Friday, July 31, 2015

Pro-life Action List

My 20yodd and I were talking the other day about some friends of ours who have a young baby and are also foster parents. We love watching them with their little foster boy and their baby girl.  The boy has a lot of struggles, because early on he missed out on some experiences important to development, but oh, the love showered on that little boy, and he is a treat and a half to be around.  Such bright eyes and so much life.

What our friends are doing is the work Christians should do if they care about the life of unborn children.  In that vein, here is my action list for pro-lifers who want to take the long, arduous road of compassionate love:

  1. Stop vilifying women and girls who have babies out of wedlock.  I've seen the disgusted looks, heard the condemning comments. Yes, from Christians. Yes, in church. This has got to stop.  Abortion is blood on the hands of us as Christ-followers. The shame we heap on women who get pregnant outside of marriage often leads them to take the lives of their children. Yes, fornication is a sin. A haughty attitude is also a sin. Which does Jesus dislike more?  He hates both sins equally.  He died for people who commit both sins.  He loves them both. 
  2. Teach your sons to take responsibility for their actions. Our sons' bodies and reputations will not be sacrificed for a child the way our daughters' will be.  This is a huge reason to teach young men not only to respect young women, but to honor them the way Christ honors the church.  I understand guys are wild at heart, but please. Teach your sons to honor women and take responsibility for their actions and not act like girls are overreacting when they try to protect themselves.  The conversation about rape culture has arisen because we do not teach our sons properly and well on this point.  
  3. Welcome and serve single moms in your community without demonizing or "other-izing" them.
  4. Volunteer for a reputable crisis pregnancy organization.
  5. Work in foster care.
  6. Adopt.
These are Christian responses to the abortion debate. The culture will do whatever.  We as Christ-followers have an obligation to respond with humility and compassion as well as truth.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Positioning Yourself to Take the Blows

I crave words strung together full of meaning. When I read something I like, I write or print it out and post it on my bulletin board, or my cabinet and pantry doors, or on my refrigerator. Dry erase boards covered with quotes line the lower wall of my dining room. Half the cabinets in my kitchen are covered, as well as the pantry door and the door to the music room. Poetry and pictures plaster the fridge.  It's not attractive, but it encourages me. If you want to know what I am pondering, all you have to do is read my kitchen.

Awhile back, I found an article saying that turning the other cheek is a lot like jujitsu.  I love this article. It is currently hanging on my pantry. I've reread it many times the last few months while emptying the dishwasher or fixing dinner.

I don't know a lot about jujitsu, but one of my piano students does, and her mother has said I can come watch her practice sometime. I'm looking forward to it, because I just love this article so much.

Here is what I've taken from it:
  1. People will mistreat you every day.
  2. Jesus taught us how to deal with it: turn the other cheek.
  3. Turning the other cheek does not mean being a doormat.
  4. Turning the other cheek means position yourself to absorb the blows without falling.
  5. Turning the other cheek results in the other person being stopped by the force of their own aggression.
The author provides a list of strategies for finding that strong position. One thing I love is that he says trying hard doesn't work.

Let me repeat that:
Trying hard doesn't work.
Don't get me wrong. I think endeavoring is good. But oh boy, trying hard to turn the other cheek doesn't work. That is truth. I've learned it from experience!

He recommends the following:
  1. Ask the Lord and your close fellow believers for what you need. (Prayer, scripture reading, meditation, fellowship and conversation with your church folks.)
  2. Work through past issues so you aren't overreacting to a current situation as a result of unfinished past ones.
  3. Strengthen your boundaries. It is not only okay, it is necessary to delineate where others stop and you begin. 
  4. Make sure you are thinking about your feelings and feeling about your thinkings. (People usually only do one of these things. We need to do both.)
  5. Once you've identified your Self, it's time to practice self-denial.
  6. Acknowledge that God is in charge of outcomes.
  7. Look at trials as opportunities for growth.
  8. Avoid passive submission and angry aggression. Work toward a response that says, "Both of us matter."
  9. Focus on the light of Christ in every person.
  10. Learn to accept persecution but not abuse. (I admit I am still trying to figure this one out.)

These ten things position us to disarm whoever is mistreating us and teach us to trust the Lord.  

This article will probably hang on my door for another few months, at least.  Such an important and difficult lesson to learn. Turning the other cheek is a power position. How about that?


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Of Prisoners and Porcupines

There is a poem I've been thinking about a lot the past couple months. I first saw it on Glennon Melton's Momastery blog. I don't agree with everything Glennon says, but I love her spirit and honesty and just her way of embracing people no matter what. We need more of that.  We need to be like that.  Anyway, here's the poem:

The small man
Builds cages
For everyone
He
Knows.
While the sage
Who has to duck his head
When the moon is low
Keeps dropping keys all night long
For the
Beautiful
Rowdy
Prisoners. 
-Hafiz

I love the beautiful rowdy prisoners. I am the beautiful rowdy prisoners!  I need keys to get out of my prisons, and I find them in grace.  With scripture and prayer and meditation, and the beautiful moving of the Holy Spirit, I am able to position myself to take the blows of this world, to stay open and soft and love others while still respecting myself as a child of the King.

But I am a work in progress. Aren't we all?  This week, a friend told me of a sermon he once heard by a very able minister of the Lord, who said the following, and this is a paraphrase of what my friend said the minister said:

Think of people as crazy dancing porcupines with "as-is" tags and big egos. Church people. This includes each of us. There is no such thing as a perfect church. And if you find one, don't join it, because you'll ruin it.
We each have our prisons, and our prickly quills, and our egos. I am a porcupine and I am a prisoner. God bless the beautiful rowdy prisoners and the earnest, egotistical porcupines.  We take it in turns to be one or the other, you know. God bless us all!

Thank the Lord we are not in charge of the universe, or even our tiny corner of it.
Thank the Lord He only gave us the responsibility to serve Him and enjoy Him forever.

Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice!