My friend Kelly Ross, executive director of Foothills Pregnancy Care Center in Seneca, S.C., and I carry a running joke regarding our football affiliations.
I am a fan of Auburn University where I grew up and went to school; Kelly is a huge Clemson fan (yep, the Clemson that just won college football’s biggest prize). Both of our teams are “Tigers,” and that’s where the joke began.
When I was speaking in Seneca (located spitting distance from Clemson) a couple of years ago, Kelly introduced me and she handed me a football—signed by Clemson coach Dabo Swinney.
“We wanted you to have a football from the real Tigers,” she told the audience. I accepted the ball (along with more Clemson memorabilia) and it now sits on my book shelf in my office.
So far, the joke is on me. Since Kelly gave me the football, her Tigers played for the National Championship in 2016, then this season beat my Tigers on opening day and went on to win the 2017 title over the other team from my home state, Alabama.
On Tuesday of this week, I posted on Facebook that by giving me the Clemson football, Kelly had indeed “cracked the code” and set up Clemson as a national powerhouse and national champion. After all, since I put that ball on my shelf, Clemson’s record is a stunning 28-2. No other major college program can claim to be better; only Alabama (28-2 as well) is as good over the last two seasons.
Of course, it’s all in good fun.
Seriously, her Clemson Tigers found victory not because of my possession of an autographed football, but through great leadership (head coach Swinney is known for his powerful faith and dogged determination) and players who worked harder and with more intensity than any of us can imagine.
This dedication is the real “code,” the key to unlocking championships.
So it is for us in the pregnancy help community. When we see a woman come in our door facing turmoil from all sides, we sometimes believe there is that one something to be said or that one particular offer of help which can “crack the code” for her.
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Will ultrasound make the difference? Can we find the perfect words to capture her attention? Can we ask the right question at the right time?
Though we want to crack the code to reach a wounded heart, we know deep down that while certain tools can help, our most powerful and effective answer is intense and dedicated love. We must love enough so that she—and he, should he join her—see this love as transparent, sacrificial and selfless.
Those who come in our door must find a love in us so strong and fierce that they will know for certain we will stand beside them every step of the way.
At this point, my inclination is to write something like, “This is how we are different from the abortion industry . . .” and point out why “they” do not have the love we have.
Today, this would be a mistake.
Why? Because our love must not be motivated as a reaction to others. Our love must be from within, flowing from a love for God and for those he created; for those who walk in our door, and for those these women carry.
It is a love which cannot be slowed or stunted by politics, by lawsuits, by harsh words or the latest law.
It is this kind of love which ultimately changes the world, and it must define each of our ministries and organizations.
While we sometimes never know the results of what we do, we can know this: If we choose to love with compassion and faith, we’ve cracked the code. A confused and hurting world needs this love now more than ever.
As we walk through 2017, let’s keep cracking the code. Let’s love. The future of our mission depends on it.