The Choices that Shape Us

I remember sitting in a college classroom, a criminology class, and hearing the instructor discuss “victimless” crimes, the encounters society frowned upon (more then, less now) but that “didn’t hurt anyone.”

The instructor suffered from the disillusionment that “consenting adults” could engage each other, agree to exploit each other, walk away, and remain unchanged, unharmed, perhaps even happier or better off for having had the experience.

Somehow when one eternal soul encounters another, both change. Loving choices produce good–satisfaction in our purpose fulfilled.

Exploiting choices, unrepented and left to themselves, never produce happiness or anything else we can call “better”.

We human beings shape and reshape ourselves and each other–all through the power of our choices.

We cannot, of course, ignore the work God does in shaping us. Our circumstances–not all resulting from our choices–shape us. But always, always, we choose how we react to every situation.

There is a calling, a mandate, on our lives. That calling demands a response. A false response refuses to acknowledge the harm sin causes. A true response resists evil, evil that has power to do great harm.

In his discussion of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and C.S. Lewis’s various works, Joseph Loconte presents this universal calling:

“One may answer the Call–or refuse it, turn away, and walk into Darkness. But indifference to the Call to struggle against evil is not an option; one must take sides. Thus, set before our imagination in the works of Tolkien and Lewis is one of the great paradoxes of our mortal lives: the mysterious intersection of providence and free will” (152).

Every day, we choose to answer the call or neglect it. We choose the good way or our own way.

As our choices shape us, so do they shape our society.

And the shifts in society manifest themselves in changed language. Unborn humans have not just become fetuses. Clinic workers must never say the word baby. They call the child tissue, a blob.

Prostitutes are sex workers now. That’s a very clinical sounding term for something that sounds like an innocuous business. That innocuous business has grown into sex trafficking, even of children, even in America.

Porn is not victimless. It turns its viewers into addicts.

And it abuses and entraps those who produce it. In the meantime, the audience for porn becomes younger and seeks “ever harsher and more violent, degrading images.”

Abortion obviously harms the child, and less obviously, but still profoundly, harms the mother. Even less obvious, but perhaps as profound, is the damage to fathers, surviving siblings, and other family and friends.

And let’s not neglect the harm done to those within the abortion industry. Many within pro-life ranks today left clinic work to stand for life. They have answered the call. But healing is a long road.

Many wounded remain behind and cause more harm.

Loconte: “It is through their own decisions . . . that they invite a spiritual crisis into their lives. The result is not the freedom they imagined, but the deepest slavery of heart and mind” (163).

God bids us to answer His call–to be instruments of healing–to make choices that will shape us, others, and our society for good.

He calls us to speak the truth in love. Our refusal to do so can only bring more hurt.

It’s our choice.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Assessing and Looking Foward

Last year, I resolved to read more and included a photo of the books I intended to read in 2019.

Someone commented on that post that he need not finish every book he starts. He resolved “to free [him]self from boring books by freely abandoning them.” 

Without realizing it, he gave me permission to do the same. And I did, more than once. Yet here I invoke a paraphrase of Reagan’s eleventh commandment that no writer say anything bad about another. And my cup of tea may just not suit you.

As is always the case, the list of books I finished is quite different from those I wrote about a year ago. Other books just shouted to go to the head of the line. And I brought them forward.

So this year, my list still contains a few books from last year. I still resolve to read more by managing television and internet time better than I did in 2018 and then in 2019.

Two books that jumped to the front of the line immediately upon my acquiring them were both by Abby Johnson. Unplanned (the basis for the film of last year) and The Walls are Talking are Johnson’s accounts of having worked in the abortion industry and now working to help others escape employment therein.

I read them out of order, reading The Walls first and following up with Unplanned. In her Preface to The Walls, she states, “This will not be an enjoyable read. It is a necessary one[.]”

She is correct on both counts.

Also jumping to the front of the line last year was My Father Left Me Ireland by Michael Brendan Dougherty. My son gave me this book for Mothers’ Day ahead of my journey with my husband to the land of my heritage. The book provided a solid context about Ireland’s history of the Easter Rising and the Troubles. As an American who grew up in a single-parent family, Dougherty also provides a clear diagnosis of the crisis America faces today.

I read one and a half other books on Ireland–but neither matches Dougherty poetic and profound account.

Among the books on last year’s list that I finished is Everything Happens for a Reason–Kate Bowler’s stellar, sometimes humorous, discussion of what it’s like to live with a terminal diagnosis–emphasis on live.

I also consumed A Pope and A President by Paul Kengor. This book allowed me to relive some of the history I’d seen on the evening news over the decades and to get a behind the scenes, in-depth understanding of God’s working in that historic news. There’s always so much more to the story–and Kengor provides it.

I’m still working through Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak–an amazing piece of literature. I get the sense Zusak may have been trying to stay off the Young Adult shelf in America where The Book Thief had landed from his native Australia. However, some of the language he uses in the book’s dialogue does seem to accurately reflect the way teen boys would talk without an authority figure directing them otherwise.

An off-list book I continue to work through is Raising Jesus: The Skeptic’s Guide to Faith in the Resurrection. E.J. Sweeney’s book offers an amazing discussion of the reasons we can trust the veracity of Christ rising from the dead–from a viewpoint skeptical of the miraculous. I frequently underline and make notations as I read.

Even if you’re not a skeptic, this book is still a great apologetic tool for any discussion you may have with someone resistant to faith. I don’t agree with all Sweeney writes (I’m not that skeptical), yet his scholarship is dead on, and his arguments sound.

Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life is one I had planned to read in 2019 but didn’t get to. It’s on my list for 2020. I was gratified to see a student reading it on campus last semester. He assured me that it’s a worthy read.

I plan to pick up Man and Woman, He Created Them: A Theology of the Body by Saint-Pope John Paul II again this year. You can read this book as you would a devotional. It seems meant to be digested slowly.

Sonia Pernell’s A Woman of No Importance is on my list for the new year upon the recommendation of a trusted friend.

Also in my pile of books are Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments. You might think that watching a couple of episodes of the Tale on Hulu would discourage such a goal in me, but articles like this one and this one push me the other way.

On my list–but not yet in my pile–is Robert Sarah’s The Day Is Now Far Spent. I thoroughly enjoyed his The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise, another book you can read as a devotional.

On my list but not pictured is Out of the Ashes by Anthony Esolen, a book about what we should do when we find the civilization around us crumbling. Sounds timely.

And I couldn’t resist John Zmirak’s title The Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins. I’ve thumbed through the book and read most of the introduction. Zmirak seems orthodox in his faith and hilarious in his outlook.

Blessings to you this New Year. What do you plan to read?

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Secret Trauma of Abortion

I had a strange dream many years ago. Many aspects of it are unusual; the most unusual might be that I remember it so well. My dreams are usually as fleeting as the smoke from a blown out candle.

I was a young mother then. Only two of my five children had been born. In my dream, it was nighttime and I was lying down in the backseat of a moving car. I don’t know who was driving. Perhaps the car was moving of its own accord.

I was on my way to a nearby town–at the time the only place locally where abortions happened. The entire dream was comprised of the two car rides–going there and coming back. The whole way there, I knew that this something had to happen. “I have to do this,” my dreaming inner self said. Ironically, I had the sense that I had no choice.
Then there was the ride home. Nothing in between. No light of the hospital hallways. No smiling or frowning nurse. No doctor reassuring me or disregarding me. No procedure itself.

There was just a ride home in which I felt only regret. As deeply as I felt the opposite conviction on the way there, I felt so profoundly–“I didn’t have to do that.” I awoke with a horror that indelibly impressed the dream in my mind.

For many women, my dream is reality. I only dreamed it. They’ve lived it.

A recent study presumed to prove that 95 percent of women who have abortions have no regrets. But most women (62.5 percent) who had abortions and were asked to participate in the study refused to be involved. Another 15 percent of those who had stayed in the study dropped out later on. And yet another 31 percent dropped out before the end of three years. That’s hardly 95 percent of women who’ve had abortions. That’s hardly even a reasonable sample.

The study further claimed that there is “no evidence of widespread post-abortion trauma syndrome. But it ignored “linkage studies” that showed “an elevated risk of psychiatric admissions following abortion or elevated rates of suicide. Instead, their assessment . . .[was based on] just six emotional reactions they associated with their abortion: relief, happiness, regret, guilt, sadness and anger.”

similar study claimed 80 percent were happy with their decisions to abort. But 76 percent were determined never to have another abortion. It was an experience they would choose never to repeat.

Ramah International reports that many women suffer guilt, numbness, suicidal thoughts, and the inability to bond with their other children after abortion. With one in four women in the US experiencing abortion, that’s a great deal of trauma and lack of family connection.

Crisis pregnancy centers help people (not just mothers) who are dealing with the ramifications of a surprise pregnancy–no matter how it ends. They also help with post-abortion counseling.

Women who have abortions suffer from trauma. Those around them suffer too. For those who favor abortion, that trauma is a secret they prefer to keep.

But many have turned against the pro-choice view. Abby Johnson is notable today because of the movie Unplanned. But Bernard Nathanson had been a pioneer of abortion in the 1970s. He became pro-life before he became a Christian. And Carol Everett had also done abortions. She now speaks against the “pro-choice” perspective. There are others.

Human life is sacred. All of it. Born, pre-born and clinic workers too. Violating that sanctity causes trauma to all involved.

There is healing in Christ. That’s where Johnson, Nathanson, and Everett found it.

Our prayers can help more find that healing too. Today is Day 37 of 40 Days for Life. It’s not too late for you to participate.

Call out to God for the babies, the abortion workers, the mothers, the fathers, and other family members abortion wounds.

Our great God hears and answers.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Hard But Necessary Message

Unplanned is the story of Abby Johnson’s journey from college student to Planned Parenthood volunteer to clinic director to pro-life advocate. It’s in theaters now–but it won’t be there after this weekend unless it makes big box office numbers.

The film begins with Johnson’s statement that the story will not be easy to watch. The film garnered an R rating–ironically making it more difficult for a 15-year-old to see the movie than it would be for her to schedule an actual abortion.

There is no nudity, very little foul language–no F bombs, no God’s name in vain.

Even so, the first ten minutes of the movie may haunt me for a very long time. That portion of the movie depicts a sonogram-guided second-trimester abortion.

Vividly.

There are a few other emotionally jarring scenes. Johnson’s endurance of a chemical abortion (not the simple procedure abortion perveyors present) and the staff dealing with a patient’s perforated uterus (without calling an ambulance) among them.

Ashley Bratcher as Johnson provides an excellent portrayal and delivers a broad range of emotions from the joy of Johnson’s second marriage to anguish over the final realization of what her work for eight years as an “abortion provider” had truly entailed.

But the uncredited star of her story is the prayer others offered on her behalf and for the cause of ending abortion.

Go see this movie. But be prepared to exit the theater changed. There is power in Johnson’s story–whether in her books or on the big screen. There is power in the images of the death and danger involved in abortion.

Yet there is more power in the prayer that asks God to end the horror and grant forgiveness, mercy, and grace after years of pursuing and encouraging death.

This movie can change you.

In more ways than one.

Photo Credit: Lifesitenews

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The View from Inside the Fence

Abby Johnson worked in the building that sat inside the fence. Outside the fence, pro-life people prayed.

At one point, the people praying logged 40 days of prayer–two people at the site 24/7 for the duration of 40 days.

Abby Johnson had begun her career at Planned Parenthood as a volunteer. She walked with “clients” from their cars to the door of the abortion facility as she talked to them–trying to distract them as those holding vigil outside the fence tried to offer help other than abortion.

Abby then moved up through the ranks of hired employees to the position of clinic director. She became the on-site boss.

The pro-lifers offered her friendship and continued to pray.

After eight years, Abby became one of those on the outside of the fence–one offering prayers for the clients as well as the clinic employees and volunteers. And she tells of her transition in Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey across the LifeLine.

I read this book–in a matter of a few days–after I’d read Abby’s second book–The Walls Are Talking: Former Abortion Clinic Workers Tell Their Stories. I finished that book in just a bit more than 24 hours. I could not put it down.

The Preface of that book begins with this statement from Abby: “This will not be an enjoyable read. It is a necessary one, however, as it narrates the real-life experiences of former abortion clinic workers who agreed to be interviewed, as well as some of my own.”

Reading the books out of order actually provided the context for less detailed stories she provides in Unplanned.

Neither book is for the faint of heart. Yet, I agree with Abby’s preface to the second book: It is necessary.

You might wonder how someone could get caught up in the abortion industry to begin with. And you may also wonder why so many are leaving their jobs.

Swallow hard and pick these books up as soon as you can. Their pages will change you.

Pray for Abby’s ministry–And Then There Were None–which helps abortion workers walk away, get new jobs, and build new lives.

And pray for 40 Days for Life–a ministry Abby once thought was limited to her own clinic but which now touches five continents. Pray for them all prayer warriors and clinic workers. Women and babies.

Prayer makes a difference. Just ask Abby Johnson.


Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered came out in paperback on January 22, 2019! Get your copy here!

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”