Right to Life Sunday has new meaning for our family. You may remember a post back in November where I told a personal story of a doctor changing the wording from child to fetus when explaining the option to abort my wife's pregnancy because of a potential tumor on our child's heart. I have had a lot of time to reflect on that conversation and things I might have done better when talking with the doctor.
First, I should say that we had another ultrasound. This one was in 3D. Does that look like a human?
The pictures gave my wife some solace after she has been kicked and punched so often by our child. So there he/she was, the child with the identical nose of our other three the doctor offered to abort if there was a heart problem.
I've wondered how to pray about this whole thing. At our church, over 150 children have been born or adopted this past year. With so many pregnant women there are bound to be hard situations. Autism, rare diseases, physical and mental disabilities are all part of web of life at Bethlehem. We even have families the purposefully adopt "special-needs" children. I read Greg Lucas's book Wrestling with an Angel last month and imagined what my life could be like. I've also had friends over the last few months who didn't receive the good news we did. So I have prayed along these lines:
Lord, I don't know what to pray for. I love you. I trust you. You have never hurt me to harm me. I can look back and see your marks of grace and mercy all over my life and look ahead and see storm clouds. You know what is coming my way. I want to pray for healing, but I know you are knitting together this child for your glory. This is not some punishment, though some I am sure believe this. Our child is yours. I have friends with many difficult circumstances regarding their children. We are all laid bare by the hand we have been played. So I pray for strength. For those with special children with difficult needs, give them grace to overcome, to be patient and to not be jealous or dream of what they wish their child would be. Help them to love their children, to love their spouse. Protect their marriage. It's hard enough with three healthy children, I can only imagine what it would be like with a child that takes up as much time as the other three. Still, I am not sure how to pray. So strengthen my wife, my children and me. Be with us. That will be more than enough.
This prayer is full of tension, but that is the point!
I was recently reading an exchange Sam Crabtree had with a pro-choicer. My conversation did not go so well. I have read The Case for Life and should have been ready to respond when the doctor gave me the options. But I froze, still in shock at the news. Of course, most conversations go better when they are rerun in our head and played out in imaginary conversations. I have never lost an argument with my wife this way, and I have convinced the doctor that my child has a right to life at least 100 times these past months. I think it is good that I froze. It means next time I am ready. Ready to say that physical disability does not make anyone less human. That the potential nuerological disability does not make anyone less human. This is what it boils down to - is the picture being taken during the ultrasound a human being or not?
So on this Right to Life Sunday I will probably look over at my wife and watch my child hit her so hard that the book resting on her stomach is knocked right off. Yes, that is my child, not just a fetus.
Darren Carlson is the Founder and President of Training Leaders International. As President, Darren oversees the general direction of the ministry and serves as an advocate for pastors with little access to formal training and thoughtful cross-cultural theological engagement. You can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.