On this edition of Truth in Love, Dr. Lambert talks with Ward and Heather Young about their story of having an unplanned pregnancy. They explain their journey from being unmarried, unbelievers with an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy to married believers who decided to have more children.
Lambert: As we devote this month to focus on the sanctity of human life, in the midst of the cultural catastrophe that is the Planned Parenthood crisis, it is important to consider the work of Planned Parenthood. There are some statistics that indicate that 93.8% of their pregnancy services are for abortion. Reports indicate that 2,197 of their referrals are for adoption, 19,506 of their referrals are for prenatal services, but 372,166 abortions are a part of that work. It’s an unbelievable number and it is evidence that we are existing together in a culture of death. As Christians, we want to foster a culture of life. Social media has been one of the best examples of that culture of life where the unplanned parenthood hashtag has created a page full of beautiful stories of families choosing life over death. I have invited Ward and Heather Young to share their story today. Ward and Heather are residents of Louisville, Kentucky and members of Immanuel Baptist Church where Ward is the Pastor of Discipleship and Community. Years ago they had their own unplanned pregnancy. What was your life like when you realized that you were pregnant?
Heather Young: When I found out I was pregnant I was young, single, and working two jobs. I was a cocaine addict, alcohol abuser, and a marijuana user. I had also been sexually immoral since I was thirteen; sometimes using sex to support those habits. In Romans chapter one, all the things that it says about those who are unrighteous and worthy of death is how I would describe my life. Specifically, Romans 1:29-31 speaks of people, “…being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful…” Ward and I were spending lots of time together, and we were in sin together.
Ward Young: Similarly for me, I was living the typical worldly lifestyle; given over to lots of drinking and every worldly lust. Marriage, having a family, or pursuing those sorts of things were hardly a category for Heather and I as a couple, or for myself. There wasn’t much beyond the next day planned out. I was really self-absorbed.
Lambert: So, you are living a life that’s without hope and without God in the world, and are then confronted with this situation where you are pregnant. What were you thinking at the time? What thoughts made it challenging to consider life with this pregnancy?
Ward Young: I believe we both thought – I thought for sure – my life is ruined and over. We were both very young so the fun was going to be done. We weren’t very responsible so that meant to me that I am going to have to give my life away. Neither of us were believers at the time so that lifestyle wasn’t appealing to us. I was that guy who wanted to escape and allow his girlfriend to take care of this as her problem. Those thoughts were running through my mind. There was a lot of fear.
Heather Young: I believe I was thinking similar things; things like “this can’t be my life, this happens to other people,” and “this doesn’t happen to people in my family.” I had no plans or thoughts of what I would possibly do with a baby.
Lambert: But you did have a baby; you had a little girl named Baylee. How did you get there? What changed your mind? What got you to a place where you decided you are going to embrace the life of this precious child?
Heather Young: Even though we were not Christians at that time, and even though the Lord had not saved us yet, He was still sovereignly working in our lives. God used another unbeliever to save Baylee’s life and that was my father whom the Lord had graced with a lot of common grace. He came over to my apartment where I lived alone, brought me a fish sandwich from McDonald’s and said, speaking of the pregnancy, that I had options. I didn’t know what he meant by that exactly because he didn’t say the words, but it seemed as though he was presenting abortion and adoption to me. I immediately said no to both of those things. Thinking about my life then and thinking about really not having made one wise decision in my life, there was no reason for me to say no to having the baby. I see that as the Lord sovereignly preserving Baylee’s life in spite of us and really in spite of the fact that my Dad was not a Christian at the time. Once I said no, he proceeded to explain to me how children thrive in a house where there is a Mom and a Dad who are married and living together. That must have been somewhat of an insane moment for my Dad, having to explain that idea to me considering that was how I grew up. But he persuaded me. I hadn’t thought about marriage, I didn’t even know if Ward would be okay with it. And so, I finished the fish sandwich and I said, “I guess I’ll get married” and I wrote Ward a letter.
Ward Young: I think that the Lord’s providence was present in the two of us making a quick decision, “okay let’s do that, we’ll get married.”
Lambert: So, what has happened since then? What has the Lord done in your lives since to honor that decision and to demonstrate His glory?
Ward Young: So we were married a few months later and the first two years of our marriage were really, really difficult. We weren’t believers and we were still those young kids who were irresponsible. I had no idea of what it meant to love my wife as Christ loves the church, but by God’s grace, Heather would take a job working for a law firm and was befriended by a believer. This co-worker would eventually begin sharing the gospel with Heather and inviting her to church. Heather began going at first periodically and then every Sunday. She was hearing the gospel and the Lord saved Heather. Once that happened, I began to see a great change in Heather’s life. There was a decrease in the attitude of “I am my own person living for myself in this house,” and she instead began to put on a 1 Peter 3 kind of womanhood; winning him (winning me) without a word. With that she began inviting me to church, which I refused to go because I didn’t need that, but eventually by God’s grace I would start going and hearing the same gospel. About another year later the Lord saved me. He brought us miraculously under conviction of our sin, showed us our need for Christ’s death on the cross to earn our forgiveness to live the life we couldn’t live. Shortly after, in one sense things got a little tougher because we began to have these categories for what the Scriptures say about what a husband is and how he should live and love his wife, how he should father his kids, and the same thing for Heather as a wife. But with that, I believe he also gave the grace to slowly begin obeying Him, yet not perfectly; as well as begin desiring more children. The first year or two that we were married, we just didn’t want more kids, and we would remind one another of that regularly, but there was soon the random moment of us coming to each other proposing the idea. We then began to pray about it. In the Lord’s kindness, he has given us two more kids, Livy and Isaac.
Lambert: How is Baylee now? How old is she? What’s she doing?
Heather Young: So Baylee is 19 and beautiful. Given the amount of substance abuse that was happening while she was just weeks old, in my mind should have caused something to be wrong with her mentally and physically; yet she is fine! She is smarter than both of us and excels at everything she puts her hand to. Baylee is in her second year at the University of Louisville and works at Southern Seminary in the internal events office. Our relationship has been a difficult one because of my weakness as a mom, but the Lord has saved Baylee and so just being in a cycle of repentance with a grown daughter is gloriously difficult; it’s amazing.
Lambert: All across this country, there are people in the situation you all were in 19 years ago. Maybe some of those people are listening to this thinking “I’ve got this unplanned pregnancy and I don’t want it.” It would be easy for them to go to Planned Parenthood and get rid of the baby and have an abortion. What would you say to someone like that if you could speak to them right now?
Heather Young: I would say that I understand the fear that comes with finding out that you are pregnant and maybe without resource, maybe without a plan and I would plead and beg you to not go through with an abortion. A child’s value and worth is not determined or based on what they do or what they possess or what they will bring to society. It is that they are image bearers, and they declare the glory of the Lord just by their very existence, as well as His intelligence, His creativity, His omnipotence and sovereignty. Additionally, there are other things to be considered; whether that is single parenthood, finding a good church that is biblical and that can come alongside you to carry your burden, as well as adoption. I would also say to cry out to the Lord for faith and for help; He desires for us to come to Him and He will not turn us away if we come to Him in humility.