God is Love: In My Heart, I Know That’s Right
I found God at the abortion clinic.
I didn’t go there to get an abortion. I went there to be a professional feminist, a long-held career goal that still inspires my work today. I answered the phones, called the insurance companies, drew up the meds, checked in the patients, did pre-op counseling and informed consent, assisted the doc with procedures, held women’s hands, cleaned up puke, washed and sterilized surgical instruments. It was the best job I’ve ever had. My ability to love the women that came to our clinic was transformative for them, because they often weren’t feeling the love of partners, family, friends, church or the culture at large. Often, they were hating hard on themselves. At the clinic, my capacity to meet those women with love was life-changing for them, and ultimately, for me as well.
When I started working at the clinic, I had only a fledgling relationship with God. I’m not sure I could have articulated exactly what I believed in then, and I didn’t really want to. The majority of my friends were atheist or agnostic, and they didn’t want to hear about my personal experience of being enveloped by a Love that I had come to identify as the Divine Presence. I didn’t need to talk about it. It filled a need in me that had been there ever since I realized I wasn’t a Christian at the age of 14, and that was enough. My friends didn’t need me to evangelize to them.
But our patients did. The came in terrified of hell, damnation, eternal separation from God. The Catholic protestors outside told them they would go to hell. Their parents, partners, friends, and Fox News told them they would go to hell. By choosing not to carry and give birth to unwanted children, so many of our patients thought they had lost God forever. In my heart, I knew that that was wrong. So I had to speak.
It doesn’t matter what I believe, I told them, it matters what you believe. But I’m going to tell you what I believe. I was raised Christian, and what stuck with me the most from my Christian upbringing is this: God is Love. God is like the best parent ever. Think about how much you love your kids. How they can do anything, and you still love them. Now, think about me. I’m just a flawed human being, but I hear your story and feel compassion and understanding. How can we possibly imagine that God has less love and compassion and understanding than you and I? How can God, who knows your heart, not understand the good reasons you have for making this choice today? I believe that God loves you, today and always. Have you talked to God about your choice? Do you think God understands? Do you think God loves you? I do.
It was a relief for them, to hear that someone could hold an alternate vision of God, a God who could be with them through the abortion and after, who would love them no matter what. That was the God I knew, it’s the God I know, and I feel privileged to have been able to share that vision of a loving God with women who so desperately needed that love. And I am so grateful that they did, because if I had not been forced to speak about what I believe, I may never have really understood the power and the beauty of the Love that is God.
Today is the 40th anniversary of the US Supreme Court decision that affirmed the right of pregnant women in this country to own our bodies. I am both so grateful to retain the right to my body, and so frustrated by the many assaults against that right. But this is not a blog post about that. Down the street from me, someone has a bumper sticker that says, “Vote Pro Life: In Your Heart You Know It’s Right.” This is a blog post to challenge that. In my heart, I know that the right to my own body is God-given, and that God’s love does not stop at the abortion clinic door. And that is what this blog post is about, today, on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.