Thursday, January 22, 2015

Supporting Other Mothers, Even Post-Abortive Ones

Every year the media makes a grave mistake in ignoring or sugar-coating the mass of people who descend upon the Nation's capitol in peaceful protest of the 40+ year old decision which legalized abortion on demand. Every year.  They attempt to distract and redirect; utilizing the very tool of the Prince of Darkness which brought that decision about in the first place: LIES.  They do this and yet, it's like in Horton Hears a Who...the small rise up; we call out, "We are here! We are here! We are here!!"

I myself have never been to the March for Life.  Every year I think about how amazing it would be to go and have that experience; stand in solidarity with my fellow pro-lifers and pray the rosary as I walk, to meet new people and speak with them on this deep, difficult topic.  I think how amazing it would be to crest that hill and look back and take in the sight of the sea of people, moving together as one body; braving the cold and the anti-life protesters, joining together for the same righteous cause: sanctity of human life.  One of these days, I tell myself.   One year, I will have no needy babies whom I can't leave at home and I will be able to attend and immerse myself, and possibly my older children, in the experience.  Some say it's very emotional and spiritual. I don't doubt it. I don't doubt that when hundreds of thousands of people gather for a just cause, for the Lord, for mercy and opposition toward evil, that it isn't an amazing and rich experience. 

When I volunteered at a pregnancy center in Harrisburg a few years ago, my life was changed.  I thought I was there to help women, young girls, in situations where having a baby was less than ideal. I thought I was there to give out information, listen, encourage, teach.  But amidst all of that, something else took place.  I was encouraged.  I learned.  My eyes were opened.  I saw the hearts of some of these women who were just trying to make it alone.  I saw the dynamics between women and their partners, husbands who were just as scared as the women were to welcome another baby.  I saw the neediness of the "least of God's people," and my heart grew in compassion and understanding for them.  I spoke with women who had had abortions; women who deeply regretted them, but found themselves facing another pregnancy and wanting to do what was right, despite how hard it was for them. I saw their fear and their resolve.  I saw their strength to turn away from past behavior. It changed me indeed.

They say that if we want to know what life is really about; we just need to immerse ourselves in situations where we'll see it up close.  While I was with the center, I wrote this article on my other blog. It was my hope that people would read it and have some small understanding of what many post-abortive mothers feel.  That they could come to the same understanding I did when I worked at the center: that most women who seek abortions aren't doing it to be evil. They are broken, just like the rest of us, only maybe in a different way than most of us.  They are in need of love and support and forgiveness.  I hoped that other pro-lifers would understand that we shouldn't approach these women in anger, but surround them in peace and love and understanding instead.  Especially the women who do not feel remorse.  It's one thing to think these things in your head, to know them in your heart; it's an entirely different thing to put that into action, to actually face those women and let love do all the work.

Down here in the trenches of motherhood, we all need encouragement and support, even and especially post-abortive mothers.  Aborting a baby does not take away the title of Motherhood.  We become mothers the second our babies are conceived.  Nothing changes that. 

Today I pray not only that there will come an end to abortion, but that we as pro-lifers will seek out more ways in which we can move as one to support post-abortive mothers, to reach out to them and extend the Love of Christ, the forgiveness and compassion He so selflessly extended to us as He hung on that cross on Calvary.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Motherhood Is The Longest Labor

They who I labor for
The Lord has blessed me with babies.  Lots and lots of babies.  He’s also given me a somewhat-introspective personality, and the desire to convey my thoughts to others, in order so that they may grow in understanding of themselves and of the Lord’s will for their own lives. (Specifically as it pertains to motherhood, but other aspects of life as well.)  I love to not just sympathize with others, but empathize.  To commiserate.  To encourage.  I want to cry with people as well as laugh.  Sit and ponder, as well as dance and sing. I want to go deep, and then deeper still on the important things in life.  The truth is we all have our little nuances.  We all have our distractions.  We all have the things that seem so big and so blaring in our minds every single day.  Facebook. Television.  Music.  Our jobs.  Shopping.  Food.

But those things, while aspects of our life here on earth, do not indicate to ourselves or to anyone, or most importantly to God, that we are really living.  And that’s what this is about.  I want to really live.  I want to live and I want to be a light.  Especially to other mothers, other parents.  I want to let my light shine.  Not because I think I’m so important or special; but because I’m not.  I’m just like you. I’m just like every other mama on this earth, going through the parenting tunnel, trying to do my best.  Sometimes I have good things to say. Other times, I’m just a shout in the void.  

But here I am anyway, trying.

The inspiration for this blog came from a piece I’m working on.  I say piece but I’m hoping it’s a manuscript.  I’m hoping that in the midst of homeschooling, chaos, coffee and laundry, I can etch out the parts of motherhood that really mean something important enough to share.  But not just share- make a difference.  I spent the last ten years of my life being told that I can’t make a difference.  That my attempt to share my little light with people was my trying to be controlling, or my trying to change people.  That what I had to say didn’t matter.  I spent this time with negative people who were always downing me, my words, my desire to help or console or encourage, and I started to believe them. I started to believe all of it- I have nothing new to share, nothing important to say.  I can’t save anyone.  

The truth is I don’t want to save anyone.  That’s not my job.  My job is to be a light. To serve.  It’s such a simple concept, one we were taught even as wee ones in Vacation Bible School.  We sang it loud with the song, “This Little Light of Mine.  While making sheep-shaped soaps to go with our wooden shepherds and elbow-macaroni Crosses, we were taught to be servants.  We were taught to have compassion.  To love.  To bring others to Christ.

Motherhood has given me that platform, to rise up with my light and draw others into the light of Christ in our vocation.  

Motherhood is in fact the longest labor of our lives, and we need to encourage each other through it.

Below is an excerpt from that manuscript.  (In its raw, infant stages..  Keep that in mind as you read!)  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

There’s nothing more terrifying than a blinking cursor against the backdrop of a stark-white blank screen.  Nothing, except giving birth to a baby.

And there’s nothing more terrifying than giving birth to a baby…except raising one. 

Or, in my case, six.

The methodics of gearing up for a birth, laboring and then pushing that bright-eyed wonder out into the world are really comparable to life itself.  Everything is new, everything is different.  Everything is delicious and electric and frazzled.  And everything sparkles like cool dew drops on blades of summer’s emerald-green grass.  You gear up, pack your bags, assemble your supplies, eat, drink, heave, sigh. You grab a hold of your husband’s strong hand and together you coax the child into the world with shaking legs and furrowed brow.  Out of darkness, into light.


Yet we don’t remember.  We don’t want to recall.  We forget.  Time passes, another babe comes and we forgot that terror, that paralyzing fear that crept up on us somewhere in between contraction one and baby delivered…   You know that fear?  It’s the one that tells us this will be the longest labor of our life.  The longest one.  It dares to ask us, are we ready?

The truth is, no one is.

No one is ready to raise a child.

No one is ready to raise two children, or three.  Or more.

Especially not in the culture we live in today. Let’s face it.  Our days are numbered.  Everyone’s.  But particularly those of us who choose to allow the Creator of Heaven and Earth to also bless us with new life as many times as He wants.  Big families are much the circus side-show these days, aren’t they?  After two or three, we are already put into a category all our own, the word “Freaks” as the topic.  That is because…greed.   How in the world will we afford all those kids plus a big fancy house and at least one car for each of us, vacations twice a year and dining out every weekend?  How else will be able to do whatever we want if we have more than the allotted number of children whom we can’t wait to help grow up and scoot out the door so we can get back to really living? 

This is what is pushed on us from this culture these days.  Why on earth indeed!

Since Eve’s first trot into the land of motherhood, women have been bearing and raising children like nobody’s business. Only it’s everyone’s business, isn’t it?  Isn’t it everyone’s business when you’re expecting number six even though you just had number five less than two years ago?  Isn’t it everyone’s business that you’re going forth, being fruitful and multiplying as the Lord said to do?

Is it?

Yes and no.  But mostly no.

In reality, it’s no one’s business.  It’s not my business if you have but two children for any reasons, be it selfishness or be it health or be it God’s divine hand itself closing up your womb.  And in turn, it is not your business if I have five kids, or six.  Or ten.  I don’t want to hear any of that nonsense about the earth being completely unsustainable if the population grows much more.  It’s a load and I’m not buying.

I remember not too long after my fifth was born, I knew there’d be a sixth.  I wasn’t happy about the notion.  I honestly was not.  I was terrified and angry.  But deep, deep down in my heart, I still somehow knew my womb would be opened once more and God would write yet another baby into existence.  I knew in that quiet secret place, another tiny life would be knitted ever so gently.  While it frustrated me, and I wasn’t sure I could handle it, somehow, the knowledge that her existence was already in the story had made its mark.  Life was difficult, yes.  So much more difficult than I ever imagined it would be.  But there was no question, the Lord had placed it upon my heart that there would definitely be yet another.

And here I have to sit down.  I have to take a break.  Take a breath.  Breathe in all the feathery softness of my six month old’s fine wispy hair, drink in her sleepy face, and spend just one moment basking in all that is MY business. 

 For she is the one I dared to accept. And she is the one who materialized the reality that our fears don’t have to be at odds with our beliefs.   The Father of the entire Universe writes each of our lives with His perfect pen and ink blotter.  He writes our stories with all of their gory- and glorious- details; with every pain and smatter of ugliness, every joy-filled smile and permeating sunset.  Every allowance for others to hurt us, every hurt we transgress onto others.   He pencils in our fears, our joys, our laughter, and our tears.   And yes, He writes even every baby.  Every baby.  He writes them all into existence. And sometimes, He writes them back out.  He is the author of all life.  And His story never ends.