To Know Suffering Is to Have Known Love

by Jessica Swygman, grade 10

Our society is corrupt, confused, and self-centered. People are accustomed to luxury and no one is typically willing to burden or inconvenience themselves, unless pressured or unless doing it for vain purposes. I know it is hard to be flexible and it does take effort to be willing to help others, but, as the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Jesus said to all: “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). In our culture today, people might not even know what an example of following this command would look like. However, I know a woman who fulfilled this command to her utmost ability: my biological mother, Honoria Francisca Pérez Pérez.

Honoria was a young mother who already had another child and was struggling to provide for that child in Guatemala. Located in Central America, Guatemala is a third-world country where almost 60 percent of the people live below the poverty line. My mom’s husband was not the best man and was in jail when my mom married another man and then got pregnant with me. However, my biological father left my mom. My mom was alone, pregnant, and needed food for herself and her child. She went back to her first husband when he was released from jail. He wanted her back, but he did not want me, as I was not his child. 

My mom insisted on keeping me, which made her first husband mad and he abused my mom and tried to force her to have an abortion by taking abortion pills. My mother refused, and he got so violent she left him with my other sibling. She got a job as a housekeeper for a wealthy family where she was able to carry me to term and give birth to me. Her employer did not want a baby in the house and my mom had no other employment options; she could not read or write. Unable to find another employer, she put me up for adoption and I was placed with the family I live with now. My mom went through the pregnancy, delivery, giving me over to a foster home, and the long adoption process all without spousal support—and all so I could have life. 

Women who feel scared because they are alone and pregnant, or who may feel pressured into having an abortion, need to think about the child inside them rather than themselves. The child has a reason for existing and God can turn anything bad into something good. If a woman absolutely cannot keep her child, there is always adoption, which is such a better option than abortion. People sometimes think adoption is worse than abortion because their child will usually never know his biological family. However, this decision really isn’t up to them, as no one can fully grasp the concept of life until they lose it or nearly lose it. Even with all the emotional baggage adoption can leave or imprint on a child, with all the help and counselors I have been to, and with all the difficult holidays and birthdays I have been through, I honestly would rather be alive than discarded like trash or dirt. Of course, I miss my biological mother and sibling and it’s hard to think about the conditions they live in. I have done mission trips to Mexico and Nicaragua and have seen similar conditions to the ones they live in. Oftentimes, women who decide to keep their child exclaim afterward how rewarding that decision was as their child brings them so much joy. Knowing my mom fought for me and went through the pregnancy, delivery, and long, difficult legal process gives me strength and peace to keep going.

No medicine, drug, or drink can erase the magnitude of life and the instinct within a woman who experiences life inside her. If pro-abortion women deny themselves, like my mom did, and accept their cross—which really is a gift—and persevere through the doubt and fear that come with the journey, they would be so much happier as they fulfill what God has in store for them. Men, too, can do their part by being encouraging and supportive even if it changes their plans. If everyone started or even tried to follow Jesus’ simple command and accept responsibility for their actions, the world wouldn’t be so chaotic and negative as it is today. Mankind was made in the image and likeness of God and naturally has a part that wishes to be helpful and kind. Everyone struggles against his fallen nature to try to accomplish this, but if everyone were to struggle together, knowing at times they will fail, one day it just might be accomplished. This can start with the tiny details in everyday life and slowly, a culture of life could thrive and grow with everyone working toward the same goal.

© 2018 Jessica Swygman. Published with permission.