What it Feels Like for Me to be a Christian Woman in 2012

Disclaimer – this one is going to get deep, and not necessarily be pretty. And I am not on FB or Twitter right now to explain or clarify my positions, so I just pray that my heart would accurately come across as I write and process. I just want to be light in darkness, and I pray that nothing I say would cause shame or hurt. This is my perspective – and I am warning you it is messy.

I know I can be more sensitive than most, but to be a woman in this culture of rhetoric and soundbites is really difficult. Politicians and the media are hurtling words across the aisle without thought – words like “rape,” “pregnancy,” “abortion,” and “contraception” – like these are arrows slung from a bow and not real personal issues that carry with them memories, hurts, fears, and a visceral reaction.

I feel assaulted by it.

I am tired of signing onto Twitter and seeing snarky comments about rape and abortion. I am tired of rhetoric about pregnancy and abortion without a meaningful plan to help women and reduce these shocking statistics that mask a terrible reality. I am tired of pregnancy, infertility, and contraception being issues hurled about in the public sphere without a heart for what these things mean to the women and men making these decisions. I am tired of women’s rights and women’s equality being words without complex meaning in a world where women are battered, raped, maimed, enslaved, and reduced to being less than we are worldwide on an astonishing scale.

Don’t people understand these are REAL women and REAL babies they are talking about? That these decisions and topics are gut wrenching?

Our world is so broken, and we need Jesus so much.

I hate abortion. I’ve written about it before. I hated it even before Roe, when it was done in the dark of night, when women were maimed in back offices, sometimes not even given a choice because they were too young and they weren’t the ones paying so they were ignored. They endured it without anesthetic or a voice. What a cruel world that would steal from a woman even the choice to bear life, but it happens worldwide every single day. Abortion isn’t an American issue – it is a world issue. I hate the fear and stigma that backs women into a corner, the broken systems that entrap women. I hate that even decades later in some homes, a past secret abortion is not dealt with so peace can be found, the growing crack in the wall that reveals the facade behind the “happy healthy family.”

I hate it now that it is legal in the US and “more simple.”  I hate when it is convenient and it can be done without thought, except that it is not without thought and millions of women will tell you it haunts them decades later because there isn’t support for after. I hate it when it is done in deception, when a “simple” pill is given that makes the woman horribly ill for days, in pain bleeding alone in her home, unable to tell anyone. I hate when it is done after viability, when the baby could actually live outside of the womb and should, without question, have the rights of every other human. I don’t understand how we justify that. I hate when is agonized over – a terrible choice in the middle of a difficult life made in quiet and shame and fear of discovery. I hate that anyone has had to face that terrible choice and live with the results. I hate that it has stolen from so many of us, including me, family members. I see tiny newborn children and I hate that so many of them have vanished in violent ends, taking with them a part of our world’s future. I hate that it has left some women as shells, pieced back together and afraid of discovery, unable to forgive themselves. I hate that it places the burden on these women and takes the lives of these babies, and either gives men no choice or voice at all, or it enables boys to stay in suspended adolescence and not grow into men. It leaves nobody unscarred.

I hate it. It has stolen so much. It is not a simple right, it is an anchor. And it is taking us all down with it.

And I hate that it has become a political tagline. I think that grieves the heart of God as much as it hardens those of us who hear it over and over. I think since the beginning of time we have tried to find human solutions to the problem of sin we created in the garden (God didn’t want to give us kings, but we wanted kings, and when we got them they ruled over us without kindness. God didn’t want to give us divorce, but we insisted on divorce, and we left untold damage in our wake. We keep demanding the things that only damage us and distance us from Him, and then we blame Him when the mess we insisted on creating is messy). Even still, I wish there was a human solution, like legislation, that could erase the terrible reality of abortion, but the reality is that abortion is part of our broken world and has been since Adam and Eve made their choice. The numbers have increased since Roe vs. Wade, certainly, and the price has been immeasurably high on our culture and our values, but abortion has been a reality since humans have had the ability to fear and the desire to control each other and our future.

I think abortion is a consequence of fear. Fear of the future, fear of consequence, fear of discovery, fear of inadequacy. And you can’t insulate someone enough, provide them enough healthcare and options and support, to erase fear. Only perfect love drives out fear. A genuine love for women, a genuine love for children, a genuine love for God and trusting Him with our days – those things are the only answer to the abortion crisis and they will never grow from a political affiliation. We have to ALL quit numbing ourselves and start looking around, not judging each other but jumping in and getting our hands dirty – loving women and men in the messy realities of life. Loves drives out fear. So it means we support our children and nieces and friends when they are faced with terrifying decisions. It means we love and trust others enough to cry out for help when we find ourselves entangled in a nightmare scenario. It means we love selflessly, opening our hearts, homes and wallets to help each other and to meet needs. And it means we stop ignoring the orphan crisis – how can we ask women to choose life when more than 170 million children worldwide need homes? We need to love the orphan and the birth mother – no matter how messy that gets. If our prayers are answered and there are less abortions, that will mean there are more adoptions, and we need to be ready for that.

And let’s all agree to stop using abortion as a hurtling arrow.

And let’s add rape to that list. Rape is not rhetoric, and it can never be boiled down to a soundbite. Rape is complicated. Sometimes it is violent. Sometimes it is quiet and quick, devastating in its ambiguity. The moments leading up to it are confusing, the years after it are devastating. I know women who only, after feeling safe enough to do an honest assessment of the past, have realized that what they experienced was, in fact, rape. That their rights and their bodies were actually violated and that it is okay to call it that. I would bet that the statistics on rape are far lower than the reality of rape. No politician has a right to judge it on the degree of force or desire. It is intensely personal and can devastating.

Rape and abortion are the epitome of brokenness and to treat them casually destroys the thing about us that makes us human.

This world is broken. And more and more, I believe that the political rhetoric is contributing to the brokenness, not solving it. It makes us hard. It makes us mean. Anything can be taken out of context and spun and the heart of the person and the complexity of the matter completely annihilated.

Don’t believe me? Try this. Go outside and spend some time in prayer and check your blood pressure after that. Take a look at yourself in the mirror, talk to yourself and listen to your voice. Then watch your favorite political commentator for an hour – the guy you agree with. Then try the experiment again. Look in the mirror and talk, listen to your voice, check your blood pressure. Even when you agree with the person, I have found you will sound and look more defensive and angry, your adrenaline will probably be flowing, and your blood pressure will be higher. People who watch and listen to the rhetoric all day are growing more numb, more angry, and more hard by the hour. We need to step away from it. I’m convinced this stuff is toxic to our systems. It is the same human solutions to a divine sin problem we’ve been trying since Adam and Eve sewed together leaves to hide their nakedness.

We need Jesus. We need healing. We need restoration. We need forgiveness. We need miraculous protection from the darkness in this world – the sin that so easily entangles. We need to pray. Prayer can help with the abortion statistics and the rape statistics. It will open our eyes and soften our hearts. We will draw close to God and He will lead us in the way we should go in helping and assisting moms and adopting these kids who need homes. Only God can grow a boy into a man – giving him the strength to be honorable in this deceptive world that tells him he doesn’t have to live with honor. When that happens, rape and abortion numbers will go down. When heart-change and heart-softening happens, as we turn to Christ and light, this darkness must flee. We have to pray for that – that God will do it. He’s the only one who can.

Jesus this world is broken. It makes me shake. I look at my children and I ache for them – the statistics are scary and I pray they never experience these things, but I know they will at least be touched by them in this world. I see the women I know who have experienced infertility, unplanned or lost pregnancy, rape, and abortion and I ache for them. They all carry the scars – they all have lost so much. I know if this rhetoric stuns me it may devastate them. Or maybe it doesn’t – maybe that part of them is so walled off. Either way, Jesus, please draw near to the hurting and offer your healing mercy. Help us please. Government is not our answer – YOU are our answer. Human solutions stink – they only make things worse. We need you. We have done it our way and we have screwed it up. Please call your church to be salt and light in a broken world. Thank you for the people who get this – for the men and women who stand on your Word as a light to the world – being light as they embrace the complexity of loving a broken world. This is not simple, and we need people brave enough to admit that. Thank you for pregnancy centers filled with volunteers and staff who actually love women and desire to help them. Thank you for people who are unafraid to jump in and do the heavy lifting. I know even as much as Planned Parenthood is reviled on one side of this debate, there are many people there who deeply desire to help women. Please lead all of those people to yourself  – you are our only hope. Help our country. Help our leaders. Convict them. Convict us to pray for them and not be cynical and hateful toward them. I need help with that – I can feel so hopeless about the weakness of our country’s leadership. Help us to turn off the rhetoric, turn on our ears to hear Your Spirit, turn from our evil ways, and turn from our dependence on human solutions. And Jesus, please, please, heal our land.

6 Comments

  1. Jen,

    I can’t say it enough – I’m so glad I found your blog. I love it.

    I appreciate your vulnerability and courage to dig into the not-so-lovely, and very messy aspects of being a Christian woman and all the things that come along with that.

    Just from what I have read, and want to comment on, this will probably get very messy and personal – but that’s how we work through things, right? But I will limit myself, for now, to fleshing out and adding one to this one quote from your piece.

    “I think abortion is a consequence of fear. Fear of the future, fear of consequence, fear of discovery, fear of inadequacy.” – TRUE!

    Okay here comes the mess – I have changed my mind several times about if I want a family and want that to look like. And this is obviously the control freak in me. And I will interject that I’m 22 – “YOU’RE SO YOUNG!” I know – I hear it all the time, but my feelings are still very strong and real. And by the way, it’s hard to feel young when every girl around me is getting married, which makes me feel very old in the marriage world – but this is distracting from what I want to get to.

    Okay, so in high school, I felt very strongly that I wanted to have a husband and a lot of kids – biological kids. And I wanted this to happen very quickly, by 25, because I didn’t’ want to be the “old mom.” Let me say, I am grateful for maturity, because my mindset was so unrealistic and unhealthy. So by setting this up in my mind as a senior in high school, I was very much expecting to find a husband in college. I didn’t date in high school – (I’m a big girl and I’ve always attributed that to my inability to attract men – see, i told you this would get messy). But now as a fifth year senior, I have yet to go on a date, let alone find a husband, obviously. And I realized I was very hurt and upset by this, ONLY because I had set myself up, thinking and hoping I could and would find that someone. Had I just been content and trusting the Lord, then I wouldn’t feel as much agony, I believe.

    So roughly a year or two ago, I got off the optimistic train and jumped for the pessimistic train and I have yet to get off. I very much believe (as long as I am this size) I will not attract a man and therefore, should prepare for a life of singleness (which, I could be okay, with – what choice do I have). So I have written off the idea completely of having biological children because my passion for adoption has grown – so I am very adamant about not having any biological children but I would love to adopt.

    After spilling all of this out, it doesn’t seem relevant to my point, which is abortion is absolutely a consequence of fear. I fear A LOT about my future and it is simply because I don’t trust the Lord. I said it, I don’t trust him. My words may often say it but my heart doesn’t believe it.

    So I have become pro-choice because if I were ever to become pregnant, I don’t see any beauty in it, because I don’t see beauty in myself. So therefore, how could I produce something good. So I believed abortion to be a good thing. A way to never condemn another life to the life I have had to live (a life invisible to men and struggling with feeling ugly – yes, I’m dramatic. I can’t help it).

    I fear so much. My biggest fear above all, what if my child doesn’t love the Lord. That is an unbearable thought, that I have convinced myself, I would rather not have children and risk them possibly loving the Lord, when I could just not have them (or abort them) and know for sure they wouldn’t spend an eternity in hell. I tend to be a bit of an extremist, but that’s just how it is.

    I don’t know why I felt the need to say all of this, but I guess I just wanted to affirm that it is true. And I’m not even sure that I’ve gotten across all that I wanted to say, because this has gotten way too long.

    But yes, I am so broken and I need so much Jesus. I need healing. I need restoration. I need forgiveness. I need miraculous protection from the darkness in this world – the sin that so easily entangles. And I need to pray.

    Just know,ou are a rockin’ sister. I just discovered you, but I’m very grateful for you lady.

    Charlesia

    Reply

    1. Oh Charlesia, fear is so powerful, isn’t it? It can really skew the way we see everything. The Bible talks so much about it. It seems like Jesus was saying “fear not” almost more than He said anything else.

      But the truth is it is DANG hard not to fear.

      Here’s what I know. There is power in confession. Big power. And you saying (and writing) – “I don’t trust him” – that takes power away from the enemy and places it, and you, in God’s hands. It’s BIG to say and admit that we don’t trust God.

      I’ve said it many times. I’ve realized that my actions to protect myself were simply hiding the reality that I felt alone. That I felt unprotected. That I didn’t believe in the God I say I believe in.

      I am so encouraged by your comment – so glad you posted it. Saying I am so broken and I need Jesus is powerful. I KNOW He will respond to your cries.

      The marriage thing is tough. I kissed a few people, mostly in a drunken state, but literally did not date anyone until my husband, and I was 29. I felt so ugly and stupid and unloveable.

      Now let me tell you – God didn’t leave me there. He used my time of singleness to reveal in me some brokenness that needed to be dealt with before I got married. I went to therapy. I learned how to be a good friend to girlfriends and how to confess brokenness to each other. Those single years were HARD years, but looking back now, they were my favorite years of my life.

      I wrote a few blogs on insecurity (I think they are linked in the Top Posts section) that goes into detail about my story about my 20s. But here’s the bottom line. God showed me His care when he protected me from dating much in my 20s. i was too vulnerable. Too easily swayed. I wasn’t ready.

      It doesn’t freak me out that you are pro-choice. I myself struggle with defining myself on the abortion issue because it is really complicated. It doesn’t freak me out that you were so honest. I am SO grateful for it. I feel like I’ve gained a friend.

      I think bright good days are ahead for you Charlesia. I think the Lord has great plans for you. I think he is drawing you to himself and showing you his love. And these are good things. They feel hard – we feel raw and almost too broken, but God can work with broken. He MUCH prefers broken over proud.

      He loves you. He doesn’t need you to clean up to come to him. You don’t have to be put together. You just have to be honest. And I’m so grateful for how honest you’ve been with me today. Thank you for trusting me with your story. (I had my personal contact information on here, but a few trolls are lurking around – but please – if you need to talk more, comment and I’ll send you an email with my information).

      Reply

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