Wednesday, January 22, 2014

when I say I'm pro-life

{photo by Jennifer}
{trigger warning: non-explicit mentions of abortion and rape}

if I say Roe v. Wade, you know what I'm talking about. I don't have to explain the details or lay out what those words mean. it's two names with a "v" in the middle. versus. two sides standing one against the other.

I believe in a lot of unpopular things. I write a lot of things that offend people, that make them bristle and take a step back. sometimes they even write me letters or notes explaining just how wrong I am, just how far off the path I have wandered.

but this is where it gets sticky. because I'm pro-life, but I hesitate to write those words because of the connotation they immediately conjure. when I say I'm pro-life, you get a picture in your head.

I remember the day we were driving home from school passing by the McDonalds on the left and the buffet restaurant on the right. it was so many years ago, but every time I pass that corner, I still remember. there were people there, screaming, holding signs set with images of blood and death and broken body parts. the man behind us, or was it beside us, rolled down his window and commented to a red-faced picketer that they were on their way to dinner and the pictures were making him lose his appetite. the man spewed, "good. enjoy your dinner, sir," spitting out the final term of respect as though it was the filthiest curse.

I'll never forget. I think I was seven. I'm twenty-three now. I'll never forget, not as long as I live. but what I remember aren't those signs or the words on them. I remember they were vile, that they made my elementary-aged stomach do a funny sort of flip. but what I remember is that man. what I remember is the rage.

when I say I'm pro-life, I want you to know that I'm anti-shame. I'm anti-picket signs, and I'm anti-red-faced men spewing spittle and rage in the same breath, and I'm anti-bombs being flung into abortion clinics. I'm anti-whispering and I'm anti-pointing fingers.

when I say I'm pro-life, I want you to know that I'm pro-woman. I want you to know that I'm anti-rape and anti-victimizing. I'm against the twisting of women's bodies into nothing but sexual objects with the singular purpose of causing men to stumble. I want you to know that I'm pro-life because I'm pro-human, and they can go hand-in-hand.

when I say I'm pro-life, I want you to know that I've wrapped my arms around women who've had abortions and held them while they cried. I want you to know that I've heard the comments that those who claim to bear the name of Jesus make about "the least of these" behind their backs and under their breath. and it makes me sicker than those signs did, because He promised to wipe away all tears and to bring life where death would rather abide.

if you have had an abortion, I want you to hear this, so loud and so clear. I may be pro-life. but I am not anti-you. I am not, He is not. 

I know there is a better way, there has to be. I know that when the laws disappear that back-alley blood is spilled and women die out of fear and desperation. I find myself sitting with my head in my hands with tears in my eyes as I go back and forth. aren't we supposed to be hands and feet, life-bearers and love-bringers? aren't we supposed to hold and treasure and forgive, four hundred and ninety times plus one more for good measure?  aren't we supposed to protect all life, women and children alike?

how can both be done? oh Lord. there must be a better way.

so on this forty-first anniversary, I will sit in the silence with the ache burning deep in my soul. I am begging the Lion for a better way. 

3 comments:

  1. Rachel, First of all, I love you and the unashamed-light-bearing voice that you bring to topic such as this (but you already know this). Personally, I find sanctity of life too broad a topic to be defined into one term like "pro-life", or confined to the micro-issue of abortion, as life does not end at birth. (I'm not suggesting that you don't understand these nuances). I haven't met anyone who is "anti-life", nor have a met anyone who is truly "pro-abortion". It's no pleasant experience, and I'm sure we'd all rather a world where unwanted pregnancies don't exist.
    In my experience, the church is supportive of women who've had abortions that come weeping and with a repentant spirit. It is these women who confirm the viewpoint that abortions are devastating to the women who have them. The church should welcome women who feel burdened by their abortions. It should absolutely be a safe place for them, and more work is required to ensure that the church is such a place. But I wonder about the woman who have a had abortions and do not regret them. Who believe that it was the right choice for them and if the circumstances presented themselves again they would make the same choice. Because these woman do exist. How can we make room for them and their stories? How can we invite them into the dialogue in a way that is not shaming?

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  2. This is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

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  3. Rachel, oh dearest child of Aslan, I've known you for a large portion of our adolecent years, and even a few of the adult, and I've always found your writing inspiring to me. But this dear sister, has lifted a great darkness that has burdened my soul. I won't come off anon, because I know too many in the world would point shameful fingers, but as someone who has had an abortion it lifts my soul to know that that there are other Christian's out there who are not only pro-life, but pro-voice and anti shame. The dark cloud resting on my soul was not of regret, but of sadness that the time was not right and my body was failing. The dark cloud was the shame I felt from being a believer but feeling like the church was against me despite the heart breaking decision I made. That dark cloud was the feeling of shame at being told that women who have abortions are murders undeserving of redemption by the church my whole life. The dark cloud was the feeling of guilt from assuming I had known what an abortion looked like, despite how wrong those images are. A cloud was lifted know that a fellow follower of Christ has such compassion towards women who have made that choice and that while I still may hide behind the veil of anonymity, I can SPEAK. I adore you dear daughter of Christ.

    Whenever I doubt, he leads me here and my soul is calmed.

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I look at you and see all the ways a soul can bruise, and I wish I could sink my hands into your flesh and light lanterns along your spine so you know there's nothing but light when I see you. :: Shinji Moon