family.
I'm beginning to realize that the anger and the grief I feel about the abortion issue isn't really helping anything or anyone. And so, here I am, trying hard to figure out what will actually have any impact. What will honor the lives of the babies lost, what will give hope to the desperate women who are faced with an awful choice, what will help more women choose their babies despite the odds stacked against them, what will speak the language of Jesus over this heartbreaking issue.
Whatever I can do to speak life over the hurting ones I come in contact with, I want to do that thing. Whatever it is, at whatever cost.
Maybe that thing for me, and perhaps for you, will simply be taking small steps of grace toward those we disagree with the most. And maybe, if we do that, they will see Jesus, the Restorer of broken hearts and broken people and this broken world we live in.