In 1979 I had a major crisis. I was twenty-seven and pregnant with my second child when my husband said he didn’t want to be married any longer. The shiny allure of singleness and another woman had drawn him away. When I told him about the baby he said, “That’s the worst news I’ve ever heard.” I was devastated then and I’m tearful now as I remember. With no husband, no child support and no job, my future was dire. The typical joyous baby announcement was replaced with shock and fear. I was an instant single mom and head of household. How would I feed three mouths? I wasn’t able to land a teaching job in the middle of a school year and if I went to work, who would care for my children?
This is difficult for me to write.
Abortion had been legalized six years earlier in the Roe v. Wade case. Could an abortion make my life easier?
I know the feeling of terror and desperation that could cause a woman to seek an abortion. Especially when pressured by her parents, the baby’s father and friends, it would be easy to make a rash decision if she thought it would fix her problem. She may even believe, as some have, it’s only a clump of cells. I can’t imagine having gone through the pain of abortion, especially exacerbated by manipulation, abuse and coercion. Our hope for redemption is in God.
Back in the day, I had what may have seemed good reasons to have an abortion. Thankfully, there was a bigger reason, however, that compelled me to give birth in a terrible situation. God authors each life. If I’d chosen to end my pregnancy, I’d have placed myself in the role of God. I’d be taking a life He’d planned in the beginning. Even though I was scared to death as to how I’d care for my small family, I knew I was walking around with a little person inside me who was kicking, swimming and sucking her thumb.
I named the baby girl my middle name, Dawn. Her birth set off a new season for our family.
As God has always done for me, He made a way where there wasn’t one. Girlfriends came to my rescue. We were a tight knit group and already in the habit of helping each other. We’d learned what it meant to do life together in the Body of Christ.
My working mom friends transferred their children from other caregivers and brought them to me. My 950 square feet became a little daycare center. It was a perfect and timely solution. Counting my two, I usually had seven children. I mothered the noisy, busy, happy bunch during the day and at night I’d recuperate and begin again.
As an infant, Dawn was not easy. Her restlessness, agitation and sleeplessness became more difficult as she grew older. I’d try to interpret her short sounds and gestures, but she wasn’t able to communicate like other children her age.
By the time she was two years old, she’d been diagnosed with severe cognitive delays. She suffered from seizures repeatedly, and I suffered along with her. For many years, I hoped and prayed she’d catch up in her development. I was exhausted much of the time and my heart was broken at her lack of progress.
LIfe would’ve been easier if Dawn had never been born.
I couldn’t let her out of my sight. She’d walk out the door and wander with no destination in mind. Our sweet neighbor would hear someone opening her screen door and find Dawn letting herself inside. I’d discover Dawn emptying boxes and drawers and I’d rescue her from dangerous situations with razors or scissors.
She didn’t understand danger, boundaries or discipline. It was nearly impossible to guide her by the hand or carry her. She’d make loud grunting sounds to convey her frustration.
Once, our church planned a family day at a nearby state park. I didn’t want to miss the fun, but I couldn’t imagine caring for Dawn in a wide open swath of grass, trees and water. A teenager in the group offered to follow Dawn around, so I could have a break. It was wonderful to sit and talk with friends. The poor kid was completely worn out at the end of his time tromping all over that place with Dawn. He was so kind to make the offer, but didn’t know what he was getting himself into.
Yes, my life would’ve been easier without Dawn. It also would have been easier without other difficult people and circumstances. If I could craft my life around certain experiences and people of my choosing, life would be great, right? Would complete control of my life bring me the happiness I desire? I’ve lived long enough to know better. If my proposed desires were all fulfilled, I still wouldn’t be happy.
A perfect life is a delusion.
In dealing with the aftermath of abortion, trained volunteers in pregnancy centers lovingly walk women through biblical instruction and encourage them as they experience healing. I know women whose lives have changed after completing post-abortion studies.
Abortion, like other bad choices, are sins of convenience and selfishness. Our self- preservation moves us to make wrong decisions that seem right at the time. The good news is God gladly forgives us! He has provided people, His body in the flesh, to walk with us as we turn our lives around. We need each other to help us find the freedom and grace He amply provides.
A life of meaning and purpose makes us happy, not a life with all the boxes checked.
God is sovereign. He uses every circumstance to develop us into the people He intended us to be. He created each of us in His image to bring Him honor. A satisfying life results from knowing Him and fulfilling His purposes.
We aren’t on a quest for our Best Life, we’re on a mission to please Him.
We’ve wrongly passed along ideas to the younger generation that come from selfishness, not God’s Word. We’ve adopted an attitude of entitlement. We deserve all the comforts and privileges that life offers. Marriage should be conflict free and happy and if it doesn’t satisfy, there’s a way out. Relationships shouldn’t be difficult; if they are we can move on to new ones.
I appreciate modern conveniences. I love my morning coffee, air conditioning and hot water. But, when we’re faced with circumstances we can’t change, we must defer to our heavenly Father.
The hard experiences we go through are more valuable tools in His hands than the glorious ones we desire.
He wants us to trust Him and celebrate our life in Him, no matter what hardships come. I haven’t arrived yet—this is my lifelong pursuit.
As I search for pictures to include, I can’t hold back the tears. Dawn has taught me to be patient, to celebrate every tiny milestone and to love all kinds of people. I love her so much (just the way she is), she’s a cherished member of our family and I can’t imagine my life without her.