Last month, I was being interviewed for a podcast, and the hosts asked me why I’m so passionate about the mission of ProGrace.
So I told them. And they were surprised.
They thought I would share that I had experienced an unplanned pregnancy, or an abortion. But when I shared my story, they didn’t think it seemed directly tied to the issue of abortion. But it is.
The Narrative that Drives Abortion
In fact, my story relates to one of the most powerful narratives driving abortion. It’s not something we talk about, especially around Mother’s Day. But my story illustrates the “either/or” choice our culture so often puts on women when we have a baby.
I first became pregnant at age 27, three years into my marriage. When I gave birth to a healthy, gorgeous baby girl, I was thrilled. I was ready for the adventure to begin. What I didn’t realize was that many people in my church and the Christian ministry I worked for had a different idea about what that adventure looks like for a mom of a young child.
Either/Or Expectations for Motherhood
My husband and I had the exact same role in this ministry. The message we received was clear – he was expected to continue his work schedule as if nothing in his life had changed, while I was expected to lay down all ministry responsibilities in order to parent our daughter. I still remember when she was six months old. I told a colleague that I still really longed to be involved in ministry on a part-time basis, and was trying to figure out how to make that work.
He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Well, you just don’t value motherhood.”
I just stared at him dumbfounded. I couldn’t even think of a way to respond.
The accusation stung so much. I loved my baby girl more than I had ever thought possible. I wanted to be an excellent mother to her while at the same time pursuing the dreams God had placed in my heart when I was still a little girl myself.
For as long as I could remember, I wanted to be involved in Kingdom work and change the world for the better – which was why I had come on staff with this ministry in the first place. But now they were presenting me with an either/or conflict — I couldn’t have both.
Could I Value Motherhood While Pursuing My Dreams?
I know many women whose dream is to be able to stay home and raise their kids full-time. And I celebrate that dream. My dream was just different. For me, that accusation that I couldn’t be a mother and pursue my dreams at the same time caused some very painful years of my life. I allowed it to take root in my heart and start to erode my confidence.
Even though I tried to push against them, I ultimately submitted to the either/or limitations.
I didn’t start seriously pursuing my own dreams until my daughter entered school full-time, and I wasn’t able to get pregnant again. Through a decade of infertility, God gave me space to pursue my dreams, which is further proof that God uses all things for our good – even if the thing itself isn’t good. If I had gotten pregnant sooner, I don’t think I would have been strong enough to push through and go after my dreams amidst the negative narrative saying I wasn’t really allowed to have my dreams until I finished raising kids.
Abortion Statistics I Could Relate to
When I first heard the results from research saying women facing unplanned pregnancy so often fear their lives will be over, or they will no longer be themselves, and their dreams will die if they continue the pregnancy, I immediately felt a connection. I could empathize. I knew what that felt like.
When women shared how others in their life were telling them it couldn’t be done, that they had to choose between having the baby and having their own life, I knew a bit of that what felt like, too.
While I first felt empathy, I quickly experienced a fierce conviction that God could, and wanted to, change this “either/or” narrative that makes women feel they have to choose between their life and their child’s life.
I realized He is big enough to pave a way where both of them can thrive. Because that is exactly what He did for me.
Yes, it’s hard. Yes, the Church will need to provide acceptance and support on a broad scale to change this “either/or” narrative for women facing unplanned pregnancy. But God can make a way.
Christians Can Turn the Tide on the Abortion Issue
As Christians begin to think, talk and act differently around the abortion issue, our local churches become safe places where women can receive the acceptance and support they need in order to have hope for the future. This is already happening through churches who embrace a ProGrace approach.
ProGrace’s dream is to expand this response so women in every community can have access to this kind of grace. I believe in this dream. I believe God can make a way. I’ve experienced it and I’ve seen it.
Today, my husband and I are raising two kids while we both also pursue our Kingdom dreams. Through my work, I get to see many other women also pursuing their dreams while deciding to parent after an unplanned pregnancy.
This Mother’s Day, let’s believe God is creating a beautiful both/and narrative around motherhood. Let’s ask Him how we can be a part of what He’s doing.