I know hind sight is twenty-twenty, but looking back I see how ill prepared the younger me was for such a challenging grown-up situation as I put myself in. My family survived day by day, one tragedy and trauma after another, so having regular open family discussions and planning ahead for my future was not part of our routine. In fact, we didn’t even have routines.
So I thought I was being incredibly pro-active and responsible, even courageous as a very new and young adult in having a conversation with my fiance before we chose to act like adults and succumb to our temptations. We talked about how the other felt about pregnancy and abortion, and both of us shared that we didn’t believe in abortion, that if we happened to get pregnant, we would move up our wedding date and start our family early. Unfortunately, we didn’t share any of this conversation with either of our families.
Well, we did get pregnant, and we did talk about getting married right away and having our baby. What I hadn’t planned on was the effect my family would have on my decision making process and my convictions and beliefs. Since my family never talked about these issues, I didn’t know how they felt about them, and I certainly didn’t know that they conflicted with my own feelings. I thought naively that families just automatically agreed on these types of issues. I found out that the confidence I had in myself while I was away from my family shrunk back into doubt and confusion once I returned to my familiar surroundings. Once I shared the news of my pregnancy with family, I was shocked to find out that my plans were only as solid as the shifty confidence I stood on. I found myself caught in the middle of two polar opposite reactions to my situation, and I reverted back to trusting everyone else but myself. Ultimately, I chose to put all of my faith in my family who knew me the longest and I thought the best at the time. And in the end, I chose to hide my pregnancy by ending it with an abortion.
Since then, the Bible has been my teacher and has walked me through story after story showing me how this family dynamic is not unique to me or even to our modern times. The Bible has also given me hope to grow and change. Psalm 51 was written by King David after he had learned many hard lessons from his decisions and failed attempts to hide his sins, in which I could whole-heartedly relate. In verse 10 David asks God from the depths of this realization and the consequences that followed, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
Well, first of all I didn’t know what the word steadfast meant. It wasn’t until I looked up the definition that I was cut to the heart. It means to be fixed, firmly established, stable, secure, enduring. I realized then that my commitment to my fiance and the consequences of our behavior was never steadfast and secure, and neither was my commitment to God. At the first instance of questioning by my family I was pushed off of my beliefs with the slightest unpleasant breath of conflict and disagreement. Even more, I feared disappointing my dad who had worked so hard to provide for me and protect me. Dreadfully, instead of seeking his advice, I took matters into my own hands and chose what I thought at the time was the “quick and easy” way out.
Well, David’s prayer has become my fervent prayer, as I realized I had a long way to travel to become a person of stable convictions. This journey has not been easy, but it has equipped me to grow in many areas and to persevere through many trials in addition to healing from the past. I have been humbled by God’s desire to not only forgive me but also to take His grace even further by transforming me from the scared, shy introverted person who once stood on other people’s beliefs while disregarding my own, into the still scared, shy introverted person who now stands not on my own or even the world’s shifting and unstable bed of sandy foundation, but instead on the solid foundation of God’s instructions and commands, indeed on the rock of my redeemer Jesus himself. The apostle Paul tells us that there is no stronger foundation than this, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor. 3:11.
I still have a long way to go, all the way to my dying day, but I’m thankful to be further along today than I was yesterday. And while I journey, my family journeys with me. I have purposeful and open conversations with my children about my past life choices and consequences as we discuss and prepare for their future life choices and possible consequences. Now is the time to talk about these things while they are young so that they may be better prepared in the future than I was. As my husband and I also teach them about faith and their firm foundation in Christ, we are participating with God in establishing a stable and secure foundation for them to build their lives on. The choices they make will still be their own, and I explain that they may have to go against the grain at times in order to stand firm in their beliefs.
There are many women who have chosen in the past and women today and tomorrow who will consider abortion against their own natural desires for many different reasons. In fact, statistically, this sad fact of coerced or forced abortion is more the norm than the exception. Again, I will close with encouragement to seek help and support from a local crisis pregnancy center. One of the many services they offer is a non-judging voice to help women think through their situations and options and see the big picture as there are so often many contributing and conflicting issues causing a cloudy outlook. For those of you not in such a situation, would you consider volunteering at or supporting your local crisis pregnancy center?
For everyone with children, whether they are toddlers or teenagers, please begin a lifestyle of open conversation and communication. In fact, make it a routine to talk, share and love them no matter what chaos they create. If they have the courage to come to you now with small issues, they may have greater courage to come to you in the future with bigger troubles and issues. And if you have faith, share this with your children too. Share your doubts and vulnerabilities with them so that they know that you’re not a perfect person and that you’ll be comfortable to see their imperfections in the future too. And together, you can grow in your faith and foundation a little every day.