21 – denudator
One of my first clients at Christian Legal Service (CLS) was a stripper. She preferred to be called an exotic dancer. Regardless, she professionally removed her clothes while dancing. I’ve represented several young women in this and one other similar profession, and shallowly judging by appearance alone, this was the only one that I thought to have a promising career in the profession. The others were more likely to be paid to add clothing, or perhaps model heavy coats or hats or tractors. But I’m chasing a rabbit that my wife wouldn’t want me chasing.
She wanted a divorce from an abusive, cheating husband. She was absolutely convinced that she could not possibly obtain a divorce though, because she thought she might be pregnant. I made a cold call to the local crisis pregnancy center, Life Choices, and talked to the executive director. The director suggested I bring her over to their two room, upstairs office in an old musty building for a pregnancy test. I walked with her for the two blocks from my office to theirs, and while she was in another room talking with a volunteer and taking the test, I had the pleasure of meeting Susan Jennings, the Director. I explained my mission with CLS and she explained the mission of Life Choices. We agreed that as we were both Christians, running offices in the name of God and for Him, we were interested in serving people regardless of their faith or religious views, just as Christ did. I offered my services to that organization and their clients and I’ve been with Life Choices in some capacity ever since. I know that some people assumed that my office, called Christian Legal Service, was only interested in helping Christians, but that couldn’t be further from the truth, about me or Life Choices. God’s love does not extend just to the sinless, as in that case it would be self-contained. God’s love, as shown through Christ, was and is offered to everyone, in the midst of our sin, whatever that may be. That’s the love Life Choices and I wanted (want) to reflect.
Anyway, she passed her test with flying colors – she was quite pregnant. This brought on a variety of emotions for her and she went home, promising to return on another day.
Several days passed with no contact from Amy (fictional name). Although I had plenty of other work, I became concerned about her and her abusive husband, but I had neglected to get a number to contact her.
Finally, sometime the next week, she appeared at my office door, elated. She had figured out that she could solve her divorce hang-up with an abortion.
In late high school and early college, abortion was a controversial topic. I had many discussions with teachers and friends on the ethics of it, and while I was strictly against the death penalty, I was more understanding of abortion. Cases of the mother’s life, the health of the fetus, and the circumstances surrounding conception complicated matters and made abortion something to be determined on a case by case basis – if I could justify having any business in it at all, given my gender. It was my friend at the time – M – who helped me think about the sanctity of life, and the disconnect between opposing the death penalty and not abortion, or advocating for the death penalty and not abortion. “If life is sacred,” she said, “isn’t it always sacred?” That got my attention and confused me about my positions on both. As I said in aptus, I liked the way she thought.
When Amy said abortion, I was cautious and I wondered just how far along she was. She wasn’t sure about the date of conception, and to tell the truth, she wasn’t completely confident about the identity of the father. I contacted Ms. Jennings again, and she said she thought we could arrange a free sonogram. Now Amy was cautious and I was elated that someone would give this costly favor. Ms. Jennings had a volunteer pick Amy up and take her to get the sonogram, and Amy came back to my office again the same day showing me a picture.
These are obviously not her images, but they are similar and are the same age – 12 weeks. Amy had forgotten all about her divorce plans for the moment, as she was excited about seeing the heads and legs and arms and even facial features of her twins! She explained that she wanted to be a mother now and couldn’t bear the thought of terminating her own children. We discussed ways to get her out of the husband’s house and protect her from him, and ways to either adopt out or support her children, which she now planned to carry to term. We were both emotional, as I had a new baby at home myself, and she was thankful that she had the opportunity to see what was happening inside her before she became convinced it was just some tissue that could be disposed of.
Over the next couple of months she found the self-worth to look for other jobs, and found a waitress position which she took. We negotiated most of a settlement with the husband, and waited for the delivery date. Several weeks prior to delivery, she miscarried.
Amy and I felt like we were on a roller-coaster. Initially in this case, I had to come to terms with the fact that she felt like exotic dancing was the best she could offer to make a living, and that she wasn’t a person for me to condescend to because I was more pure or pious than her. Once I made it over that hurdle, we were faced with the confusion of abortion, she being all for it until she saw two actual humans within her. That’s when she started valuing not only them, but herself as well, as I explained in genus.
Why God would allow a miscarriage after all this, I failed to comprehend. That fell into the same category as Dad’s death, in the sense that like Heather in Alaska III, I didn’t like the way God worked, although I was convinced of His existence and had accepted His Lordship.
This faith thing is not the easy “opiate” that some have suggested it is. It is difficult if I am honest about it, but I remain convinced that God is indeed God, as I’ve seen His work, felt His grace, witnessed His strength and heard His whisper. And yet, I still couldn’t quite release my anger with Him.