It was April of 2015 when I found myself in a scary place. I’d been here before, but this time felt different. The monotony of life had overtaken my spirit. The day-to-day tasks wreaked havoc on my soul by transforming my passionate spirit into a complacent one. As a Christian, I’ve learned the devil can do his best work when I’m in this state. After all, the devil’s work isn’t always disguised as pure evil, but can be as simple as turning my gaze away from the One who made me. Even though I was spending many hours volunteering in His buildings and serving His people, I felt distant to Him. Something was missing. Really missing. I’ve learned in these moments, that a simple, consistent prayer is both all I can muster and is simultaneously all I need. So in an attempt to feel that deep connection with my Maker again, I began to utter these seven words, “Break my heart for what breaks Yours.” At the time, I wasn’t even sure what this meant, but the repetition and consistency by which I prayed this simple prayer began to rebuild a foundation in my heart.
Disclaimer: In hindsight, I should’ve known better. I know to be careful when I utter words to God. So, if I were you, I wouldn’t pray these words unless you are ready for a life-changing cardiac upheaval.
As the seven words echoed in my prayers for a few months, our lives were uprooted with a move across an ocean. Moving with littles is emotionally and physically exhausting, and let me be the first to tell you, I did not handle it well. I wanted so badly to put my spiritual life on hold and come back to it after the boxes were unpacked and the daily schedules were set, but God had a different plan. It was July, and I was haphazardly scrolling through my Facebook feed when I saw the first undercover Planned Parenthood (PP) video. I watched as a VP at Planned Parenthood spoke nonchalantly about life-ending procedures that occurred in PP clinics across the country. It was there in that moment that God began to answer my prayer. Piece by piece my heart began to break. A piece for the unborn child, a piece for the mother (and father) who were faced with an unfathomable decision, and a piece for the families and friends who had the important job of supporting the mother through this trying time. Over the next several weeks, a total of ten heart-wrenching videos were released, and by the end of August, my heart seemed almost irreparable.
In the wake of the videos’ release, articles flooded the Internet about the “validity” of the videos and about whether or not PP was receiving illegal compensation for fetal tissue. In previous years, my logical brain would have been fixated on these reports, and I would have felt compelled to discover the “truth” and the “facts” and thereby create a well-constructed political stance on abortion. But not this time. In light of arguably the most compelling propaganda against abortion, I lost all political affiliations and sobbed uncontrollably for the people. ALL THE PEOPLE. The unborn baby, the mother, the families. For decades our country has debated this issue in the political spectrum and instead of making progress, we have simply created hardened hearts. Policy makers no longer see people, they see scenarios. Politicians no longer see hearts, they see agendas. Instead of pulling up a chair to the table, and looking one another in the eye, human-to-human, people on both sides are digging their heels in and gluing themselves to a party line. But, much to my heart’s dismay, there will never be a crystalline answer to this issue. And so, I began to wonder, what if instead of picketing, or donating, or lobbying, we make a different choice—a choice that exists outside of the political spectrum? What if we put down our politically and emotionally charged agendas and choose to simply love others?
As God broke my heart by opening my eyes, He began to rebuild a new foundation in my soul by providing me with a solution. I began to think about my own children and how I discipline and guide them. I thought about how I try (and fail) to parent out of love and use positive reinforcement to correct behavior. I thought about how the only way to change the actions of their hands is to focus on their hearts. And so, I wondered, what if we took the same approach when looking for solutions to the abortion epidemic? What if, instead of focusing on the abortion clinic, we begin to focus on the women who chose NOT to have an abortion? What if we focus on the mother who gave her child life, but due to difficult circumstances is now unable to care for them? What about the mom who – even though terrified – chose to deliver her baby, but due to addiction, or the throws of poverty, or one bad decision has now become unfit to care for her kids? Can we not — despite her shortcomings—celebrate the first difficult choice she made to give life to the baby inside of her? Can we not come alongside of her and offer to help? As a society (and especially as Christians) we can’t continue to tell women, “You must have your baby” if we aren’t simultaneously going to say “and, if the time comes when you need it, we will help you care for them”.
As the vision became clearer, I felt God saying, “Look in the eyes of the terrified mother who said ‘yes’ to giving her baby life and help care for her child. Open your home to orphans and those children in need. The unborn babies are safe in My arms, but there are BORN babies around you who need your help.” So with a lot of kicking and screaming (because one of my spiritual gifts is “stubbornness”) we became a licensed Foster Family. In the coming weeks, we will welcome an unknown child (or children) into our home for an undetermined period of time, and you know what? We are terrified. We have absolutely no clue how it’s going to pan out. In some ways, we feel similar to the terrified pregnant woman who walks into an abortion clinic. We are nervous about bringing another child into our home. We are uncertain of the stress extra children will put on our lives. We don’t know if the love that we shower all over these kids will have any lasting impact. We doubt our abilities as parents on a daily basis.
But despite our uncertainty, I do know this: I can’t close my eyes any longer. I can’t turn away from the mom, who if given a few months to focus on her own needs, could become a better mother to her children. I can’t continue to live this over-abundant life and believe that I am doing everything in my power to fulfill God’s great commission. I can’t continue to bawl my eyes out at the astronomical number of abortions that occur in the U.S. and not do my part to celebrate and support the women who CHOSE LIFE for their children. I must choose to support the lives of the children around me if I’m ever going to expect a terrified pregnant woman to choose life for her unborn baby.
So you may still be thinking, how can serving as a foster family help reduce the number of abortions? I cannot give you a scientific study, but I can share the thoughts of my heart. So, if you’ll allow me to be idyllic for a moment, just imagine a world where more people made the choice to radically care for children in the foster care system. Note: When I say radically care, I don’t just mean adoption. Radically caring for a foster child means radically caring for the parents who are trying to get back on their feet. It means financial support, training, education, mentorship, therapy, rehabilitation and LOVE. And when I say “more people” I simply mean 1 family out of every 290 families in the U.S., or 0.3% of ALL households in the Country, or, as a Christian, just ONE family from every church congregation. Or, even better, every church congregation as a whole could choose to rally around one foster child (*gasp*). That’s right, if every church congregation radically loved on a child in care, we could totally eradicate the foster care system. The church could single-handedly destroy the system with unrelenting love.
And then, imagine this…A terrified pregnant woman walks into an abortion clinic. Maybe she feels ill-equipped to raise a child. Or maybe she is scared to bring a child into poverty. Or maybe she is frightened because she can’t imagine caring for a child with special healthcare needs. But instead, she sees a different world. She sees a world that has rallied around orphans so much that our country no longer has orphans. Imagine her relief as she walks into the clinic and, instead of seeing picketers, she sees a family ready and waiting to support her during her pregnancy. This family promises that, if she finds herself unable to care for her child, they are willing to take her child in. She sees that the same love given to nearly 400,000 children in foster care is available to her and her baby. In light of this overflowing love, how could this terrified mother not be compelled to at least consider a different choice for herself and her child? The scared mom is not as scared because she knows there is a community of people who are willing to help her. If we long for a world that has no more abortions, we must create a world that has no more orphans.
I’ve written these words with trembling hands and a humble heart because these conversational wounds are so sensitive and tender to so many people. I pray that these words will be genuinely received by those who read them and that all who disagree can do so with love. I deeply understand that foster care may not be the right choice for many families, but I pray that each person whose heart breaks for unborn children, will consider finding a way to support the children and mothers who have been given life and are struggling. May we have open minds and open hearts to serve ALL THE LIVES around us, just as Jesus called us to do.
And as for my family, the journey is just beginning. We don’t have all the answers, but we do have one: Do the next right thing. And the next right thing for us is to open our home to a child in need. After all, I didn’t get to choose how God answered my prayer, but I can trust that once He has answered, He will go before me. I can pray as Paul did in 2 Thessalonians 1:11 that “By his power He may fulfill every good purpose & every act prompted by faith”. I’ll do my job and He will do His, and piece-by-piece we will mend our broken hearts.
I am a lover of people, a child of God, and a laugher at jokes. I write words, cry tears and smile at strangers.