(Photo courtesy of Gianna Jessen)
Destined and Determined
Why Gianna Jessen is Passionate About Life
By Sarah Komisky
In life, there are those people God allows to cross your path and make a difference. And even if it is for that moment, you cherish it because you know you were enriched, by their story, their faith, their perseverance, their presence. For me, Gianna Jessen was one of those people. In our 60 minute time span, I met a world changer, a sister, a warrior. So let me introduce you and may your paths collide.
Gianna Jessen came into this world as a fighter. As a premature baby who survived a saline solution abortion, abandonment from her young biological parents, a broken adoption, a dreary prognosis, and various health issues that included cerebral palsy developed from the abortion she survived. Through it all, Jessen is proof of a life destined, chosen for a purpose. Becoming a mouthpiece for the unborn while also unashamedly proclaiming her faith in the One who saved her, Jesus Christ, she has gone on an incredible adventure. Her story has opened doors to meet a president (George W. Bush) and a Prime Minister (Tony Blair) while also speaking in various countries, having the support of Mother Teresa, and even singing on a soundtrack for a movie inspired by her life entitled October Baby.
Coming to Christ at age four, knowing he was her “ticket to life,” Jessen also knew she needed someone to sing to when life’s circumstances were hard. This creativity and musical ability eventually led to the moment when she would record the song “Ocean Floor” written by her friend Michael Logen. Not knowing it would be used in a film, she met those making the movie October Baby and told them that she sang. Hearing the song, the moviemakers instantly knew it would be featured in the film.
“I loved that it was a very gentle way of approaching a subject that people want to avoid all day long,” she shared shedding light on her passion for life fueled by a deep determination, a determination beginning at birth. Yet the road for a God-given destiny was not without obstacles. Facing rejection by her foster parents and bleak news from her doctors who dubbed her a “vegetable who would never be able to be or do anything,” Jessen found a cheerleader in her adopted Grandma, Penny.
Ignoring the doctor’s prognosis when she was seventeen months, 32 lbs. and unable to move, Penny prayed for Jessen, did her physical therapy three times a day, and watched as she began to hold up her head. Determined to see her live, Penny continued in this cycle and saw the progress of Jessen sitting, crawling, and walking with a walker and leg brace at three and a half years of age. Standing faithfully by her side during spinal surgery at age ten, Penny remained consistently in her life as an adult.
Jessen shares, “Penny was an angel on earth, absolutely. I had a very broken adoption but out of the entire story of my adoption Penny saved my heart. I would not be who I am today without her love and what she did for me. She died a few years ago at 91 and she cared for 56 foster children as a single woman.”
She adds, “It took a strong will to survive an abortion, it’s taken a strong will to learn to walk twice after surgery. It’s taken a strong will to stand up for the unborn and ultimately, it’s taken a strong will to stand up for Christ. I’m here to share the real Jesus. So one thing that I’ve wanted to get across to parents is that if you have a kid with a strong will, most likely you have a kid that will stand, has a huge destiny and will stand for what is true when everyone else is running for the hills. It’s very important to get that across.”
Referring to the neurological disorder she has known as Cerebral Palsy as a “gift,” she vulnerably admits that she didn’t always see it that way. In a diary entry prior to surgery she would write, “I’m gonna go into surgery in a few days and I might walk normal.” In a very real moment she opens up about her insecurities regarding seeing herself walk sharing, “I can accept it if I can’t see it.”
With openness she says, “I think that is a place I think that the Lord is working on and it’s helping me to see myself through others’ eyes but particularly through His own. But I know I am not there yet but I will tell you that paradox can coincide along my cerebral palsy as a gift and the reasons are many and the first one is Jesus. I mean very few people really want to hear about the real Jesus but guess what? They will listen to just about anything you have to say if you need their arm to balance in an airport.”
Choosing to place her weakness in God’s hands and to receive his strength, Jessen confesses, “If I’m just leaning on His arm like it’s a great honor to lean on His arm all the way to heaven, my legs are being allowed to be used as a sermon right now. I mean in a second, my legs will be unbound but for a world that needs Jesus and is so broken hearted and if this is the only way in my life to reach them, then I would do it all over again. When you need Jesus every second of your life to move, it’s glorious. He is glorious, He is everything.”
She continues, “The paths that I’ve chosen and I’m choosing, I’m choosing them and with that, I’m choosing all that goes along with them. So if someone else has an easier life, has an easier time, that’s not for me to get bitter about because I chose to say yes to this journey that I am on.”
Giving me insight to her conversations with God, who she looks at as father, she humorously shares about the time she felt embarrassed but asked God how she could “kick the devil in the teeth” so he wouldn’t hinder her in her ability to walk. Laughing, she spurts out, “Now, you may not believe me but I heard God say, ‘well, you can always bling it out.’ I was like, what? God you say bling!”
Not willing to let anything stop her on the course God has for her life, she attached a vase with a flower to her walker and put a dry erase board on the front where she could write a sermon every day and march down the road with her head held high. The act wasn’t uncommon for her. It was just another act of obedience a determined fighter is willing to make.
“I am just allowing the Lord to take my body and use it as a beautiful, glorious weapon in his hand,” she poetically offers. And Jessen wants to encourage others to do the same and she is also taking this message to those who have had an abortion.
She says, “I would say that Jesus doesn’t believe in shame. Shame is not something that comes from him. I would also say that I’ve forgiven my biological mother, I’ve told her so. And I believe it’s one out of three women in the church who’ve had an abortion. Think about that and no wonder pastors don’t want to talk about it! So I would say you know, nothing is beyond the forgiveness of Jesus and when you give it to Jesus, why keep taking it back and beating yourself up over something that He’s forgotten? He doesn’t even see you through that lens. He sees you through the eyes of Jesus whom He has no problem with.”
Jessen concludes, “I think the importance of forgiving yourself is paramount but I think that comes from the grace of God showing you how to forgive yourself and let go and know that you are a worthy woman or man who paid for an abortion or encouraged an abortion or drove a daughter to have an abortion and has lived in tremendous trauma for the last twenty years or five years of three months. All of us can be forgiven of whatever, otherwise the cross is in vain.”
Find out more about Gianna by visiting giannajessen.com and receive text updates by texting GIANNA to 95577
And if you need help after an abortion or if you are considering abortion, contact your local pregnancy resource center for alternatives. Counseling and resources are provided.