This past weekend, I made a big decision. It didn’t come easily. You see, standing on a sidewalk praying for the unborn is a bit out of my comfort zone, yet that’s exactly what I volunteered to do for the next six weeks.
40 Days for Life is a project that originated in College Station and has spread across the country and to several countries. Most of us know that “Respect Life” is every October. We see the baby banks at Masses, hear pleas for donations from the Gabriel Project and we often listen to homilies focused on the church’s teachings about the dignity of all human life.
I’ve often heard of the 40 Days campaign, but I just smiled, knowing that the campaign solicitations for help weren’t really directed at me. Certainly, my prayers at home were just as effective as those on the sidewalk. What changed my heart? Why this year?
About a month ago, I realized that the tenth anniversary of my miscarriage would occur in late September. While the initial pain of losing a child has subsided somewhat, all it takes is to hear a friend or acquaintance say they’ve experienced a loss through miscarriage and the pain becomes just as raw as if it happened yesterday. Truthfully, the scar never fully heals. This year, my daughter would be preparing for her tenth birthday. She would be in fourth grade. I’m sure she would be smart and funny and faithful and a complete ray of sunshine in our home. But instead, she’s in heaven, lighting it up and living the good life with God.
As that painful anniversary looms, my heart turned to prayer and, ultimately, to life. I prayed so hard for that baby. We were so excited to find out we were expecting and then, boom, out of nowhere, I miscarried. Fast forward to 2009 and I gave birth to our preemie miracle. His three years on earth have been such a living testimony to the power of God’s love. Those two experiences, combined, led me to seriously consider participating in 40 Days for Life. I’ve experienced loss and I’ve also been on the tough end of a prenatal diagnosis. There’s a part of me that aches for women to know how beautiful life is. That it’s worth fighting for even when the world feels like it’s against you. It feels like the right way to honor my daughter and the miracle of life that came through prematurity.
Am I nervous, scared and feeling a bit out of my element? Absolutely. However, my greatest hope is that the women and men who see us praying don’t feel judged, only loved. Providentially, my first day to pray will also be the anniversary of my miscarriage.
It’s taken me nearly a decade to build up the courage to pray so publicly for an end to abortion. I ask that you pray for me, and the thousands of others who seek to convert hearts through peaceful prayer. In Austin alone, there are four abortion clinics – I’d say that’s four too many. In two weeks, I’ll come back here to share my reflections on my experience. I have no idea what to expect, but if you’d like to join me on the sidewalk, or if you have any advice to share, please comment below.
40 Days for Life Campaign Information
September 26-November 4
316 locations around the country
49 U.S. states (including D.C.)
46 first-time campaigns
To learn more or to volunteer, visit the 40 Days for Life website.