I was nervous when I first took to the streets to discuss the issue of abortion with people. I studied the arguments. I read Scott Klusendorf’s Pro-Life 101three times. I went on CCBR’s Pro-life Classroom and watched all of the videos, some of them more than once. I practiced on my classmates at school and on my family at home. I was told that I was ready. And in many ways, I was. I was as ready as I could be.
Standing on the streets with abortion victim photography had all the challenges I was told it would. Angry people, shouted insults, difficult conversations. Really difficult conversations. I had answers, and I knew that they were the right ones, but for some people, they just weren’t good enough. They weren’t good enough because these people were hurting and that hurt created a barrier that logic couldn’t penetrate. I had to go beyond the arguments, to recognize them as people, respect them as people. I had to learn how to win people, not just arguments. I had to learn how to love. I had to realize that though what I said was important, what people remember is even more important, and they don’t always remember what I said. What they do remember is the pictures. They remember the pictures and just as importantly, they remember how I treated them. I learned to give a soft answer, to seek to understand more than to be understood. I learned that truth without love is ineffective.
But you can go the other way too, and this is something that is especially obvious in Christian communities. They focus on love, they focus on the heart. They forget that love isn’t a feeling, love is an action. Loving someone isn’t necessarily making them feel good about themselves. Love is wanting what’s best for the other. I’m sure everyone has had one of those moments, when a friend or a family member comes up to them, super excited, saying, “Guess where I’m going?” And when they tell you, you get a sinking feeling. Because it’s not good where they’re going, but you don’t want to ruin their good mood. You don’t want to offend them. But you know that letting them go wouldn’t be what’s best for them. What would true love tell you to do? Continue letting the person you care about feel good? Or telling them what they really need to hear, doing what’s best for them? Because in the end, if you don’t say anything, it’s not about them at all. It’s about you. You don’t want to say something uncomfortable. You don’t want your friend to be upset with you. You don’t want to make an effort to help someone when it will most likely make you give something up, require you to make some sort of sacrifice. Sacrifice. Isn’t that what love is all about?
It’s time to stop crying peace when there is no peace. It’s time to stop pretending that we can love people out of bad choices and into the right one’s without any cost whatever. It’s time to realize, as Devorah Gilman says, “Truth without love may be ineffective, but love without truth is a lie.”