Currently, I am rereading The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers. It is a good book, a tear jerker, especially if you are a mother or if you have a compassionate heart. I highly recommend it, to anyone.
In the story Dynah, a young college student at a christian university experiences the unexpected and the horrible. . . she becomes a survivor of rape and as a result of this crime, she also becomes pregant. In the book, Dynah must face those who would make choices for her and interestingly enough the voices encouraging her to have an abortion in the face of all this tragedy are those who speak out against it the most . . .fellow Christians. Even her boyfriend, a young theology student who has great ambition and is following a tradition from his family to be a pastor encourages this, and their relationship suffers as a result. The one person who does not encourage her to abort her baby or to see only his side of things, is her boyfriend, Ethan's roommate, Joe. Joe is not your typical Christian, he is from a rough neighborhood and at one point had gotten invovled in gangs before turning his life over to Christ. He is the one person besides, Dynah's mother (who we learn had chosen to have an abortion as did Dynah's grandmother, each for different reasons) who tries to be supportive, even as it begins to cost her, her marriage to her husband, and Dynah's father.
As I was reading this and watching this unfold on the pages, I realized that as Christians it is often so easy to be the person who judges from a distance, or who jumps to conclusions about what has caused a person to "stray" or "fall from grace." Even I am guilty of jumping to conclusions and judging people from a distance. It is easy as Christians to sit in our ivory towers (okay some not so ivory and some not such grand castles), but on our thrones of self-righteousness and lay blame or cast judgement. And I couldn't help but wonder why is it that even as believers, we are so quick and ready to judge others harshly. Judging others doesn't win us favor with God, in fact, Jesus tells us in Matthew that we should be careful how we judge others, because that is how God will judge us someday. Personally, I hope I am more kind to people than I was as a young adult and a teen when I was pias and full of self-imposed righteousness. As I get older I find it is easier to try and search for the other person's viewpoint. . . why? Because I hope that others will do me the same courtesy and try to see life from my perspective.
As I read about Dynah's parents and how the hurt and betrayal that lay between them, some real and some imagined and watched how a wounded woman could inflict pain on her husband, I realized she was a woman acting out because she had been hurt deeply when left by her boyfriend and had gone through having an abortion on her own. The long lasting impact on her, was still with her, to the point where it seemed to her that God was punishing her through her daughter for her choice to abort a child. Reading all of this, breaks my heart for those who have made that choice. Women who live with it, and we know they do. Those who taken a Composition class and read the book on Prose for one of those classes, might remember a story written in there in which a wife and her husband realize they are pregnant, but feel they cannot afford the child they are expecting. Her choice is to have an abortion, and it is honest and real about the fact that the child haunts the writer even years after her choice. These are small glimpses into the heart of women who make the choice to have an abortion. One of pain, suffering, grief for what cannot be changed and what has been lost - and the guilt of knowing they made the choice to end their child's life.
However, in all of this and in this book I think there is an even more important lesson for those of us who are believers. It is imperative that we step out of our cushy lives as believers our ideals of what is right and wrong. It is essential that especially those of us who have grown up in the church realize there is an amazing need for compassion from the body of Christ in the world today. I am not telling you to ignore what is right from wrong, I am calling you to become God's grace in a world that is obviously living without grace. A world that chooses, sexual promiscuity, debachery, drunkenness, and a long laundry list of things we know to be wrong and show them forgiveness, compassion and yes, occassionally a dose of tough love. There are times when being real and being honest are needed, but they are also needed to be tempered with kindness and compassion.
I encourage you to read The Atonement Child and Redeeming Love also written by Francine Rivers and look into the heart of the wounded we live among now in our world today. They are there, they are the woman in the grocery store who is trying to decide which food item is more important to steal to feed her children, they are there among the homeless and the mentally ill, they are out there next door to us. Go out and show God's love, mercy, and grace to a world in need of all of these things and do it with no strings attached. Show them God's unconditional and endless love. If you don't, who will?
Love In Christ,