As I hold my sleeping baby, I'm reminded of the nine months I carried her. I knew her then as I know her now: stubborn, full of personality, and very much alive.
I put my son down for a nap a few minutes ago now. I did not have the privilege to carry him, and I'm reminded daily how thankful I am for the woman who did. I don't know her name or much about her, but I know she was brave and that she loved the baby she carried, even if she knew she would not be the one he called Momma. Abortion would have been much easier. It would have been less painful. It would have removed the unknowns of where her baby is and how he is doing that she will certainly encounter the rest of her life.
I can't help but think that she knew, as I knew with our daughter, that she was carrying a little life with purpose and worth. I will never stop being thankful for her choice to value his life. We pray that every expectant mom may know that there is another way (and we'd take as many as were humanly possible, or find another family who could, so if by chance that's you and you are reading this, contact me).
I have so many questions for her, and I hope one day I'll get to hear her story and maybe even some answers. Did someone encourage her to do what she did? Did she visit a crisis pregnancy center where a follower of Jesus explained that she was valuable and so was the child she would deliver? Did she go to an abortion clinic and choose to leave instead of going through with a procedure? Did a loving neighbor, a friend, or even a complete stranger intercede for her before the Lord? Was she a believer who trusted that God would provide a family for this baby that she could not care for? Did she want to raise this baby, but had no support and no one to turn to?
As you can imagine, conversations centered on the sanctity of life are deeply personal for me.
Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of people were in Washington, D.C. for the annual March for Life. I love that there was a great turnout, and I'm thankful for this event and for a potential change in policy that removes funding for abortions, but still, I feel uneasy.
I'm afraid that we, as Christians, are putting way too much stock in public policy. Oh how I wish that changes in policy could turn the hearts of Americans to Christ. I wish that social justice were impossible to divorce from the Gospel message, but we know too well that it is possible to do good and not know He who is only good.
I'm also afraid that many Christians' theology has shifted, if ever so slightly, from holding a theology of the sanctity of all life to a sanctity of the unborn alone. In the same moments that we celebrate a march with great turnout and high-profile speakers, our president considers some of the most harmful refugee policies I have ever read. Our prisons are full of people who may be mistreated and forever kept from a normal life if they ever do get to leave the place that holds them.
I certainly do not claim to have all the answers, and I know well that there will be difficulty, uncertainty, and pain until the day Jesus returns. The rights of the unborn will continually be in question; racism will never be stamped out; sex trafficking will be a painful reality. We cannot expect people who do not know Jesus to value life the way we do, but we can be unwavering in our commitment to seeing all people as an (altogether broken) reflection of God’s glory. If we truly believe that God created people in His own image, then we should value life with such intensity that it confuses people, whether unborn, terrible twos, runaway teenager, adult with a record, or elderly patient. This includes every race and every humanitarian situation.
I don't know how God has designed you to be involved. Maybe it is by working to change policies, or maybe you are called to counsel in a crisis pregnancy center. Maybe you are called to adopt, foster, or support a momma who wants to raise the baby she will deliver, but doesn't have the means to do so. I pray that God will use the Church to advocate for those who don't have the privilege of speaking for themselves, not for the sake of winning an argument, but for the sake of winning lives to Jesus.
Getting involved and out of our safe little communities will be difficult. It will take a significant amount of time and effort with no promise of return. Investing in others might drain our resources, bring stress or anxiety to our families, or even put us in harm's way. It certainly happened this way for Jesus, and I'd assume it will be similar for us. I pray that I will be looking for opportunities to do the hard work, the thankless work, the seemingly small work of loving people well and pointing them to Jesus, and I pray the same for you.