When the roar of the hairdryer stopped, the first word I heard was abortion.
A woman speaking loudly above the cacophony of beauty tools in the salon was talking about late term abortion with her stylist. How her daughter, a doctor, pulls mutilated limbs from the wombs of mothers who decide they don’t want their babies, after they’ve been incubating inside them for six months. I felt sick.
She was explaining why it’s okay to do it — end the life of a human when you decide you don’t want it, like changing houses or a job. Mostly what I heard was justifying the avoidance of pain.
“Many of these women know their baby might not live anyway,” she said.
All I could think about were the words of God to Moses swimming in the deep end of my cerebral space: “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” (Exodus 4:11)
If abortion were legal the year my husband was conceived, I wouldn’t be his wife, because he wouldn’t exist.
His mother had twenty-two abdominal x-rays before she knew she was pregnant. The doctor told her that he was certain her baby would not live. She proceeded to have surgery for a health issue while pregnant and delivered her second baby, my husband, at ten months. Yes, ten. It never occurred to her to abort.
A normal, healthy baby boy named H entered the world crying a beautiful melody. Now he’s a man who declares the message of Christ as a vocation and lives it every day in our home. I can’t imagine my life without him.
The stylist standing behind that woman’s chair happens to be a friend who sees my children’s heads on a routine basis. She crouched down next to me while I was caped with color steeping into my roots and whispered an apology because she was embarrassed. Says her client often does this; talks about controversial issues loudly from her swivel chair just before her hair is finished.
“What about Eliot?” I asked her.
I told her the story, about the first baby of a young couple with Trisomy 18, a chromosomal abnormality with a diagnosis of “not viable for life” while in utero. They could’ve avoided the pain of losing a life before their hearts clung to it for ninety-nine sacred days. An allowance of days revealing the character of Christ so profoundly, it changed them.
What if they missed out on that by avoiding pain?
Sometimes we avoid pain at all costs because we think living with disappointment might be easier than feeling it. Circumventing pain and numbing it isn’t the remedy or short cut toward a fulfilled life. Ask anyone who’s done it.
As the woman walked past me, babbling to herself while the sparse audience in the salon couldn’t help but eavesdrop, I thought to myself, we all have altars and pulpits we’re willing to die on.
Mine happens to be the person of Jesus Christ.
He traded his pain for mine in a holy sacrifice. I trust he knows the beginning and end of breath, even when circumstances try to convince otherwise. And His forgiveness is still enough.