By Emily Horne (Guest Writer – From Texas Right for Life)
Like many others, I often find myself in the craziness of everyday life without having looked up in a while. Without having taken the time to thank God for where he has placed me, and the work he has given me. I work full-time in the Pro-Life movement lobbying for Pro-Life policy, and in many ways, landed here unexpectedly. But if I am honest when I look back, I can see the building blocks had been laid my entire life while I was making other plans, and I thank God now that he knew what he was doing. Trayce asked me to write about what led me to where I am now, so this is my best attempt to explain God’s path for my life thus far and to thank him for all the times he has persistently directed me back to that path.
I always assumed I would spend my life as my mother did, raising a lot of kids. I’m one of nine children, and no, we were not Catholic or Mormon as we were frequently asked – my Dad loved to embarrass us in front of strangers by saying we were “passionate Protestants.” I loved being a part of a big family and still do, I’m forever thankful my mother chose to pour her life into raising us. Faithfully living out her calling to give us a Christ-centered foundation.
Perhaps it was having three older brothers and having to fight to be heard, but I found my voice early and had a strong sense of justice as a child. I would like to think I used it to stick up for my younger siblings, but I think my Dad would say I used my argumentative skills to my own benefit most of the time. I knew what was right, and even if you disagreed with me, you would have to listen to me loudly argue my case before I let any matter rest. There are lingering accusations that I was the most stubborn child of the nine, but it is hard to prove these things. My favorite bible story (my Dad read this to me at my request countless times before I finally started reading it myself) was Esther. I was in awe of her courage to do what was right at the risk of her life, crusading for the lives of her people.
When I was 15, I vividly remember the Scott Peterson case that dominated the news. He was suspected, then convicted of murdering his wife Laci who was 8 months pregnant at the time. What made this case so unique, as many of you remember, is that Laci and her son Connor’s bodies were found separately, leading Scott to be tried and convicted of two murders. This later led to the passage of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act which punished anyone injuring or murdering an unborn child, also known as the Laci and Connor Peterson Act. This was the first time since Roe v. Wade that unborn children had ever formally been recognized as persons worthy of protection. At 15, many of the deeper levels were lost on me, but my sense of justice had been awakened. I thought I knew my life plan. I wanted to go to law school to become a prosecutor, to achieve justice by fighting for vulnerable people like Laci and Connor, and bring due punishment to murderers like Scott. I thought I knew the specific plan for my life. Thank God that was settled.
My high school graduation verse was Psalm 96:10, Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns; The world also is firmly established, It shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples righteously.” (NKJV) No Jeremiah 29:11 for me, I didn’t need to be assured of God’s plan, I already knew what it was! Psalm 96:10 told me that God was in this justice thing with me, that I was firmly established with God bringing justice to the world. I had a plan.
Perhaps it’s wise now to contrast this verse with a more widely known verse about justice, Micah 6:8 – He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness [or mercy], and to walk humbly with your God? (NASB)
Justice is a concept invented by Christ. He was establishing justice for the most vulnerable (orphans and widows) in the very first written law, in Exodus. Why then, does he couple justice with mercy and humility when he instructs us on what he requires of us? Could it be that our human sense of justice without mercy and humility is an incomplete and poor reflection of his idea of justice? I shudder to think of where we would be if we justly paid the price for our sins. But for his mercy and humility, justice would be a dark concept. And yet, our earthly understanding of justice can often lead us to shed mercy and humility when executing earthly justice, or what we understand it to be. Our sense of justice can leave us blind to other perspectives, blind to the possibility that we don’t have all the answers, because crusading for justice means we are on the right side, pay no mind to the naysayers! At least this was my high school self – I had little patience for other perspectives, and knew that I was right most of the time. Mercy and humility were not the most apparent traits in my life at the time.
I’m thankful God began the long process of changing and softening my heart before I landed in the Pro-Life movement. Because you do need that sense of right and wrong, the conviction that can carry you through fierce battles, but this is not all you need. Ask anyone in the Pro-Life movement what the most important character component is that you’ll need and they will say compassion, or that sense of mercy for the women most deeply affected by abortion and unplanned pregnancies. You’ll need the humility to shut up and realize your words and sense of justice do not matter to a scared young woman in crisis. She needs kindness and a listening ear before she can hear anything you might have to say.
Throughout college, God began to open my heart towards children and motherhood, leading me to question if I wanted to put myself in debt and three more years of school before starting my career path. I had the vague idea that I didn’t want to be paying off law school if I was going to be raising kids just a couple of short years later. There were some clear moments of direction that led me to slowly move away from my plans of law school, but those moments did not clearly lay out my direction following graduation. By the time I graduated Texas A&M with a business degree, I was fairly certain I wanted to work for a non-profit. Again, not because I had a clear vision, but because I knew I wanted to be working for a cause, something bigger than myself. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a category on the job search engine. So, I worked a year for my Dad’s small business, unsure of what would follow.
Less than a year later, Texas Right to Life, an organization my parents had supported for many years, announced they were looking for an additional person to join their lobby team working to pass Pro-Life laws. Thankfully my Dad realized this was the cause I had been seeking, the place for my passion. And thankfully Texas Right to Life was willing to give me a chance, someone that knew nothing about Texas politics and even less about public policy.
Now in my fourth legislative session, I’ve come to love studying and influencing policy, and fighting for the unborn. Living without that law school debt doesn’t hurt either! I’ve been blessed to be part of the team lobbying for the Sonogram law, the defunding of Planned Parenthood in Texas, and the 2013 Pro-Life omnibus bill HB 2. I recently began to wonder why it was God had changed my course from law school, thinking I would be parenting young children, since God has still not called me to marriage and motherhood. God gently pointed out that had he not changed my course, I would have been in law school or paying off law school during all those great gains made for Life in Texas – the 2011 Sonogram law, and all that followed.
God has continuously shown me his plan for me despite my stubborn attempts to chart out my own path. I’ve grown more and more thankful for that, knowing that I am not owed even the roadmap he has shown me thus far. I do my best to approach my life with unclenched fists and an open heart to his path, knowing now that even if my heart isn’t open, he will eventually place me where he wants me despite my best efforts. Thank God for his mercy in caring for us despite our self-destructive efforts! So that’s how I got to where I am now, and I face my path forward with joyous anticipation.