My prayer for you, my daughters.

My husband and I have begun to look at houses. In that process, the subject of children has played a central part. Can we raise kids here? Would we be able to stay here and grow as a family for a long time if necessary? Is this a safe neighborhood for kids? Is it on a cul de sac so that our kids can play in the driveway and not have as much risk of being hit by a car? These are all things that didn’t even cross our mind when we picked an apartment. I mean, they may have, but they were much less prominent factors in our choice. But there’s something different about a house. There’s something familial and comforting and special about a house, because a house, unlike an apartment (most of the time), is going to be your home. It’s much less temporary.

In discussing all of these considerations for what we want in a home, the subject took a turn to what we want for our kids, not just for the house they will live and grow in. We talked about some kids that we love, and some kids that we can’t stand, and how we grew up, and how our parents raised us, and this eventually led to things that we do or do not want our kids to be. I know that parents can’t control all of this, but they most certainly play a role. This train of thought eventually got me thinking about daughters, probably because I’m a woman and I know what its like to grow up as a girl. And so these are the things that I want my daughters to know as they grow older.

  1. You can like baseball, and lipstick. I want you, my daughters, to know that there’s no such thing as “too girly” or “too boyish” and that whatever your likes or dislikes or interests or passions, I will support those passions. You can love math and art. You can love creative writing and engineering. You can love rugby (which will probably scare me half to death at some point watching you play, but I will watch your games), and you can also love fashion design simultaneously. And that’s okay, even if other people call it weird. It’s fine. Because I want nothing less for you than for you to freely express your interests.
  2. You are strong. I want you, my daughters, to grow up knowing strong women so that you know you can be a strong woman. And I want to be a strong woman for you. The world most certainly needs strong men, but it also needs strong women. Whether those women are being strong while standing by their man or strong while being single, the world needs more of that because women are awesome and you have so much to contribute to the world around you. And don’t ever let the world tell you that you cannot be simultaneously strong and have a man that you support. For some reason, it is a common belief that if a woman marries then she “needs” her man. But you can be strong and single, or you can be strong and married. I know women from both categories and they are all amazing. Neither one of those options diminishes you in any way.
  3. You are also fragile. It is okay to show vulnerability. I also want you, my daughters, to understand that being strong means recognizing your own human fragility. You are absolutely not fragile because you are girls. You are fragile because you are human, and there are things in this world that hurt all of us, and cut deeply, and leave scars. Those hurts, even though they were painful, are something that it’s okay to feel. It’s okay to cry, and it’s okay to express emotion and it’s perfectly okay to have been hurt by things and to be open about it. It is a temptation to let the scars harden us, to let our hearts grow cold and uninviting because for our hearts to be open is to expose them to potential threats. But the truth is that to love at all, you must be vulnerable. And a life without love is not worth living.
  4. Apologize. There will be many times throughout your life when you are not the subject of hurt, but the inflicter. It’s part of being a person. You will hurt people. It is important to know this, and to be humble enough to apologize. Recognize when you’ve hurt someone, and recognize when you are in the wrong. It will happen. And sometimes an apology is all it takes. Other times, the damage is just not able to be repaired. And that hurts. But an apology may allow you to forgive yourself, and allow the other person to forgive you. Do not buy into the idea that anything and everything you do is “just who you are.” We are our choices, and it is never too late to choose to recognize your own fault and say you’re sorry.
  5. Forgive. In addition to forgiving yourself, it is necessary to forgive others. The inability to forgive will only ever result in more pain. The inability to forgive only brings bondage, but forgiveness brings freedom. Holding a grudge is like carrying a heavy load that someone else gave to you, perhaps unknowingly. It’s not necessary to keep carrying it. Forgiveness is dropping that burden and continuing to walk forward, and not looking back at that burden lying on the road behind you.

And lastly, I want you to know why any of these things that I pray for you are possible. Your strength is not your own. Your likes and dislikes and passions and desires reflect someone else’s. You are able to forgive and to love and to be anything at all for one reason. And it is because of Jesus. Because he created you, you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14). All of who you are is wonderful. Because he is strong, you are strong, if he lives in you. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength because in our weakness, he is strong (Phil. 4:13, 2 Cor. 12:9). You can forgive because he forgave us first (Col. 3:13). All of this is only through him. And so that is my prayer for you, that he would live in you, and that you would first and foremost be his daughters and not mine.

Alena Rivas is a college student from Tucson, Arizona. She has been married since August, 2013. She and her husband don’t have kids yet, but they hope to once she graduates! Alena writes about life, love, loss, and God. She works to incorporate her own experiences in such a way as to inspire others and encourage people to think about things in new ways. If you like her writing and want to keep up with it better or just want to have access to her awesome witticisms that may not always end up in blog posts, you can find her on Facebook (facebook.com/authoralenarivas), Twitter (@mrsalenaeous), and Google+ (Alena Rivas).

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No one sends you flowers when your child didn’t die.

References to grief usually center around a death. It had to be someone close to you, and it had to be a death. Only that kind of loss warrants flowers, cards, and consolation. But what if nobody died? What about the pain from a broken relationship, or a lost opportunity or job? What if you recently had to make the decision to just not have a person in your life anymore who was previously very close to you? Is that not loss that warrants a time of a grieving? We call it sadness without calling it grief, almost like we believe that it doesn’t deserve such a name, right along side of tragedies like sickness and death.

But it is. It is grief that we’re feeling. And while it might not be the same, it still leaves an impact that you can’t ignore; that you don’t move on from more quickly simply because it wasn’t the same as another type of sadness, or another kind of loss.

My son turned 5 years old on December 24th, just a few days ago. Five years ago, I was in the hospital for Christmas. Five years ago, I was up all night with a new baby boy who needed to be fed. Five years ago, I had to call a nurse in for help because I was struggling to feed him. Five years ago, I had friends and family gathered around to see this new little boy. Five years ago, I had a family picked for him to go home with. It wasn’t my own. He was mine. But he wasn’t. I went home without a new car seat, without blankets, without bottles or binkies, without a crib waiting at home in a blue-painted nursery. And without a child.

But he didn’t die. There was no tragic loss. At least not in the way that most people would describe the tragic loss of a child.

He just went home with someone else.

He’s still alive. I still see him. I’m friends with his parents. I know his siblings. I see pictures of him all the time. For some reason, that’s always the first thing people ask me. “Do you get to see him?” And then I say yes, and they say, “Oh, okay,” as if to say, “Well, that settles that.”

Shouldn’t that be enough? Isn’t that good?

Well, yes. It’s an incredible blessing for him to have adoptive parents who are so amazing, and who are willing to let me be a part of their lives.

And no.

While I still get to see his face, see him grow, learn his likes and dislikes, and see his beautiful little face light up when he opens his birthday gifts, there is still a painful hole where I feel like he should be. Where I feel that should be. Would that be “enough” for you, or anybody? No. It never is, it never will be, but it’s what some of us have. And it’s incredible, but also sad at the same time.

It’s like looking into his life, and seeing that it is full and complete. But without me. Like there’s a hole in his life that he doesn’t feel, but I do. Hopefully, he never will. He has a wonderful family who loves him very dearly, and they’d do anything for him. He’s theirs. But he’s also mine. And that’s difficult to reconcile.

I don’t want to compete with his mother, or father, or sister, or brothers. They’re his, and he’s theirs. They’re a family. It’s what I chose for him. And it’s exactly what I wanted. I just didn’t know about the hole. The hole manifests itself in ways that I don’t expect. Like the feeling that I should have been the one planning his birthday party instead of attending as a guest. Or the feeling I got when I heard that he has stage fright, and didn’t want to go up on stage for his Christmas recital. I just wanted to hug him and tell him that it’s okay to not want to perform in front of people. I wanted to tell him he didn’t have to do it if he didn’t want to. That was exactly what his parents told him, which made me happy and relieved, and reassured. But there was still that nagging feeling that I should have been the one to tell him those things.

I’m not there when he needs someone to hug. I’m not there when he needs help tying his shoes. I’m not there when he argues about what to wear, or doesn’t like the movie he’s watching, or has nightmares, or when he learned his first words, or learned to crawl, or took his first steps.

And that’s the hole.

It’s me not being in his life, rather than him not being a big enough part of mine. Because he is a huge part of my life. I love him, and I always will. The sadness doesn’t come from the fact that I gave him to another family. They’re wonderful. I love them all dearly. This amazing little boy brought two families of strangers together, and made them one even bigger family. I do not regret him, and I do not regret them, and I never will. Nobody can make me feel guilty about any of it. That’s not where the sadness comes from. It’s from that hole. It’s the brokenness of the entire situation that led to him having to go home with someone else. The imperfection of the relationship that brought him here. The imperfect timing of the whole thing, that led to hard decisions.

But most people will dismiss it because he didn’t pass away. He has no defects, or physical ailments. He’s a perfect little baby boy who simply went home with someone else. Nobody sends you flowers for that. It’s not recognized as grief. Just sadness. And being sad is, for some reason, different than grief. It’s a fleeting emotion, something that you should be able to move on from.

And yet every year, on his birthday, I go back to that feeling. And I wonder if, because I never recognized it as grief, I never actually grieved. I assumed it was “just” sadness, that it would go away. It’s been five years. I should be okay. And I am okay. I’m married, and happy, and he’s happy and with his family. We’re all okay, contrary to what some people tried to tell me would happen if I placed him for adoption. But there’s still that lingering sadness, and I’m not sure if it will ever really be gone. Maybe some grief stays with you for a lifetime. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that time doesn’t heal all wounds. It can’t. Time is just that. It passes. It moves on. That doesn’t mean that we do. Maybe we can’t.

But this is my story. It’s what makes me who I am, and it’s what has led me to where I am. It’s part of me, and so I refuse to regret it, no matter how much sadness there is to go through.

Alena Rivas is a college student from Tucson, Arizona. She has been married since August, 2013. She and her husband don’t have kids yet, but they hope to once she graduates! Alena writes about life, love, loss, and God. She works to incorporate her own experiences in such a way as to inspire others and encourage people to think about things in new ways. If you like her writing and want to keep up with it better or just want to have access to her awesome witticisms that may not always end up in blog posts, you can find her on Facebook (facebook.com/authoralenarivas), Twitter (@MrsAlenaeous), and Google+ (Alena Rivas).

How to live an interesting life.

“Have you ever read the diary of Anne Frank before?” I asked, once I saw that the lady sitting across from me had put down her book. We’d both been sitting at Brakemasters waiting for work to be done on our vehicles.

“No, I havent,” the old lady replied.

“It’s a hard read,” I said, “not because it’s difficult to understand, but because of what’s happening.”

And that began a nearly six-hour conversation about loving reading, books, language, life, and several movies, which continued until the Brakemasters manager came to tell me that my car was fixed.

Toward the end, the lady said something that intrigued me. I’d been telling her about my major, about what I was reading at the moment, about artwork that I do, about why I drink coffee versus tea and how it depends on my mood, about riding horses, and hiking, and my family. As I was almost ready to leave, she said, “You live a very interesting life.” I told her, “And I’m only twenty-one!” and the old lady chuckled and put her hand over her eyes and said, “Oh, well that makes me depressed.”

Despite her obvious thought that her life was somehow boring or uninteresting, I was very interested in what she had been telling me about herself. She has four children who must love her very much, because she’s living with family at the moment. She was a nurse for a very long time. She loves to read, but often it’s too noisy or too busy at her home to read. She was divorced at 30, and she was telling me that she had to struggle raising four children on her own.

But in all honesty, I was a little envious. She’s lived her life. She has so much that’s behind her, and so much to look back on. I have a life that’s full of potential, but that also means that my life is full of uncertainty. It’s full of things that aren’t. This old woman’s life is full of things that were. And having been is the surest kind of being. These things that make up her life, that make up who she is, just are. They are stored away, and they make for a rich story to be told and remembered.

While I found her story interesting to hear, I had always thought that my life was invariably normal. This seemed to be the way that the lady viewed her life as well. I think that the “interesting” part comes from where we place our interest, not the events in and of themselves. Being a nurse is not, in itself, interesting. Being divorced is not, in itself, interesting. Riding horses, coming from a particular family, and reading books, is not, in itself, interesting at all. It depends on what you find interesting. And when you’re living something, it seems indisputably ordinary, because it’s all that you know. For others, it could be fascinating. So, in order to lead an interesting life, you must first be interested in it.

11 things I’d tell younger me.

Last night at work, one of my coworkers whom is several years younger than me jokingly asked, “So in your old age, what’s some life advice you’d give your younger self?” And I laughed and told her something along the lines of “boys have cooties.” And didn’t take it too seriously. But today I’ve been thinking about that question, and here’s a more serious answer:

1) You are beautiful, loved, and cherished. It’s true. It sounds cliche, but you might not hear it often enough from the people that matter most to you. People are bad at showing love. They are bad at saying it. But don’t take this to mean that they don’t feel that way, especially your family. I guarantee they do love you very much, no matter how rough your relationship with them has been.

2) You do not need sex to verify your worth. You are precious. You are amazing. Don’t ever hinge your worth on some boy’s attraction to you. You are inherently valuable as a human being, an individual with thoughts and feelings. Don’t ever let anybody tell you otherwise. If he belittles you, walk away; if he insults you, walk away; if he manipulates you, walk away; if he is disrespectful of you, walk away. You will not make him change by being with him. The only thing that does is tell him he’s doing something right. After all, you’re still there.

30 “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” -Proverbs 31:30

3) Sex outside of a committed marriage is destructive. Save yourself. Value your purity. And if a boy does not value your purity as well, run. He will destroy your heart. And this man will come to you many, many times in different bodies, many times claiming to be a man of God. And he will give you “godly” reasons why what he’s doing is okay. Run. Run fast, run hard, and don’t look back. Sexual temptation is the only temptation in the Bible that we are told not to fight, but to flee. It’s because you cannot fight it. And God knows that. Have discernment. Sex says, “You are mine and I am yours, surely and irrevocably.” This is not true in the case of dating relationships. Outside of a marriage, you and your partner are not giving but recieving. You are receiving pleasure, not giving of yourself to make the other person happy. It is not selfless, it is selfish. It is not love of another, it is self love. And this will destroy you later in life when you have memories of so many others while you’re with the one you truly love, who truly loves you, once you see and experience what true love is, and realize that you were giving pieces of your heart to people you did not share this with. The Song of Solomon shows us a godly, loving relationship (and yes, there’s lots of sex).

4) Don’t ever make your joy or your worth contingent on a boy. I know this is somewhat redundant, but it is worth repeating. A boy should never be the determining factor of your joyfulness. If he is, your joy will be ever fleeting and running from you. You will never be happy. Humans will disappoint over and over and over and over. They will hurt you, especially the ones who love you, but it’s still worth loving them. They will let you down, but it’s still worth trusting them. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Your worth is in Jesus. He chose you.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” -John 15:16

And a related video that I find incredibly amusing, so here it is:

5) Love. They say you must love yourself before you can love others. I think it’s the other way around. You must learn to love others before you can learn to love at all. True love is self-sacrificing and self-denying. True love is being hurt but still loving as hard as you can. True love is seeing yourself making hard sacrifices for another person, and doing it even though its the hardest thing you’ve ever done. But be careful, and be wise in whom you invest your love. You can’t get it back. It’s important to understand the difference between a human who makes mistakes (everybody ever), and someone who is just using you over and over again.  And then there’s the Biblical definition of love in 1 Cor. 13. Print this out, hang it on your wall, memorize it. It’s important.

6) Be confident. You may feel like your opinions and feeling don’t matter. Maybe it’s because you tell yourself that, or maybe it’s because other people have made you feel that way. It’s not true. Be confident in your opinions and your feelings. There is only one you, who thinks and feels like you do. You matter. Your thoughts matter. It’s how you’ll figure life out, through your thoughts and feelings. It’s how you express yourself. Don’t shut down your means of self-expression just because someone told you that your expressions were dumb. Find some way to get them out: write, draw, create, dance, sing. Something. It will be a life-saver, I guarantee it. You were made for a purpose that only you can accomplish by being exactly who you are.

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” -Psalm 139:14

7) On the same note, be humble. Realize that you don’t know everything, and neither does anyone else. You can’t. You never will. Realize that some people are older and wiser, and their advice is worth listening to. You don’t have to take it as law, but at least listen. You’ll be surprised what you can learn (yes, even from your parents). Never stop learning. The day you stop learning is the day you begin to wither away. Be open to new lessons in life, even from people you may disagree with. Listening will never cost you anything but a couple of minutes.

“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'” -James 4:6

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” -Philippians 2:3-11

8) Be careful what you say and how you react. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. What you say can never be revoked. Be a good listener. Hear what people are saying before you try to respond. Hear what they’re saying before you try to fix their problems, and realize that the listening is sometimes all they need (also a big hug). This will make you a good friend, and it will make you somebody that people trust. It will also be difficult to bear the burdens of others, because they will want to lay them on you. Make sure that you don’t cause yourself to suffocate under the weight of the world, because Jesus has already done that for us. Point people back to him. People will make you angry, and people will insult you in your life. But don’t take it personally. They are probably just taking out their frustrations on you in an unfair way. The meanest people are usually the ones who are hurting the most.

“The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult.” -Proverbs 12:16

9) The sun always comes back out. No matter what you are going through right now, no matter what storm you face, the clouds will part and the sun will come back. Remember that constant sunshine makes a desert. It takes the combination of rain and sun, night and day, to make things grow. Even plants don’t photosynthesize and grow in the same light where they collected their energy. They do it at night.

33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33

“Whenever there is a cross to be carried by any of Christ’s followers, He always bears the heavy end on His own shoulders.” -C.S. Spurgeon

10) Absolutely nothing that you ever do will ever be beyond the unfathomable grace of your heavenly Father. Sometimes you make mistakes. Okay, you’ll make lots of them. And some people are going to either tell you or make you feel that those mistakes are unforgivable. But that’s absolutely not true. Jesus died on a cross for you, bloodily and horribly, and according to the book of John, you were the last thing on his mind as he died there. And then the (other) amazing part that all of Christianity is contingent upon, he rose again. Death did not keep him in the grave. It didn’t slay him. Sin was slain, Jesus was not. And he did it for you, and God’s wrath was brought down upon Jesus so that you could be one of God’s children.

“When God laid sin upon Christ it must have been in the intent of his heart that he would never lay it on those for whom Christ died.” -C.S. Spurgeon

11) Trust in God. He knows you better than anybody. Trust that he knows you, loves you, cares for you, and cherishes you, even enough to send his son to the cross to die for your transgressions, for your broken, sinful heart, so that it could be made new, be healed, and become whole in him. He has a plan, but we may never know the full extent of it until we see him face to face. Maybe not even then. That sounds discouraging, but it’s not. It means that ultimately, the responsibility for everything is his. There’s no need for you to control everything, and when life is out of control (as it so often is) he’s still controlling it. Be responsible, and be wise, but depend on him. And never forget to prayPrayers do get answered. He does hear them. He cares about every single one of your cares, worries, burdens, trials, and your happiness, joys, and smiles. He sees them all and he cares. Never forget that, even through all of the shitty things you’ll experience, up until the point that you’re writing this to yourself.

Alena Rivas is a college student from Tucson, Arizona. She has been married since August, 2013. She and her husband don’t have kids yet, but they hope to once she graduates! Alena writes about life, love, loss, and God. She works to incorporate her own experiences in such a way as to inspire others and encourage people to think about things in new ways. If you like her writing and want to keep up with it better or just want to have access to her awesome witticisms that may not always end up in blog posts, you can find her on Facebook (facebook.com/authoralenarivas), Twitter (@MrsAlenaeous), and Google+ (Alena Rivas).

The enemy of an artist.

I’ve been thinking a lot about art, whether it’s something I’d like to pursue (as in, a career), or if it’s just something that I enjoy doing. While thinking about it, I began thinking about what could cause someone to stop being an artist. I came to the conclusion that Time is an artist’s worst enemy; not because our own beauty fades, not because of vanity. But because the things you’ve been using your whole life to create are now fading away. Your hands are no longer steady, your eyes are no longer sharp, and your body may no longer be able to take long hours spent in a studio or at a desk. But your mind remains, creating invisible things, things just for you. You still see the world through an artist’s eyes. When I get too old to make things, that could be all that will keep me sane, is the ability to imagine. No matter what state your mind is in, we all imagine. Even while we sleep. We call those dreams. At the core, a true artist is someone who is good at bringing imagination to life, in one way or another, and loves to do so. They dream, not just while they’re asleep, but while they’re wide awake. That never goes away, even when the body crumbles.

So, the short answer is: nothing can stop you from being an artist. Nothing. “Artist” is a condition of the soul, not something determined by actions, or ability.

And I firmly believe that art and our desire to make things, to create is a reflection of God’s glory and His character. He, Himself, is an artist, and He’s created the most wonderful masterpiece of all time. Us. Because we are made in the image of an almighty God, who is Love. Time is not some steadily approaching doom that we all must fight, but rather is the sound of God’s heartbeat; never-ending, eternal, steady, always present.

Art is incredibly important to me, and I sometimes feel that our society is moving farther and farther from the heart of creativity, which, of course, is the Creator. He began it all. But in a world that rejects Him, I fear that we may lose the soul of our art. Art comes from a place in the heart. A place that, once filled with His holiness, has a harder and harder time creating from darkness (sanctification). Unfortunately, we live in a world that has become a cavern filled to overflowing with that darkness.

“If you want to know what is in the heart of a culture, look at its art. Read its poetry, listen to its music, and you’ll begin to know the tree from which it fell.” -M. Gungor

We are moving toward mediocrity in our artwork. At least, it seems that way to me. Many artists “sell out” and stop being original. Today, we’re fine with the idea of doing something that isn’t your dream just because it pays better, or “it’s what the people want.” What people? Your people? You? God? His people? No. The masses… a faceless mass of mediocrity.

“With auto-tune, anyone can sing ‘on pitch.’ With self-publishing anyone can be an author. But are we cultivating a culture of mediocrity? And are we robbing our art of its humanity? -Anam Cara

“Money is not the root of all kinds of evil. The love of money is. It’s also the root of a lot of bad art.” -Michael Gungor

I have to say, though, Michael Gungor is one of those amazing people who manages to retain the humanity and soul in his art. A true artist after God’s heart.

The Gift of Time

I love you more
than the sand on the beaches,
and you can never run farther
than My reach is.
Your life may be short,
but in Me it’s eternal.
You make plans, but can’t thwart
the ones I have for you.

You keep looking for love
over and over again,
as if My Word isn’t enough
to reassure you of My promises,
of the inseparability of My love
from you.
Even when you reject Me,
a prodigal would-be,
I love you just the same.
It’s not Me who moves,
but you
who walks away.

I’m here eternally,
since before the existence of Time.
The seconds are my heartbeat
made tangible for you
to understand what you’re part of.
But instead, humanity
has made it
into an impending doom.
In reality,
it’s a gift from Me to you.
Understand that because
you are part of it,
you are also part of Me,
and are fully loved
even when you don’t believe.

Author’s note: Please give credit where credit is due if you plan to use this in any way (including on social networking sites), even brief quotations. This work is (c) Alena Crepea.

I Will Never Understand

After watching a video on illegal abortions that occur in the Philippines, I can say that I am conflicted about the issue of abortion. Our assignment in class was to look up Roe v. Wade, and we were to write down 1) whether we knew what the case was before this assignment, 2) a three-sentence summary of the case, 3) how the ruling was interpreted then versus now, and 4) whether we thought that the ruling should be upheld. The last one got me. After seeing the video of the illegal abortions that take place, I understood something that I’ve always somewhat understood but never realized until recently: it’s not as simple as “legal” or “illegal.”

After seeing the abject poverty that over 30% (I believe it says in the video) of the population lives in, I was empathetic to the mothers who were trying to obtain abortions. Here in the United States, we have an overabundance of families willing to adopt “unwanted” babies, or babies who are born into bad situations, if the mother chooses that rout. But in the Philippines, so many of these women have only two choices, abort or starve their children. We have a mentality in the U.S. that the only reason that a woman would want an abortion is because she selfishly does not want her child or the trouble or responsibility that children can bring. We fail to see that in many, many parts of the world, this is not the case.

The young girl in the video who is recorded during her abortion is sobbing during the entire procedure. Why is she sobbing? Because she is losing her child. She doesn’t want this to have to be an option. She doesn’t want to lose her baby. But she is faced with the decision to abort her second child, or let the 8 month old baby that she already has go hungry. Obviously this is not black and white. And obviously the mayor’s decision to make both abortion and contraception illegal was a poor one. But if you notice in the video, there is a comment made: “This is where religion and politics come together.” That sentence got me thinking even more, especially about Christians who think that there should be laws against abortion. Is more legislation really the answer? Are we going to the right place for our problems to  be fixed? What does this say about the idol of government?

The truth is, we’re trying to fix a very deep problem with a very surface-level answer. We’re putting band-aids on broken bones. We’re trying to fix sin, not through Jesus Christ, but through man-made laws. It won’t work. It will never work. I strongly believe that we need to focus on loving these men and women and children. Are we really showing the love of Christ when we stand outside abortion clinics, hiding behind signs, and yelling at women about how awful they are? Even if that’s true (and I know that every human being is born a sinner in opposition to God), we are completely eliminating love from our message. Now, some might say that it’s like a parent’s discipline. It seems harsh, but will benefit the child in the future. To me, it sounds like poor justification for beating a child. We also have to be careful not to go so far in the other direction that we eliminate God’s judgement and wrath.

A large part of why I am not in any pro-life groups is because 1) I feel that they are far too focused on making new laws and putting trust in government when it should be in God, 2) because of how nasty those groups can be toward people, and 3) because they don’t generally focus on loving and serving people, but rather focus on being aggressively legalistic in their approach.

I’d love to know why those same people who are outside of Planned Parenthood yelling at people are not also the same people raising their voices for, say, foster care reform or advocating making adoption easier, in light of the fact that there are 150,000+ children who are up for adoption through the foster care system, and over 600, 000 in the foster care system overall. This does not include the countless other kids who are living on their own with no familial support whatsoever. Why is nobody upset about this? Why is it not a huge issue? Besides this, 25% of U.S. children are not receiving regular meals every day, or live without consistent access to food. To top that off, of the women who get yelled at for having had abortions, so many of these women who had abortions say that they felt pressured into it, or that they regret it, and many even say that if they’d had the proper support they’d have kept their child. To me, this says nothing of the women but says everything about the quality of help that we are giving them. If we’re going to be against abortion, why are all of these other issues ignored when they relate directly? There’s also the fact that information about adoption is hard to obtain and not made widely available, while abortion is covered in every single sex-ed class and Planned Parenthood brochure in existence.

I would love to know why Christians are not coming alongside these men and women more often and saying, “We’re all sinners. I’m a sinner. You’re a sinner. We’ve made bad decisions. I don’t agree with the one you made, but I want to love you anyway, because Jesus loved me first.”

 

Author’s Note (added Nov. 20, 2012): I’d like to clear something up real quick. I actually don’t even know if it’s an issue, but I feel the need to address it, just to be completely, entirely, absolutely clear on this: I am not condoning abortion, nor do I support the practice in any way. I believe absolutely in the right to life, and I believe that abortion is, in fact, murder. What I was trying to convey in this post was that my heart breaks for these women, and that I wish that these sorts of things did not have to happen. I was not trying to say that abortion is a solution to poverty, unplanned pregnancies, or anything else. It is never a solution. There is one instance where both the mother and the child cannot be saved, and that is ectopic pregnancyIn this case, the baby has implanted outside the uterus and it is a life-threatening condition for the mother in which the baby will not survive. I do not believe that women should ever be denied medical attention that they need in order to save their life. However, I do not believe that abortion “on demand and without apology” is women’s health, and I do not support it in any way. I may post more on this later, but for now I’d just like to clarify what this post was attempting to get across.