Monday, July 12, 2010

The Unpopular Voice

The other day I was chatting with our neighbor. She's a great lady, older, single. She raises her great-grandson. Her daughter, Cynthia*, actually has custody of him, but she works full-time with a second part-time job so Judi* takes care of Jacob* quite a bit of the time. Jacob's mom, MaryAnne*, is a mess. She's in and out of drug rehab, in and out of jail, never has any money, etc. etc. Judi and her daughter are great women but totally enable MaryAnne's choices. Thankfully (and hopefully) I haven't experienced that with my own children so I can't really pass any judgement, but it is difficult to see how MaryAnne's choices affect not only her son, but her entire family.
A few months ago MaryAnne's boyfriend overdosed while at Judi's house. We came home and there were ambulances and police cars everywhere. Less than two weeks later Judi came home and found MaryAnne near dead in her bathroom; another drug overdose. Thankfully, both times, Jacob wasn't there. But the last time, MaryAnne's last overdose, was it for Judi. She hasn't really talked to MaryAnne or given her money or shelter since. I know it is painful for her, but I'm proud of her for taking a stand. Someone needs to.
So Judi and I were chatting and she was telling me about what was going on and we were talking about Jacob, who my children love, and she mentioned that MaryAnne had come by the other day and told her she was pregnant.
What's difficult for me was giving my condolences about a pregnancy. It should be a happy time, even if it's unexpected. There's always reason to be joyful about another life. I know though, that MaryAnne is incapable of raising a child and that Judi, poor Judi, will be raising another great-grandchild. It's too much work for someone her age.
Judi informed me that MaryAnne didn't think she would keep the baby and we talked about how that was probably the best decision. That way no one had to answer questions from Jacob like, "Why is the baby with Mommy but I'm not?" or have to figure out who's going to watch the baby over the weekend or how to pay for immunizations. I was glad for Judi, thankful that MaryAnne was finally making a decent decision, thankful that Jacob would be spared just a little more pain when Judi said, "We're hopeful she has the abortion next week."
Wait. What?
I admit, I'm sheltered. I walk around in my little Christian bubble with my stay-at-home mom friends and every time there's a pregnancy we giggle and touch bellies and compare war stories.
As a teenager I was a very loud proponant of my Christain beliefs. I was totally one of those people. I had little compassion for what others were going through, I thought I knew better, I thought I had all the answers...I was probaby a pretty typical teenager. Abortion has always been something I've been against. Since I learned what it was it didn't sit right with me. As an adult, I've learned not to pass judgement. Not everyone has the kind of family I have, not everyone has the kind of health that I have, not everyone has the kind of support I have. I've learned to be less harsh, less direct, yet still maintain my beliefs. I never have, and never will, think that abortion is an answer. Even as a teenager I remember thinking about the what if's and wondering what would I do ... what if I were raped? What it it were my dad that raped me? What if I didn't love the father? What if the father wanted custody? What if the father wanted me to get an abortion? What if the father wanted nothing to do with me?
It always boiled down to this one thing for me :
Making a child pay for my own, or someone else's, poor decisions or mistakes wasn't ok. A child should not be punished for something he has no control over. Violence against children is wrong. End of story.
I know this isn't a popular thought, especially in today's world. I know most people, at least publicly, say that a baby isn't really even a baby until it's viable. I know I'm on the unpopular end of the spectrum.
My heart is heavy today as I think about MaryAnne and the choice she is making. I think about that precious heartbeat she carries around with her, the heartbeat she's most likely already caused harm to with her addictions and choices. I think of how much God loves that little baby and how I am thankful that even though that child may not experience the daylight or know his mother's love that he will be held and comforted by a God who created him, who is waiting on the other side of eternity with a name for him and a place for him to call home. I think about MaryAnne and how she too is precious to God. How he loves her - how even though He knew she would continue to break His heart He willingly laid down His life for her, hoping that one day she would call His Name so He could save her. I think of Jacob and all the terrible things he's experienced that he thinks are normal. I think of Judi and Cynthia and all the pain they endure, watching children they love waste away, as their decisions rob them of life, fulfillment and happiness.
Judi and I, we were having two different conversations. The whole time I thought we were talking about adoption and we weren't. When I finally figured it out I was so taken aback that I could hardly finish the conversation. To say that it caught me off guard is an understatement.
The opportunity for saying what I should have said is long gone and really, a moot point. The decisions that are made in that family are none of my business and even though I don't agree with them, trying to tell them that I know what is best for their family is just too presumptuious.
Although many people look at the pro-life movement as a bunch of right wing conservative wackos, I see it another way (although, unfortunately, there are wackos out there). I just see myself as someone who's heart breaks for for what people must go through; both babies and the mothers that carry them.
I can't make decisions for anyone other than myself. I can't pretend to understand every situation. I can't even tell you I've found a great solution. I don't have much to offer.
The only thing I bring to the table is Jesus and what He has to offer. What He offers is everything. And He's not the only thing I bring to the table - He's the thing. I know He's the only One with the answer. Until everyone, including myself, learns to listen to Him the way we all should, I just have to pray that His love, kindness and humility reign in my life so that those that would feel judged, those who make the decisions we disagree with, would get the chance to know Him.
After all, that's what life is about right? Pointing people to Him?
So maybe that's the next conversation I can have with Judi. I can just talk about Him. And He will work out all the details.

*Names changed


Deputy's Wife said...

My husband and I just had a conversation about this the other day and while I agree with you on some level, I don't on another. Not basing this on religion and if I'm being completely honest, I have to tell you that if I would have gotten pregnant when I was raped in college, I would have had an abortion. I could not have carried that child for nine months knowing how it came to be and put that child through the hurt of knowing how he was created. Selfishly, I couldn't carry a child and relive that night over and over again for the rest of my life, more than I already do. Children should be made out of love, not something else, if that makes sense. While I totally agree that adoption is a much better answer, I can't blame the woman for her decision. With her addictions, its a strong possibility that the baby will have severe disabilities. Why would you make a child suffer that way for your stupid decisions? What would you do if your daughter came home one day and said she was pregnant after being raped by a family member? You would make her carry that child, facing ridicule from others, subjecting her to psychological torture, and having to live with a constant reminder of that awful time? I pray nothing ever happens like that to anybody, but in today's world, you have to look at both sides of the plate.

Momma Hen said...

Deputy's Wife: No, I would not make my daugther do anything. That's not the kind of person I am. Thankfully I've never been in a situation where others would consider abortion an option. Hopefully none of my children ever are either. And I agree that children should be made out of love, not something else. I know there is no perfect choice in this very imperfect world.
I guess my point in the whole post is that while I may have an unpopular opinion, I don't feel harshly towards those who feel otherwise, or even towards those who make a decision I may not agree with. And I hope that in following Jesus I will love those who disagree with me.

CM said...

I can hear your heart in this post. I know it's hard, but sometimes in life, all we can do is trust that God will work things out for His good.

I see things everyday in my line of work that frustrate, anger, and sadden me. But we can't change or save the world. I think the best thing you can do is be an example of Jesus' love in your neighbor's life. Let God handle the rest.

Momma Hen said...

Thank you CM. I'm sure you see a lot of yuck - thankfully there is Jesus for this world, huh?

Momma K9 said...

Phew! At first as I was reading this I got that you were agreeing with her and I got what she meant but did not get why you were agreeing with her! Now that we have that straightened out.
Jesus often is the "unpopular voice" yet His voice is often exactly what needs to be heard, especially in difficult situations.
Yes, that conversation today is done but you can def be a light to your neighbors in the future! Your neighborhood is your mission field! Now I must take my own advice. ;)
I do agree that it is very unfair for any child to pay for anyone's mistakes, especially a parent who can't control themselves when it comes to drugs/alcohol and promiscuity (however you spell that!) Sadly, I had many little ones in my class who were products of such parents and it broke my heart. I will say though, that they were all happy children and despite their different challenges were full of love to give and love to receive. They just had messed up parents who needed a saviour!
Have you read "Atonement Child" by Francine Rivers? Awesome, awesome read and it deals with a baby made from a rape.

Melissa said...

I know one very special boy who was a product of a date rape. He doesnt know and doesnt need to know. His mother placed him for adoption, not because she didnt want to live with the horror of what happened to her, but because she loved him enough to not only give him a chance at life, but to also have a chance to live a life with a father and mother who could give him the life she could not at the time. In a perfect world every child would be conceived and birthed and raised in a loving family. We live in a very imperfect world and unfortunately that is not the case many of the time. But each of those children conceived deserves a chance to live, a chance to be loved and a chance to quite possibly be a miracle in someone's life.
Hard to have an "unpopular" voice in this imperfect world where there is so much evil that is already being done to those who are already born... I can understand the desire to want to spare the unborn from a possible life of pain. Although I can understand, it doesnt align with my beliefs and what I have seen happen in my own life with one of those hideous circumstances that most would justify abortion because of.

Momma Hen said...

Momma K9 and Melissa: Yes and thank you.
Momma K9: Being a light is what I took away from the whole thing. Nothing for my neighbors will ever change until the know the Lord so it all has to start there.
Melissa: See why I needed your post the other day? I read it about 10 minutes after this conversation. The Lord used you dear friend!

twyla said...

Like CM said, I can hear your heart in this post. I work in a shelter for teen moms. We are a pro-life home that works directly with churches and pro-life agencies. It is amazing how quickly people want to condemn these young mothers for their choices but stand firmly on their platform of life. Sorta contradictory, really. The best I can say is give a generous dose of love, compassion and kindness. We, as christians, are not here to enforce the rules but, rather, to hold the broken.

Momma Hen said...

Twyla: You worded that beautifully. "We are not here to enforce the rules, but, rather, to hold the broken." I think that is the heart of Jesus right there.