“Where have you come from and where are you going?” Those dual questions are put to Hagar when God meets her in Genesis 16:8.
Hagar had just come through an experience of abuse and slavery, alone and pregnant with nowhere to go, with no help to choose her path. When she was in the desert believing she would die, in her vulnerability, the Lord met her.
He saw her. He questioned her. He revealed himself to her. He gave her a choice, a voice, and a reason to continue on. In the end for Hagar, it meant going back to her present gut-wrenching situation.
It’s not unlike when a woman comes to us seeking help while facing an unplanned pregnancy. While we certainly lack the direct authority along the lines of God’s interaction with Hagar, what we do have to offer each client is a chance to make a thought-out and empowered decision.
That is the core of what we have to offer: the opportunity and point of access for life-changing mediation and intervention.
Where Have You Come From?
I believe the No. 1 reason women come through the doors of a pregnancy center, mobile unit, adoption agency or maternity housing program is their vulnerability and desire for answers. If you Google Planned Parenthood, you will find the nation’s leading abortion provider clearly believes this too.
On the home page of Planned Parenthood’s website, for instance, it is clearly stated, “We’re here to answer your questions.” Or, consider the first sentence on Planned Parenthood’s page concerning—in their words—“crisis pregnancy centers”: “Deciding what to do about an unplanned pregnancy can be very complicated.”
In reality, most women coming through our doors have very little basis for clear decision-making. Many times, this woman has not had someone offer her the opportunity to make a self-directed choice. She may be surrounded by voices pressuring her to conform, to go the easy route, that abortion is better than adoption, and so on.
Perhaps she’s have walked through years of sexual or physical abuse, neglect and control.
What she hasn’t had, however, is someone hold a mirror to her life and say “this is where you are and we are here to help you decide where you are going.” In essence, we are saying, “You are in control. Your voice matters. You are valuable. This decision can have meaning, purpose, and hope for both you and your child.”
We need to re-examine how we address parenting with these precious women. How those within our pregnancy help organization view parenting, as well as how those views are expressed can dramatically shift a client’s decision-making process.
This leads to the reality that single-parenting, parenting with a partner or adoption all need to be processed and held up in light of the reality in which each woman lives and is experiencing the world. Staff and volunteers of pregnancy help organizations need to continually educate themselves on the viability and value adoption, presenting this option as the loving choice it truly is.
The decision-making process is meant to lead to a fully informed decision that leaves a trail to which the woman can point as she moves further away from her point of vulnerability.
It’s a privilege to meet a woman walking through this decision, giving her the opportunity to think beyond the crisis and into the next 18 years. So many women have never had the kind of an opportunity pregnancy help organizations offer our clients every day.
Tweet This: We have two questions to ask each woman who comes to us for help. #prolife #pregnancyhelp
It’s time-consuming, demanding, and yes, not all women will want to be walked past the first decision, but many will, so we need to be ready to help those clients who are willing to think beyond the crisis.
We are sent to equip and to educate these clients on handling pain God’s way, which will always include self-examination, full exploration of parenting options, and a consideration of the lasting impact on the generation to come.
Where Are You Going?
At the heart of a pregnancy parenting decision is empowerment. We’re there, as pregnancy help people, to empower a woman to make a self-aware decision that will categorically shape her life, as well as her child’s and on into future generations.
Decisions like these have the potential to end a cycle of vulnerability that leads to drastic realities like sex trafficking. We have an opportunity to empower her to change the cycle of hopelessness. This is where pro-life and pro-justice meet, where a woman is deciding the future for herself and her unborn child.
Tweet This: This is where #prolife and #projustice meet. #pregnancyhelp #prolifegen
Will she choose life but go back to poverty and vulnerability that will leave her and her children in a cycle open to abuse, neglect, and oppression? Will she choose life and step onto a new path of ongoing assistance and improvement, leading to self-sufficiency with the help of local churches and support groups?
Or, will she consider that entrusting her child into the arms of adoptive parents will allow her to return to what she knows, but will be best for her child? Will she consider adoption and choose a path that benefits both hers and her child through the hard work of healing and learning what she needs for a healthy, stable life?
We cannot answer that question for any woman, but we are in a position to greatly help her. We have the responsibility to fully represent the options to each of our clients.
This is what makes walking with Hagar such a privilege and honor. Asking these two questions: “Where have you been?” and “Where are you going?” is a perfect place to start.
Callie Neff serves as vice president of Family of Restoration Ministries, a life-affirming family of ministries serving women and children based in Lititz, Penn.