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One at a Time

November 3, 2008

What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

James 2:14-17

“Jess, I have really screwed up. I still love Jesus but…I really screwed up.”

I sat in my brother’s old recliner holding the phone, listening for the kids with one ear while I talked to her. It had been a few months since we spoke. She called, her voice tight as she told me her news.

She was pregnant.

My friend felt everything that a woman feels when she finds herself alone in this situation; terrified, overwhelmed, and angry. She spent most of her first trimester sleeping about three hours a night – she spent the rest of the time crying. When she did sleep, she’d dream about the man who had left her alone. Her heart broke again and again as she tried to rest.

A group of our friends from church gathered at her house a few weeks after she told me she was pregnant. Crying again, she told all of us what happened. “Please pray…I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she sobbed.

One by one, each women prayed for her that night. The group hugged each other as we stood up to leave.

Hugh and I, along with another couple, began to walk her through the pregnancy. Hugh took over her finances, I helped her with her prenatal care and baby preparations, and the other couple stepped up to provide solid love and discipleship.

It was one of the most intense experiences I have walked through as an adult – step by step I poured myself into this friend and her unborn baby. Nine months later, when I stood exhausted in the labor room, I cried as I saw her little boy come screaming into the world. I felt exhilarated and devastated all at once as I held him, a little boy without a father.

There were just a few of us in the hospital room that day. Over the months of my friend’s pregnancy, some of our friends from church began to distance themselves from her because “the situation is just too tough.” The same women who sat crying and praying in her home later turned a deaf ear when we brought needs to them – money for a car seat, help for day care, or even a meal after she brought her baby home.

I was thinking about those nine months when I started getting emails from those old friends over the last few weeks. “Please, please, PLEASE,” one of them begged me, “watch this video on abortion…and make the right choice on election day.” Another said, “I have spent hours on this letter – I am calling the church to take a stand against the travesty of abortion in this country. If you vote for [certain candidates] on election day, you will be allowing abortion to continue in this nation and God will judge!”

I wanted to cry.

No question – abortion is an important issue. And voting your conscience is a must.

But it broke my heart to see so much effort and discussion expended on trying to reduce abortion by voting – from these same women who refused to support an unwed mother with an unwanted pregnancy. They stood by silently, in judgment and in anger, unwilling to help.

Unwanted pregnancies always look messy – every time. The closer you get to the situation, the messier it becomes. But if we truly want to stop abortion in our country, then we have to get our hearts and hands messy by getting involved in these situations. If we want to be followers of Jesus who rally around life, let us first bring life to the women who will care for the children we are so desperate to save.

I want to be careful that I am not sitting in judgment myself – I do not come to this puffed up with pride in my own self-righteousness. I am all too aware of my failings, the ease with which I can ignore the least and the lost.

But if I want to make a difference, I need to start with one.

My vote may or may not change anything, but my time, my energy, and my love will make a difference.

We can change abortion in our country and in our churches – one life at a time.

One friend at a time.

One meal at a time.

One lovingly-cleaned secondhand car seat at a time.

One maternity outfit at a time.

One baby at a time.

It starts with us. Not in Washington, but in our churches and in our small groups, and with the daughters of our friends.

It starts with us.

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29 Comments leave one →
  1. November 3, 2008 9:23 pm

    AMEN! This is exactly why I think pro-life doesn’t just mean anti-abortion; it’s caring for the woman and her child, whatever that means–pro-adoption, pro-WIC, pro-education, pro-living wages…pro working with individuals as individuals, not as a large group.

    And thanks for walking this woman through her valley.

  2. gina permalink
    November 3, 2008 9:27 pm

    Amen! I think pregnancy can be messy even when some fathers are in the picture! There is sooo much we can all do! Voting is only once every few years, and yes I think VERY important, but being the hands and feet of Christ is a constant! Growing up, our house was like a home for un-wed pregnant girls. I can not count how many girls, friends and even strangers my mom welcomed in. I watched my mom love these girls and show them compassion, never judgment and it was such a beautiful picture of the love of Christ. We are the church, it starts with us. Great Post!

  3. November 3, 2008 9:48 pm

    Great post and so very true! We must all be willing to support these women if we expect them to make the right decision.

  4. Amanda McEwen permalink
    November 3, 2008 9:55 pm

    Let the conviction fall!! Wow girl! What a perspective. And you have lived it out. I know 🙂

  5. November 3, 2008 10:04 pm

    Beautifully written. Thanks…

  6. Joy F. permalink
    November 3, 2008 10:24 pm

    So true, Jess. So true. We will be so much less obnoxious to the world when we stop trying to save the world through politics and start loving the world one person at a time like Jesus did, start being the hands and feet of jesus to a world who really does need to know Him.

  7. November 3, 2008 11:30 pm

    Hi Jess, I start getting huffy when I read situations like this because I have lived through it. But I as I remember back, out of the many women that helped me with time, with money, with prayer,clothing, with dicipleship etc. only one woman in the church EVER had a condemning, judging attitude. ALL the other church women wrapped me in Jesus’ love from that day to this. I ended up marrying the son of the judging woman, and now go visit and help care for her as she is home bound and in daily pain.
    I agree that we need to love each of God’s children, wherever we find them.

  8. hkudla permalink
    November 3, 2008 11:30 pm

    Oh Jess,
    This was wonderful! Thank you so much for being so open, so honest, and so real. Thank you for allowing yourself to be used by God, in this woman’s life and her son’s and through your blog to convict the rest of us to step up to the plate in caring for those less fortunate than us.
    what a blessing you have been to this friend… I am so grateful to God that she felt it was ok to talk to you about what was going on in her life. Yes, it’s messy, never easy, but so worth it in the long run to help someone else out of the pit, the mess they are in.
    God bless you my friend,
    Heather

  9. November 3, 2008 11:41 pm

    This is exactly how I feel! What a wonderful post!

  10. November 4, 2008 12:57 am

    as usual, your wonderfully written words have reminded my heart of something it knew, but had almost forgotten.

    thanks,jess.

  11. November 4, 2008 2:54 am

    I came by way of “Walk Slowly, Live Wildly” and after reading this post I plan on sticking around. Beautiful expression of faith and clear articulation on how we as a people need to encourage and support one another.

  12. Julie permalink
    November 4, 2008 6:55 am

    Such a heartfelt post. As a once young, churched, unwed mother myself I could absolutely relate to your story. If only every church had people who were willing to step up the way you and your friends did. Bless you, I am sure that both the mother and the son are grateful always…

  13. November 4, 2008 12:07 pm

    Wow. Beautiful post. Having found myself in the same situation at 17, abortion appointment made, and my heart convicted, I made the choice to have my daughter. The church I belonged to had prayed for me (who they only knew about because of my dad) through my rebellion and then opened me with open arms and poured love into me. The women of the church (and old Baptist one btw), actually threw my baby shower and loved on me so much. I will never forget those ladies and know they have such a reward waiting for them. They made an investment in my daughter (now 14, on fire for the Lord, and already a missionary to Honduras) that will continue to benefit the kingdom. Praise God for the patient, heart breaking love that you have shown this dear girl. Thank you.

  14. November 4, 2008 12:19 pm

    This is beautiful. Thank you for this important reminder that being “pro-life” means ALL of life, ALL the time.

  15. November 4, 2008 12:20 pm

    This is beautiful. Thank you for the reminder that being “pro-life” means ALL of life, ALL of the time.

  16. November 4, 2008 2:32 pm

    WOW!! This is so beautifully written. It is an amazing post for such a historical day.

  17. taylor k. permalink
    November 4, 2008 2:52 pm

    this is an awesome post! I agree with you 100%, our actions shape this nation. each one of us needs to get involved with what we beleive in!

    thanks!

  18. November 4, 2008 2:53 pm

    Amen!

  19. November 4, 2008 4:44 pm

    This is so awesome, Jess! It is so much more than just voting! Thank you for this beautiful reminder to us all that we need to be out truly supporting those who have chosen life!

  20. November 4, 2008 6:10 pm

    Jess – I wish you would send this into Newsweek “My Turn” or another publication. It is that good. Bravo, my friend. Well said.

  21. November 4, 2008 7:28 pm

    Its easy for us to say “Vote for (insert candidate) because he/she is opposed to abortion”. I guess by voting for that candidate people feel like they’ve fulfilled their part for the cause against abortion therefore easing their conscience when they look the other way when they see an un-wed mother in need.
    They all care about that unborn fetus. They stand indignant at the thought of abortion. They claim to be pro-life. Its just when the child comes they become pro-its-your-problem-now. They aren’t concerned with the life of the child, just that it has one.
    Changes in peoples hearts aren’t going to happen because we vote for a certain candidate, they are going to change when they are exposed to the love of Christ. With that being said I still think it is important to support candidates that do share our views on something so important.

  22. Tasha permalink
    November 5, 2008 11:09 am

    Jess, once again your humility and clear, concise cut right to the heart of things overwhelms me. This post is so true, and sadly, it seems this kind of behavior from Christians is the norm, rather than the exception. If more people walked the walk as you do, instead of puffing themselves up talking the talk, we would see many more souls touched. And the Body of Christ grow.

  23. tonyyork permalink
    November 5, 2008 10:17 pm

    You are now one of my heroes…. you have displayed so elegantly what I stumbled with in my words today on a post that I wrote.

    God Bless You!!

  24. Stina permalink
    November 7, 2008 3:13 am

    Great post. May I link this in my blog?

  25. November 7, 2008 1:30 pm

    i think that is absolutely what we need to be doing.
    i had as similar thought about the co-habitation amendment they passed in arkansas. non married people can not serve as foster parents. i think if we are going to vote against people fostering kids who want kids, we have to be willing to step up and foster those kids ourselves. too many of us are not willing to do that.

  26. November 7, 2008 3:30 pm

    Well said. Well lived.

    Over here from Lysa’s blog. Love your heart and your thoughts on the matter. I’ve been squirming the past couple of days, trying to find my footing again, especially as it pertains to the issue of abortion and knowing what I can do to help the cause for life.

    You’ve given me ample fuel for thought via your words.

    peace~elaine

  27. November 8, 2008 4:51 pm

    As a woman who has sat in an abortion clinic and left with much regret I loved this post. Beautiful and convicting. Shame can nudge you to decisions that can’t be undone. Forgiven, but never undone. May God be glorified with my horrible decision.
    Thank you for this post.

    Blessings,
    Lelia

  28. trendyand2kids permalink
    March 9, 2009 3:27 pm

    Hi . . . I am the friend that Jess referred to in this beautiful entry. I cannot express enough how much I appreciate the truth of her words. I will never look at an unwed or abandoned mother the same after going through the experience that she re-told so perfectly. My son is 2 ½ years old now, and he is amazing. I never knew that so much love could fill my heart. My story was possible because of people like Jess and Hugh that carried me through this trying time of my life. My son and I will forever be indebted to the grace and mercy that was showered down on us through their lives. Thank you, Jess and Hugh, for being Christ to me.

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