I will be sidewalk counseling tomorrow morning, which is Christmas Eve (yes, a nearby abortion facility will be performing them that morning). Before each time I counsel, I tend to ponder past experiences I’ve had on the sidewalk…
One Saturday morning, a homeless lady came walking by the abortion facility where I was sidewalk counseling with a few others. I could tell she had some kind of impairment, possibly due to drug use, by her shakiness and sporadic hand gestures, and she was drinking a beer. She asked me what I was doing and why I was doing it, then asked if she and I could sit and talk. We talked for almost 45 minutes.
She noticed the models of the preborn at different gestational ages I had next to me on the sidewalk, and asked if we could move away from them. She kept starting to tear up when one of us would talk about the abortion facility or unborn babies. She kept saying that she thinks the abortion facility was just there to help, because “some women might have crack babies” they couldn’t care for if they didn’t abort. I was about to respond when her tone changed. She said “but you know what, I love babies. I love them very much.” Trying to be sensitive to the fact that she may have experienced an abortion in the past, I kept my words as gentle as possible. I smiled and simply agreed with her, feeling like she had more to say. She went on about how she thinks God has a purpose for us all, and that she knows God loves her and everyone no matter what. I told her I believe the exact same thing.
She would randomly grab my hand and pat it, start to smile and then begin to cry again. She refused to look at the little baby models a friend of mine handed to me to show her, and she started to cry again, starting to pull on her hair, saying she just couldn’t bear to look at them. She had kept asking me, “can I ask you something?” and have a random (sometimes even funny) question for me—about my belief in God, whether I thought we all had a purpose here on earth, whether I liked her t-shirt, etc.
We talked back and forth, and she’d repeat herself over and over. She’d smile at me, then start to say something, and begin to cry all over again. It was obvious she wanted to say something important, but simply couldn’t get it out. Then, I asked her, as kindly as I could, “Can I ask you something now?” and she nodded. “Have you had an abortion?” She nodded again and began to cry more, wiping her eyes and running her hands through her hair repeatedly. She didn’t make eye contact with me for several seconds. She looked back up at me without a word. I asked her, “Do you want to talk about it?”
With that, she opened up completely. She told me she was raped at fourteen and was sent to an unwed mothers’ home where she had to give the baby away. She told me that she wonders where her other daughter is sometimes. I told her that wherever she is, I bet she’s happy, and “I bet she’s got your very pretty blue eyes.” She seemed flattered by that. She told me she got pregnant again later on, but the father wanted nothing to do with her or the baby. I told her that she must have felt very alone and that she didn’t have any other choices. She said yes, and wiped her eyes again. We talked about her past for quite some time as she continued pulling on her hair. Sometimes she’d show the demeanor of a 6-year-old— get giggly, clap, then grab my hand and become serious, and we’d have parts of the discussion all over again.
She summoned her friend over— I had seen this man walking by the last several times I sidewalk counseled, and he was always very nice. They had a little personal hand gesture, like a little secret handshake. The three of us talked together for a while. She told me she’s a Longhorn fan (she saw my Texas A&M shirt) and I showed her how “gig ‘em” and “hook ‘em” put together is “I love you” in sign language, and that we could still be friends anyway (even though our favorite universities are rivals). She smiled.
She said she doesn’t have a lot of friends and doesn’t like many people, and she hasn’t told many people about what she’s been through, but for some reason she wanted to come and talk to me. I told her I was very glad she did, and that there are other people who want to hear her story also, if she ever wants to share it. I told her if she ever feels like she needs to talk with someone again, she can call a pregnancy center in the area, and I gave her a packet with Rachel’s Vineyard information in it so she could look into a post-abortion healing program.
Before they left, her friend told me he says a Hail Mary every time he passes this facility, because he is the father of three aborted babies. The woman gasped and asked him if he knew what he just said—she didn’t even know that about him! I said I will definitely say prayers for them both and that if they ever need to talk with someone again, the information in the pamphlets can help them, and they went on their ways together.
Not all miracles that occur on the sidewalk are obvious. Some are small, but so important. We are not out there just to help pregnant women in need and save babies— we’re out there to be a witness of love to everyone that passes us by; to reach out to anyone and everyone who has been impacted by abortion, from all walks of life.