As one of the few Christians on the faculty, students sometimes wanted to talk privately to me about their religious dilemmas. I did not discuss my beliefs in class, so students only knew about them when they asked me directly. But some did learn of my faith, and I was a natural ear for them.
One very difficult time stands out for me when I think back on those talks, always private and confidential. Two of my students loved each other, and the girl had become pregnant. Both came from religious homes, but both were now adults and living on their own. They wanted to share with me their decision for her to have an abortion. They already knew I would disagree with their plan. So I just listened to their pain and welcomed them to return at any time to talk further.
They went through with the abortion, and the girl had dreadful complications afterwords. They were both badly shaken, and returned to talk with and cry with me. I am grateful that they trusted me to be there for them in this life altering time. They both suffered deeply after that and eventually broke off their relationship.
I hope that I was able to be with them in pain and not in condemnation, despite my own beliefs. They trusted me and I returned the trust. With thirty years of teaching, I know that there were others who went the same route, so they can’t be identified by this post.
Still I think of them often, knowing that the decision to abort is neither simple nor pain free.