A Friend Who Waits
The paper cover on the examination table scratched my bare legs and the gown merely hovered over my skin, letting the cool clinic air chill me. I had been fine with my decision since the plus sign popped up on the pregnancy stick, but the long wait for the doctor gave me plenty of time for doubts.
Abortion was a serious decision, but my third year of med school was also serious. If I had been married or even in a committed relationship, maybe I wouldn’t have considered getting rid of the fetus. A couple of my classmates were pregnant or had small children, but they were all married to partners able to stay home with the baby or at least make enough money to afford childcare. But I didn’t have such luxuries. The baby’s father had been a one night stand, and having a child at this time of my life wasn’t on my agenda.
I’m not a bad or wicked person. I’ve led a pretty typical life. I grew up in suburbia with a stay at home mom and a supportive father. I made good grades; I was a Girl Scout; I took ballet. I wasn’t a goody-goody either. My first three years in high school, I drank my share of beer at parties, smoked a little weed when it passed by me, and after a year of goading, gave up my virginity at age seventeen. None of it meant much to me; I figured they were all acceptable rites of passage, part of growing up, as was my born again experience during my senior year of high school.
On the beach one Saturday in September, I met two handsome twenty year olds with long, sun bleached hair, tanned skin, and kind eyes. They asked me if I wanted to be saved. I did. By my last year of high school, I felt spent, chewed up, and spit out. I faced a future of responsibility and choices and getting saved sounded like a safe way out.
I held my nose and went under the foamy, green-brown water while tourists and surfers walked by, some staring, some oblivious. For the next nine months, I carried my new leather bound Bible everywhere and gave out smiles so big they scared people. I refused every beer or joint offered me, took back my virginity, and sang Kum Bi Ya at Young Life every Wednesday night. I drove to an evangelical church across town on Sunday mornings, and brought prospective converts to Sunday night youth group. I traded my old boyfriend for a new one who loved Jesus more than sex, totally alienated my girlfriends, and mystified my Episcopalian parents. Then I went to college.
By Christmas break, being saved didn’t mean much anymore. I fell in love with my science courses, decided medicine was my passion, and set goals. My life was all about those goals, and such lofty goals they were, that I didn’t feel a need to talk to God about much. I mean, what could be more self-sacrificing then curing diseases?
An hour dragged by as I sat in the clinic trying to rationalize my life’s choices. There was certainly nothing wrong with me choosing to be a doctor, and having sex, while not always the best decision, was a natural process of life and a good way to get rid of the stress of medical school. Unfortunately the pill isn’t 100% fool proof. “Should I have to give up all my dreams and hard work when there is a legal alternative to my mess?”
Whispering, I asked my question several times, all the while staring at a poster of an empty uterus and kicking my bare heels against the metal cabinet under the exam table. The voice that answered me was faintly familiar and came from deep inside.
“Go home, Clara.”
It was a voice I trusted; the voice of a friend who, once invited inside, had never left, only waited. My daughter and I thank that voice each and every day, as do my patients.
I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit,
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