Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2012 Nancy Virden
Hurricane Sandy’s devastation near where I live is horrendous. Families have been without power for days now. People are leaving their homes to stay with friends and relatives.
Those who stay behind to tough it out find themselves threatened, hoping thieves and other criminals stay away. Toilets become unusable. Scared and bored children cry. There are hours long lines for gasoline and food.
Why don’t these people get out of town? They are stuck because cars have no gasoline, other people need them to stay, and paychecks depend on being at work.
Meanwhile, volunteers are entering wrecked cities. They tell horrific stories of damage and death. An emergency worker, a police officer, mothers, fathers, grandmas, grandfathers, babies- all suddenly gone. They woke up in the morning, and were in eternity by evening.
While we weep with those who are suffering, we do not think it would have been better if those who died had never lived. Instead, we celebrate who they were and miss them.
Why is that? I believe it is because they were here. We value them because innately we value human life. Tragic loss saddens us.
I was twelve years old when Roe vs. Wade became the catalyst for legal abortions in the United States. Having heard many opinions on both sides of the issue, I was confused for a few years.
Pro-choice arguments sounded reasonable: a woman’s rights over her own body; the need for legal and safe abortion procedures to prevent women from dying in back-alley attempts; the right to end a pregnancy that threatens the life of the mother; and the right to end a pregnancy that resulted from rape or incest.
This is why I landed on the pro-life side of the issue.
Imagine a pregnant mother who is having a tough time adjusting to the idea of a child. Perhaps she feels she is too young, or too old, too unhealthy or ill-equipped. Maybe this is one child too many, or the less preferred gender.
A lack of money is perchance the issue, or the father of the child is urging her to end the pregnancy. Her family does not want to help. It is possible she does not want to lose her figure, her reputation, or her job.
Maybe the baby is an enemy’s child. Perhaps doctors question his or her quality of life due to potential physical or mental challenges. Whatever the reason, the situation may feel impossibly overwhelming. The unknown, unseen baby is not wanted.
Who does this wanted versus unwanted message effect? The mothers.
A victim of sexual abuse needs to know she has value beyond what her tormentor considered.
A promiscuous daughter of a negligent dad deserves to experience lasting love.
An abandoned single mother warrants cherishing.
An unfaithful wife must be able to receive forgiveness.
A prostitute ought to see her significance is more than money.
All women who are not victims or caught in troubling circumstances necessarily need to understand their worth.
Abortion only limits these insights. As mothers are told the life they carry is disposable, they miss the message from God that all life is sacred and wanted.
Even their own.
A watching world sees our society’s reactions. They see us helping Hurricane Sandy’s survivors. One message we are sending is, “We value our people.”
Similarly, if a distressed woman has an abortion, she and her medical team have taught themselves and others a powerful lesson. The message everyone hears is, “The selection of who is wanted or unwanted belongs to people who have something to gain or lose by the decision.”
It does not. We are inherently valuable.
Whether my mother wanted me does not determine my worth. Escape from trauma by preventing their births would not decide my children’s’ potential. The sick, injured, disabled, unviable, and yes, even the unloved deserve to live out their stories.
What we can see and comprehend in our limited capacity does not dictate the worth of human life. Mothers, preborn children, and the rest of us caught up in the hurricanes of debate over abortion rights are priceless.
We are here.
NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.