A 20-year-old, backslidden Christian, college drop-out versus a positive pregnancy test. How painfully this fresh stroke of shame fell. What better way to wake up than to live out my dream, not as a supporting counselor, but as the women I once longed to help—scared and unwillingly pregnant.
Last fall, in the wake of several scandalous videos of Planned Parenthood being released, our internet empire burned with every emotion. In the pro-life community blood boiled, fingers swiftly spattered words.
There was never a better time for us to rise together and fight as one.
Hashtags brought us all together. How could he say “another boy?"
We were awakened.
We were horrified.
All the former pro-life sayings tripled in quantity and enthusiasm.
“Every baby is wanted."
“I wish I could take all these unwanted babies home with me”, said one Facebook user.
Have you ever looked at the foster system statistics? The single moms statistics? The people I’ve met in the tiniest communities?
I questioned the sincerity of all these words. I thought, "You can take all the babies home with you. They are already here."
You see, I grew up cutting and pasting pro-life updates into my journal. It was my dream to work a pregnancy medical center; it was my dream to help pregnant teens. Things happened, and I left my dream to pursue other things.
A 20-year-old, backslidden Christian, college drop-out versus a positive pregnancy test. How painfully this fresh stroke of shame fell. What better way to wake up than to live out my dream, not as a supporting counselor, but as the women I once longed to help—scared and unwillingly pregnant. The words stuck in my throat until a friend made me say them out loud. “Kallie has something to tell you”, she said.
I said to the pregnancy medical center workers, “I understand why women get abortions… now.”
I lived in a maternity home with prostitutes, foster kids, orphans, homeless women, married women, teenagers, sexual abuse victims, drug addicts, and recovering drug addicts. After I graduated from the house, I peer-counseled women getting pregnancy tests and was a relief houseparent at the same maternity house.
I saw a lot of babies who were born into a very ugly cycle. I saw their moms come in for help and choose life. There were not a lot of places they could go with their newborn babies. There were a few homes set up to take in women exiting the program. A handful of churches who made it obvious that broken people were wanted inside. Sadly many of the women I knew went right back to the place they came from. At least they weren’t strangers there.
Within the walls of the church, if we don’t even want those children and adults who are alive, how can we claim that the unborn are wanted? Do we stay in safe, Christian communities, enjoying like-minded friends, going to church on Sunday, not swearing, smoking, or getting tattoos, and donating to our favorite charity. And yet, “religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (James 1:27, NIV)."
From what I can understand, “pure” means getting our hands messy as we love others in the way they need. As my Pastor Aaron says, true Christianity means making room in your church, your heart, and your community for the ones who are difficult for us to love.
People much wiser than me have said this more articulately, but I pray that churches can change from being pro-life to pro-love. Pro-woman, pro-man, pro-baby, pro-child, pro-teenager. Bringing them all in with a huge mess trailing behind them, and not being afraid of that mess. Being effectively trained to help them in a way that will help them break the cycle of abuse or addiction or whatever ugly thing it is.
I believe Jesus calls us to hang out with “those people”.
I have an unusual story. I was one of those people. I believed that I was past the point of grace, and so I lived accordingly. I had no self-worth. In these exact words I asked God, if He was still around, to please get me out. But there are some people who really get how to love, and I met them. That is why my story is unusual.
Someone told me how guilty I was for my sin. I knew that better than anyone.
Someone told me “Do whatever you want with our pregnancy, and I’ll support it.”
Someone couldn’t keep his promises.
Someone told me, “If you’re just going to put it in daycare for the rest of its life, why don’t you give it up for adoption.”
Someone comforted me when I found out the positive results.
Someone showed me an ultrasound picture of a beating heart, for free. For a moment, I felt warm. I attached.
Someone typed in the words “so tiny, so cute” on the ultrasound picture when I had the courage to say that out loud.
Someone asked me if I wanted a thorough education on single parenthood, marriage, abortion, and adoption.
Someone told me that not only was my baby wanted, but I was wanted, regardless of my past decisions.
Someone told me that regardless of my future decisions, I would be welcomed back.
Someone told me told me that God loved me for more than my performance. I didn’t know that!
Some people had made a place for me in their own home to recover and flourish, until three months after my baby was born.
Some people had made another home for me where I was invited in as a member of the family.
Some church members told me there was a place for me here, sitting right next to them.
Some church members drove me to church, drove me to parenting classes, and held my baby every Sunday for months.
Some people still loved me even while I quoted the Bible out of one side of my mouth and lied three hundred times with the other side.
Some people drove me to job interviews, the welfare office, the courthouse, the doctor.
Some people touched my belly like it was a gift, not a product of “premarital intercourse.”
Some fathers and pastors felt uncomfortable and scared at first, but then they treated my daughter like their own.
Some people bought me diapers, clothing, and baby supplies.
Some people gave me a break from holding a child that demanded everything I had to give and more. Some people did it for free.
Some people just came over and sat there with me on my worst days.
Some people dedicated their life to reminding me how full of worth I still was.
It was then that I was able to put one foot in front of the other, and begin to live.
Someone. Some people.
Please, choose who you are going to be.
Words are not enough.
God and us, we are enough.
Thank you to the staff, board members, volunteers, and donors of Palouse Care Network and Life Services for sharing compassion and hope to me and so many others. You have been here for me through every step of the way. Without your help, I truly do not know where I or my daughter would be.
This post originally appeared on Paper Mill Online.
Kallie Kohl is the 2013 recipient of Care Net's Regent University Scholarship where she is working on her English degree with great joy. She works full time at Palouse Care Network, (a Care Net affiliate center where she first came as a client) and saves her daughter from scary bugs. In her free time, she runs and takes pictures of beautiful people.