Come to the Table

Isn't this little boy handsome?!

That's my SIX-year-old, Carter. He's a piece of work.

He's a lover of all the boy things, sports, and he's even spent some time acting in Hollywood.

He wants to be a police officer when he grows up so that he can rescue people, and I know he's going to change lives. He already has.

I'd be lying if I said that my pregnancy with him was planned.

And I'm ashamed to say this, but if I'm being completely honest, not only was his pregnancy unplanned, but there were also a few moments where my pregnancy with him was unwanted (I'm speaking for myself when I say this.)

When I found out I was pregnant, I was in my first semester of nursing school. I was a poor college student working two jobs. I hadn't even been dating my boyfriend for a year. A month before I found out I was pregnant, we were on the verge of breaking up, but we had decided to give things one more try.

And then one night when we were working the graveyard shift together, I took a pregnancy test and sure enough, the extra-large Monster Energy drink that I was holding just about fell all over the floor as I saw the word "pregnant" pop up.

Both of us were selfish, young, entitled college students, and when we were hit with the reality that we were about to be parents, we became paralyzed with fear.

Fast forward to 2019, and we have a healthy six-year-old boy who is so full of life that it's hard to sleep in his presence because of the sheer amount of energy he radiates.

The reason I bring any of this up is that my sister, Brooke texted me yesterday asking what I would title a platform for women who are faced with an unwanted pregnancy and considering abortion. She didn't want it to be completely "pro-life" because she wanted all women to feel welcome.

"Come to the table."

The words kept ringing in my head.

"That's kind of lame." I thought.

"Come to the table." I kept coming back to it.

And so, I did what I always do when I have an idea that's racing around in my head. I began writing, and here's what I said to her (I've added more since the initial text):

All I can think is "Come to the table." I feel like pretty often; the news gets broken at a table. A table is a place where many beautiful, exciting, fun, and even hard conversations occur. As Corey and I made the announcement about our unplanned pregnancy to various members of our family, a table was almost always where we would gather them.

For a long time, the table was a huge point of stress for us, but in retrospect, it was also a pivotal place where we were at a crossroads, and what took place at those tables changed the trajectory of our lives. The table is where we let a lot of people down, but we were able to release the weight of a secret that we were keeping.

The turning point occurred as those who received the news chose how they would respond to it. Thankfully for us, for the most part, we found encouragement, support, grace, and healing because so many people rallied behind us and gave us the support that we did not deserve. The table is where we were faced with two choices: life or death, and despite the hardships that we knew we were going to face, we chose life.

I am not here to debate. I'm not here to talk politics. I'm not here to change your mind.

I just want to share my story.

Back to the table...

Now in 2019, my table seems to be the center of our home. It's the first place my kids check to see if a nourishing meal is ready for them. The table is where they do their homework and train their brains. The table is often where they are called to have a seat when they need correction due to lack of self-control, and the table is where we gather as a family. More importantly, the table is where my kids know they can come to talk without us passing judgment.

The above reasons are why I think I found so much comfort in sitting at other's tables as I broke the news because so many of them had provided those things for me.

My table is nothing fancy. It's actually a stained up, junky thing that I bought from Goodwill. It's usually filthy, and the floor below is usually covered in food, but it doesn't matter. It's not about the quality of the table. It's about what occurs around the table, and the quality of the time and the words spoken at the table. It's about the advice offered and the love given at the table.

And as I reflect on the responses I received from everyone back then, I realized that their tables have transformed the way that I choose to use my table now.

I could have gathered at the tables of those that I love most and been turned away. At that very same table where I was given the reassurance that things would be okay and life was the right choice, I could have very easily been convinced in my most vulnerable moments that maybe my future would be brighter by choosing to terminate.

If I'm being completely honest, had my loved ones encouraged me to do that, I can't say for sure what I would have chosen. I like to think that I know what I would have done, but thankfully I wasn't faced with that decision.

I made a choice, and I don't think that I'm better than anyone else because of it, but I know I'm a better person in general because of my son.

I know that the women who are in the face of these hard choices don't need one more judging eye. They don't need one more message of disapproval. They don't need anyone else letting them know that their choices, regardless of what those choices are, are shameful.  They don't need one more person telling them they have failed. I know, because I have been there. These women need hope, and they need love, and they need to be led by example. We need to be giving them a place where they can receive these things, and know we will not condemn them.

We simply cannot reach these women by fighting fire with fire. We have to invite them to come to our tables. This is so much more than a political issue. It's a heart issue, and we have to fix it by first fixing ourselves.

I think a lot more women would be convinced to choose life if they were invited to "Come to the Table" without an agenda. Maybe they need nourishment. Maybe they need encouragement. Maybe they do need some education but simply invite them in without condition, rather than adding to their problems.

We have to be able to stand our ground for the unborn, while simultaneously loving and supporting the women who are in the face of some hard, life-altering decisions.

"Come to the table. We will nourish you. We will love you. We will encourage you. Regardless of your decision."

We can be hopeful that they will make the choice that we believe in, but we must also be willing to be there to help pick up the pieces if they don't.

So, with all of that being said, I'd like to leave you with a few questions...

What are you using your table for?

Is it full of paperwork and chaos?

Is it quiet and lonely, just yearning to be used for the community that it was created for? 

Does it serve a purpose at all?

I want to encourage you to reevaluate how you use your table.

If it's cluttered, clear it off.

If it hasn't seen people gather in a while, change that.

Choose to use your table to intentionally love, serve, and give the same grace that Jesus gives to all of us. In case you didn't know, Jesus doesn't love only like-minded people.

I can only speak from my experience, but I feel like if we just loved a little harder, and listened a little more, not only would we have people that loved to come to our table, but they just might come to our side of the table and choose life.

Check out Brooke's new outreach "Come to The Table" here.

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