H old on to your hats, everyone.
It has been a week of discovery around here! I have found so many treasures to share with you, it was hard to pick and choose which ones needed to be shared the most.
Some of you may have noticed that over the weekend, I was able to put in a space on the blog that specifically corrals our Townhall Meetings into one easily found place. Just scroll over the “About this Site” Menu Tab above to find it in the list that pops up.
On that page I talk about how these posts are about creating a place of communion, a place of honor, and a place where life happens. So with those hopes in mind, lets get this meeting started.
(As always, links are found by clicking on the titles!)
From the Blogosphere:
The boy who went back in was as different as the dawn from the boy who came out. For just those few minutes, he had beheld himself through eyes that see what is most real, what is strikingly authentic about his truest self.
Someone had believed in him. And subsequently, he had been renamed: Gentle. – By Kelli Woodford
For those of you who have not already found the SheLoves Community — please stop what you are doing and go check it out RIGHT NOW. I promise you won’t be disappointed. This place gives space and honor to beautiful voices like Kelli Woodford’s. This week she wrote about one of her husband’s experiences as a mental health professional helping people to rediscover the truth of who they really are. Through this story she reminds us all about the courageous and freeing truth found in being seen, in belonging, in being vulnerable and authentic. She tells a story with a simple, but profound message of truth that needs to be heard again, and again, and again.
Ideas do not exist in a vacuum. Bill Gothard’s repressed view of human sexuality and his oppressive teaching on the role of women are damaging to those who follow them, whether those views are received directly from Gothard himself or diluted and passed along second-hand from his supporters. True Christian values should affirm the worth and freedom and humanity of women, rather than burdening them with sexual shame and narrow, patriarchal gender roles. – By Micah J. Murray
As many know, this past week we saw the landmark decision come down from The Supreme Court of the United States on Hobby Lobby and its appeal for religious exemption from the new employer healthcare provision requirements found under Obamacare. Being fairly new as a participator in this blogging world, I sat with eyes wide-eyed in anguish as I saw Twitter, my Facebook Feed, and my Blog Feeds explode. People lined up on all sides with some cheering, others questioning, many heartbroken, others jeering, and everything else in between. I felt like a scared kid who had accidentally walked into a room with a heated adult discussion. My conflict avoidance buttons were screaming “red alert!”…. So I just waited, and read.
I am still reading.
Growing up in the Conservative, Evangelical, Homeschooling world I know the Pro-Life arguments well. In college, I entered a whole new world of Pro-Life fervor, when I joined thousands of others at Christian gatherings known as The Call in 2007 in St. Louis and again in Washington D.C. on the Mall in 2008. We taped Red Duct Tape over our mouths that had the simple word LIFE written on it, and we stood there for hours praying for the unborn.
So when it comes to the issues of abortion and contraception, I have been in that heated Christian Battlefield, and I must confess I have only come out more and more confused. Its not so simple to me anymore. While I still find my heart loves and beats for erring on the side of life — I also see where the cause of life in the name of God and the church, has been used to wound, to silence, and to judge.
- I start to question agendas and mindsets grounded in fear and shame, when my induction into what abortion was, were emotional sermons from a pulpit showing graphic videos of second and third trimester abortions. Images that will scar any living human being. Then take that and equate a fertilized egg that hasn’t even been implanted into the wall of a uterus, a fertilized egg that even with its potential for life has more chances of being naturally rejected by a woman’s body — and use those volatile, emotion inducing images to equate someone who chooses to prevent a pregnancy with a medicine that is “believed by some to prevent implantation” (despite the fact that the medical community is saying that it doesn’t) to a murderer. A baby killer.
Maybe those aren’t the terms used by many in this debate, but in the militant Pro-Life world I have been in, thats what it equates to. That’s what is heard and thought of between the lines of emotion.
- I question when statistics revealing that access to contraception actually prevents and decreases the number of abortions greatly is ignored.
- I continue to question knowing that to hold those beliefs with conviction concerning a fertilized egg also means rejecting IVF, an option that brings life to so many families who would not be able to have and be a family without it.
- I question even more, having friends and knowing many that rely on birth control for endometriosis, for painful periods, for all manners of health related problems, and I can’t just casually conclude from that — “well if you work at Hobby Lobby, and don’t have the luxury of finding a better employer — sucks to be you.” “The religious freedoms of the owner’s beliefs matters more, than your personal ability to make health decisions for yourself.”
It gets even more messy, when I see connections like Micah points out. Micah always does such a good job of writing about these issues with truth, grace, and respect. It is easy to see that he put a lot of effort in to this piece. You can tell he is trying so hard to be respectful, to be understanding, but to also be truthful. What he shares needs to be heard. I grew up around the ATI world. I have met Bill Gothard and attended many of his events throughout my childhood. I know many childhood friends who were even more entrenched in it. I have seen and know the toxic fallout Micah discusses all too well.
- I question again, when there is such a lack of healthy, scientifically accurate sexual education (including information on contraception) within the church. I know the shame and oppressive views of women well. I believed them for years. I hurt myself and other women I knew with them. So when the voices making this decision were largely male and largely conservative — as much as I love my heritage — I also tend to approach it with a sobering amount of skepticism. We have too many women’s voices already forgotten, already marginalized.
- Lastly, I question because I know well the tendency for that same community to dismiss science and facts for a paranoid version of the truth. So when I see statistics and scientific support being released and referred to by the medical community that these forms of contraception, are just that contraception. I am more inclined to believe them then I am not — because of living a long time in a community that proclaimed paranoid ideas like the FDA and Pharmaceutical companies we’re monsters out to get you. Paranoid ideas that led to purposely avoiding vaccinations, avoiding good healthcare, and promoting ignorance on health and basic sex education as somehow the better, godly option.
Perhaps my skepticism and my past have biased me too much in the opposite direction — but I have to be honest that I don’t find it so black and white anymore. Its more just a bloody red battlefield with the voices and bodies of many I love and respect all around me. I hope someday that the fog clears and that I find some answers that not only loves the lives of precious babies, but also ones that speak with compassion, respect, and understanding for women and the complex issues they face.
Right now I feel like the noise screams at me that I have to choose one side or the other and I can’t — I’m stuck here somewhere in the middle.
I often view my childhood through the lens of abuse. But recently, I’ve been challenged to examine it through the lens of privilege. …And this was my epiphany: in many ways, my fundamentalist upbringing was privileged. – by Elizabeth Esther
This week has been one for the books on looking inward and looking deep. Elizabeth Esther is one of those voices you can’t ignore. Her memoir “Girl at the End of The World” was unbelievable in how it was able to peel back the layers and pin point so many fears I have struggled with for so long, largely produced by the community I grew up in and the common outlook on life and faith we all had. In this week’s post, she didn’t hesitate to boldly challenge me again. She encouraged me to examine how I was privileged, to examine what I had growing up that others often go without, to remember, to be grateful, and to be humbly and compassionately aware.
Once upon a time, I struggled with feeling a pervasive sense of disconnection at church. Every few Sundays, the feeling would descend without warning. I’d sit there wishing that I could go home, or that I hadn’t come at all. The core of what I felt was alone.
There in church, surrounded by friends, I found myself on an emotional Arctic tundra: frozen, lonely, and potentially lethal. — By Caroline McGraw
This week, I logged into Twitter one morning to find I had a new follower — Caroline McGraw. Always excited and pleased to find a new follower, I clicked on her profile to discover more. From there I clicked on her blog, and what I found blew me away. The beauty of this new journey in blogging, is that I keep finding these treasured Kindred Spirits in people. It feels like I have known them forever, when they have a way of writing words that bare my soul. In the post above, Caroline talks about her journey with perfectionism, and how it affected her at a place she loved and wanted to be — Church. Reading this felt like she had been reading my journals and actually knew the anguish I have been struggling with for so long. I honestly was so touched and so surprised, I didn’t think that she could possibly have more to say that would somehow reach even deeper…
But then she linked to this post over at She Loves below.
So this time, you’ll keep reading the words you find online. You’ll learn about spiritual abuse. You’ll visit a support network for former church members. The whole process will be akin to seeing a car crash. It will be awful, but for the life of you, you won’t be able to look away.
And it will get more complicated the moment you realize: Oh my God, I’m in the crash. I’m not just watching from the outside. I’m in it. So is my family. So are my closest friends. It’s a pile up. I’ve been numb to it for a long time, but now I’m starting to feel the internal injuries. — By Caroline McGraw
Heaving, Gut Wrenching Sobs. This is what happened when I read this. Someone took my heart, my past, and my life and wrote it on a page. I couldn’t look away. I read it. I read it again. I woke up the next morning and read it again. The beauty of truth is that it heals, it opens our eyes, it brings life to what is broken. Thank you Caroline for your beautiful words of truth.
From my Nightstand:
The first is from the self-help genre; the second is a fiction novel. The first really speaks to me. It encourages me to understand my fears, to understand why I hate conflict, to understand how I and why I run from it. The second challenges my preconceived ideas of what it means to be American. It challenges me to get out of my comfort zone, out of my privilege, and to learn from someone else’s American experience.
From my heart:
This week on the blog you will find these posts highlighted below:
The beauty of this book is that it doesn’t just end with the stories of women beaten, broken, and dying. It ends with telling how these women are standing up, speaking out, striking back, pursuing education, starting their own businesses, organizing their communities, educating other women, fighting for their futures. It ends with hope and a call for us to help.
In order to truly love others, especially the people in my life I truly value, I have to love both them and myself enough that I am willing to share all of me. Even the parts I want to hide.
I have to be willing to be real, even when it hurts.
I am finding that even with all its many, many faults, the beauty of America is that in it’s best moments it chooses to fight for freedom from oppression, it chooses to stand up for justice even when that entails a cost, it struggles to give a platform to the minority, it finds a way to give a voice to the voiceless, it shows us that despite great weakness we can together through love be strong.
So that concludes the treasures I found to share with you this week. So now that we have all these new finds to review…
I want to hear From You:
- What have you found this week through your feed, or inbox, or screen?
- What challenged you?
- What of these treasures above stood out to you? Do you have any thoughts to add?
- Who are some other voices out there I need to discover and hear?
- What books are you reading? Do you have any recommendations?