LOVE ME TENDER, LOVE ME SWEET, NEVER LET ME GO
When the police arrived on the scene, they found a 12-year-old girl named Lianna lying on the side of a country road barely clinging to life. Two men from her extended family had brutally raped this young girl and left for dead. Her face and neck were mutilated in the attack, the scars of which would remain for a lifetime. She thought for sure her life was over – that she would never again feel happiness or peace or any semblance of normality.
But that wasn’t the end of the torture, A few months after the attack, Lianna learned that she was pregnant. Her doctor saw this as just another scar from the incident. But one that he suggested could be easily remedied with a simple procedure – an abortion.
So, the doctor encouraged Lianna to have the procedure, telling her it was her right thing to do so she wouldn’t be haunted by a constant reminder of the attack. But even as a traumatized 12-year-old who experienced one of the worst things the world had to offer, this young girl asked her doctor one crucial question: Would an abortion ease her pain and help her forget about her rape? Her doctor said, “No.” Lianna decided that she would keep the baby. So, she quickly rejected abortion despite the doctor’s suggestions. Lianna learned through this experience just how precious life is. She knew that ending this baby’s life would not heal her scars or erase the horrific events she had endured.
“If the abortion wasn’t going to heal anything, I didn’t see the point,” she said. “I just knew that I had an innocent little baby inside my body. I never thought about who her biological father was. She was my kid. She was inside of me. Just knowing that she needed me, and I needed her…it made me want to work, to get a job [to support her].”
Despite here brave defense of this little life growing in her womb, Lianna battled post-traumatic stress disorder. The memories of that day were so ugly that her mind couldn’t help but drift to thoughts of suicide from time to time. But what kept her from acting upon those suicidal impulses was the knowledge that she wouldn’t be killing just herself, but that she would also be taking the life of the daughter growing inside of her womb. “In my situation,” noted Lianna, “two lives were saved. I saved my daughter’s life, but she saved my life.” Lianna’s reaction to keep her baby is not uncommon among rape victims.
In the only major study of pregnant rape victims ever done, Dr. Sandra Mahkorn found that 75-85% of them rejected abortion, citing reasons such as the belief that abortion would just be another act of violence against their own bodies and their children, the belief that the child’s life had some intrinsic meaning or purpose which they did not yet understand. Research also shows that women who have abortions after being impregnated through rape tend to experience feelings of guilt, depression, lowered self-esteem, and resentment toward men.
Instead of the abortion easing their psychological burdens, it adds to them. 94% of women who decided to keep their child conceived through rape said abortion would not be a good solution to a pregnancy resulting from rape, while 93% of women who did have abortions said the abortion “had not been a good solution to their problems”–and they would not recommend others in their situation do the same. In fact, many women who decide to keep their child after being raped say the baby was the only good thing to come out of the experience.
Lianna’s faith in God and her decision got stronger. Her daughter gave her life new meaning. She soon found each precious smile from her baby girl, replacing her pain with something much stronger – love. And her daughter seemed to somehow be aware of her purpose as well. When Lianna’s daughter was just 4 years old, she turned to her and said, “Mommy, thanks for giving me life.” This tiny gift from God provided Lianna with all of the healing she needed. “When she said that. . . I realized that she was the one who gave me my life back.” Lianna and her daughter have developed an incredible bond. One that was worth all of the pain and suffering as far as Lianna is concerned.
“Even though the torture I was put through, if I had to go through that again just to know and to love my daughter, I would go through that again,” said Lianna. And her daughter was not the only positive thing to come out of this ordeal. Lianna travels the world as a pro-life speaker. She’s also started her own organization, Loving Life, whose mission is to promote the value of life, as well as help other victims of violence and abuse.
Even though reading a story like this raises all kinds of emotions from disgust to pity, from anger to admiration, like a beautiful oyster coming out of an ugly shell, there is a precious truth found in Lianna’s story. Sometimes, life takes us through experiences caused by others that try our souls and tests our spirit to remain faithful to God’s Word. If the person who caused it is never punished, it only adds to our misery. Even if we believe that God never lets anything happen to His children without purpose, it still does not answer our confusion and bewilderment as to why. That’s when we need to look for something to grow out of such an experience that will bring joy to our soul and cause us to thank the Lord, He brought us through victoriously.
The prophet Isaiah had a very insightful thought when he wrote, “Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from some tragedy yet to come” (Isaiah 57:1). Even Joseph, the man with the coat of many colors, went through a terrible ordeal. But when his brothers who threw him into the empty well and then sold him into slavery came for help, Joseph told them, “As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for harm, for He brought me to this high position I have today so that I could save the lives of many people” (Genesis 50:20).
The Apostle Paul put it this way: “We don’t need to feel bad when troubles come our way. We know that troubles help us learn not to give up. When we have learned not to give up, it shows we have stood the test. When we have stood the test, it gives us hope. Hope never makes us ashamed because the love of God has come into our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who was given to us” (Romans 5:3-5); “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28).
So, when unfortunate and even life-changing things happen to fall on us unexpectedly, start looking for the good that can come out of it rather than being obsessed with all the bad that things that never happen. I tend to believe that Jesus thought this way as He staggered up the via della rosa carrying His cross. And look at what happened because He saw the pearl of great price that would come out of this ugly shell of punishment and torture. Besides, He did it all for you and me. – Dr. Robert R Seyda