What Choosing Life Cost Me
Updated: Oct 28, 2020
This post first appeared on Taming the Wilds: Holy Living in a Wild World.
I was 23 years old and finishing up my second year of law school. From the outside, it looked as though I had the world at my feet. I was in the top 15% of my class, had just been elected class secretary, served as an editor for my school’s Law Review Journal, and was looking forward to internships at some of the most prestigious law firms in the southeast that coming summer.
I was on the cusp of achieving all the things I had worked so hard for since high school, the culmination of years of study, when those two little pink lines showed up, threatening to ruin it all.
I always wondered what I would do if I got pregnant. Steeped in the liturgy of a materialistic society and subjected to the incessant refrain of secular feminism’s mantra, “my body, my choice,” I had thrown away the Biblical values of my childhood and rushed headlong into all the world said made for a fun, modern, and empowered woman.
The more I dug into this secular model of womanhood, however, the worse I felt. Despite having the exterior trappings of the kind of success the culture promised would make me happy, I suffered from severe anxiety, depression, and loneliness that I then tried to chase away with alcohol, drugs, and casual sex, which did nothing but further spiral me into shame and despair. My life was a great paradox: professionally, I was on the mountaintop, but personally, I was at rock-bottom.
So I stared at those two little pink lines, and inexplicably, God met me in that moment. I uttered the first prayer I had prayed in years: God, help me.
My announcement that I was pregnant and keeping the baby was, predictably, met with anger by some. I was accused of blindly following my parents’ religious beliefs, throwing away my education and the chance at a meaningful career, and severely jeopardizing my ability to meet someone, fall in love, and start a “real” family someday. I was implored to think of all the things I would miss out on, mocked as naïve and shortsighted, and warned I was ruining my own and others’ lives.
And while I did have many friends and mentors who went to great lengths to support me at my law school, those other voices threatened to all but drown them out. I went into exile. I turned down my internships, packed up my belongings, and moved in with my parents, who had moved while I was in college to a city 400 miles away where I didn’t know a single soul. I applied for Medicaid and took out an extra $20,000 in student loans to enroll in a new law school and finish my degree on time.
I had a lot of time to think over the next nine months.
I realized that the only voices who were enraged or perplexed by my decision belonged to those who also prided themselves on being "tolerant" and championed the notion that a woman could “do it all." It seemed that to many of those who were pro-choice, the operative word of "choice" had been abandoned, and abortion was the only right option. In stark contrast, those bigoted, patriarchal religious nuts who only wanted to oppress women were consistently compassionate. It was men and women of deep faith who guided me through the enrollment process at my new law school, helped me find a new internship, threw me a baby shower, lent me maternity clothes and baby items, and came to help take care of the baby once she was born so I could still make it to class.
And what was predicted to be a colossal mistake, a choice that would take a life of so much promise and ruin it, instead became a broad highway of God’s grace. It was the multiplication of loaves and fishes remade, but this time, God turned one life of great promise into two, simultaneously bringing joy to countless other lives along the way.
It turns out you can have a baby and still finish your education, pass the bar exam, and land a job at a nationally recognized law firm. You can have a baby and still make new friends, go on the occasional trip, and enjoy nights out. You can have a baby and still meet a wonderful man, get married, and have more children. And while I’m no longer practicing law, I’ve found greater fulfillment in being a wife and mother than I ever hoped to find in a corner office.
Despite the happy ending, choosing life was hard, and things did not automatically get better once I made that first right decision. It took a radical lifestyle change and a re-learning of Truth that was not always simple or comfortable. And frankly, I had it far easier than most women who find themselves facing unplanned pregnancies.
In a pro-choice world, there’s only one choice that makes sense from a secular perspective. No matter how much money we pump into welfare programs or subsidize daycares or pass laws protecting maternity leave, abortion will always be the easiest solution. It’s an immediate fix. Any shame is kept invisible, and any challenging lifestyle changes or personal sacrifices are unnecessary. And if someone believes a fetus isn’t really a person and deems it instead to only be “potential” life, why go to all that trouble?
The only way to truly combat this mindset is to convince people of the joy of the Gospel and the redemptive power of suffering. Unfortunately, this is not something that will be automatically achieved if, God willing, Roe v. Wade is one day overturned and a right to life from conception to natural death is enshrined in our national and state constitutions. It will not be achieved with catchy slogans or clever marketing campaigns. It won’t even be achieved by apologetics and solid philosophy – although these are certainly indispensable parts of the process.
Instead, it will be achieved slowly, on an individual level, through the testament of each one of our own lives. It will be accomplished by faithful Christians who choose to lead lives so closely in union with Christ’s that what looks on the surface to be senseless suffering is shown in reality to be a path to salvation. It will be achieved by those people of faith who reach out to women like me when they’re at their lowest and say, like Jesus, “Talitha koum!”