Sidewalk Counseling: Does It All Depend on Us?

Hey everybody! Gosh, I am so sorry for not blogging here for so long! I got so sidetracked, but the good news is that I was sidetracked with pro-life work! It’s been very wonderful, but I really do think I should share here more through blogging. I’ll do better now. Something I’d love to discuss today is sidewalk counseling. Just that phrase, “sidewalk counseling”, tends to give us pro-life people either thrills and goose pimples, or it freaks us out! It’s really quite a glorious thing, and as a young pro-life kid, I used to watch my mother do it in real time. And boy did I dream of the day that I could do it too, just like Mom! I’m 22 now, and finally this year, I really did get to do THE sidewalk counseling! It was every bit as thrilling as I dreamed; truly God is good to allow us to work with people in that way. I was able to bring a young pregnant mother away from an abortion facility, take her and the baby’s father out to lunch, and convince them to let us help them keep their child! Wow! They didn’t decide right then and there to take me up on the offer; they considered it and discussed it for a week and then called me up to tell me. It was a great day! I loved it and felt that every part of me was perfectly made and suited for that work! Truly a beautiful thing. I was very grateful to feel so ready to do sidewalk counseling, when the time came. I had spent quite some time learning from Mom, reading material on the subject, listening to experts, and thinking about it too. I was eager to get started with actually doing it! But I am glad that I had to wait some time for the opportunity. Because only more recently did I learn the thing which I believe is the most important truth about sidewalk counseling. That truth is this: sidewalk counseling does NOT all depend on us! See, it is very easy to think that we must “say all the right things” and “act in all the right ways” when we are doing sidewalk counseling. We (myself included!) tend to think that if we don’t say something just right, or if we fail to have the right resources or the right phrases just at the right moment, than we will not be able to save the mother and baby. I believe that this is precisely what sidewalk counseling is not about. Sidewalk counseling does not all depend on us. I had thought for some time that learning how to do sidewalk counseling was all about learning the best words to say right at the perfect moment. And to keep saying all the right things the entire time that we are counseling! I used to get anxious, wondering if I would be able to say all the right stuff when needed. In fact, I think there are quite a few people who are far too anxious or afraid to do sidewalk counseling simply because they think they do not know what to say. Now, I do believe that it is important to educate ourselves on helpful and effective things to say when sidewalk counseling. And I think we definitely need to find the right resources and help to offer the mothers in crisis. But never should we be anxious or afraid that we might not say the right things to the mother, and thus loose the opportunity to save the child! I do not think it works that way. My thought is that the true effectiveness and “magic” in sidewalk counseling is God working through us! He is simply using our hearts and hands and faces to help these mothers and children. Sidewalk counseling is not about saying the right words at the right moment, as if we are trying to sell a car or something. It’s all about God working through us! It’s all about us reaching out with the love and care of God. We need to let Him work through us very completely! There is no way that God would ever let the fate of an unborn child rest on whether or not we can just happen to say the right words to the mother while sidewalk counseling! That is an anxiety born from our human weakness and fear; God has nothing to do with that. He only wants to reach out to these mothers and children with His love, care, and mercy, and He is pleased to do this through us. Our main job is to learn how to love these mothers and children very completely and selflessly. To love them with the love of Christ, who is working through us. And I think that if we can learn this love, than everything else, whether it be words, resources, and etc, will fall into place perfectly and serve our purpose very well. When I recently experienced my first sidewalk counseling with a young couple, I remember that I had to consciously remind myself that my job was simply to reach out in sincere love to this couple, seeking to meet their needs, whatever they were. It would have been easy to start trying to say all the right words and sort of “sell” the pro-life message to them. But I realized that this was not going to be the right thing to do. Because I might get too caught up in that and forget to love this couple. I might forget to listen to them and forget to really try to see their problems and understand them. Simply put, I might get too caught up in trying to be successful, instead of being faithful to my job as a sidewalk counselor: to reach out in love. To reach out in real love. A love that seeks the best for the mother and child. We might not always know immediately what they need. We might have to wait and listen first, without anxiety or fear. With trust that God is working through us and granting His great love and mercy. This is His work! I find that trust and simplicity are two keys to effective sidewalk counseling. Trust that God really wants to work through us in this ministry. We know that He will give us the strength and words and love that we need. And then simplicity. The pro-life movement is very simple: we are reaching out to mothers and children who need us. They need us in a lot of different ways, for different things. But we are reaching out to them for one very simple reason: we love them. That’s all. They are people who are in great need, and we want to help them because we love them. So again, I believe that sidewalk counseling is all about love. A deep, living, conscious love for the mothers, fathers, and children we are trying to help. Seeking to know what they need, and how we can help them. Seeking to help them just one moment at a time, with whatever they need. Trusting in God who is surely working through us in this wonderful ministry. Keeping this whole movement very simple in our minds and hearts. What a lovely ministry; what a lovely movement! We are privileged to be called to let God work through us so wonderfully. We can continue this work with great joy! There is no place here for anxiety or fear; this is God’s work. Sidewalk counseling does not all depend on us. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” -Phil 4:7

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