The events of the last two years have brought many challenges and hardships to the people in our country. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the turmoil, hate, and violence that seem to fill the air like a dense fog. What I see around me is reminiscent of St. Paul’s words in 2 Timothy, when he warns us of what we may see in the “last days”: “There will be terrifying times in the last days. People will be self-centered and lovers of money, proud, haughty, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, irreligious” (2 Timothy 3:1-2).
Until recently, I’ve wondered if our country is not spiraling toward that end. But perhaps there’s hope amid the chaos.
In a confused world where people seek pleasure in all things, the world offers everything except God. In an environment where children are ruthlessly slain in cold blood by the evil that is allowed to thrive in another human being, and in an age when being politically sensitive is more important than the truth, I see a tiny flicker of light!
In a recent ruling, the highest court in the land acknowledged a Washington high school coach’s right to kneel and pray after football games. This comes after years of suppressing prayer and the word “God” from our schools. I rejoice at the courage of our justices and pray that this is the first of many steps to legitimize the one who created us.
Of even more importance is the subsequent controversy of the Supreme Court’s overturning of the longstanding Roe v. Wade ruling and returning the decision regarding abortion laws back to the individual states. This specific action has catapulted our country into even deeper dissension. It opens wounds already sensitive from the battle lines drawn between black and white, red and blue states, and liberal versus conservative policies.
While I am definitively pro-life, I haven’t always borne that philosophy. This ruling is especially poignant for me considering I couldn’t have been more pro-choice at one point in my life. Years ago, I believed women should have total autonomy over decisions made about their bodies—even when a baby resided in that body. I knew little of scripture then, and God was not part of my life. This gave me a distorted—and limited—view of what was right and wrong.
Over 40 years ago, I impregnated a girl. I was just nineteen then. When she told me she was pregnant, I was indignant that she could have allowed this to happen. I wasn’t in love with this girl, and I doubt she loved me. I told her that we would get an abortion, and my life would go forward as planned. There was little to discuss. It was as simple as that.
The girl ultimately found a place where the abortion could be done, and on a cold January day, I drove her to the address she gave me and watched her enter the doors of the facility. It never occurred to me that an hour later they would end the life of my child.
For decades, that moment was no more than a forgotten footnote in my life. It wasn’t until years later that the egregiousness of my act became clear, and I began to accept responsibility for what happened. I turned my back on my child and on God that day. But like the Prodigal Son in Luke’s gospel, I was forgiven. Seven years ago, the Lord led me to the Catholic Church, where I was baptized and confirmed—the culmination of a long, meandering journey.
I sometimes wonder what my son or daughter would have been like if the mother and I had allowed him or her to survive. Would the baby have grown up to be creative and smart? Would they be athletic and disciplined? Could they have achieved greatness in the world? I’ll have to live with the fact that I never gave my baby the chance.
Like a knife twisted in an opened wound, abortion and this recent Supreme Court decision are lightning rods for controversy and dissension in America. Given my past, I clearly see the other side’s point of view. I was once one of them. But I am grateful now that my eyes have been opened.
We have not heard the last of the abortion debate. Each state now has the authority to make its own laws regarding abortion, so we must continue to fight. But we can relish the fact that now countless children each year will be given the gift of life.
In Psalms 24:1, we read, “The earth is the Lord’s and all it holds, the world and those who dwell in it.”
We should be thankful for the actions of our Supreme Court judges who remembered those words and had the courage and integrity to act judiciously.
Yes, perhaps there is hope for us.