See Luminosity

Life Is Happening Here

Life Is Happening Here

I felt the Lord tugging me to it even before Dominic was born.

Years ago, a friend from church shared about her experience working as a counselor for the Blue Ridge Women’s Center – Roanoke’s pro-life ministry to women with (planned and) unplanned pregnancies. The more she spoke, the more I knew I wanted to find out about this place and its ministry – and the first tug at my heart began. At the time I was over my head in raising two young children, working part-time, and trying to start homeschooling, so it was not feasible for me to pursue my interest, but the seed was planted.

Then, years later, a woman from the Blue Ridge Women’s Center came to our Sunday School class and spoke about the ministry, encouraging people to pray and get involved. The tug grew to a pull, and I knew that God had a plan for me and this place, although I didn’t know exactly what. I determined to pursue it and see what He wanted me to do.

Then Dominic happened.

Life shut down to a very narrow sliver for quite a while, during which time I became the object of the ministry rather than the minister. But, I have since learned, you really can’t reach your potential as a minister until you have been there – until you have needed the ministry; until you have been in a place of desperate need.

It is through our pain and weakness that the Lord does His best work.

 

  • “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

About a year after losing our baby, the pull became a magnetic draw, and the Lord made it abundantly clear that He wanted me to minister at the Blue Ridge Women’s Center. By this time my mother-in-law was living with us, and my kids were school age (translation: able to do some school work on their own), so in October of last year I began training to become a counselor to….

Women who were considering aborting their children.

Yeah, go ahead and stop to ponder that for a moment. That’s right, this baby-damaged, child-grieving, infant-loss-recovering gal, who was desperately wanting more children yet thus far unable to conceive them, was being called to minister to people who were actively seeking to kill their children.

Irony, much?

Actually, in all truth, it’s only an irony if you’re new to the Lord’s working. The more I get to know Him, the more I experience that He never does the expected. His plan never follows the path I would choose. Time and time again He walks me along the crazy edge of opposite-day: if it doesn’t make sense, if it defies logic, if it runs completely counterintuitive to my feelings and inclinations – it’s usually God at work. Still, when I’m actually called to it, it never ceases to take the breath out of me.

And this? This assignment – to walk beside women who don’t want their children, so newly devastated by losing one that I so desperately did want – it’s just another ironic-yet-not, grace-filled piece of the tapestry God has been weaving through the loss of our child.

And if I’ve learned anything through this journey, it has been that if I trust Him and walk where He is leading, no matter how scary or painful, He will bring good from it.

That doesn’t mean it was easy. I walked into this with my eyes wide open, knowing how emotionally vulnerable I was, fearful of how I would manage, and concerned about how effective I could be, yet determined to be obedient. The Lord eased my fears right from the beginning, when I met with the Center’s Counseling Director, Susie. Somehow, my time with this amazing Christian woman shifted from an interview about becoming a counselor into sharing the deepest parts of my soul about the loss of my child, and I left the Center knowing, without a doubt, that God was in this.

The Lord was going to use the Blue Ridge Women’s Center to bring my story full circle.

I jumped into training wholeheartedly. My background is professional social work with at-risk kids, so counseling skills are not new to me, but I had a lot to learn about the Center’s approach to ministering without manipulating, speaking the truth in love, and in understanding the unique pressures and needs of women who face unplanned pregnancies.

And I learned a lot.

The Lord shifted my heart from anger and hurt to compassion as I probed the depths of the realities women with unplanned pregnancies face. Rather than seeing her in the post-Dominic’s-death filter of “baby killer”, my perspective began to shift to compassion and care as I recognized the phenomenal hurt, deception, and suffering these women faced.  As one well-written resource explained,

“Unplanned motherhood…represents a threat so great to modern women that it is perceived as equivalent to a ‘death of self’. While the woman may rationally understand this is not her own literal death, her emotional subconscious reaction to carrying the child to term is that her life will be ‘over’…When these women evaluate the abortion decision, therefore, they do not, as a pro-lifer might, formulate the problem with the radically distinct options of either ‘I must endure an embarrassing pregnancy’ or ‘I must destroy the life of innocent child.’ Instead, their perception of the choice is either ‘my life is over’ or ‘the life of this new child is over’. Given this perspective, the choice of abortion becomes one of self-preservation…”. Even those women who are likely to choose life rather than abortion do so not because they better understand fetology or have a greater love for children, but because they have a broader and less fragile sense of self, and they can better incorporate motherhood into their self-identity”.[1]

The Lord opened my heart to not just abortion-minded women, but to women of all types who faced unplanned pregnancies. My heart has continued to open, with every single client, and with every client the Lord healed my grief-wounded soul a bit more. I have learned to love them, regardless of their choices. I have learned to walk with them as they navigate the myriad pressures in their lives, and help them feel supported, regardless of the end result. I have learned to minister without manipulating – to present truth while loving and respecting them, irrespective of what decisions they make about their children.

And it has made me thankful.

There is never a day that I leave the Center without thanking God for my family, for my blessings, for my children, for my life. Every time I am tempted to complain about whatever petty annoyance of the day might be, I only have to go to the Center to be cured. The depth of problems there are almost incomprehensible. I have counseled women who are abused by their partners, who have been diagnosed with cancer, who struggle with substance abuse, who endure Schizophrenia and Multiple Personality Disorder, who have experienced multiple miscarriages, abortions and stillbirths, who are financially destitute, who have been rejected by their families, who have been raped, who have multiple sexual partners, who are Wiccan and atheist, whose multiple previous children have all been taken from them because of parental abuse, who have been in prison, and who have attempted suicide, just to name a few. Many of the women I have counseled have many of these problems in their lives. Indeed, often, for clients, there is not an area of life – physical, relational, academic, sexual, financial, emotional, mental, social, spiritual – that is untouched by disaster.

It is humbling and it puts my own problems into perspective.

I like to say that working at the Blue Ridge Women’s Center has been both one of the best and most difficult things I have ever done. Every time I work, I am confronted with my own grief, with the existential irony of so many who want children in this world being unable to have them, while so many who have them don’t want them.

Yet every time I work, I am also confronted with God’s unfathomable power, sovereignty, and goodness. I see how He makes divine appointments – I can’t tell you how many times I have counseled a woman who has lost a child, as I have. I see how He bonds we Christian women who work there, and how we have become a family to one another, finding a depth of spiritual and emotional closeness from our mutual efforts that can only come from Him. I see how He uses the Center to bring hope to women who had none before walking in, and how He has shown countless women the value of not only the lives of their unborn children, but of their own lives. I see how He uses the moments when these women are most vulnerable, most needy, to bring them to Him.

In almost every appointment I have the opportunity to share my faith in some way. One of the most effective has been my personal experience of the Lord through Dominic’s loss. I never could have imagined, before experiencing it, the ways Jesus could use “my story” to impact women who are suffering – but He does. Over and over again. And the experience is like seeing, in real time, evidence of Him bringing life out of death.

 

  • Revelation 22:1 “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb”. John 14:6 ““I am the way and the truth and the life.”

 

Life flows from God. It just flows…because He IS life. Where God is, life happens – abundantly spilling over, overwhelmingly spilling around and into us. It happens, every day, at the Blue Ridge Women’s Center.

I am fully aware that it is my suffering, the loss of my son, which has put me in the position to be used by Him as a conduit for these women to experience life. It is almost breathtaking in its beauty: my loss, in His hands, led to His comfort, which now leads me to comfort others in their loss – so He can continue His work of bringing life to others, while giving me purpose in the process.

He may not take away our pain, but He will make it meaningful.

The Blue Ridge Women’s Center brings life to babies, to women…and to me. It has been God’s way of bringing my loss full circle, and I am phenomenally thankful. None of us wants to suffer. But my work there has unveiled, for me, even more clearly, the truth of my Lord’s kingdom, where death leads to life, pain leads to comfort, and suffering leads to righteousness.

Yes, Lord, I will take purpose over painless.

Know somebody with an unplanned pregnancy? Send them to the Blue Ridge Women’s Center. Because, I’m telling you, there is LIFE happening at this place.

 

 

 



[1] Swope, P. “Abortion: A Failure to Communicate”. Caring Foundation: Derry, NH. In Equipped to Serve Training Manual, by Philkill, C.R. & Walsh, S. (2002).

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