I’m going to start with something biblical but if you’re not a Christian, bear with me, this is still relevant and this isn’t a religious blog. Those who are Christians (and many who aren’t) will be familiar with the great commandment ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength’. The second is like it ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’. It’s the second I want to highlight. This can seem very simple to understand and to connect to the pro-life movement – I wouldn’t be the first to point out that the pre-born child is our neighbour but I want you to pause over that quote once more. Now re-read the last two words of it: ‘As yourself’.
I’ve spoken to hundreds of abortion minded women over the years and something that I’m often aware of is a lack of self-love in the real sense. I’m not talking about the self-love where we constantly put ourselves first and pander over our own desires but an understanding of our own worth and our true value. How can we love our neighbour as ourself if we don’t love ourself? Or to put it another way if the value or love that we have for ourselves is pretty much zero and we love our neighbour as ourself then we aren’t going to be showing much real love towards our neighbour.
Many girls and young women are growing up in environments where their value seems contingent on something or someone outside of themselves (and sadly I’m not talking about God). They haven’t experienced unconditional love. Society and the media bombard us all with a value system based on appearance, academic success, numbers of friends, relationships, money, status in the workplace etc. The result is that even those women who once knew they were loved for who they are can end up feeling their own value is contingent and when their value seems contingent, then their love for their neighbour can also become contingent.
Ultimately if a woman has little or no self-worth or in other words doesn’t love herself, then finding someone or something to make her feel loved is likely to become her top priority, after all everyone needs to feel loved. If the only thing in a woman’s life that makes her feel valued is her relationship with a man and that man says he is not interested in a child, or will leave if she has a child, then we know what choice it is likely that woman will make when finding she is pregnant. She will choose the thing that makes her feel loved and valued even if it’s a very second-rate kind of love. She will choose the man. If a woman feels the only thing that gives her value is her job and a child threatens that job, then it will be the child who has to go. Similarly, if it is a group of friends, her appearance, her studies etc that are the only thing that make her feel valued or loved then a child will take second place to these if a choice has to be made. It can be very hard for women to show unconditional love if they have never experienced it and don’t feel it.
So here’s where I’m going to make a suggestion to you men out there, you good men. I want you to recognise the power you have as men and to use it appropriately. When was the last time you affirmed a woman? I’m carefully not using the word compliment as that is often misunderstood today as something inappropriate although a true compliment shouldn’t be. So many men sadly don’t know how to give a compliment without flirting. Is there a woman you know who you can say something pleasant to without you wanting something back and in a way that’s not making her awkwardly squirm? I’m not talking about making an unseemly remark about her looks (although dads, husbands, yes of course your daughter/wife needs to know you think she’s beautiful) but how about commending a woman for her virtue or her nature, that she is a good listener, has been so thoughtful, sees the best in others, is so insightful or has a kind heart?
Yes, women can compliment other women and are often more ready to do this than men but speaking from a woman’s perspective to men I want you to know that there is something very important about male affirmation and how that affects women.
This is my challenge for you men reading this and I want it to start today: think of a woman you know and make an effort to sincerely affirm her today whether in person or email etc. It doesn’t have to be a young, pregnant woman but any woman (remember what I said about making sure this is affirmation and not flirtation). Get used to doing this so it becomes natural to you. You can start off with those close to you but then branch out into other women in your life. Help women to feel good about themselves and recognise their own value. Help women to love themselves.
Remember that the women with low self-esteem who don’t value themselves won’t have this written on their foreheads. This might be your own daughter, your own wife or girlfriend, the friend sitting next to you in your study class, the girl who serves you in the supermarket, your work colleague, your boss. The way we will reach those who need to hear this the most is by reaching out to everyone. And for those men who respond to this, in case you don’t hear this from the women in your life – thank you, men like you are making a difference in this world.