Anger and compassion may be two sides of the same coin.

It’s so easy to call these people monsters. I’ve done it, I’ve felt it, and I’ve fought it to no avail. Developing compassion for abortive mothers took me a long time, and then I had to do it all over again when I became a mother. But I can understand – I can understand the desperation and the hopelessness and even the ignorance that could lead to that choice. I can’t understand the blatant selfishness, but I want to believe that’s not as common as it probably is. I have no sympathy for the “doctors” who took the vow to do no harm and who murder helpless innocents every day in the name of choice and personal autonomy. Who chooses that job? I mean, even if you believe with all your heart that the death penalty is justifiable, who would volunteer to pull the trigger? All day? Every day? If you believed with all your heart that you needed to bomb a building to end a war, but you knew there were civilians inside, who jumps at that opportunity, necessary though it may be? So even if you ideologically believe that abortion is not only justifiable, but right, who wants that job? Maybe they don’t want it. Maybe they’re stuck. But still, who can do that day in and day out? How can you live with that dichotomy?

If you watched this video, you probably remember the part where the abortionist, who is graphically and untruthfully describing the development of a 24-week old fetus, tells the mother “I don’t want you to torture yourself.” I don’t even know how to process that statement. Don’t torture yourself over your decision to end the life of this child who, yes, has organs and a face. Or, don’t torture yourself with a baby – torture the baby instead. Or maybe, in a very twisted way, this woman actually had compassion for the mother. She really wanted her to live a life free of guilt. She really didn’t want her to suffer. Maybe there is something I can relate to in that. Maybe if I had lived a different life, grown up in different circumstances, maybe I would be in her shoes.

Yes, she is a monster. It takes a monster to kill babies every day. It takes a monster to kill a child while her own child kicks inside of her. It takes a monster to look at a person and say, “You do not have enough value to live.” It takes a monster to look at a person and say, “My life is worth more than yours.” It takes a monster to call someone else a monster from a seat of superiority. It takes a monster to look at someone and say, “I don’t know how God’s grace could possibly cover you.”  

I am a monster. You are a monster. She is a monster. And truthfully, the word monster just means “human.” But Christ died for all of us. He put on flesh to set us free. And His grace is sufficient for all our sin. Praise God that he didn’t leave me in the mud and blood I was wallowing in when He found me. Praise God that he can pull any monster out of any mire and that He loves us enough to reach down and lift our faces towards Him. Praise God that the same Father who rocks the murdered babies of millions of mothers is waiting with open arms for those mothers and their doctors to come home.

You can always come home.

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The Hammer

This post has been a long time in coming. I keep waiting until I’ve processed, or waiting until I’m “ready” and I think this is as good as it’s going to get.

For as long as I can remember I have claimed to be pro-life. I have fiercely declared it, defended it, argued it, wept it, and bled it. I never memorized the pro-life arguments because I never had to. I feel them in my bones. I never needed a picture of a dismembered fetus to convince me it was a child. I have felt them in my womb. And I never needed anyone to explain to me why their right to life is more important than my right to my own body, because God has written that on my soul. He declared long ago on a cross that a parent’s own body is a sacrifice for the life of their children.

And yet here I am, realizing that I’m not that pro-life at all.

If there is one thing God has pounded into my soul over and over this year it is that my actions, not my convictions, define my faith. I say I want the world to know Him, but what am I doing about it? I say I want to love my neighbor, but when was the last time I talked to them? I say I follow Him, but exactly which of His footsteps am I walking in? And like a hammer, over and over I hear Live it out. Live it out. Live it out.

I may believe that I’ve been pro-life for 26 years, but I’ve really just been anti-abortion.

Being anti-abortion is sharing blog posts and reading articles and debating and spouting facts and voting. But being pro-life is kneeling down in the trenches and lifting someone out of death. It’s not just saving a life, but giving it a chance to be truly lived. Life is sacred. Every life is sacred. The unborn child’s life is sacred. The pregnant teenager’s life is sacred. The irresponsible father’s life is sacred. The post-abortive woman’s life is sacred.

And God keeps hammering. What are you doing? What are you doing? What are you doing?

I’m raising awareness. I’m staying informed. I’m voting. I’m praying. I’m getting angry at lawmakers and the president and Planned Parenthood and women and I am grieving over the thousands of children who die every day so that someone else might live as they wish. I’m wishing I had the courage to be a sidewalk counselor and the money to March for Life and the power to change someone – anyone’s – mind.

And then God reminds me that I don’t need any of that, because I have Him. I have a spring of life welling up to overflowing inside me, and I am called to share this water with the weary, the angry, the innocent, the guilty, the broken, the selfish, and the afraid so that they might have life in abundance.

He reminds me that if I am not for Him, I am against Him. And I wonder, if I am not for life, actively for life, am I against it?

Obey. Obey. Obey.

I contacted a pregnancy center this week about volunteering. My heart is full.

The five seconds of profound life change in between ordering a soda and restraining a child on a plane

Ever since my kids were born I have no longer been able to watch crime shows.  I used to love CSI, Cold Case, and a couple others but I just can’t do it anymore.  There are no disclaimers that say “this story will involve a murdered baby” or “this episode including child trauma” and therefore when it takes me by surprise it always takes my breath away and brings me to tears.  And I don’t mean just normal TV-show tears.  I mean crying on the couch, Jeremy asking if I’m ok, go look at my sleeping kids kind of tears.  I just can’t handle it anymore.

I guess part of being an empathetic person (which I never thought I was before having kids) is that when someone else feels pain, even fictional pain, I feel it with them.  Maybe I don’t know what it’s like to walk in their shoes but it’s not from lack of trying.  News stories about abuse and infanticide, personal friends who have lost children, and TV episodes someone made up to entertain us (which, honestly, we might need to talk about this later) all hit really, really, really close to home for me.  Is this a phase?  Do all new moms go through this and eventually learn to live with it?  Do I have an unhealthy protective instinct?  I don’t know.

Before Malachi was born one night I was lying in bed thinking about how afraid I was that XYZ would happen while I was pregnant and what could I even do to stop it?  How could I protect him?  And then I realized, I couldn’t.  I knew at some point I would have to surrender him to the Lord but I realized I had to do it then, before he was in my arms, because otherwise I probably never could.  It wasn’t a long prayer or even a profound one, but it ended in a lot more peace than I had before I started.  I have prayed and re-prayed that prayer over both my children many times since.

My heart breaks and aches over some of the things going on in our world.  Abortion, infanticide, gendercide, and poverty that results in the death of unwanted children.  There are warehouses in southeast Asia where infant girls are left to die simply because they are girls.  The mother might stop by to feed them – maybe not.  I imagine what I would do if I lived there and found one of these warehouses.  Would I rush in and rescue as many babies as I could, like this woman did?  Would I walk in the door, break down, and pound my fists in anger?  Would I avoid it because the problem is too big?  When I think about how to be active in the pro-life movement, I know the biggest difference I could make would be through sidewalk counseling.  But how, HOW, could I talk to a woman about the unborn life inside her, watch her walk into the clinic pregnant and walk out….not.  Ever since I’ve had my own children I’ve been afraid God would ask me to do ministry in one of those situations and it makes me shake.  I can’t.  How can you ask me to do this?  My heart would break and it would never mend.

Whenever we go on plane trips I bring 7 or 8 magazines from the magazine stack that I never have time to get to.  I usually put off reading the missions magazines because they take the longest.  On the way to Seattle I was working my way through a World Vision magazine when I came to this story.  Go read it.  Did you go?  Go.

When I got to the end I imagined sitting beside that woman while her baby died.  Holding her hand, praying for her, and just being with her while she went through the most profound loss I imagine a mother could ever experience.  I’ve suspected for a few months now that God is preparing me to minister in some way to orphans/grieving mothers/pregnant women considering abortion and I just….I don’t even know.  So as I sat there, casually sipping my soda and eating my Delta snack mix, internally I finally snapped and said, “God, how can you ask me, as a mother, to minister to people like this?  It’s so painful!  It’s too close to home!  How can you ask me to go through that?”  And then in the still, small, earth-shaking, deafening Voice I have come to know and love, He said, “Because that is how I feel about my children.”

And I got it.  I finally got it.  Rescuing unwanted babies is not an end in itself – if it were it would be all-too exhausting.  Saving a few babies from abortion while thousands more die is not an end in itself – if it were it would be a stupid undertaking.  Ministering to grieving mothers is not an end in itself – if it were it would be pointless.  All of these hard, heartbreaking, passionate ministries exist because through them He is glorified.  It’s not just about rescuing unwanted babies – it’s about rescuing lost and lonely people who are wanted by God.  It’s not just about saving a few babies from abortion – it’s about saving souls from damnation.  And it’s not just about comforting grieving mothers – it’s about wiping every tear from their eyes.

It still breaks my heart.  Getting in the trenches – those kind of trenches – still scares me.  But the truth is, His heart has been broken for us from the foundation of the world.  He has given me beautiful children to love while His children are dying without him every day.

You know how it takes an hour to explain something that only took you half a second to process?  That’s what this is.  My eyes watered, I said a short prayer, and then I rescued Malachi’s cup of juice before it spilled all over the airplane floor.  I helped Jeremy juggle the kids, snacks, and drinks during the turbulence.  We had a conversation about soy nuts.  Life went on.

This is the first that I’ve really revisited that achingly profound, anonymous moment on the airplane.  I’m a little afraid of where all this is going, but I’m more afraid of not going there.