She was 22 years old and it wasn’t the first time. There were at least two others before this one and it’s likely there had been one more before those. No one knows for sure. Twenty-two and this one was a bit more of a surprise.
You’d think she’d know better by now but it was 1968 and some things about life remained shrouded in a heavy cloak of myth and mystery and now of course, it really didn’t matter.
She was 22. God only knows how old he was and as far as she understood, this time it was love. However, the United States Navy had a price on his head and a uniform on His back. Little did she realize, she was simply another “call” in another port and somewhere else another woman wore his ring.
And in 1968 it wasn’t easy to find yourself in this “predicament”. She was a long way from her Indiana home, having burned most of the bridges she’d crossed to get here. She knew there were ways this “problem” could be dealt with. Women like her had a choice now, didn’t they? And by this time, it was nearly legal, clean and “safe”.
Yes, she had a choice. And she chose.
On December 16th, 1968, all alone she went to a hospital in Plant City, Florida, and there– a child was born.
She named her baby Lorretta Lynn and “this one”, she would later say, was just “different”.
That was my mother and this is our story or at least the beginnings of it as best as it can be told now that there’s no one left to ask.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my mother, Mary Louise. It’s been more than a dozen years since she left this planet and the longer she’s gone, the sweeter the memories grow. God is kind to us that way I think– allowing the pain to slowly fade so that eventually the beautiful is all that remains. He promised to give us beauty in place of our ashes and this is one of those ways I see it most.
Across from where I sit right now I can see our first little formal portrait… maybe done at Woolworths or some such place. On the back, in her handwriting it reads “1969 Mary and Lorrie, 4wks”. She looks sorta shy but young, beautiful, strong and proud. Me? Squished up and not too attractive, but the shine in her eyes is unmistakable: love. I can see it clearly.
She had a choice and she made it no matter what it cost her then, or cost us both for the rest of our lives. She chose life and she chose love. She chose vulnerability, pain and sacrifice.
She continued to choose good and choose badly and in both, she modeled for me how to choose well anyway. By the grace of God, she gave me life and the chance to become the woman I am today; the mother, the wife, the teacher, the mentor…the writer and follower of Christ I am today.
So… yes, I am pro-life but it’s more than a mere label I’ve adopted by virtue of the fact that my mother gave me life so I could say I am…or not. I am pro-life because I’m learning to live in daily awareness of what true Life is– how one decision can resonate forever in all directions and depending on where I stand, it becomes a testimony either for life or for death.
I’ve learned that
- being pro-life is vastly more than taking a biological, procreational stance on a touchy, uncomfortable subject.
- It’s more than political rhetoric or media spin.
- So much more than a tug of war using unborn children and stem cells as pawns in a power play of perceived justice.
Choosing life means daily choosing to live in a way that is life-giving.
It means speaking life so that I’m supporting and enhancing life.
It means being available as an agent for life whether it’s volunteering time and resources to a crisis pregnancy center, or the most important work of mentoring and discipling young mothers who need to know and experience the hope of the Gospel and see what that looks like lived out in real life.
It means caring for the sick, the debilitated, the physically, psychologically and emotionally challenged with dignity and respect and the guiding hope of the Gospel.
It means giving care to the elderly… being pro-life for as long as life remains.
Choosing life is not simply a choice to save an unborn child or protect a mother and father from lifelong regret: it’s ultimately about saving souls. As a Christian, being pro-life means I fully understand abortion is wrong and harmful to everyone involved but
stopping it is not enough;
it’s only the beginning.
Jesus teaches this in Mark 8:34-38 , specifically in verse 36:
“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”
The question becomes more personal if I say, “What good is it to shout and holler and picket against Planned Parenthood to stop a woman from having an abortion if I’m not going to help be a part of the solution and lead her in love to the life-saving Gospel?” That’s where real life begins.
Each day I learn a little more about what living like this means and I am thankful for what God has taught me so far. Like my mother, some days I choose good and others I choose badly but because she chose life for me, I have the opportunity to choose well anyway.
I pray that with God’s strength and guidance I will continue.
I hope you will too.
There are many ways to get involved in being part of the solution–just look around your circle of influence and see where God is at work, join Him and
Need some ideas? I know some folks…message me. Do you have some ideas? Please share them in the comments below. I am blessed by you already!