As published in National Right to Life News Today on March 6, 2013:
No truer words, I believe, have ever been spoken by the child of a pro-life activist than those of my daughter Olivia recently: “I wish other people knew that it was wrong to kill babies so that you wouldn’t have to be gone all of the time to teach them that.”
As a mother, my heart grieves these words that she spoke as I was preparing to leave “yet again,” (as Olivia describes my frequent trips). But at the same time, I am thankful that Olivia understands both the importance of what I do and what it’s going to take to end abortion.
It’s going to take people like you and me, speaking the truth in love, sacrificing our personal wants and needs and our time (including time with our families), to change hearts and minds and create a culture of life that spills over into every facet of our world—familial, societal, political.
I won’t pretend for a second, however, that knowing this, seeing Olivia’s recognition of this, makes the sacrifice any easier some days.
“But I NEED you! I WANT you!” Olivia cried out from her preschool room last week, her arms outstretched towards me, tears pouring down her face, as I dropped her off before heading to the airport. It wasn’t the newness of her preschool, it wasn’t being with a different teacher or even the early time of the day that was bothering Olivia. It was me leaving “yet again,” that bothered her, and me, for that matter.
I felt that familiar mix of emotion churn in my gut, that I’ve felt hundreds of times before and will likely feel hundreds, if not thousands, of times again. You know, that feeling of guilt (for leaving), mixed with sadness (about leaving and how Olivia was hurting), anger (that abortion exists and that I have to leave to fight it), and even a twinge of fear.
It burns like hot sauce on an empty stomach and tastes like bile. It seeps into my veins and gives me a rush of adrenaline. I have two choices when that feeling hits—fight or flight.
I could give into the flight mode, grab her and return home, giving into that rush of feelings that I have, particularly the fear that tries to tell me that something could happen to me or my family while I’m gone. I could let that fear paralyze me and never speak publicly again. I could give into that feeling that says that I should do something more “normal” for work, and find a “safe” desk to sit behind somewhere, in the hopes that it would make things easier on Olivia and Ryan, and therefore, me.
Or I could fight. Fight that battle between my heart, my head, and my gut, and power through, knowing that although Olivia is sad that I’m leaving right now, she WILL be okay–that this, too, shall pass.
Ironically, I do both.
I board a flight to fight (abortion), but that rush of adrenaline that I feel as I walk out the door of her preschool, my head hung low and my heart pounding in my chest, will take hours to fully subside. People often ask if I get nervous before I speak. The truth is, leaving my family, sacrificing not just my time and my life in trying to end abortion, but theirs, too, makes me more nervous and generally upset than speaking, anywhere, any day.
I don’t share these things because I enjoy talking about painful emotions, although, somehow, God has given me the courage to speak openly about pain and suffering. I don’t share them because I want anyone to feel sorry for me. My whole point in writing this piece is that this is a burden common to pro-lifers: we sacrifice for the greater good of returning legal protection to unborn children.
I think that my experience is something other people can relate to, and I hope others can find strength in. No matter what level of participation we are in—locally, nationally, or internationally—as pro-life leaders, activists, and volunteers, the truth is that each and every one of us makes sacrifices each day in order to save and transform lives.
Whether it’s your time, your finances, your employment, your friendships, your general comfort in life, being active in the pro-life movement requires sacrifice. This sacrifice is not always easily understood or accepted by the world around us, or even by our own friends or family. Although we, as pro-lifers, know this sacrifice, is a necessity and one of utmost importance, is not always an easy cross to bear.