See Your Name in Lights

“See Your Name in Lights” the email header exclaimed. I had an inward shudder. For as much as I long to be heard, known and understood, I am also afraid of being heard, known and understood. The older I get, the more I know that I am not ready for intense scrutiny. I know the world to be both a harsh and a loving place. I know people to be intensely cruel and warmly loving. The further you get from the intimate friendships, the harsher the criticism. In an Internet world, we can be “known” by millions, yet many, many of those millions are overtly, voraciously, carnivorously cruel. It is a sport to them, and whoever dares to be seen or heard is the prey.

I do not know what it is in us that allows us to be so cruel to those we do not know. How have we come to ignore the humanity in others?

Have you ever driven a highway in a major city like L.A., Phoenix, Seattle, or Denver and been overwhelmed by the sudden awareness of the hundreds of thousands, even millions of people going about their lives with their own problems, their own hopes, their own fears, their own loves, hurts and disappointments? Has it ever taken your breath away to know that you will never know all those people? That you will never hear their stories?

I think of this and I wonder, how does a person put themselves out there, make themselves available for the slings and arrows of human cruelty, for vicious slander, or deliberate misunderstanding? I am not brave enough, nor do I seek the adulation. I don’t want the praise and adoration of those who do not truly know me.

I want my name on the covers of books, I want to finish my tales and have them available to those who might enjoy Timmy and the Tall Man, who might enjoy Mr. Tubby, or Dot Plott. I love these characters and I long to finish those, but I fear to finish those as well, for what if I do not do it well, what if I am inadequate to the task of telling their stories?

I clicked “delete” on that email. I don’t want my name in lights, thank you very much. My time for that longing has passed. It has been buried with many of the silly ideas of my youth.


Abortion, Planned Parenthood

I have been mostly silent on this recently. I am struggling for breath; I am struggling to regain my balance. I am struggling for words in the light of the horror of the videos of Planned Parenthood,

These videos (and I can’t watch them all for the horror of it) have ripped me to shreds. To this point, as opposed as I am to abortion, I felt it was both a heart issue and a love issue. That is to say that if a person does not grasp in their hearts and minds that abortion is wrong, their behavior will not change. If they do not see that as a baby, one deserving of protection, nurturing and love, they will not turn from abortion when it is inconvenient to have a child. The love issue is not so much maternal love, but the love of the rest of us toward a woman who finds herself in an uncomfortable, inconvenient, stressful, worrisome, horrifying situation, whether through rape, incest, foolish choices, or simply heavy financial and life stress. We have shamed women who get pregnant outside of marriage when we should love them and stand beside them, financially and in every other way, or we are not doing our part.

I mean that a fine, upstanding Christian woman can feel such intense pressure to look good to her family and her church community that she might make the vile choice to end the pregnancy, knowing there will be no love, no support, no help, no forgiveness, no way to ever regain a good name again if we were to know of her “indiscretion.” I have seen a friend walk through a pregnancy, shamed by her church community, told the child would “never be blessed by God”, that she had removed God’s hand of protection from her family, and had people literally turn their backs to her when the saw her, shunning her in a way that was most hurtful, most cruel. Others, I fear, have refused to go through with the pregnancy because they could not face this kind of rejection, only to then go through life with the shame and guilt of what they have done. These women , when they truly repent, find it nearly impossible to get beyond the shame and guilt. The pain they feel lasts their entire lives.

Please understand that I hear you saying, “She can’t be a fine, upstanding Christian and do such a thing.” I understand that as I used to think and feel the same way. Now, however, I have come to a place where, while I still believe personal holiness is very important, I also believe that if God’s mercy does not extend to the abortionist and her victims, to the women who have their children scraped from their womb, it does not extend to me. I have been blind to these women, to their torture. I have been blind to the pressure on them, I have been blind to their need for love, for acceptance, for mercy, for financial help, for friendship, for me to be the arms and hands of Christ. My sin is as great or greater, in that I did not act out the love of Christ to these women and girls. I did not open my home and my wallet to them in their distress. I was not a listening ear, a gentle hug, a safe place to come to.

And what of those who work in the abortion industry? How do they allow themselves to be blinded to what they are doing? How do they deny the humanity of those precious aborted babies and call them “fetal tissue”?  How?  And what do we do with/for these people? Some, I fear, have given up a piece of their humanity and may never get it back. But then again, if I believe anyone too far gone for mercy, for repentance and forgiveness, what hope is there for me?

To me this seemed a foreign thing, an aberration. It did not touch my life, and I was unaware of it going on anywhere in my world, so I drove by the folks with their placards thinking, “Good for you,” but all the while secretly thinking, does it even matter, this thing you do where you stand on the sidewalks in front of an abortion clinic? Do you convince one person that that inconvenient pregnancy is a child when she WANTS to believe what the abortionist is telling her? And then I went on about my day. That abortions were/are happening every day did not register with me. That I have a responsibility in my community did not occur to me.

So how then do I go on in a world that for me feels like it has been turned on its axis? It’s as if I woke up and found that the pretty world I live in is all a sham, an illusion. The Matrix, if you know what I mean. I’ve been dancing in a gorgeous ballroom only to suddenly realize the floor is made from the bones of these aborted children. I cannot go back to dancing, having seen this. It cannot be reversed. I can’t go back. But what does it mean to live knowing this? What do I do now that is different?

I was shopping for t-shirts the other day and as I held one up, I thought how meaningless this is when someone may be aborting a baby right now! My work has become unimportant. Not that I don’t continue to work to the best of my ability, but I find all of the ordinary things of life to be so…meaningless.  That’s not accurate.  These things don’t lack meaning, it’s that their importance fades in light of the horrible things that are taking place.  Not just abortion, not just the harvesting of body parts, but also around the world Christians are fleeing for their lives, ISIS is torturing and killing people who aren’t their kind of Muslim. Something is going on with Vladimir Putin and the Ukraine. Christians have been fleeing from their homelands in Iraq (shame on us!), Yemen, you name it.  And I sit and laugh at the antics of Sheldon Copper and the gang, while in the back of my mind I am stewing about this.  My laughter rings hollow to my own ears.

So I have been contemplating what to do. My immediate response of prayer, repenting for my own sin and the sin of my people, that continues. But I am seeking action.  It feels like I should DO something.  I should be doing something to help women who feel like they have no choice. I should be doing something to help support keeping that baby, right?  So I am looking for a crisis pregnancy center where I can help, whether donating my time, or my money. or both.  And I can be a listening ear to those who fear God’s mercy does not extend to them, because if I know anything, it is that.

The church is a hospital for the sick, and I am just a simple hospital worker, wiping the forehead of those in need, sweeping the floor when that needs doing, and also in line for healing myself, for I am as in need of healing as anyone.