Christy Dailey lives in Phoenix, AZ with her husband, Joshua, and their five children. Joshua serves as a Pastor at Redemption Church Alhambra. They joined the ProGrace Arizona leadership team at the beginning of 2017 as the Church Relationship Liaisons for Surge Network. Christy is also the author/blogger of GraceBrokeMom.com.
As my husband and I were beginning to present ProGrace to a group of about 50 people from our congregation – a group that is beautifully diverse in age, race, socioeconomic class, background, and gender – my heart was racing with excitement and a bit of trepidation.
I felt the weight of opening a conversation as heavy and personal as abortion and introducing a somewhat new way of engaging it as followers of Christ.
I knew, statistically, the many possible stories that could be sitting in that room, stories I had never heard, but deeply valued and wanted to validate.
As people began filling the seats, we asked them to fill out the anonymous ProGrace survey which would give us a better understanding of where our congregation stood and what experiences were represented on the subject of abortion and unplanned pregnancy.
A lady, in her 80’s, waved me over as she answered the questions in her survey. I leaned in to focus on her soft voice as she spoke words that I will never forget…
“I’ve never told anyone this, but my oldest daughter had an abortion (nearly 50 years ago). And I have carried that secret with me all these years.”
Immediately, her face changed and her eyes filled with tears and I watched the weight of secrecy lift from her shoulders.
“We had created a graceless environment…”
As the night progressed, she would interject her thoughts and as the night closed, she shared her story with the whole room… “Our daughter didn’t come to us when she became pregnant because we had unintentionally adopted an anti-abortion rhetoric of unplanned pregnancy shaming. She felt that she knew where we stood and that there was no way she could tell us about the situation she found herself in. We had created a grace-less environment, never imagining that our family would experience such circumstances. So it wasn’t until after the fact that I learned of her situation and that she felt a secret abortion was her only option.”
Her story is heart-wrenching, and sadly not unique.
There are many issues, many life situations or ‘types’ of people that we have made our minds up about.
My husband and I have been challenged as we’ve reflected on words and ideas that we have let escape our mouths even in moments of joking or relaxation. As Christians, sometimes it is easier to hold strong to “law” and to then berate what we believe to be offensive. We choose sides, we build walls, and we throw stones in the name of righteousness.
If we are talking in terms of the story of John 8 and the woman caught in adultery, I fear that I would find myself among the Pharisees more than I care to admit or am even aware of.
But listen to what can happen when we make the choice to change how we engage in tough conversations…
My friend went on to conclude her story by adding, “My husband and I were devastated when we realized that how we spoke in our home regarding abortion would make our own daughter feel alienated and alone in fear because she didn’t believe she could let us in to share her burden.
So we made a choice to change our rhetoric.
We allowed the grace of Jesus to surround our conversations and soften our stance.
Then, years later, when our other daughter found herself pregnant and unmarried while serving in the United States Navy, she was given the choice to have an abortion paid for, or be honorably discharged from duty. She was unaware of her older sister’s experience and the commonality they now shared, but she chose to call us and ask to come home to raise the child she was carrying. She felt safe enough to come home and allow us to help. That baby became our oldest grandson and we love him so much.”
How beautiful is that?
I love how a grace-filled shift in heart and word could be used by Jesus to usher in hope and a future.
His grace is indeed sufficient and His love conquers the power of death. Let us follow in the footsteps of Jesus and allow His grace to drench how we engage in conversation and point all of life back to its Creator.