May is the time of year when we honor and celebrate motherhood. We take a day, and set it aside, to acknowledge the courage and sacrifice that it is to become a mother. We get to witness this in our daily work, as our staff and volunteers walk with moms to take unbelievably brave steps forward.
Yet, we must also remember that while this is a celebration for some, it is a time of grief for many others. So many women are carrying the pain of pregnancy loss, infertility, or the incredible strain of parenting without support. Moreover, for many who find themselves walking into motherhood, the outlook feels bleak.
For us to love well, we have to keep both of these realities in view. We need to see the joy of motherhood and the challenge of it.
The other day I was talking with a few of our staff about one of our past clients, Marie. Marie’s story came to mind because it’s representative of what so many women experience when they find themselves pregnant.
Marie grew up in the church, but for her it was a place where you did not “air your dirty laundry.” When she found herself pregnant and in an abusive relationship, she didn’t tell her family, and she thought her only option was to go to an abortion provider for help.
When she got there, they did a pregnancy test and asked about her situation. She was young, unemployed, trying to finish school, in an unsupportive relationship, and had not told her family. Motherhood was not a joyful proposition.
The clinic manager she had been talking to confirmed that she was pregnant and affirmed the idea that motherhood would not work for her. The manager also told her that, because of her circumstances, they would not consider her pregnancy viable. Marie thought she meant that it wasn’t viable from a medical perspective. Pregnancy had been her worst fear, but she said when she heard that her pregnancy wasn’t “viable,” and that her baby might not live, she found that much more terrifying. But, in her mind, this was the only option she had. They scheduled a time for her to come back and take the abortion pill.
The night before her scheduled abortion, Marie was deeply unsettled and searched online for anything that could help. She found the Pregnancy Resource Center website.
The Pregnancy Center was on the way to the abortion clinic. Marie says that she was compelled to stop in just before her scheduled abortion. She walked in and was greeted by a “kind and bubbly” receptionist who asked, “What can I do for you?”
Marie said that in that moment she presented her “dirty laundry,” and the people she met there said, “Here, let us help you.”
By my count, Marie’s daughter Emilia Rose is eight years old today.
Many women like Marie are told, in a hundred different ways, that motherhood is not viable.
As people compelled by the compassion of Jesus, we offer a different kind of story. We do not gloss over how challenging and complicated motherhood can be, or how insurmountable current circumstances feel. Jesus does not do denial, and neither should we.
Instead, we say, “I am with you.” We try to say it with our words, and to say it with everything we do. Loving someone who does not feel that motherhood is a viable option requires us to keep both the joyful hope of motherhood and its difficulty in view.
As we celebrate mothers this month, I invite you to do this work with us. Remember and pray with us for the many women we will see in the coming months who believe that motherhood is not viable. Pray for their courage, and that they would have the support they need to move forward with confidence.
I am so thankful for the partnership of people like you in this work. Your giving is a critical way to say, “I am with you,” and to be an active part of restoring hope to mothers in greater Portland.
Thank you for joining us in the life-saving mission that God has entrusted to His people.
Your Fellow Follower,
Luke Cirillo, CEO