Stuck In The Middle

***  Originally posted on 5/8/13 ***

Rachel Held Evans sometimes takes the loose ends inside my own brain and heart and weaves them together in her blog posts.  She does this in such a way that my loose ends get integrated into coherent thoughts and emotion and then suddenly I have my voice again.  Every time she does this through her posts I think, “Yeah, what she said” and then I feel compelled to throw my perspective into the blogosphere.  Last week Rachel dove into the issue that led me into a moderate stance politically, socially, and spiritually… and not just on the issue at hand, but really in all areas of my life.  I usually avoid the issue of abortion in this age because it is deeply personal to me…though not in the way you might think.  I have not ever had an abortion, but I have been up close and personal with a dear friend who has had more than one abortion.  I won’t share that story because it is sacred and it is not mine.  I can share what it was like to live my life walking with her through hers because it changed everything for me and I could know longer see human issues in absolutes.  The world lost it’s black or white nuance and questions started surfacing about every belief I held and it happened in rapid succession.

Read This:

Why Progressive Christians Should Care About Abortion

I think our nation has lost the ability to publicly proclaim that we just don’t know the answer to some moral dilemmas in this current political and social climate.  We need to stop and reclaim the truth that we are failing to let into the light on the public stage.  In truth here’s how I see it:

Humanity, policy, politics, faith, science, morality, sexuality…there is mystery and unknown within each issue.  On purpose.  God wants us to have the freedom to discover ourselves, others, and the Creator/ Redeemer/Advocate (God three in one).  

When we truly allow the light to shine over reality, it is hard to deny this one core dynamic that keeps the truth somewhat in the middle between all or nothing.  The unknown, the mystery, the undefinable, the subjective.  We can choose to be led by fear and deny or reject the existence of the gray.  We can also instead choose to be curious and humble in the face of not knowing and be challenged to grow and let go of control.

We live in a broken world and we are a broken species…but with grace,  healing and reconciliation are possible in the exact way God created this earth and humanity.  The earth is hard wired to repair and restore.  To use ash and decay to bring forth new life and beauty.  We too are made to heal and evolve.

The most important truth I know is that Love is absolute.  So no matter what the topic of conversation comes into play, love will guide my principles.  Love will guide my thoughts and with the intervention of the Advocate (the Holy Spirit),  love will guide my behavior.

So I proclaim… I am right smack dab in the middle with the issue of abortion.  Life is precious and it is a gift.  With this particular issue…both lives are a part of the equation, and in fact there are many more lives in the equation because a pregnant woman is always in relationship within community…at least in relationship with a man-the silent partner that helped her get into the situation at hand.  And so everyone is affected, the issue of unplanned pregnancies does not exist in a vacuum.

I am grateful Rachel spoke up about feeling stuck in the middle.  She gave me the courage to stand up and say I don’t know what is the right direction and to acknowledge that the answers are not one size fits all.  I have mostly stayed silent about this issue because I am in the middle, but I cannot stay on the sidelines anymore.  I stand with women who find themselves in the crossfire of the issue of pregnancy termination.  I grieve with the loss of life…whether it be the new life created within her or it be the life as she knew it…or both.  I see the anquish and I feel compassion.  I come alongside and I pray.  I can’t fix it… but I can weep with my sisters and brothers.

Happy Mother’s Day

*** This essay was originally posted on 5/12/13 ***

I have a complicated relationship with this holiday…. it’s always struck me as a bit like forced intimacy. I’ve gone through the many seasons of my response to a holiday that is filled with expectation.  I’ve loved it, I’ve hated it, I’ve been hurt by it…and “it'” is just a holiday…nothing more…nothing less.

A couple of months ago I ran across a you tube video that piqued my curiosity.  It was a bit o’ propaganda so I won’t share it, but there was enough truth in the middle of the attempt to manipulate me towards a particular ideology, that I began doing a bit of research on the history of this hallmark holiday.

What I found to be true helps me integrate this particular day in a much more joyful and holistic way.  You see the beef I have with this holiday is that motherhood is an art and a science.  I don’t want to be told how to honor my mother and I don’t want to be told on which day to do so.  I love my mother and I am grateful for her presence in my life.  I want the way I live to be the honoring of this woman I hold so dear.  I also don’t want my children to feel forced to pay me homage.  I want them to live big lives with passion, conviction, joy, and integrity.  That is all the honor I desire.  The thing about this consumer culture is that many voices shout out that to be a good child or to be a good mother…you have to send cards, flowers, and gifts.  But this day did not originate in anything materialistic.  The materialism strips empowerment from this day…this movement.

Read This:

Mothers are the main attachment figure for the next generation.  Some women never get to have children of their own, but they are still mothers if the care about and advocate for the next generation.  Support mothers in our world, because it is hard work.  Daily work.  Thankless work.

No more guilt or shame for doing the right thing in the eyes of some advertising executive who told us we are not quite good enough unless we consume and we bind ourselves and our families up in unrealistic expectations.  Instead there is an opportunity to excavate those passions that can heal the world, heal our communities, heal our families, heal ourselves.

On this Mothers Day I dream this gift for us all… that we find the fire in our bellies that will lead us to join a movement that speaks to the humanity all around us.   If your passion is new life, support new life.  If your passion is adoption, advocate for that.  If your passion is gender equality, connect with a young girl and pour into her and then connect with a young boy and pour into him.  If your passion is the homeless, give.  If your passion is peace, serve a veteran.

My passions are pretty obvious.  Gender equality, attachment issues for children, sexual violence advocacy, and a kinder faith expression within the church that stands on the teachings of Jesus.  Rather than feel anxious and bound up, I will spend energy on advancing those causes.  I will still enjoy cards and gifts.  I will still give cards and gifts… because I want to, and that’s okay too.  No guilt, no shame…just joy and love.

Happy Mothers Day!