A Balloon Could Save a Life

The thing about getting to know your parish community is that your parish community knows you.  They pray for you and ask how you’re doing with this-and-that project and come up with ideas for you when you hit sticky spots in your life.  But when it’s time for the 40 Days for Life campaign, they also insist that you volunteer to participate once a week in the peaceful prayer vigil outside of Planned Parenthood, especially if you work from home.  And when I say “but” it’s not because this is not a most worthy cause.  No.  I say “but” because it requires that we be a little extra selfless which is, you know, not usually that much fun.

Here’s the truth: my husband didn’t want to say yes.  Because it’s a long drive and it’s another time commitment and he’s an introvert being asked to put himself in the middle of “the public” voluntarily.  But he did say yes.  Because he lives his faith and loves the Truth and appreciates the fact that during Lent, and in life, we’re asked to do a whole lot of important things we don’t want to do.

And because of that ‘yes’, I’m pretty sure, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that he saved someone’s life.

After a particularly testing shift of prayer and witness outside of…Planned Parenthood (the previous) week, I began to ask Mary for her intercession to help reach more youth in the sadly hostile territory of the…college district,” he wrote in a recent email.

When he says “hostile” he means near constant jeers.  Insults flung by people of all ages.  Getting flipped off by the driver of every other passing car.  Cars with “Coexist” stickers on their bumpers.  Do they talk about ‘irony’ in college anymore?  I felt so sad for him and for them and for every vigil volunteer anywhere when I heard these stories.  Where there is that much anger, there must be so much pain.  So many people in so much pain makes my heart ache.

My prayers were answered in the form of a silly little foil balloon with a picture of a stork carrying a baby,… and a bouquet of pink flowers.  I saw them at the store on the way to my next prayer shift, and felt called to buy them.” he continues.

He decided to carry them as a simple, positive, visual message.

As soon as he took his post at the entrance to the parking lot of Planned Parenthood, a young girl, probably college-aged, in her dilapidated blue car started to pull in.  But then jerked to a halt.  He could see the sadness and fear in her eyes.  She was alone.

She sat staring, not at me or my…sign, but at the balloon. After a moment of staring at it bobbing in the wind and winding itself around the flowers, tears began streaming down her cheeks.”

As soon as she had stopped, he had begun to pray the Hail Mary, asking our Blessed Mother to touch this girl’s heart, to give her comfort in her moment of need.

She continued into the parking lot, where she made a quick U-turn and left, still crying.”

At this point in the story, tears had already started welling up in my own eyes.  He didn’t know who she was or why she was there, but she was in pain and something prompted her to change her mind about whatever it is she thought she had to do, and for that he thanked God.  He didn’t imagine he’d ever know more.

But then he did.

Just before I was about to leave, I heard the craziest, most exuberant car honking.  It was coming from a dilapidated blue car slowly approaching despite the faster traffic backing up…around her. It was the girl, waving at me, with a huge, beautiful smile on her face, the kind of smile you can only get when an enormous burden has been lifted from your shoulders and cast away forever.  All I could do was smile back!

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Dwija Borobia lives with her husband and their five kids in rural southwest Michigan in a fixer-upper they bought sight-unseen off the internet. Between homeschooling and corralling chickens, she pretends her time on the internet doesn’t count because she uses the computer standing up. You can read more on her blog house unseen. life unscripted.

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  • http://www.clan-donaldson.com/ Cari Donaldson

    Still gives me chills.  

  • Mama P

    I have often wondered about the value of picketing these clinics. My thought was that once a woman or girl had made up her mind to end the life in her that it would be difficult to change her mind, as people in such a position don’t shout from the rooftops their intentions, so you don’t realise who needs encouragement and discussion. In my city, our hospital has a wing in the regular hospital where the abortions are performed (both medically indicated abortions and option abortions in the same wing), so our Pro-Life prayer and witness teams can’t tell whose going in for an abortion or, let’s say, cancer treatment. I think this story witnesses so strongly to the fact that our very presence, quiet and prayerful, can be stronger than words. When your husband listened to the voice of Spirit that day, leading him to buy the balloon, God also allowed him the gift of seeing this girl’s change of heart. This story can now touch the doubters like me, reinvigorating my support for the warriors on the ground of the Pro-Life movement, and my desire to say YES to the call of the Spirit.

    Just like St. Joseph, whose feast it is today, your husband listened to the Spirit, and in his YES helped a young, scared pregnant girl to say YES to the life growing in her. No doubt her life will be complicated, but hopefully she’ll always remember the joy of the moment she said “Be it done unto me” before she could have God-made life undone within her.

  • http://twitter.com/HouseUnseen Dwija Borobia

    My husband had the VERY SAME doubts as you.  The very same!  And he was even MORE doubtful after his first day when he saw no such positive signs or response.  His heart was changed for sure.  BUT, you never know a smile or a kind word can touch someone’s life, under any circumstance. It doesn’t have to be at a sidewalk prayer vigil.  Every time we go out with our pregnant bellies or our children or even alone, it could be an opportunity to move someone toward hope.  You just never know!

  • Amdomd98

    aw, D.  This made me cry.  When you are faced with a difficult decision and you ask God for a sign or ANYTHING to guide you in the right direction because you are so desperate and confused…he was her sign.  I have met a few women that have had abortions, they ALL regret it with every fiber of their hearts.  He saved a life and someone’s heart too.

  • Anonymous

    Dwija,

    This post is awesome!  Thank you for the inspiration…and your husband for heeding God’s call.  Getting flipped off, stared and sworn at once a week isn’t as fun as it sounds!  :P

    He is very fortunate to have you supporting him 100%.  

    Some of us are married to women who just don’t “get it.”  It is hard to form our children’s consciences while enduring their rolled eyes, sighs, arguments over our daughters’ clothing, going to Mass (gasp) weekly and on every holy day (not to mention Confession), television shows, etc.  

    (sigh)  

    I don’t mean to make this a pity party for me or others in my situation but wanted to say that there are those of us doing our best each day to follow God’s will in promoting life without being able to picket PP.

    Maybe I’m using my struggles at home to provide justification for skipping out at the picket lines, but I kind of feel I have to for the sake of my sanity.  Heck, I get into arguments with my wife over even basic pro-life posts on my Facebook page!  She isn’t anti-life by any means, but she is worried about how “it looks bad.”  Maddening!  My prayer is for God to help me find the balance of courage to stand for Him always and wisdom to know when to press the issue or keep the peace in our home.

    Anyway, to your credit, you mention in your comment directly above how “it doesn’t have to be at a sidewalk prayer vigil,” and I thank you for that. We are all parts of the one body of Christ, and I hope my job as pinky toe is helping the Mr. Borobias of the world because the Mr. Borobias of the world are helping me.

    I will pray for him and all the others who are stepping out in such a tough way to defend life.  Please pray for me and any others with a rough spiritual life in our own home to have the courage to keep forming our children in God’s Truth.

    God Bless!

  • http://www.clan-donaldson.com/ Cari Donaldson

    Dear Anonymous,
    My beloved husband is not the type to engage in a prayer vigil outside a PP office, either.  He’s not the type to post pro-life comments on his FB wall, or Twitter feed.  However, anyone who knows him personally sees by the witness of his life that he values life from conception to natural death.

    As St. Francis is credited for saying, “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.”  Know that even if God never calls you, or my husband, or any of us to witness for life in the same brave, public manner Mr. Borobia is, your walking IS your preaching.  Your life is your witness.

    Thank God for champions of the pro-life movement.  Like Mr. Borobia.  Like my husband.  And like you.

  • Colleen

    What a moving story, and to the anonymous man who replied…my heart goes out to him!  We are so lucky to have spouses who support us, and I feel like the truly brave defenders of the faith are the ones who do it without support.  Blessed are they!!

  • http://twitter.com/HouseUnseen Dwija Borobia

    Living a regular, normal life in a Godly way is the greatest and most difficult of all callings. I’m convinced.  Having the time and the ability to do something “extra” (such as a sidewalk prayer vigil or an hour with the Blessed Sacrament) is a luxury.  Because those things feel and are so obviously holy, they don’t require us stretch our minds and our hearts to embrace the normal drudgery of our daily vocations.  If my husband was constantly leaving the house to minister to others yet wasn’t here to play with and set an example for our children, to listen to my stories and worries, to take care of our house and our property, he would not be doing the most important thing that God has called him to do.  

    Showing the face of Jesus to your wife is your priority.  Living the love of Jesus for the Church in your marriage is your priority.  Your family is your vocation.  Everything else is just details.  Please don’t ever feel that anything else is more important or should come before that.  My husband happened to be called at that moment for that one girl.  He has never prayed in a sidewalk vigil in the past and he may never do it again in the future and that’s okay.  The Holy Spirit doesn’t call us to do remarkable things.  He calls us to do ordinary things in a remarkable way.  I’ll keep you in my prayers!

  • Anonymous

    Cari and Dwija,

    Thanks so much for your encouragement, wisdom, and comments!  I hope this thread helps others, too.  With wit and wisdom, you each have helped keep so many of us grounded in reality while following Jesus.  

  • erica

    Oh, Dwija, you have no idea how much I cried reading this post–partly because I know Tommy well enough to know how far outside his comfort zone he was, partly because I know I’ve been on the receiving end of those “little signs” that change a life, partly because I just love you both so very much.  More than anything, I love that in the midst of what is often a bitter, entrenched, and polarizing fight that can bring out the very worst on both sides, your husband found a way to advocate for hope and love.

  • http://twitter.com/HouseUnseen Dwija Borobia

    And your comment just made me cry!

  • Gail Finke

    This is so lovely, I pray to have the kind of compassion for others that you do. It’s not that I don’t have compassion… It just doesn’t seem to be my “go-to” response, the way it seems to be yours.

  • Ana Hahn

    Wow, so beautiful!!

  • Mary @ Better Than Eden

    Beautiful testimony!  Thank God your husband was there and thank you for sharing!

  • Sue

    Amen, Dwija, amen.

  • Harold Fickett

    Dwija, you (and your husband and especially the young woman in the blue car) have given us all a tremendous gift.  This is what it’s all about–the good news of a better way, a better solution than we might imagine on our own.  So glad you are writing here.  

  • Leane

    Wow. That was so powerful. and beautiful. and all the more special coming from a man. Thank you to both of you for the inspiration to say yes.

  • http://twitter.com/HouseUnseen Dwija Borobia

    He has a truly special gift for speaking to people’s hearts.  Lord knows he was the only person who could drag MY proud, obnoxious butt to Christ!

  • http://twitter.com/HouseUnseen Dwija Borobia

     Only because I see shadows of my former self in the people struggling without the Truth.  I know their sadness and wish they could embrace the joy!

  • Cborobia

    How absolutely beautiful!  It has to have been an inspiration from the Holy Spirit for Tommy to even consider taking the pink balloon–and how much more effective than something “preachy”. I’m proud to call him “son”!

  • SMEBorobia

    Thanks for writing this, Dwija! And thanks, Tommy, for your simple courage & love. You never know how one small act will have a domino effect and continue to bless others beyond the moment.  Who knows who this young lady may bless in turn.
    Love you both lots! 

  • http://twitter.com/HouseUnseen Dwija Borobia

    Well, he had to get his smarts from somewhere…. ;)

  • Eden E

    Oh Dwija surely the Lord walks with you and Tommy everywhere you go. You guys are amazing. This story made me cry with so much gratitude for people like you. I sit here with my new little guy crying his precious tiny baby tired cry in my lap… and I just can’t imagine. Life is so beautiful and that sweet young lady – if she was originally coming there to do what it seems she was – will now have that same overwhelming joy and awe that all of us parents are blessed to feel as we hold the precious life our Father trusts us to bring into the world. Bless you both and your sweet little brood! (And I love & miss you tons girlfriend!!!) xoxoxoxo

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