It’s Ash Wednesday…the beginning of Lent. This is a time to reflect, to think about what we want to change in our lives.
I have had a lot of abortions. Too many to even count or probably remember. I didn’t even realize it most of the time. Wait…how could you not know?
These were spiritual abortions. Moments when the seed of love was planted inside of me and I chose to either kill it or neglect it, until shriveled up, and malnourished, it bled out in a miscarriage of sorts.
Why didn’t I want love to grow? Mostly, fear.
In possible relationships, it was the fear of rejection or the fear of the grief that an unexpected loss would bring. Sometimes it was fear that they would not measure up to my vision of what I needed, and then I would have wasted my time and attention on the “wrong” person. This was both the case for romantic relationships and new friendships. Many friends I quit early because they were “flighty”. I felt like if they wouldn’t commit to something in advance, or because they cancelled on me, that I couldn’t depend on them. It signaled to me that they would only perpetually make me feel like I wasn’t good enough for their time. Yet by rejecting them early, I missed out on these creative, spontaneous spirits who could have loved me. They could have taught me freedom in my schedule and how to be more in the moment.
But it wasn’t just seeds of love in budding relationships, it was opportunities to become a more loving person. It was moments when I could have forgiven but instead let bitterness take root in me. It was moments I could have done the kind or generous thing but instead walked away. How many times have I received a prompting to help someone or to offer the words they needed to hear, but refused? How many times have I let anger take the wheel? Anger is judgement, and I was killing every time I chose to judge rather than love.
But let me return again to the word abortion. It wasn’t that I killed something outside of me, but that I aborted something inside of me, in fact, a piece of me. Each time I said no, I killed a little bit of who I had the potential to be, or maybe even who I already was at the core. When I realized all the times I had aborted opportunities for love and purpose in my life, I grieved the loss of what could have been. I feared that through these decisions I had become a lonely, unfulfilled person, and even worse, maybe a person incapable of love. Was I barren now?
Then I thought: Why does the army abort a mission? It is because failure is more likely then success. It could be because conditions are not right or they are not fully equipped. This was likely true of myself as well. The conditions were not quite right in me. I did not feel fully equipped. Now one might argue that there are no perfect conditions and that you just have to take the leap and become equipped along the way. There is truth to that idea. Yet, I do think things need to happen in the right timing and that sometimes we are just not ready. This knowledge that it is okay to take my time allowed me to offer myself grace for all these abortions and miscarriages.
And just maybe the scar tissue that has built up from these losses has in fact created a thick lining that will protect and nourish the next baby that comes along. This time there is no pressure… and I am finally ready to say yes.