A WARRIOR looks a lot different than we might think, writes a trainee Stanton Healthcare counsellor
WARFARE has taken on a new realm. Gone are the spears-of-old, metal breastplates and helmets. Instead, battle attire has softened and given way to stiletto heels, lip gloss and a prayer book slipped into the pocket of a handbag.
A reporter by trade, I ventured aimlessly from a weekly newspaper title and its ever-increasing neoliberal news agenda of recent years.
There is an old saying that sometimes you can push people just a little too far East, they’ll end up West. Perhaps this can be said of me. I grew weary of Main Stream news and its war-time-levels of propaganda it relentlessly pumps out, day in day out, on matters relating to marriage and family - once the most revered foundation stone of Christian society.
Of all people, I have a BBC Radio talk show host to thank for giving me the push I had needed one morning while a caller to the show began to ferociously attack what was once our inalienable Pro-Life laws, in February 2015.
Unwittingly, the woman’s rights caller claimed our laws were outdated. I listened despairingly as logic and wisdom had been conveniently set aside to facilitate unintelligible public debate on the matter. It was the push I had needed to finally knock me off the very comfortable fence that I had been sitting on.
Fast forward several years, I have met some incredible hard-working Pro-Life activists who share one fundamental characteristic – they are forthrightly and unapologetically against the intentional killing of innocent babies in the womb.
I have now found that I’m being drawn to work at the coal face of the issue – counselling women facing unplanned pregnancies with Stanton Healthcare Belfast.
Despite being intimately familiar with the process – my own unplanned pregnancy turned 21 years-old recently, I remained oblivious to the work of a pregnancy counsellor. I naively assumed most women who contact the clinic would be a little open to the idea of wanting to keep her baby and that she merely wanted to seek confirmation to continue. I had been very much mistaken.
I have learned there is much brokenness in our world today. Marriage and family are teetering on the brink of collapse. Many, many women are victims of this cultural quagmire. They are coming from terrible places of fear, pain and suffer much injustice and betrayal.
They are more to be consoled than condemned – our young generation has it hard, of this there is no doubt.
On the other hand, there are women who have it good in life. Many of whom have three or four children of their own and are blessed with good husbands and steady incomes, but remain unwilling to continue with their pregnancy. I have realised, the younger a sibling is, the less likely they are to see the light of day.
Often too, are the cases which I would describe as “easy”. These are the women who are petrified of motherhood, but have connected with their little surprise bump, they just haven’t taken time to realise it.
They act out of shock, but are easily persuaded to choose life when they find support in a Stanton counsellor. These are the cases that abortion centres would rather we didn’t know about. The ones that suffer most from post abortive syndrome – a syndrome that inevitably leads many women to addiction and suicide and is quietly covered up in any meaningful media debate.
Despite this, Stanton Healthcare Belfast, offer these women space – a rare opportunity to confront their anxieties, to tease out their fears and uncover life affirming options and offer a window to the womb. Often, what happens from this moment is nothing short of miraculous, in many cases.
These women hear, for what is unmistakably the first time, the truth of what they have been eager to deny – that a little tiny baby, complete with all the DNA they'll ever need in their entire lifetime, has already been established since the moment of conception, and from 16 days gestation, he already has a strong beating heart.
It is this revelation that women react positively to. Many women begin to connect with their babies at this interval. A few tears are shed and their journey begins. Yet, without Stanton, they would never be given a chance to hear, much less reconsider her direction.
I see women who are transformed every day and each time, I observed the immense courage it takes for a counsellor to defend truth, despite great obstacles. I find this moment – the moment despair subsides to allow for a change heart, the single most beautiful act of love the world may ever know – repeated time after time.
In many ways, counsellors act like Guardian Angels. Always gently prompting women to choose good over evil – to choose life, without interfering upon her free will – a skill which takes time to develop and patience to perfect.
To me, the scene often resembles a tense court room drama. The counsellor takes on the role of a good defense lawyer but without the black gown and curly white wig. She skillfully tries to persuade a one-woman-jury of the merits in choosing life for her unborn – eager to prevent a miscarriage of justice, ensuring this little voiceless defendant is granted a stay of execution.
There are women, faced with such a crossroads, who find themselves in utter despair, want to be free of the consequences of the ordeal and decide to go ahead with the inconceivable alternative. It is this outcome that carries the most sorrow. As followers of Christ, all of us must choose which hill we are to be martyred upon – but this particular cross is not for the faint-hearted.
We can’t promise these women that by choosing life it will be an easy journey for them, but we can promise her it will most definitely be worth it.
I’m blessed to be learning from great Pro-Life veterans, who act as little gatekeepers, standing guard on top of a cliff edge to prevent women from stepping off the precipice.
Despite, all these efforts, the work of a Stanton counsellor would be but in vain if it wasn’t for trust in all mighty God, and the wide and varied group of Christians who raise up this intention each day, and offer prayers up to end the silent holocaust of the unborn.
They are the ones who implore God to bestow his grace to allow these women to turn from that proverbial cliff edge, and back onto safe ground. This supernatural power can never be underestimated – such is its efficacy. It is without doubt, this group who are the true unsung modern-day warrior.