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July is all about the 4th. It is honored with fireworks, food and friends. It is a time to celebrate our freedom from Great Britain and the Declaration of Independence. Over the years, we have challenged what that document means for us today. (Just consider the fact that in the 220-plus years since ratification of the Constitution, more than 11,000 amendments have been proposed, but only 27 have been enacted.)

Today there is nothing we seem to fight more strongly about than our right to ‘bear arms’ and the right for women to ‘choose’. I don’t see either of these debates ending quickly, but what I love is that Hope Clinic for Women is tackling one of these issues practically with enormous compassion and grace. Just over 10 years ago, I didn’t know a place like this even existed. Today I am so proud of the women and men who work (paid and unpaid) directly with our clients and those who financially keep our doors open. If the rest of the world could step into our doors for just one day, they just might stop fighting so much because we are a safe place in this midst of this tough issue and every day our client already wins.

At Hope Clinic, women and men CHOOSE to call us and ask us questions. They choose to walk in the door. They are not shamed or guilted into coming here. They are simply invited. They choose to receive the care we have to offer. They choose to hear about all of the options in front of them if they are pregnant. They choose to continue care with us or walk out the door. They choose to come back to us for counseling if they have an abortion and find it did not just ‘go away’, and they never hear: ‘I told you so’. They choose to talk about God. They choose to enter our Bridge Program which includes access to spiritual mentorship, professional counseling, education classes and practical support. They choose to meet with someone if they are dealing with an STD, related women’s issues, other pregnancy loss, or postpartum depression.

Recently, we have dealt with a spike in our pregnant women suffering from a miscarriage. Something that happens in 25% of all pregnancies. It has been a burden for them and the staff. How do you handle that? But we are thankful clients choose to process that grief with us. They choose how long they grieve and how they grieve. And they choose to let us hold their hand.

Mostly I celebrate that our clients choose life. Life for their baby. Life for themselves. Life in general. And they do that because at some point they choose HOPE. When they are faced with their crisis, they choose to let this be an opportunity to change vs. the choice to give up.

This month you celebrate your freedom, which includes your freedom to make a whole lot of choices: what you eat for the day, whether you exercise, go to work, go to church, serve your community, be nice to the cranky but possibly exhausted person behind the register at Walgreens, show grace and forgiveness or hold a grudge, speak well of someone or gossip…..you get the idea. I just ask you take a moment to celebrate that people of Middle Tennessee have the freedom to choose Hope Clinic for Women. And that’s a good choice!

Have a blessed and happy 4th of July!

Renée Rizzo