By Lois Kerschen
“If I had heard just one word of hope, I wouldn’t have had the abortion.”
Over the years I have heard stories of how people in detrimental circumstances were saved by just a small bit of encouragement. Often the difference between choosing life or death can be one word of hope offered by a friend, a family member, a counselor, or even a stranger. People in severe depression, crippling grief, or other life crises can feel as if they are surrounded by a suffocating darkness. A simple act of kindness – a moment when we can extend concern or love – is a glimmer of light that can lead to a better place for a person in a state of despair. Efforts of outreach such as sidewalk counseling, pregnancy resource centers, and suicide hotlines are vital in a society where life and death decisions can depend on that one moment of recognizing the human need for love and hope in one who is suffering. I know this first-hand because I am a pro-life activist.
The Can’t Mode
While working with pregnant women over the years, I have noted how the mothers in crisis were in the “can’t” mode; an attitude which is often fostered by abortion advocates in a (perhaps even sometimes unintentional) spirit of oppressive victimization.
“I can’t afford this baby”
“I can’t finish school with a baby”
“I can’t do this alone.”
Whatever the reality may be, the biggest thing that these women in crisis can’t do, is imagine a better future. In a moment of tribulation, it may feel to a person as if this one moment in time will never end–or worse–end in complete detriment to their entire future.
Later these can’t statements often result into regretful “if only” statements:
“If I had only known someone was willing to help me.”
“If only I could have known that I would have eventually had a successful career.”
“If I had known that was going to be my only child.”
Making decisions in provision of failure…
None of us can know the future, but the cultural tendencies are to make damaging decisions based on the worst uncertain outcomes. Those who assume they “can’t” make provision for the certainty of failure. Only those without hope would plan for their own presumed detriment.
If only we could assert our faith in knowing that we are loved by God, and He will not abandon us.
Be strong and steadfast; have no fear or dread of them, for it is the Lord, your God, who marches with you; he will never fail you or forsake you.—Deut 31:6
We could then trust in His promises that He will not forsake us. We would not make decisions to what essentially comes down to destroying our own lives ahead of time, so that an unknown harm could not come to us later. No one should abort a child, commit suicide, or resort to drugs or alcohol based on what amounts to a probable lesser harm.
Exchanging the Dark for Light
If someone experiences caring outreach from another person—especially someone who has nothing to gain by helping them–they will learn trust and hope. We have a chance to share our own hope and faith with those we encounter, changing the darkness and replacing it with the light of trusting the Lord.
Following a pro-life event one day a few years ago, I was frustrated by the pro-abortion arguments of a counter-protester who sincerely engaged in a dialogue with us, but who just couldn’t get over all the negatives. Why should the women have to do anything difficult when abortion was such an easy solution?
I certainly comprehend the extremely difficult situations of most abortion-minded women, but it occurred to me that no one had a worse day than Christ on Good Friday, yet Easter came just two days later. Tragedy to triumph! It’s not just a divine thing: our earthly lives can improve overnight. God can bring anyone out of slavery (physical, mental, or situational) as He did for the Israelites, who left slavery restored to all that belonged to them.
All the Israelites did exactly as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron. On that same day the Lord brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt company by company. Exodus 12:50-51
We can go from rags to riches, from endangered to secure, from unloved to surrounded by love in a very short time. Maybe overnight or it might also take years, but the end-result is that life can turn out differently than what we had feared.
When CAN becomes our new word, even without speaking it…
It occurred to me that what is needed is a visual reminder of how quickly, unexpectedly, and enormously life can change. Words alone can do the job, but sometimes words are not enough. A person who is in crisis may also need to be able to envision what good things are possible with God. I was suddenly inspired to create the Duality Cross — a two-sided crucifix. On the front is the Crucified Christ inscribed with “No Matter How Bad It Gets”; on the back is the Resurrected Christ with “There Is Reason to Hope.” When presenting this visual sign of hope to a despairing soul, we can hold the Crucifixion side and say, “Christ knows your misery, but He promised us a better life” and turn to the Resurrection side.
I envision this cross being able to introduce someone to Jesus’ message of salvation. From experience, I know that if a soul is already acquainted with Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, it can evoke an emotional response of gratitude for the reminder to rely on hope or evoke a memory of being saved from despondency by God’s mercy. If a soul is already acquainted with Christ’s life, death and resurrection, it can be especially effective. The powerful story of truth told by its imagery lends witness to the sacrificial love of our Father and Creator.
Also designed in the essence of this message of hope, I was inspired to make coins and cards in this imagery, providing another means of physical and symbolic representation of the hope we have in Christ.
The Duality Cross coin has been used in counseling a suicidal person, handed to mourners at a funeral after a tragic accident took several family members, and just lifted someone out of a bad day.
Those of us who know the power of faith must commit to sharing hope through loving acts of kindness, assistance, and encouragement in order to combat this culture of despair. Anyone–whether volunteering at a pregnancy resource center, counseling via a hotline, paying it forward, building with Habitat for Humanity, or offering a sympathetic ear—can save someone with just a word of hope, or an image that speaks thousands.
Lois has been a pro-life activist for almost 40 years. Starting out as a PRC counselor and board member for her local Right to Life office, she is a co-founder of Democrats for Life of America and a supporter of Consistent Life Network, Feminists for Life of America, and New Wave Feminists. A retired educator and editor, Lois is involved in volunteer work for her community and Catholic church and welcomes opportunities to write or speak about despair, hope, and pro-life issues. Contact her at: