I volunteer as a counselor at Pregnancy Resource Center. Every week, I talk to women who may be facing an unexpected pregnancy.
These women come from every background, age group, marital status, family type, belief system, and ethnicity. They have two things in common: they are female, and they are sexually active.
We offer free pregnancy tests. As counselors, we use this interaction with a woman to explore other areas of her life (such as relationship violence), to offer assistance and referrals when needed, and to introduce her to the notion of God's love for her and His interest in her life.
Pretty intimate topics to tackle over a cup of urine.
Sometimes women come to us hoping the test is positive, and are disappointed when it is not. Often, they are fearful of the results, and burst into tears when the second pink line makes its appearance.
One young client was in the second category. She and her boyfriend already knew she was pregnant when they came to our office. In fact, they had an appointment at an abortion clinic, but cancelled it at the last minute and came to our office for counsel instead.
As the couple sat in the counseling room with me, he kept his arm around her protectively as she spoke through tears of the reaction she expected from her parents: "They're very conservative Christians... they would throw me out... I don't know what I'd do."
As I listened, I had to fight back my own tears — not tears of fear like my client's, but tears of mourning that the message she'd received from her parents' Christianity was one of harsh judgment rather than one of grace. And this message was louder than the pro-life message they also preached. (I'm not saying that's what her parents taught her; I'm only saying that's what she learned.)
Several years ago, a family we know was in the same situation. The parents had raised their kids in the church, and had taught them about God's love and His provision of Jesus for their sin.
And then one of their teenaged daughters got pregnant.
When the girl fearfully told her mother, the mom knew her own reaction at that moment would determine the tone of their relationship for the rest of their lives. So she opened her arms and wrapped her daughter in a hug that said, "You're still my child."
Exactly as God does when we bring Him our sin.
Both mother and daughter knew things would be different, that this new life would require both of them to change their plans. But that mom followed up her hug of acceptance by sticking by her daughter and helping her in every way possible.
Sometimes, people look at me like I'm some kind of a hero for volunteering a few hours a week with a pro-life organization.
If you ask me, my friend who demonstrated grace to her daughter, and her daughter who demonstrated courage by owning up to her mistake — these women who are living out their beliefs every minute — they are the real heroes.