“Hi. I don’t know if you can help me, but I’m homeless right now, I have a job, I tried to stay with my family, but we’re just at odds, and I need an abortion.” This, first thing in the morning, just as I was prepping the granola to bake. Somewhere between the mixing in of olive oil and honey, my phone rang, and a quick glimpse at the iPhone screen told me it was likely a Choices call, (lines are forwarded during off hours to mobile phones), so in my (hopefully) professional-yet-warm-and-connective voice, I answered, expecting it was a cancellation for an appointment today. But, it wasn’t.
So I did the ‘dance’…at least in my head. What do I say? Well, beyond the obvious, that is – she’s not asking if she should have an abortion – she’s telling me she needs one. First off, I tell her that we’re not medical. That’s always the easy part. She tells me she’ll continue looking. But could she be in need of conversation?
Yes, yes, there’s all the training…and nearly twenty years experience – there’s the desire that she might be able to see past her current crisis to embrace a child. But idealism isn’t reality – and neither is it my place to impose my understandings and beliefs about life into her already wrought-with-pain heart and soul. But, could I ‘listen’ her into fresh hope? Could I ‘listen’ her to get in touch with her voice? Would it be different than what she’s feeling now?
What would actually be helpful, yet not manipulative, judgmental, fear and/or guilt-inducing? How do I honor her heart and soul? Hold her dignity? How do I make sure her inner voice, without crossing the line into influencing with my own personal agenda, is heard? These are the questions that flood my mind – every single time one of these calls come in. (These, of course, are somewhat rhetorical questions.)
(Honestly, this scenario and dilemma reminds me of those decision-making graphics that use arrows to guide you through a decision-making process: if yes, do this, if no, do this and so forth.)
So, politics and opinions aside – and I know, this is such a scary topic to converse about – but I’m wondering a few things. I’m wondering if when you get together with friends in hard places, do you assert your viewpoints and personal feelings? Or, do you listen? What do you do if a friend makes a decision that you are personally not comfortable with? And, for the courageous, what has been your own experience with friends helping you in hard places? Were they understanding? Were you pressured?
Oh, these Monday morning reminders of how our connectivity and availability can make a difference to someone struggling with life decisions, especially for this woman who woke up with “I just can’t have this baby” on her mind, rather than, “Should this week’s granola include dried Bing cherries and pecans?” ‘Be kind, for everyone you know is fighting a great battle’ could not be truer.
God help us to get a little closer to leaning into ways of caring that reflect your heart of compassion.