Why NOT to do 40 Days EVER

40 Days for Life is coming.

My year sort of revolves around 40 Days for Life. Two campaigns a year: planning them, preparing them, organizing them, running them, surviving them, recovering from them. No matter what role you play in 40 Days for Life, it can be brutal. The spiritual warfare is real. So is the exhaustion. 
So are the rewards.
I’ve spent a lot of time telling people why they should get involved in this thing, this always-intense-occasionally-torturous-tragically-beautiful thing we have come to know as 40 Days for Life. 
I can tell my enthusiasm overwhelms you.
I spend hours giving reasons to sign up for this thing.
Now, I’ll tell you why you shouldn’t.
Yesterday I had the privilege (and excitement) to take part in a live show on our local Catholic radio, concering HCL and our work, including 40 Days. The host asked me why I thought people don’t sign up for 40 Days in greater numbers, then proposed: “Do you think it has anything to do with fear?”
As a matter of fact…
Yep.
I think that is exactly why. Fear, in a lot of different forms. I mentioned two on the radio: fear they’ll be perceived a certain way (those insane, foaming-at-the-mouth holier-than-thou anti-choicers who hate women!) or fear they’ll get here wanting to help women and when the moment comes, they won’t know what to say. 
Later on I thought about it some more, and I realized those fears, and every other fear I could think of that people have when it comes to doing pro-life work, all boiled down, really, to just one fear.
Fear of being responsible.
I don’t mean responsible in the sense of showing up to work every day or paying your bills on time or responsible as in “reliable.”
I mean responsible as in “culpable.”
Google “culpable definition” and this happens:

See, if we show up at an abortion facility wanting to stop an abortion, and the mom chooses life, who wants to claim responsibilty for that? Well, we all do, that’s who. That’s awesome. Sweet. Life Highlight for reals right there, yo. Cross “Save a Life” off that there bucket list!
If we show up at an abortion facility wanting to stop an abortion, and we do our best, and we pray our hearts out, and we speak with love and compassion to a mom in crisis and we offer her every alternative there is, we offer her shelter and a home and a job and maternity clothes and diapers and ev-er-y-thing, and that mom looks you in the eye and says, “I know what I’m doing, and I don’t care,” and she has an abortion in spite of all your efforts and her baby dies…who wants to claim responsiblity for that?
Who could possibly want to live with that kind of heartbreak? Who wants to wonder if their prayers were pure enough, deep enough? Who wants to lie awake at night wondering if they said the right things, kicking themselves for the words of wisdom they didn’t think of in time, the resources they couldn’t name, the pamphlet they didn’t have on hand, the baby model that was lying out of reach in your car because you forgot to stick it in your pocket…who wants to climb back into their car at the end of an hour on the sidewalk and weep because your heart feels battered? Who wants to do that so many times again and again until one day they just climb into their car and feel numb, and are more broken by  the numbness than the weeping?
Not me. 
And if you just said the same thing, I don’t blame you. Not one bit.
Nobody wants that kind of responsiblity.
It is much, much easier to just pretend it doesn’t happen. It’s much easier to not remember that over 70 babies are lost to abortion every day just in HOUSTON, than to think about those 70 babies and their mamas and daddies and what 70 babies dying from abortion every day really means. It’s easier to talk ourselves into waiting until “later,” to convince ourselves that, well, surely someone else will do that, surely somebody else who is stronger and smarter and sturdier, someone who can “handle it”.
But, you know what?
Nobody can handle that.
Nobody can handle that…alone.
We’re culpable for abortion, alright. We sure are. But not in the way we’re afraid of being culpable. We’re afraid that if we try our best and a mom still chooses abortion, we’re culpable for failing her and her baby. In reality, if a mom chooses abortion and we did nothing to offer her an alternative, THEN we are culpable. If a woman chooses abortion because she is convinced she is alone, because she goes to an abortion facility one day begging God for a sign that she doesn’t have to do this and she gets there and the sidewalks are empty, and no one stops her, and no one reaches out to her, and no one looks at her and says, “You are not alone, you do not have to do this,” THAT is when we have failed her. 
It is easy to fail her. To try to help her…that is hard.
Impossible, in fact. Impossible alone.
But we’re not alone, are we?
Oh, I know it feels like it sometimes. I know for sure what it feels like to be on the sidewalk and feel totally, completely alone. I am verrrrry familiar with that particular feeling.
But how could I, or you, believe that? The God who formed that tiny person, breathed a soul into that microscopic body, tucked him or her lovingly into the womb of that mother…the God, who in fact, did exactly that for YOU, days and years before this moment where He nudged your heart and whispered, “Child, my child, your brothers and sisters, they are in need”…do we really believe He would lead us to the sidewalk, and leave us there, alone?
Never.
He would never do that to us. He would never leave us alone. He will never leave those unborn children and their abortion-vulnerable families alone, and you and I…you and I, we are the ones who are culpable if we fail to show up and make sure they KNOW.
Why shouldn’t you join 40 Days for Life?
If you don’t want to feel culpable the day you’ve tried your best and fail, but instead prefer to really be culpable for failing to do anything at all, don’t join.
If you don’t want to have your heart plowed up so bad it can’t help but grow and change in profound and beautiful ways, don’t sign up.
If you don’t want to experience a moment where you hear a girl whisper in a broken voice, “I just don’t know what to do…I asked God for a sign…” and you look at her and you can say with total confidence, “I AM the sign!”…If you never want to feel the tingles of knowing you are, for once, exactly where you are meant to be and doing what God wants you to do, don’t sign up.
If you don’t want to stand side-by-side with the most loving, amazing, compassionate people you’ve ever met in your life, don’t join.
If you don’t want the chance to become one of those loving, amazing, compassionate people who see dozens of abortion industry workers experiencing conversions and feeling safe and supported enough to leave the abortion facilities where they feel trapped and used, better not be part of 40 Days.
If you don’t want to be part of saving 8,245 babies during the next eight years the way we have in the past eight years, don’t you even think about being part of 40 Days.

If you never want to cry out to God, as I have, many times, and beg “Not me, please, God, not me again. I am tired, and I am small, and I am afraid, and I just can’t…please, please, please…find somebody else who can,” and hear Him respond: “You’re right, you can’t. But I can. So you will come, and you will see. With Me, all things are possible. Arise, beloved, My beautiful one, and come.” If you don’t want to know what that’s like…I guess you really better not be a part of 40 Days, because sooner or later, that is going to happen.

But if those don’t seem like good reasons NOT to do something…then I guess you better do it. If you want to be broken until you blossom, hurt until you become part of someone else’s healing, watch lives changed and souls saved…if you want to know what it’s like to see God move…then you better come.

Because out here, He moves all the time.
photo credit: Verily magazine

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