(Aleteia, Sherry Antonetti) — I’ve been to marches; I’ve prayed at clinics. I’ve written articles and letters to the editor. And I have 10 children. Yet the most effective witness I ever gave to the pro-life cause was when I wasn’t trying to do anything other than find a way to not be lonely.
Back in 1993, I became a mother and I felt the walls of the world close in. So I went out — out seeking connections and adult conversations and anything to help distinguish one day from the next as I worked to recover from pregnancy and adjusted to being a full-time mom.
One day, I saw the receptionist at our apartment and it looked like she’d been crying. I asked her what was up. She told me, “You.”
I didn’t understand, but she invited me in to sit with her. It turned out she’d just broken up with her boyfriend and found out afterward that she was pregnant. Two girlfriends already offered to drive her to get an abortion, but she said seeing my son every day, holding him as he smiled and kicked, she couldn’t. She just couldn’t.
Her reaction to me actually echoed my own reaction to someone else: I’d become a stay-at-home mom because I’d seen a baby boy in the daycare and witnessed his smiles. I couldn’t not be with my son, I just couldn’t. That unknown baby’s smiles led to my staying home and being desperately lonely … and that led to sharing my son’s smiles with this pregnant receptionist. I hugged her and we cried over her worries.
We talked about what she could do. I’d never counseled anyone before, but we created a plan. It involved calling a doctor to get herself checked, calling her folks to get support and calling her boyfriend to let him know. I didn’t know what would happen, but told her we’d be there for her regardless. She gave my son a kiss and dried her eyes.
I left thinking that the loneliness of being a new stay-at-home mother was nothing compared to hers. It rained hard for the next week, so I didn’t get out for my daily walk. The few times I made it by the office, she wasn’t there. I worried.
However, the next time I saw her, she threw open the door and hugged me. Everyone had rallied for her. Her boyfriend and her parents. Now instead of the loneliness, there was a family fully engaged and fired-up alive, eagerly anticipating the child’s birth. They married and before I moved away, they’d had a son and a daughter. My son’s smiles allowed another two children’s smiles to be known to the world and a whole host of smiles for the mom, the dad, and the grandparents.
It wasn’t marching or protesting or lobbying that won a heart in a crisis pregnancy. It was presence. So while we march for all those who weren’t given the opportunity of life, or who were wounded by abortion (fathers, mothers, siblings and everyone else), and while we hope for a defunding of Planned Parenthood, we should recognize the other part of being pro-life. We have to be more pro-life and pro-living than protesting.
So smile and walk out into the world, and know God will put you where you can be most effective.
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared at Aleteia on January 26, 2017, and is reprinted here with permission.