The Facebook meme was simple. It showed a mother embracing her infant daughter, snuggled and curled up sweetly in a soft jumper; the mom’s face, nestled in her baby’s hair, breathing in new life.
The visual evoked love, comfort, safety. A sleeping child; a mother, giving and receiving love to and from her little one.
But the words superimposed onto the photograph made it particularly impactful: “Unplanned does not mean unwanted or unloved. It just means life knew what I needed before even I did.” Life often comes to us unplanned. For a planner like me, this can be jarring, yet I’ve learned countless times how God can take our “unscheduled circumstances” and, with his grace and our cooperation, weave untold beauty into them.
The reaction to the meme certainly caught me off guard.
“Unplanned pregnancy number 1,” wrote a father, adding a picture of himself and his beautiful firstborn, both smiling radiantly, and another of “unplanned child number 2,” a small boy wearing a suit, his chubby hands folded in front, an adorable smile showing off shiny, round toddler cheeks.
“Oh, these beautiful blessings are just the best gifts ever!” someone replied. “Our first two we planned on and God planned our third! He is in medical school and will graduate on Mother’s Day! God has a plan for good for each of us!”
Like an avalanche, the comments tumbled forth. They got me wondering, how many of us were planned? Though I never doubted my parents’ love, I know that I was a “surprise,” coming just 17 months after my sister.
Inspired, I shared in a follow-up post how I, too, was unplanned, but thankfully – born in 1968 before abortion’s legalization and to parents who cherished life – spared a planned death.
If I had been erased, the voices of my own five children would have fallen forever silent. And if anyone in any direct branch of my family tree had been aborted … (you wouldn’t be reading this right now).
This is true for everyone. Abortion severs not just one individual’s existence, but an entire family line, permanently removing limbs meant to produce green, life-giving buds.
A favorite baby picture from my baptism day shows my Aunt Anne cradling my head, the priest having just sprinkled me with the waters of new life. I love it not only because of the day’s significance, but because Anne was another unplanned child.
Adopted in infancy by my grandparents, she and my uncle had two sons, who have four children who dance, play soccer and charm us with their unique personalities, all exclusively copyrighted by God.
Anyone who regularly reads my column knows how important this issue is to me. But the meme, and my friends’ responses, reminded me why I hold these convictions so deeply.
“Unplanned doesn’t mean unwanted,” my aunt reminded.
Indeed. To God, every single one of us is planned, wanted and cherished.
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on Jan. 19, 2019.]