It’s been said that true character is revealed in true crisis. That was never more true than when just five months before I was to wed my beautiful fiancé, we discovered we were pregnant.
Standing at a crossroads, I faced two choices: Either I could take the courageous path by protecting my unborn child, in spite of the consequences, or I could keep our perfect wedding day in tact by discreetly disposing of this “mistake.” At 23 years old, with a lifetime of dreams ahead and an immature Christian faith on which to lean, I tragically chose the latter.
This one decision – the choice to abort my unborn child – resulted in decades of heartache and planted the seeds of enmity between my wife and I that would almost tear our marriage apart.
Countless times over the years, I’ve thought to myself, “If only I could go back and do things differently.” And that’s why nearly two decades later, I’m writing this letter to my 20-something self: not because I can undo past mistakes, but because right now there is a young 20-something man facing his own unplanned pregnancy (or could in the near future) longing for someone to give him solid, strong, Godly advice. If that’s you, it’s my hope that this letter will help you.
Dear 20-something Jeff,
It’s easy to feel good about yourself. You’re athletic, decent-looking, smart and a genuinely nice guy. Professors esteem you, friends follow you, and your parents praise you. You go to church (now and then), believe in God, and try to do what’s right.
In your social circles, you’re known for standing up for the little guy. Through high school and college, you’ve been a reliable advocate for those weaker and less fortunate than you. The nerd, the awkward kid, they have always found an ally in you. Friends and family admire you for that special quality. Unfortunately, when you were faced with a tough decision, you were not prepared and you faltered. When you had the chance to stand up for your unborn child, truly “the least of these,” you remained silent and weak.
That’s why I’m writing you this letter. So that when you have the opportunity to fight for the most important people in your life, you will seize it. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until the crisis comes to decide how you will respond. Prepare now, so that when you must make a choice, you’ll be equipped:
It’s time to take God seriously.
While you’ve attended church sporadically throughout your life, you’ve never placed God at the center. As a result, the choices you make regarding love, life and relationships will be based on your selfish desires and what you think you know about God from the lyrics of a few Christian pop songs. Take time to read His word. I know in your twenties, the world is brimming over with excitement and the Bible seems dull in comparison.
But I assure you, within those pages lies the truths that will transform your life, protect your heart and grow you into a man of God. Don’t wait to discover God’s best for you… do it now.
Spend time with Godly men.
You like to spend time with the guys, play games and do a lot of nothing. Unfortunately most of the relationships you currently have will not stand the test of time, nor will they steady you when your life begins to unravel.
Seek out men who love the Lord with all their heart, mind and soul. Discover how they handle temptation, sin and doubt. Listen to them pray. Watch how they live. Notice what they value. Years of heartache can be averted if you decide now to surround yourself with men who follow hard after Christ.
Lastly, I want to discuss women.
Let’s face it; you’ve never had much difficulty in this area. Like many other areas of your life, dating and relationships have come easily to you. Unfortunately, your pursuit of women has mirrored your view of women, which is void of genuine respect, dignity or Godly value. I know this probably shocks you… after all, you open the door for your date, escort her to her front door, even send flowers from time to time. But behind these so-called “chivalrous” acts, is really an ulterior motive to build your own self- esteem. In the end, you are using women for your own pleasure and not as a means to honor God.
Pope John Paul II once said, “The dignity of every woman is the duty of man.” In other words, women are intrinsically valuable to God and he has placed men as the vanguards over a woman’s dignity.
Embrace your role as defender and valiant warrior. And when the time comes to stand up for your fiancé and your unborn child, you will be trained for the battle:
You won’t back down to the enemy who deceives you into believing that an unplanned pregnancy is the unforgiveable sin.
You won’t retreat from the fear of embarrassment or shame that threatens to engulf you and your fiancé just weeks before your wedding.
You won’t run away from the responsibility of parenting a child that you have fathered – even if that child was not in your plans.
Instead, you will honor the heart-cry of your fiancée and protect the heartbeat of your unborn child. You will courageously take the arrows that may come from those who pass judgment on your unexpected pregnancy. But in doing so, you will avoid two decades of trying to pick up the pieces of a broken and wounded spirit.
I’m in a place now where I can’t change what’s happened in the past. I’m a post-abortive father who had to tell my children that I aborted their oldest sibling. I’m a husband who has spent hours comforting my wife as she grieved over the child she would never know. And though I have found complete forgiveness in Christ and His redeeming work on the cross, I still live with the consequences of not having been strong when it counted most.
But you’re just twenty-something. The power to make the right decision lies squarely in your hands… if you will only listen to the advice of those who have gone before you.
I wish I could go back in time, but I cannot undo what happened 20 years ago. I can only pray my story will help rescue a child, a mother, father, son or daughter from the pain and devastation caused by killing a child. I know God has forgiven me, but it took me 20 years to forgive myself.
I pray you make the right choices in life. Choose life!
Editor’s Note: This guest post is from Jeff Bradford, Vice President of Online for Life. After learning about Online for Life in 2010, he was so moved by how the organization verifiably saves unborn children from abortion that he began volunteering. Jeff eventually left the business world to work with Online for Life full time. Jeff graduated from the University of Texas (Austin) with a Bachelors of Science in Finance. He and his wife Tricia have four children.