Tuesday, 01 December 2020

When the path shifts, follow

Working on this column, I was researching facts and figures, trying to pull them together into a coherent bundle of information. I’d write, then rewrite. Something wasn’t clicking. More research was needed. But time was working against me.

Because over the last four or so weeks, life has been hotels and airplanes. Don’t misunderstand, I love the honor of speaking at events, meeting new people and seeing what is happening at pregnancy help ministries across the country. It’s just that this last month got a bit crazy.

In the 31 days from September 11 to October 12, I had the joy of being a part of 12 events. But there were also 22 nights in hotels, 27 flights, 11 states and at least two trips across all four continental U.S. time zones. Would I do it again? Absolutely. The best way to connect with new people is to go to them. I think I added 50 Facebook friends—and I can’t wait to build connections with each. 

But I found myself behind when working on this column. Like I said, I was supposed to be crunching numbers, but numbers were crunching me.

As I pondered how to fix my statistical mess, I needed to place a call to an executive director—I’ll be at her center in the future. 

And Just Like That, the Story Poured Forth

We began chatting about anything and everything, from our families to how she got involved in this ministry. She—like so many—has an abortion in her past. Because of what God has done, this event does not define her. But it does motivate her.

“We’re here to love women who are hurting,” she told me. “And, if we can save one woman from what I went through (years ago), it’s worth it.” She’s right. While each of our organizations reaches hundreds and thousands of women and men each year, it’s always about the one who is in front of us at any given time.

Tweet This: “We’re here to love women who are hurting”

Hers is an extremely successful center, so I wanted to know more. But in the middle of the talk of programs and initiatives, something else jumped out. A story. Not a long one, but one which defines the core of everything we do. 

“We had a client come to us and she was determined to have an abortion,” the executive director told me. “And I was asking God, ‘What do I say to her?’”

“So, I told her my story from when I was eighteen.” Initially, my friend’s story had no impact. But over time, and after an ultrasound, the client changed her mind. She chose life. But that’s not the end of the story.

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The Doctor’s Advice

Later, the client would learn her baby was faced with Trisomy-13. Her child—if born—would likely live only days. The doctor advised abortion. She was back in my friend’s office with the news. And, her decision. She felt it best to end the pregnancy.

Again, my friend wondered what to say. “It was like we were right back at the beginning. Full circle. We walked through this once, but she was faced with another decision over abortion.”

Trying to find words, another tragedy from my friend’s past led to her to share another story. The story of her twins—one stillborn. “At least I got to hold her,” my friend related to the client. “I got to dress her before she was buried. And she will always be my daughter. I will always, always love her. And I will never regret those moments.”

The Question

The client sat back, crossed her arms—seemingly defiant. Except, she wasn’t. Instead, she had a question.

“Would you be with me when I have this baby?” she asked.

My friend assured her she would be there. No matter what.

Then, another question. “Will you be there when she dies?” My friend took a breath. Yes, she would.

“And I was,” she told me. “I was there when this little one was born, and a couple of days later, I was back to sit with her and her little girl as she passed away.”

The young woman my friend poured her life into will go into the next chapter of her life without regrets, without wondering, “Did I do the right thing?” She will know. And because of this, her chances of succeeding in this thing called life just went . . . up.

The Heart of Who We Are

Yes, I enjoy running statistics and “cracking the code” on reports and trends. I was ready to write a riveting piece on how skewing numbers (as Planned Parenthood does so well) creates a false narrative. Sometimes, cracking the code of false statistics is quite an eye-opener.

Yet, listening to my friend told me so much about who we are, what we stand for and why we do what we do. I decided the other column can wait. Maybe next week. Maybe next month. There’s a place for that piece—but not today.

Because today, this writer needed reminding that we’re the good guys. We’re the ones who shed tears when someone in front of us is broken over a relationship, a past decision, or a current situation. We’re the ones who keep reaching out, even when we’re exhausted and facing trials of our own.

And we’re the ones who simply want to reach the “one,” even when the one doesn’t realize she (or he) needs reaching.

We track our statistics and numbers, certainly. We need to keep up with services offered, number of clients reached, all those things. 

But most important, we treasure the stories. Stories of hope, and stories of pain. Together, stories paint a picture of our ministries. It’s a painting filled with winding roads, valleys and mountains, bursting with vibrant colors on a constantly changing canvas.

In this painting, we share our personal stories too. They only serve to liven the landscape and create new trails and destinations for those who bring their stories to us.

Numbers? Keep up with them. They matter.

But listen for the stories. Sometimes, they’ll make us forget about what we were planning on writing, taking us down a new path. When this happens, take the new path. It’s worth the journey.

Kirk Walden

Kirk Walden is a senior writer with Pregnancy Help News, an Advancement Specialist with Heartbeat International and author of The Wall. For banquet speaking engagements, contact Gloria Leyda at Ambassador Speakers Bureau. His new Faith Revolution Podcast is online at www.kirkwalden.com

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