By Melissa Ohden
Editor’s note. Melissa is the survivor of a “failed” saline abortion in 1977. She speaks all over the world, including at the last three National Right to Life Conventions where she will again this June. She is a frequent contributor to NRL News and NRL News Today.
Perhaps you may have noticed that I haven’t been writing as much in recent months. There is a reason for this that I would like to share with you.
As much as I am very busy as wife, mother (who is currently pregnant), pro-life speaker, writer (who is currently finishing a book) and advocate, the biggest “obstacle” to my writing has been something else. I’ve been learning a beautiful lesson and, if I may, I would like to pass it along to you.
I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection on my work which has led me to think about my obligations to others. There are two lessons I’ve drawn and I believe they might be helpful to my fellow pro-life advocates.
1) Pro-life advocacy and work is about relationships.
a. I would not be effective in my pro-life work if I didn’t build relationships with others in the pro-life community. I have the privilege of speaking here and abroad, but the lesson is the same for all of us even if speaking is not a part of our pro-life tasks and even if we never leave our local communities: relationships matter.
b. I would not be effective in my pro-life work if I didn’t seek to continuously nurture these personal and professional relationships.
c. I would not be effective if I didn’t establish relationships with those that I seek to serve. That circle includes women and men currently contemplating abortion, post-abortive men and women and their families who have been devastated by abortion, and survivors of failed abortions (like me) and those who were targeted for abortion.
The reality is that building, nurturing, and continuing these relationships takes time. We can get so busy this foundational truth gets forgotten.
It’s true that the very nature of our work may limit our ability to establish and grow these relationships. But whether you are volunteering for your local pro-life organization, assisting a woman-helping center meet the needs of women with crisis pregnancies, or are involved in a one-time exchange through email or social media, each opportunity presents moments where we can purposefully support and assist others.
Additionally, we should also consider our relationships with others in the pro-life movement. Yes, time and distance separate us, and we may even have different views on issues outside of the issue of life. But that one issue—the protection of innocent unborn life—is the transcendent issue of our day. We must use our time wisely to build relationships with one another. That is why I hope to see many of you at the NRL Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, June 26-28.
2) Pro-life advocacy and work is about fulfilling our role at the present moment in time, and being committed and consistent in that role.
As an abortion survivor, I am given many different “hats” to wear–speaker, writer, advocate, etc. But grassroots pro-lifers also wear many additional “hats” in their roles as parents, siblings, parishioners, and professionals, to name just four.
Each of us is at particular stage in our lives and what we can do now will differ from what we were able to do previously and what we will be able to do in the future. As for me I know through my prayers and the peace that I have with my life and my efforts for all life, that I am doing exactly what I am meant to be doing right now.
I don’t worry with what may be expected of me next week or next year, but focus on the moment at hand, whom I am called to serve, where I am called to be, and I am committed to it. And neither should you.
None of we pro-lifers ever feels they have done “enough.” We have to accept and appreciate that we can’t do it all.
But at the same time the beauty of our Movement is that there is a role for each of us, which will evolve over time. In our own way, each us has, is, and will make a difference, which directly leads me back to point #1: what we do is about sustaining relationships.
Those relationships bring about great support not only to those we serve, but also to all of us as a pro-life community. They enable each of us to focus our individual gifts to our particular calling.
None of us alone can do it all. Collectively we can achieve small miracles.
I know this is easier said than done, but I hope that you allow yourself the same opportunity to reflect on your calling in the Movement, how you focus on relationships and how you focus your individual gifts to the needs at hand.