I was a lifeguard at the local country club my senior year of high school. It was the one job I absolutely enjoyed and looked forward to every day. I would never have admitted it then but I loved being the one on watch to protect people, especially the children.
In my entire lifeguard career, I only rescued one little girl. It was the shallow end, her mom was literally an arms length away from her but was busy talking to a friend. I saw red curls floating around a little face quietly gurgling through the surface of the water. She was so gently drowning that my first thought was that it couldn’t be real, she was only playing, but I quickly got down from the stand to make sure. When I was closer I saw she indeed was drowning. I didn’t even blow my whistle, not wanting to embarrass her mother who was so close. I instantaneously hopped into the water and pulled her little arms up around me. I felt her coughing for air against my shoulder as I pulled us back to the cement edge of the pool. Her mom was absolutely shocked to find that her daughter was drowning soundlessly beside her and I felt so terrible for her. For the first time I had a thought that has effected me since, “What if the little girl was mine? What if I was that mother that didn’t know her child was drowning?” It could have happened to anyone. A few minutes of distraction and then your child is under the water.
That wasn’t the only time I had that thought that summer. There were five little boys that came every other weekend to the pool ranging in age from seven to eleven. This older lady would bring them and I assumed she was their grandmother. Boy were they a handfull! I can see them now running, yelling constantly in excitement, and cannon balling into the deep end while other divers were waiting their turn to jump in from the high dive; all things that were against the rules.
As a lifeguard, I should have been annoyed by their disobedience but if I had to hide a smile once by their crazy behavior, I had to hide my laughter a thousand times. They were my favorite! I would often think,“What if they were your boys?” Well, if they were my boys I would want to love them well. If they were in “time out” (and often they were) on my breaks I would go and sit with them. I would talk to them about what they did, why they were doing it, and I would help sort it out. Mostly, I just wanted to know them and enjoy their company. They came to love me and whenever I was on watch they never broke a single rule. They were perfect angels on my shift (to the great annoyance of the other lifeguards). Those boys are the very reason I began telling my friends that I wanted five boys of my own one day. I never expected that they actually needed a mom of their own.
I was in the break area and heard one of the staff complaining that the boys had arrived. Just as I began smiling and heading out to the pool, I heard her call them orphans. I stopped walking. I turned and asked what she meant.
“Oh those boys live in the local boys home. That lady brings them here.” She wasn’t their grandmother. They don’t have a family. The question, “what if they were your boys” became more real to me. My heart was broken. I watched them running and screaming into the pool area from where I stood. No smile came, just an overwhelming urge to love them even more, to teach them even more, and to be around them even more while I had the chance.
I never saw the boys again after that summer. I never saw the beautiful little red haired girl again, either. I went to college in the fall and went on with my life. But I never stopped thinking of them and the thought that never left my mind afterward, “What if they were yours?”
Twelve years later, and this is the very thought that keeps me watching and praying at the children’s ministry, on the sidewalk outside of the abortion centers, and every Thursday night at the crisis pregnancy center.
A beautiful young African American girl walked into our crisis pregnancy center two weeks ago and told me she had decided on having an abortion. She was firm in her position, refusing to entertain the thought of other options. I sat there still and wondered what else I could do. That beautiful, perfect question from heaven immediately came to me, “What if she was your daughter?”
If this full grown, beautiful, intelligent, strong-willed woman was mine, then I would tell her the facts about her decision.
I said, “Ok. I understand you want an abortion. Can you tell me what you know about the procedure?”
She knew nothing, so I methodically told her the different procedures, the reactions her body would have, things to expect post abortion. I told her about the two centers in Birmingham and their past history of probation, law suits, and the women sent to the emergency room in the last year. I warned her of the center that is practicing without a license and the center that is open and entertaining the abortions of local prostitution rings including underage abortions. Facts. I repeatedly told her that I am telling her what I would want to know for an informed decision, and what I would want my own family to know. She sat there eyes wide and quiet for the first time since our session. I asked her what she was thinking.
She said, “I had no idea about all that. I wasn’t expecting you to tell me about abortion or any of those things.”
She was thankful for knowing the facts and felt differently about the casual decision she had made before. In that moment she was my daughter; strong-willed, stoic, and informed. In that little session I got to love her, teach her, and just enjoy her company like that summer sitting with the five boys. I thought about her baby too. Was this little unborn child like the quietly drowning beauty with her mom right beside her?
Not wanting to blow my whistle to shame or embarrass, I embraced the moment, and I prayed with her before she left. When we had finished praying, I asked her daringly if she would like to make an appointment for a sonogram. My bold, strong-willed daughter looked me full in the face with tears in her eyes and said, “Yeah. I do.”
CLICK LIKE IF YOU’RE PRO-LIFE!
So I’m asking all of us, “What if they were yours?” How would you see differently? How would you love them better? How much more time would you give? God the Father has given all of His searching children to us, His ambassadors. He has called us to this glorious duty of searching them out, holding their hands as we teach them what we have been taught by Him, and above all else loving them well. For the love is what they remember. And maybe, just maybe, this will be the difference between Life or death.
There are millions of us out there watching and praying on the wall. But the opportunities are all around us to get off our stands for a while, go down to the water, or over to the ones in trouble. It will go from being another job to a holy moment when you begin living your life as though they were yours.
LifeNews Note: Natalie Brumfield works as a curriculum writer and volunteer coordinator for the children’s ministry at her local church in Birmingham, Alabama. She’s on the leadership team for the Birmingham Prayer Furnace as a prayer leader and serves as a weekly counselor for Sav-A-Life, a local pregnancy test center. Reprinted with permission from Bound4Life.