22 January 2015

The greatest lesson I ever learned from pro-life work

I was in college: young, stupid, self-righteous, and thought I was always right.

I was spending the afternoon with a friend doing what I thought at the time was positive work in the pro-life movement.

We were standing outside of a local grocery store holding graphic images of aborted babies. I really believed and bought that mentality I had often heard from some people involved in pro-life work: "America will never end abortion, until they see abortion."

Lots of cars drove by us standing their on the public part of the sidewalk, some honked and gave thumbs up and some  were angry and yelled four letter words at us. I still remember that one Dad who came up to someone in our group. I didn't overhear the whole conversation but it was something to the effect this father was very angry his young daughter had to be exposed to something so graphic at such a young age.

At that time in my life, I would have thought something to the effect of: "Well that's too bad for you buddy. But sometimes the truth is ugly and it hurts! You gotta just deal with it." Looking back over the years, I am not proud of thinking that and regret it deeply.

One of the greatest lessons that has helped me mature and grow as a Christian woman is being aware of the self-righteous, better-than-you attitude that has often gotten me into trouble, or at the very least given a bad impression of Christians as a whole.

In my younger and less wise days, I have thought that the delivery of the truth doesn't really matter. It doesn't matter how I act or the words I use, because sometimes the truth hurts. And if someone doesn't like? Well, then that's their issue. I didn't like to admit when I was wrong, or the very least accept criticism on how I handled or responded to something.

Last year I wrote about why I personally am not crazy about the use of graphic abortion images in public. I'm really not trying to get into a debate on the use of graphic images, but rather reflecting on my own experience and why my self-righteous attitude at the time has changed how I look at this. I am not saying that all people who use graphic images of abortion are horrible people, but me personally I wonder at how effective that style is.

I have found when you're dealing with people who disagree with you on abortion, a graphic image forced in their face is hardly going to help having a respectful, peaceful dialogue on the issue. In some ways, it can further push people apart and be more polarizing.

One of the greatest lessons I ever learned when dealing with people who are on the opposite end of the spectrum, HOW we deliver the truth matters. Our words, attitudes, and yes I would the images we use matter. And sometimes the WAYS and HOW pro-life people can deliver that message sucks. Sorry but its true. Yes we speak the truth, but if love isn't in our attitude and actions, we have already lost the battle.

One thing I have struggled with in attending the March for Life are the many graphic, even horrific images that line a certain part of the walk. For me, its too much and I know one time seeing an aborted baby is plenty for me, those images I ever saw have never left me.

When my Mom first explained what abortion was as a young child, she was very gentle and chose her words very thoughtfully. She didn't just starting throwing at me pictures of dead babies, that would have been an awful lot for a little person to take in. And I think sometimes the way graphic images are just used is not necessarily helping the mission. 

I believe deeply in the cause of right to life issues; not just abortion, but the death penalty, euthanasia, infanticide, etc. I have raised money for crisis pregnancy centers and grown up spiritually adopting unborn babies. This is a cause I believe in. But I also deeply believe in having respectful, loving attitudes and interactions with those who disagree with me.

And at the end of the day, I wonder how much graphic images help or hurt the mission of pro-life work.

Please join me today in praying for the hundreds of thousands of American peacefully marching in the capitol to speak up for those who have no voice.

7 comments:

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  2. It's great that you were able to attend the March for Life. I still have yet to do so..I support them with my thoughts and prayers every year...but perhaps one of these days I'll fly out and join them in the march. - Blessings to you Patty

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  3. This is one reason why I didn't attend the March when I lived in DC. I'm extremely sensitive to images of violence and can't handle stuff like horror movies and even graphic descriptions in print. I'd rather not have a panic attack while surrounded by crowds of people. By using such graphic images while marching, people are saying that those with PTSD or sensitivity to violence should stay home, even if that's not what they intend to say.

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    1. Wow Caroline, how difficult....I think people holding those images sometimes forgot the other perspective.

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  4. Super thought provoking. Thanks for sharing this Patty. I've always been a little bothered by them too but didn't say anything for fear of not being "pro-life" enough.

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    1. I know I have felt the same way before...but if someone looks at that and says you're not "pro-life" enough then I don't think that's really helpin at all.

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