My Wake-Up Call
I remember the evening all too well. Due to the first snow of the season, that had fallen only hours before, it made for a frigid Saturday night in early December. It only made sense for the weather outside to mirror the depression that I felt within. Spending most of last autumn (2009) saddened and upset over the loss of a lifestyle that I had wanted for so long, I felt that my one chance for true success was gone. I had lost my role as an actress on a television show. It was a career that many people only fantasize about but never actually get close to. I had done it!
Since I was three years old, all I ever wanted to do was become an actress. Sitting on my daddy’s lap while watching Yankee Doodle Dandy, I had become intensely intrigued with the real life story of George M. Cohan. I wanted nothing more than to be a part of the stage life and perform in front of a countless audience. After twenty long years of small, home-town theater, I had finally made my break into Hollywood. But almost as soon as it began, it came crashing down. My fantasy that had come true . . . was taken away.
There is a brutal but usually factual saying in show business: You only get one shot. Don’t miss. I used my one shot and felt that I had failed miserably. I was given a choice. I could’ve either stuck to my family values and moral beliefs the way I felt God would want me to, or I could’ve ignored my conscious altogether and had a successful acting career. I felt as if Satan were testing me to see whether or not I would chose correctly . . . to see whether or not I would chose him over God. I chose my God over my worldly desires, and I felt, by making the sacrificial choice, that my life would begin to take off on an amazing journey of success. I was wrong.
Unable to find another job before my bank account ran dry, I moved from sunny, laid-back Los Angeles to hole-in-the-wall, Georgia. Even knowing that I was going to be surrounded by close family during such a difficult time didn’t lessen the tightening in my chest in the least. Leaving behind beautiful California felt as if I were leaving behind all my hopes and dreams, and seeing myself as a total failure, I came to my ultimate breaking point. Not giving up an ounce of my pride, I began demanding that God tell me why He had allowed my dream to be taken away from me when I had chosen Him. I wanted to know why the life I had longed for had been dangled in front of my face and then quickly yanked away. I ordered Him to give me a reasonable explanation of why I was sent to Nowhere, USA when I so clearly yearned for the big-city. Although the answer was not immediate, and certainly not deserved due to my attitude, God began to open my eyes to the selfishness in which I'd been living. Through daily talks with Him, reading His word, and messages given by the pastor, I began to realize that my priorities were completely reversed and self-centered, but it wasn’t until my conversation with Tami that I was able to see my true calling from God.
It was one AM on the East Coast, and I was slowly slipping into a dreamless sleep just to be awoken by the unyielding annoyance of my cell phone’s ring. I answered, only to hear the distress in my thirty-eight-year-old former neighbor's voice. She had come to me for advice and a metaphorical shoulder to cry on. Her voice was shaking as she tried to get out the words, "I'm pregnant, and I don't know what to do." Of all the people she knew . . . Tami had singled me out. She told me she knew I was the one person she could tell her problem to who would give her sound advice and not judge her if she made a decision that I did not agree with. I found it amazing that she would confide in me, knowing that I would disagree with her final decision to go through with the abortion, but knowing that I would still love her anyway.
Lazily slumped in bed, I listened to the torn thoughts of my West Coast friend being spoken aloud, and I couldn't help but feel her pain. Tami was brought to tears by the fear of making the wrong decision. She was afraid to tell her husband that she was pregnant again, because she truly believed he would make her have an abortion or maybe even leave her if she decided to keep the baby. She went on to explain how the fact that she was becoming a grandmother in a matter of weeks only contributed to the stressful situation. She just couldn’t comprehend being a grandmother and having a new baby of her own. Leaning towards terminating the pregnancy, she still battled a lingering guilt from an earlier abortion. As I lay listening to her pros and cons, giving her my opinion, and offering any counseling tips I could think of, it was nearly impossible to hold back the rush of emotions that began running through my entire body.
After hanging up from the phone call that would finally give my life direction, I fell to the floor on my hands and knees . . . crying and praying to God. The mental image of that helpless baby, happily growing in its mother's womb, being scraped and sucked out of its home to its death because of someone's social agenda had my heavy heart breaking into pieces. And as I prayed, thoughts and questions quickly raced through my mind. There has to be something I could do. There has to be some way I could help. There must be some way to make women aware of what is actually happening inside their bodies when they have an abortion.
Every breath I took felt as if I were being stabbed with a thousand shards of serrated glass. Thinking about that voiceless life just trying to survive inside of my friend, and knowing that its fight would soon be lost, my heart ached with sympathy. I knew what was going to happen to that child, and I knew there was nothing I could do about it . . . except pray.
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I’d always had my strong opinions on the infamously-sensitive controversy of abortion, but it never truly hit home until it was happening to someone I knew. No one had ever come to me, placing a life in my hands, and asking me what should I do. That’s when I knew. I could feel God burdening my heart, using this mind-numbing situation to direct me onto the path of His will. That was the very moment everything was made clear to me. That was the very moment I was shown my life’s purpose.
I believe God brought Tami into my life with greater intentions than friendship. Although this situation should never be wished upon anyone, I could not be more thankful that she chose to come to me in her time of need. It was through her ease of finding sanctuary in my voice and in my unwavering compassion amongst opposed beliefs that I became aware of my counseling strengths and burdened heart. This issue is not isolated to Tami alone. There are so many women that just need someone to listen to them and to prove that they actually care about them.
I feel that God used this very instance in my life to lead me in the direction of opening a crisis counseling center. There, I will be able to counsel teenage girls all the way up to middle-aged women, and help them through so many of their real life issues or pregnancy issues ranging from adoption, parenting classes, medical support, family counseling, and even post abortion counseling. While I will offer help to young ladies who are having difficulties coping with having had an abortion, services to provide information to obtain an abortion will not be offered. I feel it is my duty as a Christian to reach out to others with the love of Christ, and to let them know no matter what has happened, God still loves them and will always accept those who love Him.
When I first moved to Georgia, it seemed as if everything I had ever wanted was torn away from me. In reality, God was preparing me for my future with every step I took, tirelessly asking me to trust Him. In doing so, I have found that He is much better at managing my life than I ever was. Even today, I still sit in amazement of how God works in such amazing ways. He had chosen that one phone conversation to become my life's wake-up call, and it worked. I no longer sit in self-pity, but my eyes have been opened to all those who are in emotional pain from the burdens they carry. Now, I will be there to help.