A Plea for Open Conversation between Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Voices

A Plea for Open Conversation between Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Voices

Yesterday was the Women’s March on Washington. It was beautiful to see women gathering all across the country to speak with a common voice.  I have friends who participated with eagerness. I know others who questioned its purpose.  And I know some, like my friend Shannon, who wanted to participate but felt excluded because of their Pro-Life stance on abortion. Hers is just one of many stories I’ve heard from women, holding opinions on both sides of the abortion issue, feeling isolated and excluded from a community of women because their stance on this topic separates them from the dominant culture around them.

Like most complex topics, when it comes to abortion there are intelligent people arguing it from many different angles.   And while plenty of folks seem quite certain that they have the “right” answer, the reality is there are valid arguments on both sides.

Will you, for a minute, set aside your own convictions, pull out your imagination, and try with me to put yourself in the shoes of someone standing on the opposite side of the picket line?

Pro-choice women care deeply about women’s health. They have well founded concerns about what will happen to women who seek abortions illegally if this practice were to be abolished in the US. They see a world history that has treated women as second class citizens and they deeply desire that women maintain freedom to control their own bodies.   They fear for children who will be brought into a world when parents don’t have the emotional or financial resources to provide for them.

Pro-life women believe that a baby’s life begins at conception, with this in mind how could they not fight to preserve these lives with the same diligence as they would for the lives of children who are one, or ten or sixteen years old and in danger. They fear for the trauma that women will experience after having aborted a child, grief and depression that can set in even decades later which is often devastating to the woman and her family.  They worry about women being coerced by family and un-supportive partners into abortions that they don’t truly want.  And they are concerned about the medical consequences of abortion.

Pro-choice women are not Pro-death as their opponents like to think, and Pro-life women aren’t Anti-choice. Each side is simply looking at this delicate conversation from a different angle and starting with a different set of values.

There is social and medical science to support arguments on both sides.  There are religious beliefs and cultural traditions that can lead to drawing conclusions in either direction.  There are heart wrenching testimonies from individuals to support both perspectives.

I am not an advocate for taking a moderate stance. If you do your research and feel passionate in one of these directions than certainly speak up, protest, donate, take action.  But don’t make an enemy of those who disagree with you and don’t shut them out of your life. Don’t assume that they aren’t equally motivated by love, and data and respect for human kind.  Don’t assume another is a misogynist or anti-feminist or sacrilegious just because she falls on the opposite side of this issue.  We all want what is best for women and for our country and we all have no choice but to work together to achieve it.  So let’s be the first to sit down with someone who holds a different view and give them a listening ear and an open mind.  Let’s go out and speak up for our side with all our heart but let us never loose sight of the fact that what binds us as women is far greater than what divides us.

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Marriage, Our Wedding

Redemption through Pain, A Glimpse Into My Story Reflections from C.S. Lewis' The Problem of Pain

I would have lost my virginity on the cold tile of a bathroom floor a few days after my 16th birthday except I was so tense with fear that the 26 year old man hovering over me couldn’t take it without tearing me apart. He had at least a moment’s worth of good judgement that night, which is more than I can say for myself, and stopped.  To be honest I’m not sure when I lost it, there were so many attempts and near misses that by the time it happened I was too numb to notice.

Insecurity ruled my life even as a child.  I was a loud-mouthed and capable Girl Scout, a strong swimmer who made all A’s. I could start a fire with one match and change a tire, yet shame was my plague. As a family we were always looking to get ahead which left me feeling a step behind. I was a constant outsider, convinced that there was some big secret everyone was in on except me.

When puberty hit and my body changed all on its own into something that got attention I was thrilled even if I was only noticed by middle school boys and creepers on the street.  I relished my new ability to turn heads with no concern for the expectations that my Daisy Dukes and Spandex were stirring.  It didn’t take long before my attention craved self ended up  in dark basements and storage closets with guys who took my flirtations far more seriously than I intended.

And then my parents announced their divorce the Sunday after Junior prom.  I was still groggy from the night out when my mom woke me to break the news.  Suddenly life was a whirlwind and all that had meant stability was turning to dust and blowing away.

.    .    .

Yet in the midst of family chaos and my own increasingly self destructive choices I miraculously began connecting with a new group of friends. They were the very girls I used to make fun of, the ones I called “Bible Beaters” while I gossiped about how they threw snakes and did cartwheels in their church aisles.  If they wouldn’t have been quite so sweet and I quite so lonely I would have never gone for it, but they were that sweet and I was that lonely.  I found myself living two lives, one of sneaking out and drinking cheap beer and the other of Youth Group and mission trips.   I began to read my Bible but mainly just to check and see if the youth pastor’s claims were actually in there. I still look back at those pink highlighter marks I made my first time through the gospel of St. Luke.  It said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”

 

Redeption through pain a glimpse into my story: Reflections on C.S. Lewis' The Problem of Pain.

And then something happened. I was in my room alone the Thursday afternoon before Orthodox Easter of my senior year, not doing anything particular, or maybe getting ready to go to the church service that night with my Yiayia, when God showed up.  I didn’t see or hear anything, yet something was there, something I wasn’t looking for (at least so I thought) and wasn’t expecting. Suddenly I was being smothered by Peace and I never wanted it to stop.  And at the same time I was standing on the edge of a cliff and The Peace was telling me to jump. I knew that to jump meant to die  and give myself  to God and yet to not jump was  to die too, to suffocate in my own failure.  There was a choice and yet there was no choice, I had to jump.  In that afternoon everything changed.

 

On that day a change began in me. In addition to giving out Bibles as birthday presents and plastering my walls with Christian paraphernalia I became less angry and more hopeful.   And yet my conversion was by no means a cure to pain. I had a new confidence that God had a plan for me and I had intimate and stable friendships.  But I soon headed off to college and fell into old patterns of unhealthy relationships which I balanced out with self hate and bouts of anorexia.  After college I moved back home to be closer to my family but got antsy. I booked myself a flight to Europe, alone for 4 months.  I didn’t know it then but I was putting God to the test, running away and wondering if He would follow.

 

After Buckingham Palace and the Eiffel Tower I fell into the backpacking culture and soon began throwing myself at any male who gave me a second glance. I drank wine by the bottle, passed around hash and shacked up with a strangers for a free place to stay and a little taste of adventure.

 

I came home from that trip  ruined, (though its only been since becoming a mother myself that I’ve reflected on how much danger I really had put myself in) and it was right where I needed to be. I walked into the same living room with my old friends and the Bible study that they were still doing.  I was done. I had tried and failed. I couldn’t live by my own standards, maybe others could, but not me. I needed my friends and I needed God and they both met with arms open.

.    .    .

Right now we are reading The Problem of Pain, by C. S. Lewis in the Liturgy of Life Reading Group and reflecting on the role of  suffering in our lives which motivated me to share this story. Sometimes I feel ridiculous carrying on about my pain, after all most of my distress has resulted from my own poor choices. Nothing really “bad” has ever happened to me in my entire life.  What do I have to say to the Syrian refugee or the cancer patient?

But now I’m a doctor and I know that whether we shoot off our own foot or are hit in a drive by, the pain from our wound is there to tell us that there is something wrong, it compels us to seek help.  I’ve learned that we can either live our lives doped up on the morphine of our own ambitions or we can look for pain’s source. I’m convinced that all pain is a longing for wholeness, for health, for intimacy with our Creator.

 

Redeption through pain a glimpse into my story: Reflections on C.S. Lewis' The Problem of Pain

The image that Christians have chosen to represent our faith is the cross, a device of torture, a tool that was used to kill our Savior.  Pain that leads unto death is an inseparable part of the Christian story. And yet it is the very place where we find life.

 

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”

 

 

Redeption through pain a glimpse into my story: Reflections on C.S. Lewis' The Problem of Pain

 

This post is part of our Reading Group series.  Right now we are reading The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis. We would love for you to join us.

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Waiting for Baklava at Easter

Remembering Easter

We are moving this weekend instead of celebrating Easter with the local Orthodox Church. But I’m grateful, at least, that the timing of Orthodox Easter makes this post seem timely rather than way too late. Here are a few pictures and projects from our own Easter celebrations last month.  I’m slowly working backwards to get caught up on my posts. One of these days I’ll share the pictures from my daughter’s 4th birthday and Little House on the Prairie party which is now over 2 months ago.  It won’t be happening any time soon though as I have a lot to pack.

This has been a great spot for us and I will probably never have such a spacious kitchen again in my life. But when we moved we knew it was  temporary until we had a better idea of where we would be spending most of our time. As it turns out most of what we do is in a town about 30 minutes away and we are weary of the commute. So we are on the move.

 

 

Easter. Shaving cream dye.
This year I discovered an egg dying trick. You can fill a pan with shaving cream or cool whip and drop the food coloring on, swirl it and then roll the egg. It made beautiful designs and is much easier for little hands to manage. You can find a tutorial here.

 

 

Easter. Cascarones
Our finished eggs. Yours will be much brighter if you start with white eggs rather than brown. We hollowed them and made cascarones which you can read about here.

 

 

Easter. Jelly Beans.
During lent dropped a black eyed pea in the bowl every time we said shared a thought of gratitude. On Easter the peas were transformed into jelly beans.  Read more about our Easter preparation here.

 

 

Natural dyed Easter eggs.
We also used natural homemade dyes with flower imprints, this was far easier than I thought it would be. You can read about how to do it here.

 

It’s good to think on Easter as I pack. It doesn’t matter that I’m 2 months behind in everything or that I have the pressing job of reorganizing all of my belongings into a stack of cardboard boxes.  Easter is for remembering baptism and rebirth and the hope of the resurrection. What better time to start again in a new space, in a new town, slowly building into relationships and eventually finding our way around without getting lost.

Wish me luck friends and Christos Anesti.

 

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what I’m reading

A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis

If you’ve hung around here at all you have probably seen this book.  We finish it up this week in the Liturgy of Life Reading Group. Please join us.

 

Walking in Wonder by Elizabeth White

I just finished this little book written by an Orthodox Montessori teacher. Though her approach to the faith is definitely more Eastern there are some great ideas in this book of ways to prepare kids to grow in their faith even from a young age.  Plus it is short and straightforward which makes for an easy read.

 

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a controversial contemporary figure though I didn’t know it when I began this book.  She is a Somalian refugee and a friend recommended I read it when she heard we meeting Somalians at the local shelter.  This is Ali’s memoir and it is gripping, often violent and captivating.  She walks through her own experiences growing up in Africa, as an asylum seeker and eventually as a Dutch politician focusing on the injustices she saw for women in Islamic communities.

Wheat Belly by William Davis MD

I don’t usually read books like this but I’ll admit I’m intrigued.

 

Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

We read The Art of the Commonplace in our reading group earlier this year.  This book is like that one only told in novel form. It is slow moving and sweet, a beautiful read.  I wish I had time to sit down and read it cover to cover, but instead I’m savoring it in small pieces.

 

 

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