There’s been a lot of talk lately about life, abortion and women’s rights.
I’ve been thinking about my own struggle with these issues. Perhaps my story can give perspective to others who grapple with these things.
As an only child, I grew up in a home with two loving parents, both of whom wanted to limit their family size to one! My mother, influenced by the thinking of the day, was concerned that there would not be enough global resources to support the world’s growing population by the year 1980. My father, who had two children from a previous marriage, was reluctant to even have a third child. This small, quiet environment of restricted society was my crucible.
As I grew older, and went to college, I was convinced that it was absolutely outrageous that women should be straddled with all of the burden of pregnancy, especially when men can walk away at any time. The idea that our society didn’t hold men accountable at the same level as women for the caring and raising of children — that was egregious to me! So, I became all about pro-choice. A woman had a right to choose if she wanted to keep her child! What if, God forbid, a woman was raped! Or, what if, the young girl was pregnant and couldn’t support a child because she was still in school? These questions plagued me.
At this point, I never considered the child. The child never played a role in any of these scenarios.
Somewhere along the way though, God changed my heart. It didn’t happen all at once, like at a seminar or during a sermon. It happened because He, in His infinite wisdom, changed the way I thought about children.
Maybe, the change began when my husband and I were unable to have a child as soon as we decided, “Let’s get pregnant!” Two years, several fertility treatments and a lot of prayer brought our first child, a boy. It was during that experience that I realized how precious life is, and how wonderful it is to welcome a new baby into the family!
At first, I wanted to have “a couple of kids” like everyone else. “Maybe we’ll have a boy and a girl, ” I told my husband.
But, when I found out I was pregnant with my third, I was irate with my hubby!
“How could you do this to me?” “Everyone is going to think we are freaks!” I yelled in a hormonal fit! Three kids, this close together is not what I signed up for!
My loving, non-reactionary husband, was calm.
“You are going to be okay! I don’t give a damn what people think! I am excited that we have another beautiful life coming into our lives.”
His words were reassuring. But I had a ways to go.
After my third child, a friend gave me a magazine called Above Rubies. This publication devoted to encouraging mothers was a concentration of articles and testimonies focused on the joy of having children and families! I devoured this reading and the seed was planted that children, (note the plural) are a gift, not a burden.
Surprisingly, I now wanted a fourth child, and wasn’t mad when I discovered we were pregnant yet again.
Unfortunately, with this pregnancy, a new struggle occurred. In public, complete strangers would stare and make comments about my family as if I were “irresponsible” to have yet “another” child. “Are all of those yours?” they would ask. “You know what causes that, don’t you?” They would question sarcastically as they saw my rounded belly! Sometimes, I think people just wanted to make conversation, but other times, you could tell that a person was truly agitated that we were making “too many” babies!
My father showed up at the birth of my fourth. He was smiling and gave me a dime. “Put this between your knees and squeeze!” He chuckled. “It’s the natural form of birth control.” He thought he was being cute. Holding my newborn son in my arms I looked at him and thought, “Which one of your four siblings would you want to erase, Dad?” I kept silent.
Still I continued to receive pressure from both family and friends to “quit having kids already.”
My uncle said to me when I was pregnant with my fifth, “Isn’t that about enough?” This is quite an audacious query to put before an eight-month pregnant lady! Why did he feel he had the right to make such a comment? I really believe he thought I was out-of-line to have more than my share of children.
In 1957, journalist Mike Wallace interviewed Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood. In this interview, Sanger revealed what became an agenda to change the way our society thinks about fertility: “I think the greatest sin in the world is bringing children into this world.” My uncle, like so many in our culture, had bought into this line of thinking.
“You guys can do whatever you want, but I think you’re crazy,” a close family member told me one day when I told her of my impending fifth birth. How is a young mother to deal with this kind of pressure?
Looking back, I realize that the struggles I’ve had with abortion, birth control, family life and women’s rights are all related! There is a culture in our country, perhaps even the dominate culture, that doesn’t value children. Many don’t see children as a gift from God. Many don’t see them as precious. Rather, many around us see children as a burden, an expense, a hassle. As a nation, I believe we aren’t going to progress on this issue until we address this pervasive thinking.
Our ideas about abortion won’t be changed at the clinic or at the women’s march. Our ideas about life and family will only be changed in the heart when God shows us that we are more complete, more joyful even, when we give of ourselves to others and to our children.
To wrap this up, I want to tell you about something that miraculously happened in my dad’s heart with the birth of my fifth! When I told him that we would be having another baby he said, “I am glad. You are a good mother.” He came to the hospital and held his new grandson. “You did good!” he said softly. What a change in this man!
God is the healer of hearts, the changer of minds and the giver of children!! Glory be to Him!