“It is not really your decision to make. ”His words were a failed attempt to alleviate my anguish and guilt. I was experiencing a measure of torment that I had never been acquainted with. I was expressing to my boss why I needed a day off…I found myself in a no win situation and I needed to take care of it…Though, ‘taking care of it,’ was in itself, the source of my inner turmoil. What led up this conversation? I was in a rebound relationship after a failed marriage…It was the classic, culturally conditioned and condoned unhealthy relationship. I was trading love for sex…she was trading sex for love…We each longed for intimacy…what we had was nothing more than physical. We were treating that which is to be revered and reserved as the act of marriage, as nothing more than recreational band-aid.
After we had spent a few weeks playing grown-up, this fragile, scared young lady came to me with the words that no lost, self absorbed, 21 year old wants to hear, “I’m pregnant.” Difficult circumstances reveal the measure of our integrity…reveal the mettle of a man…At that moment I had none. I did not have the maturity or the vision to see past by own self-centered survival tactics. I wanted to be able to save face, while at the same time, relinquishing responsibility. My initial thought… “Why did this happen to me?” I was very much about appearances, so I said all the right things to her, but for the wrong reasons. So when she told me that there was no way she could face her parents and that she had to get an abortion…I played the role of the chivalrous knight in shining armor. “I’ll marry you…”We’ll take care of this baby together.” I said all these things to distance myself from the guilt…but secretly, inside I was grateful that she wanted to terminate the pregnancy.
What legislators had decided was perfectly acceptable in 1973…I intuitively felt was wrong in 1989. So I explained to my boss, the pickle I felt I was in…I wanted to be the ‘stand up guy’ and be there for her …but I personally felt abortion was wrong. I was not being completely honest…there was a part of me hoping that I could just absolve myself of all responsibility…that is when my boss uttered words, that, for the moment, helped me compartmentalize my decision-“It is really not your decision to make.” To rationalize is to believe ‘rational Lies’…I found a compromise, that, on the surfaced enabled me to cope.
I would support her financially and otherwise…I would be there with her for the ‘procedure.’ But I didn’t have to agree with ‘her’ decision. I wanted to be able to quietly project all the blame upon her. Shouldn’t my good intentions count for something? My immaturity and all consuming ‘why me’ mentality was hindering me from being authentically present to help her during this gut wrenching time. I was there, but I wasn’t really ‘there.’
In retrospect, during this season of my life, I felt like a restless wanderer…Like Cain of the Old Testament, my decision making processes stemmed from self centered, self sufficiency…striving to work situations in a way that would best benefit me…The fruit of Cain’s feelings resulted in the death of his brother. The fruit of my feelings resulted in the death of an unborn child.
The day came and we attempted to make the best of a bad situation…We decided to make it a date day…perhaps after the ‘procedure’, dinner and a movie would help assuage to sober realization of what we were about to do. We tried to keep the mood upbeat as we traveled to the medical ‘clinic’…a white wash of casual conversation… polite platitudes to counteract the sick feeling and suppress the tears we had below the surface. I still remembered the shaken, unsettled look on her face as we walked through the doors.
First impression…this place looked and smelled very ‘hospital-y.” Waiting room…arm chairs…receptionist desk…brochures…people wearing medical type garb. We walked up and she signed in and we sat down to wait for her to be called back. There was a jarring sense of sadness in the room. I could hear a quiet chorus of muffled cries coming from somewhere in the back. The air was thick with awkward tension. Several couples seated in close proximity, yet completely disconnected…insecure with shame, not able to make eye contact with one another. A waiting room filled with silent people staring off into space.
As she was called back, I sat there fidgeting in my chair, trying to make sense of my anxious thoughts, any sense of wrong doing was overcome by an overwhelming desire to just be done with this and get out of there. Sitting there with the other uncomfortable, catatonic men made me feel like I was in the waiting room of hell.
Looking back, I wonder if God’s providential hand was giving us an opportunity to rethink our decision. After what seemed an eternity, my very flustered and tear stained girlfriend came back into the waiting room stifling heavy sobs. She was not able to successfully provide a urine sample in order to validate her pregnancy…She was conflicted…she was beginning to second guess…she felt as though her whole world would come to an end if she told her parents…but now she was thinking she couldn’t go through with it…Like I said earlier…difficult situations reveal the true mettle of a man…Here I had an opportunity to encourage her …encourage us, to do the right thing…but I folded under pressure and pressured her to convince the nurse to let her go through with it…unfortunately, the nurse relinquished.
We followed through with our original plan…we did attempt to distract ourselves from the morning disaster with dinner and a movie…but as you could well guess it didn’t do a very good job of numbing our pain…That evening we went to a drive in…and saw the movie- “Mars Attacks.” Ironically, that is exactly the way I felt…like an alien…disconnected…like I didn’t belong…far from home…completely lost…
The Bible tells us that God’s arm is never too short that it cannot save…A few years later, I no longer felt like an alien…Psalm 90:1 says, God you are our dwelling place in all generations…I found my home in the loving arms of a father that helped me make sense of the tragedy and see it in the light of His redemption…and I do believe that one day after I am translated from time into eternity…I will see the beautiful face of a child that I will hug and hold.
Some Years later, in a short written conversation, two scarred people were able to extend and receive forgiveness. But, even within the scope of forgiveness there are some choices we all have to live with.