Thursday, December 16, 2010

In Such a Way

"Live your life in such a way that those who know you but don't know God will come to know God because they know you."

On Friday evening I attended a birthday party with my daughter Eva. As I've mentioned before, birthdays are always a big deal in Chile and this time of year there seem to be so many of them. Honestly sometimes we get tired of all the running around, but we truly feel that they are unique opportunities to build "redemptive relationships" with other parents. It is common for one or both parents to stay behind with their child who is attending the party, so as the children play the adults converse. Of course there are some birthday parties that get quite loud and make talking impossible, but then there are others such as Friday night's which allow for some really great conversations.

This particular birthday was held in Eva's classmate's home (as opposed to any of a growing number of "casas de eventos" or party places in Iquique) and as the children scampered about several moms gathered around the kitchen table to chit chat. I always get the impression when I first arrive that the moms who don't know me, don't know what to make of me. First of all, I'm a gringa; second of all, they know I'm some sort of religious person but they're uncertain what kind; and if that's not enough, I've got this whole tribe of kids which are unique in sheer numbers and shades of skin - not to mention the curiosity of adoption.

So it's not a surprise to me when the questions start coming. It's almost a relief, actually, since getting them out of the way means we can delve into "meatier" topics if the opportunity arises. And on this night the opportunity that arose was surprisingly the topic of abortion. I say "surprisingly" because with abortion being illegal in Chile, it is rarely voiced aloud in conversation. Yet I'm aware from previous investigation and personal testimonies that its being illegal does not mean it is non-existent; quite on the contrary, Chile is believed to have one of the highest abortion rates in Latin American along with its neighbor Peru.

Specifically, one of the moms was speaking of a friend whose pregnancy with twins came to heartbreaking end at six months when she collapsed and according to the medical experts, it was "her life or theirs." They did not try to save the babies and instead she suffered through the delivery of her two lifeless children, resulting in deep depression and future attempts to take her own life.

In those situations where the life of the mother is at stake or the child has some condition that is "not compatible with life," the mom who was leading the discussion insisted that legal "therapeutic" abortion would be a kinder alternative which would cut short the ensuing grief. Another mom present found herself agreeing hesitantly, even though she has a miracle son who survived a premature birth at six months and who is now perfectly healthy.

Mine was the one dissenting voice, though I took care to speak gently, pointing out that abortion does not take away the grief a mother suffers at the loss of a child but rather creates an additional grief borne often of guilt (whether humanly speaking there was hope for the child's life or not.)

I was able to share with them stories I've witnessed secondhand of mothers who despite an adverse diagnosis choose to carry their baby to term and walk through the valley of grief. It is heartwrenching yet freeing to not shortcut the grief and to come out the other side changed but whole. One such story that immediately came to mind was that of Angie Smith (whose blog Bring the Rain is bookmarked in my sidebar.)

It was obvious by the thoughtful looks on the other moms' faces that they had not considered this, and though the conversation soon changed to other topics I hoped a seed was planted not only for the sanctity of human life but also for the Lord.

No, it was not an evangelistic conversation per se but - as the quote reminded me later that same night - sometimes it is simply the difference in our lives and the way we view the world that can create a God-given curiosity to know more and which can lead to future conversations. That was my purpose in going to the birthday party, and it is my prayer now. Only God knows what the result will be!

No comments: