Over the next five or six posts, I’m going to dive deep into this topic of abortion. Today I’m sharing Sydney’s journey with The Carry On Project and what we’ve experienced on the road. In the subsequent posts, I’ll share my story with you, tying up this series with a look at the conversation surrounding abortion in the Church and the ministry the Lord has called me to as we move forward. But, first… Sydney.
Part of our RV adventure across the country has included stops to pregnancy care centers as part of The Carry On Project. (You can read more about the project here.) We’ve had the opportunity to visit centers from New York to Texas, sharing the music, but also the heart behind the mission. The ministry, on its own merits, is beautiful. I remember Krissy sending us the unfinished version of Carry On and immediately knowing this song needed to be in the hands of every woman facing an unplanned pregnancy. But, I also remember Sydney championing the song’s other significant ministry… to the Church. Over the last year, Sydney has constantly, consistently, reminded us of this.
She reminds everyone of this.
Sydney has always been apprehensive of The Carry On Project. Not in the mission itself, but in the assumptions others would make. From the VERY beginning, Sydney made it abundantly clear to her management team that she wanted to avoid using the term “pro-life” when describing the song. It was too politically charged and, for those Sydney had a heart to reach, it would be a repellant.
I will never forget the night the publicist called to tell us that CCM Magazine wanted to do a story on Sydney and The Carry On Project. They wanted to use term “pro-life” in the title. Sydney’s response: Absolutely not. The management team was baffled. Why in the world would you say no to that kind of exposure? In her abundant wisdom, and as a foreshadowing of future events, Sydney explained that using the terminology would align her with people and movements she doesn’t want to be aligned with. She was confident the Lord wasn’t calling her to the politics and policy side of the conversation.
But, Sydney also felt called to speak to the Church. To Sydney, Carry On is a reminder for the Church to surround women facing unplanned pregnancies with love and support, not hate and condemnation. Sydney knew there were TWO lives at stake and the best way to save the life of the child was to chase after the heart of the mother. This is the beat of Sydney’s heart… and not just on this topic.
Eventually, Sydney agreed to the CCM Magazine article. I still remember the conversation. In the end, it was one comment that changed her mind: Sometimes (probably ALL the time, in my opinion) the Lord opens a door and we have absolutely no say on the terms… and that’s when our pride can get in the way of us living out our purpose. So, she agreed to have the story run, and then about one week later, during an interview with a radio station in London, her worst fear came true.
God’s timing around the circumstances in our lives the past three years has been impeccable. Spot on. 100% of the time. And this interview, unfortunately (or, fortunately, depending on how you look at it) was no exception. The DJ informed Sydney that the previous person interviewed for her show had also written a “pro-life” song. I wish you could have seen Sydney’s face as she listened to the DJ set up the question. It was a mixture of dread, frustration, and anger, with a tad bit of I-told-you-this-was-going-to happen thrown straight at me. (I remember covering my head with a pillow, praying the Lord would give my girl a double helping of grace and discernment when she opened her mouth to speak.)
Truth is… we were very much aware of the person and song the DJ was referring to. It was written by a male worship leader at one of the bigger churches in Franklin, Tennessee. The focus of the song was different from Carry On, as was the ministry surrounding it. For this other song, the life of the unborn was the focus and a pro-life activist asked the artist to join a few events around the country.
The DJ wanted to know how Sydney felt about creating a song that was part of this pro-life movement taking over the country. A movement that has, at times, brought out the worst in people as they stand outside of abortion clinics with hate-filled signs calling women murders. Sydney has seen this. She has watched mothers and fathers encourage their children to speak words of condemnation to complete strangers… in the name of Jesus.
And without missing a beat, Sydney set the record straight, informing the DJ she wasn’t a part of that movement. Period. She offered no other explanation. She refused to whitewash her answer in an effort to diminish some of the apparent sting. There was just silence. Awkward, long silence.
Sydney LOVES those moments.
So here we are on the road. Birmingham to be exact. Right as Alabama is passing state abortion laws that will undoubtedly make their way to the Supreme Court. As men and women, Lord help us even children, stand in front of abortion clinics holding posters with pictures of aborted babies, calling the women entering these clinics murders and damning them to hell.
All in the name of Jesus.
But through all of that, you have a 17-year-old girl visiting a local pregnancy care center to give them the download cards for Carry On. Wanting to share her story… our story… in hopes that extending love will be more powerful than casting stones. At the clinic in Birmingham, the impression Sydney made was lasting. That evening, one of the women working there made a purchase from our website. She included a note to Sydney saying how impressed everyone in the office was with her poise and her heart for the women entering these clinics.
Here’s the truth: Years ago, I told Sydney that our story might have been a whole lot different if I was met with protesters outside of that Planned Parenthood. Instead, a woman working there listened to me and Jamie wrestle through the pain of this life changing decision and then she told us to go home. Not a story you hear very often, but it’s one that has shaped Sydney’s heart. This woman working at the Planned Parenthood extended love to me when my church kicked me out.
Ironic, isn’t it.