Big Hair, Bigger Blame

Last month, my husband and I had the joy of going to Puerto Rico for the wedding of the son of one of my cousins.  Before another cousin arrived she saw a photo of me in San Juan and thought, “I’m in big trouble”.

I have big hair.  I have coarse, thick, wavy, humidity-driven, hair.  The aforementioned cousin shares the big hair gene with me.

We brought 2 suitcases and we had pulled everything out of them when we arrived in Puerto Rico. It was then that I discovered the plastic bag with all of my hair product was missing.  That discovery represented serious consequences for this gal with BIG hair.  Those of you who remember Roseanne Roseannadanna might understand my predicament.

You might be thinking that one trip to CVS would solve my so-called problem.  Well yes, we went to CVS a day into the trip (after the initial damning photos) and bought leave-in conditioning cream.  And yes, I was able to flat iron every quarter inch of my hair on the day of the wedding and stop by another cousin’s hotel room to use her hairspray.  But, I wasn’t willing to do the quarter inch flat iron treatment every day of my vacation.  And, I had spent a pretty penny on frizz “nourishing styling cream” and frizz “nourishing oil” for touching up my stubborn frizz determined hair.

Besides the trivial nature of forgetting my bag, was the nagging belief that I hadn’t forgotten that bag and the possibility that the airline was to blame.  This blame isn’t on the level of bodily dragging me off the plane, breaking my teeth and giving me a concussion.  I was simply annoyed.

Today I’m packing for a business trip my husband is about to take.  Yesterday I couldn’t find my flip flops so I started checking all the pockets in his suitcase for my flip flops.  They were nowhere to be found.  I did find a lump in the suitcase.  And I couldn’t figure out how to get to the lump.  This suitcase is new and I came upon a zipper that I didn’t know was there.

Yes, you’ve guessed it:

IMG_4220.JPG

My little blame game ended in a good laugh.  Most blame games don’t end in laughter.

I was blaming myself for some innocuous mistake yesterday when a wise friend responded, “Oh yes, you are to blame, because we must blame someone!”  Her tone dripped with humorous sarcasm.  What is this compulsion to blame?

Blame can be an ugly verb.  It generally isn’t accompanied by humility or trust.  So, blame has the potential to separate us from aligning ourselves with God.  (My suitcase story is not an allegory here!  That story just led my thoughts in the direction of exploring the topic of blame. My thoughts like jumping on trains that take me in new directions! The only thing separation from my hair products did was give my hair permission to act naturally.  Don’t worry, I’m not going off the deep end and saying it separated me from God).

Jumping back on my train of thought:  blame can take us to ugly places.  In our efforts to place blame we fail to turn to God in the moment or situation.  Jesus doesn’t seem to be big on blame.  He’s big on spiritual growth and restoration.  Restoration takes trusting him in our circumstances.  Restoration takes a willingness to be taught by our circumstances.  Blame puts a different focus on our circumstances.  Looking for someone or something to blame in our circumstances can grow bitterness, anger or shame in us.  Looking for how God might make good out of our circumstances can grow beauty, kindness and joy in us.

Okay, I can’t resist:  I rather beauty be growing in my character than on my scalp.

On Funks and Humanness

I’ve been in a funk for days now. One of those unjustified funks. You know the type, where you can’t really name what it is that has you so irritable? Sure, a good guess would be that I’m not setting my heart on the things above and I am getting bogged down in world (past, present and future). This malaise has had me unwilling to “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3). This uneasiness has me stuck in place. And the place ain’t pretty.

The recent celebration of Easter should have given me heightened awareness of the power of his resurrection. That power gave us our own resurrection. Right?  (Eternal life and abundant life, here and now).  That power has even given us the ability to participate in his sufferings without losing hope.  Resurrection life is not one of the products of funks.  Hope is not one of the products of funks. Nor is thankfulness.

I’ve got a boat load full of things to be thankful for in my present circumstances. Those things are not getting the attention I’m giving my worries. Whether I name my mood a funk or a malaise or unease or irritability, it’s interesting how something so paralyzing can light a fire to worry.

As I catch myself worrying, I’m fully aware that there have been times in the not too distant past, where I thought I had a handle on worry. Every little saying and every verse from scripture on worrying made perfect sense to me! I confidently thought that I knew the bottom line: worrying is useless. Well, woe to me whenever I think I’ve got a handle on something!

Pressing on to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of me takes holding onto nothing but Jesus. Allowing myself to be stuck in this funk has been a choice to not take hold of Jesus. It has felt like emotional paralysis, but the truth of Easter is Jesus made me a participant in His resurrection. His resurrection is my resurrection. There is no paralysis in that truth.

So, I haven’t been fully living in the truth. I’ve been kicking around in gutters and behaving like I don’t have the legs to step up to the sidewalk and move on.

I do have those figurative legs. But when I go too long without opening my Bible or get sloppy with my prayers, those legs get weak. It’s really no surprise that I let time go by without doing something I know benefits me. As much as I love going for walks I often don’t take the time to go. No rationale. Just human.

I think I’ll sit with those last two words for a moment. There’s grace in those words — just human. So, I’ve been in a funk for days now. It’s passing. I’m human. And this human has hope. This human has Jesus.  This human has resurrection power.

Hebrews 2:17-18  For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.  Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Things I Say That May Be False

A list of things I say that may be false is coming to my mind at a rapid rate!

When I don’t get something I want: “He’s got something better for me”.

When I’m worried about finances: “He’s always provided for us in the past so he’ll provide in our future”.

When I fear the direction our society is headed: “He’s in control”.

When someone I love is struggling: “You can do this”.

All of the above may be partial truths, but they are also partial falsehoods. They shouldn’t be taken on face value.

That house I wanted? The house I end up in may not check off as many boxes on my list of desires. But, God can make it better for me in his promise to grow me up and use me for his purposes.

That retirement we’ve pursued? It may come sooner than we hoped and our budget may be tighter than we hoped. But, God never breaks a promise. He will provide us with the ability to be content. It’s up to us to seek and use that ability.

The direction our society is headed? Apart from God, it’s never headed in the right direction. And a few truths come to mind: there will always be people who choose to be apart from God; even those of us who’ve invited Jesus to live in us, still have our moments (or seasons) when we choose to be apart from God; God can control anything, but He chose to give us free will; He’s told us the last days are not going to be pretty.

That loved one who is struggling? They may continue to struggle for far longer than we’d hoped. They may always struggle with the challenges they live in. But, none of us are meant to live by our own power. We’re all meant to cooperate with Jesus. On their own, they can’t “do this” well.

It scares me a bit that I can so quickly think of things I say that may be false. Jesus, forgive me for the times I’ve led others astray. Holy Spirit please continue to show me my wrong thinking and help me to hold my tongue.

“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”  Psalm 25:5

Desperate For (Because of) Help

I stepped out onto the sidewalk in front of our building and was instantly filled with, all’s right with the world, take a deep breath, take in the beauty of spring, the endorphins are coming, joy! I picked up my pace and was a short block from my home when I realized that I hadn’t put on my FitBit. This is when the craziness tried to sidetrack me from my joy! “Oh bummer,” I thought, “I won’t get my step count for this walk. Should I go back?”

And just as quickly I thought, “If I’m a slave to the things that are suppose to HELP me, Lord help me from the help”!

Geez! Our gizmos and gadgets can become the ends rather than the means. I asked for the FitBit as a gift to motivate me into a healthier lifestyle. And, I thought it would just be fun to know how much I actually walk on my favorite paths. Setting a goal of 10,000 steps a day has become the latest health fad. But 10,000 steps isn’t the prize itself. It’s a goal meant to help me reach the prize(s). The prizes for me are greater health and being renewed by the beauty of the great outdoors.

Have you ever set goals with your spiritual life? Maybe you’ve decided you’ll read through the Bible in one year or start out each morning with prayer. Maybe you’ve thought of helpful strategies like avoiding your phone and computer when you first wake up, so that you’re not distracted away from that goal to read scripture or start the day with prayer. Those strategies can feel empowering! But Lord help us when we receive an important call as soon as we wake or we oversleep and have to rush off to an appointment! Suddenly our strategies meant to help us, just serve to shame us or discourage us.

The purpose of any spiritual discipline should be greater intimacy with Jesus. When we start emphasizing the way(s)/means to that intimacy we’ll start behaving as if all is lost and believing we’re not going to reach the ends unless we’re a slave to the means. The helpful truth is that choosing to turn to God when my day is not going in the way I planned often brings me closer to him than a smooth morning which goes as I planned.

So, I didn’t turn around for the FitBit. I took another deep breath, continued listening to an inspiring podcast, continued enjoying the blooming trees of Spring, and lo and behold, the spiritual and physical endorphins came to the rescue! The weather even cooperated by sprinkling a cooling mist on me as I explored new neighborhoods.

I’d like to stay aware when help is making me helpless.

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21

Fasting from Apathy (It’s about You. Not Those Who Work the System.)

It’s dangerously easy to fear myself into apathy. Recently, I participated in a conversation where we wondered if it was a good use of our time and resources to be helping those who may be “working the system”.  The goal of such a conversation can be noble enough: wanting the greatest chance for positive, life changing, impact. But in trying to rationalize the best ways to help those who are under the yoke of poverty and hunger we can rationalize away any pure acts of being the hands of Jesus. This can lead to apathy or even worse:  to playing God rather than obeying God.

Fasting is one of the Christian practices of the Lenten season. I am going through Ann Voskamp’s “40 Day Lent Devotional Journey”. The passage for Day 6 was Isaiah 58:6-10. I urge you to read it. It describes a true act of fasting is “to break every yoke”. It is to undo the straps of poverty: “share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house”.

I think it’s rather telling that if we fast from apathy in order to break the yokes on the poor, we get a lot of “THEN’s:

“THEN shall your light break forth like the dawn and your healing shall spring up speedily…THEN you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry and he will say, ‘Here I am.’…If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, THEN shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.”

I think the THEN’s reveal the poverty of spirit we are living in when we are not helping those who live in physical poverty.

That warning about pointing the finger had the power to point a finger right into my chest. If someone is “working the system” they have a hole in their soul that is deeper than the hole in their pocket. Who am I to define which kind of poverty is deserving of mercy? Who am I to decide that one yoke is heavier than another and therefore more or less worthy of my willingness to participate in breaking it?  And, when was it that I was given the power to read the hearts of men and women, and name their motivation?

Jesus came to preach good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives.  We are all poor, brokenhearted, captives with no room to point fingers.  As one who has been comforted and provided for, bestowed a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair – I get to offer this same wealth to those held captive by the yokes of poverty and brokenness.

And, THEN, as if Jesus hadn’t provide us with enough good things, we all receive those “THEN’s” listed in Isaiah 58:8-10.  Let’s not waste time fretting over being taken by those who supposedly are working the system.  That’s just gloomy musings.  It also may be a sign that you’re oblivious of the yokes that oppress you; yokes that are heavier than physical hunger.  Pour out yourself for the hungry and your gloom will be as the noonday.

Should I Stay, or Should I Go?

The Christian communities and denominations that I’ve been a part of have not put an emphasis on observing Lent in preparation for celebrating Easter.  Lent traditionally includes fasting, abstinence and penitence.  That sounds sacrificial but it may be that I have cheated myself by not participating in this custom.

One of the characteristics I admire in Mary, the mother of Jesus, is her staying power.  She was there at the cross enduring a pain only a mother could feel as she stayed and was witness to the torture and death of her child.   Another characteristic I admire is her trust in God at all costs; as displayed in her response when she found out she would be the mother of Jesus.  Certainly, the circumstances of her son’s life were not as she would have written them.  Her faith had staying power.

Staying with Jesus takes leaving your own agenda and taking up the cross.  Observing Lent can be a conscious choice to stay with Jesus and share in the cross.

I think we cheat ourselves and take Jesus lightly by making the time leading up to the celebration of Easter just another season of the year.  Easter is at risk of being recognized as just one special day rather than the joy filled answer to every day that led up to it and every day that has and will follow it.

I have the habit of looking at my calendar a lot.  I track time and I try to form it to my agenda.  My calendar is about planning, not believing; devising, not acknowledging; wondering, not hoping; going, not staying.

How would I be staying if I choose to observe Lent?  I’d be staying in the practice of repentance.  Staying in the reasons for the crucifixion of Jesus.  Staying in a place of remembrance; a place called promised hope.  Staying with what Jesus has done for me so I don’t get pulled to what my circumstances may do to me.

Our circumstances can pull us into striving or worrying or fear or anger or bitterness or any number of emotions and practices that suck the life out of us (and those around us).  Staying with Jesus opens our eyes to the hope we’ve been called to and the victory that has already been won on our behalf.  Staying gives us time to take in the abundance that’s been given to us and to cultivate gratitude.  Staying gives us opportunity to love Jesus more and makes us available to love others more.  And since love is why we were created and what we are called to, staying with Jesus in the practice of Lenten devotion, can give love staying power.

Forget the parked car analogy…”God can’t use a parked car” yah dee dah…  Lent may be the time to pull over, give the keys back to God and stay awhile.

 

More Snow! More Life!

It snowed last night and as I sit at Misha’s, a comfy coffee house in Old Town Alexandria, it has begun to snow again.  I’m so happy about the snow.  I played the tourist on my walk here by pulling out my phone to take photos.  That may be a tiny sign that I’m still new to the area.

I am approaching one year here (in 10 days to be exact).  I’ve passed a few road signs over this past year that prove I’ve been on this journey long enough to be changed.  I’m no longer cognizant of the details of the bedroom I wake up in each morning.  I don’t spend anytime thinking about what I need to get to furnish our condo.   I’ve got a routine for bringing shopping bags up from the garage and taking trash bags down to it.  When I walk to the grocery store I’m adept at knowing how much I can carry home.  I rarely get lost anymore.  I walk through familiar neighborhoods daily.   I don’t have to think about metro etiquette.  I can sight a tourist on the metro:  they’re making the same mistakes I made – they look confused by the metro maps; they don’t stand on the right on escalators to allow others to walk up the left side; they hold the rest of us up at the exit stalls.

Did you catch that?  I put myself in the group called “us”.

It was a no brainer that I’d have different opportunities here than I had in California.  High on the list is that I’m living 15 minutes from the capital of our country.  Our capital is gorgeous.  I’m interested in American history.  I enjoy museums.  I’m surrounded by sites that interest me.  I chose Alexandria to live in because it’s not comparable to a California suburb.  It’s highly walkable.  The architecture is entirely different.  It’s historic.  It is built along the Potomac river.  It’s a city with greater economic disparities than my old California suburb, more obvious needs, which make for greater opportunities to serve others.  I have not been surprised that life here is different.

Of course, there are still things that surprise me.  It’s actually more common place to meet a friend for coffee or lunch or a walk.  Somehow the busy city life is more conducive to friends getting together.  Maybe it’s because you have to fight for new friendships.  Maybe it’s because there are more transplants here.  Maybe it is because fewer women have family living nearby.

I’m also surprised by the many reminders of California that accost my eyes.  Yes, I know, accost is a rather dramatic word. I never realized that countless commercials are filmed at the beaches, in the hills, on the mountains, and across the deserts of California.  And for crying out loud (literally), did “La La Land” have to come out my first year away from California?  I know it showed California at its finest.  The smog, ugly inner city buildings, lack of trees and water, and crazy-mad congestion weren’t featured.  Even the scenes with traffic were glorified.  But California with its beauty, sun, sun and more sun, has been the setting of my story for all but this one year of my life.  Seeing it on small and large screens hits all kinds of nerves.  Oy!

Misha’s plays jazz in the background.  Right now my typing is accompanied by good ole Satchmo.  But the jazz isn’t taking me back to La La Land.  I’m right here in Virginia.  And it’s right that I’m here in Virginia.  Jesus keeps confirming that.  Even as I realize hopping on a plane to visit my parents isn’t as easily achieved as I desire.  Even when I miss family and California friends.  Even when I still sound like a foreigner.  (Did you know you’re not supposed to put the word “the” in front of a highway number?  For example, don’t say, “You take the 95 to get to Richmond”)?

On the day I moved here the Holy Spirit impressed on me that everything of worth has a cost and yet nothing is lost.  I’m so thankful for those words from Him.

The past year has brought about much gain.  God has shown me areas I’ve needed to grow in, repent from, and/or leave behind.  He’s also shown me purposes I needed to step into.  They were exposed by this move.  God has been giving me the more that he promises all of us.  The more only comes with my permission.  The more only comes when I keep letting go of control.  The more only comes when I ask God for eyes to see what He’s up to in my life and the lives of those I love.  The more only comes when I choose to get to know Him more and when I respond by loving Him more.

It has stopped snowing.  This newbie wants more snow.  More than snow, more than DC, more than Virginia, more than California, I want Jesus.  I want to recognize more fully what He has done for me and experience more fully the freedom He’s given me.  I want to thank Him more consistently by the way I live and the thoughts I think.

I want more.  I’m confident that I’m gonna get it, because with Jesus there are no dead ends.  There is always more around the corner.

A Bunch of Lovable Hypocrites

I’ve marched in 2 protest marches within 7 days.  If you’d ask me to sum up why I marched, I’d say to proclaim the worth and dignity of women.  Both marches gave me hope.  The Women’s March on Washington renewed my hope that people (masses of people, huddled together like sardines!) are offended by morally corrupt, disrespectful attitudes and bullying.  The March for Life renewed my hope that large numbers of people are not numb to the irony and tragedy of sacrificing the right to life for any other right.  Both marches renewed my hope that there are great numbers of people who believe our personal choices do affect our society.

One little girl that I met on the subway, as I made my way to the Women’s March, had made a sign that summed it all up, “Treat others the way you want to be treated”.

A lot of people who are against the Women’s March on Washington have argued that those of us who are offended by Trump’s moral short comings are hypocritically offensive ourselves.  I’ll admit there were some sketchy signs at the march.  And, Lord knows I didn’t agree with the politics of every person in that march.  However, I’ve never seen people squished together for such an extended time show such patience and consideration to one another. The predominant mood of the march was one of joy and love.  The joy radiated out of a belief that people of good will can make a difference.  The love radiated out of a conviction that all people are of enormous worth and deserving of respect.  This was not applied to the unborn, so after accepting there is no perfect forum of expression for me, I chose to also march in the March for Life.

My experience at the March for Life was similar to the march six days earlier.  There was camaraderie, respectfulness, joy and love. There were great signs.  There were a few not so great signs. There were people I politically aligned with.  There were people I do not politically align with.  There were vast numbers of people younger than me (in their teens and in their 20’s).  There was more singing than chanting.  No one chose to be vulgar.

There are a lot of people who would argue that the ProLifers at this march and in general, do not spend enough time considering the needs of the women who have unwanted pregnancies.  They believe that “so-called” ProLifers are only pro unborn and don’t care about life outside of the womb. What about the woman’s financial and emotional welfare?  What about the massive disruption to her life?  There are also a lot of people who are offended by ProLifers because of reasons that only apply to about 1% of all abortions.

It’s tempting to list my answers to the nay sayers of both marches.  But if I’ve learned anything over the past year, it is that very few of us are open to truly hearing arguments against our tenaciously held convictions.

What I am interested in exploring is the notion that hypocrisy is an immovable roadblock to the dream destination of unity among American citizens.  We all look through lenses, (life experiences, faith communities, personalities, families, town/city/state environments), that inform how we define truth.  Even if we do have an immense amount in common we still have huge differences on what is right for our country.  For instance, as a believer in Christ I have marked political disagreements with fellow Christ followers.

One thing all followers of Jesus believe is that we all fall short of the glory of God.  In other words, none of us are perfect.  We believe all of us make mistakes and none of us knows everything.  So, why do we think everyone at these marches had to be our definition of perfect in every way?  Why can’t we look at one another’s opinions having some measure of validity?  Why are we so prone to throw the hypocrite accusation at those with whom we disagree and therefore throw the baby out with the bath water?  What’s with our all or nothing self righteousness?

These marches have led to me making choices.  I’m choosing to say no to my anger, my judgmental attitudes, my hopelessness, my fear.  I’m choosing to accept the obvious:  we’re all a bunch of hypocrites.  And I’m choosing to acknowledge that the mass majority of us are good intentioned, lovable, hypocrites.  I’m choosing love.  This isn’t a once and for all choice.  It’s a choice I have to make with every newscast I watch, with every social media post I read, and with every thought I entertain.

In Matthew 7:1-2 Jesus says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  He’s not telling us we shouldn’t have an opinion or hold a conviction.  Heck, he gave Christians the authority “to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy”.  We’re meant to fight for truth.  But we better be clear about who the enemy is.  It is not the lovable or not-so-lovable hypocrites around us.  Nor the hypocrite that is us.

I will concede that some relationship are just not good for us.  When we’re trying to get a handle on not judging them but the relationship remains toxic because they can’t or won’t stop judging us, it might be time to kindly part ways.  We just can’t demand unity.

We can keep on marching!  Keep on marching for the cause of love!

Getting the Right Answer Takes Asking the Right Question

I’ve been asking the wrong question.  I wonder how often I miss out on getting clear direction from God because I’m wallowing in negativity and my whining is forming the wrong question?  Over the past week I’ve made myself all mopey because I wanted the Women’s March on Washington to be a protest against misogyny and disrespect toward other marginalized groups of people.  I discovered the agenda was wider than that and I fumed.  I fumed and I wrote an essay for my blog.  After fuming I began asking God if I should still go march.

Over the last 24 hours I’ve been turned off by my whining.  And, not so humbly, I’ve been fearing I’ve been turning others off with my whining.  This morning in the midst of repeating the question to Jesus, “Should I walk in this march?”, I stopped short and practically shouted, “Am I asking the wrong question?!”  His answer to me was, “Yes, you’re asking the wrong question.”

So then the question became, “What should I be asking?”.  I quickly realized the question I needed to be asking.  “What am I going to do with my disappointment?”  My disappointment is not just over the agenda of the organizers of this march.  My disappointment is over what has led up to me wanting to have a march I could participate in.  My disappointment is really plural:  disappointments.

President Obama said something in his last press conference that really convicted me.  I believe God used it to nudge me into realizing I’ve been asking the wrong question.  When the president was asked how his daughters reacted to the election results he said, in part, “my daughters are not mopers”.  I don’t know that in general I’d define myself as a chronic moper.  But yikes, moping is a common temptation for me.  By the grace of the Holy Spirit I’m able to fight it for the most part, but the temptation visits me frequently in hopes of taking me down. And I succumbed to it over the last couple of days.

I struggle with my memory.  After the primary election God showed me in many ways, including the preaching of my pastor, conversations with friends and through blogs I read, that my response to my disappointment needed to be love.  Love in action.  Protest has its place but protest isn’t going to strengthen my heart for life here on earth. Love will.  I forgot to let this comfort me in my disappointment over The Women’s March on Washington.

Over the last few months of 2016 I purposed to do my part to expand love.  1 Peter 4:8  “Above, all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins”.  I choose to remember that now.  Yes, rightly, a heart still grieves that the world is not what it was meant to be.  A heart still grieves bullying, injustice, and unkindness.  And we are called to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.

The answer for the question God gave me today, “What am I going to do with my disappointment?”, is the same for the question “What am I going to do with my grief?”  It’s the ultimate balm.  It’s what Jesus said is the greatest commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”  And the second greatest he said is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

That’s not an ethereal answer.  It is substantial.  It can soothe my soul and move me into action.  I’ve got opportunities to love by helping feed the hungry on Wednesdays at my church, reaching out to friends going through tough circumstances, writing notes to a friend who is terminally ill, praying without ceasing, showing interest in the checker at the grocery store, sharing a joke with the parking attendant who spends his days in the bowels of a parking garage, etc., etc.!

Lord, help me to remember to ask, “What should I be asking?”  That is one powerfully healing and life giving question!

A Message for the Organizers of the Women’s March on Washington: How ‘Bout Respect for ALL Women?

When I first got wind of the Women’s March on Washington I thought it might be a positive, healthy outlet for me.  I’ve been disgusted by the language used as our president-elect campaigned for what ironically has been called the bully pulpit.  I’ve been heart broken by the sexual violence suffered by some of the women I love.  I’ve been outraged by the inequities within our criminal justice system.  I’ve felt fear for marginalized groups of people in our society.

My initial impression of the march was that women and men were coming together to protest disrespect shown toward women and others who feel marginalized. I can say YES to that!

I wanted to believe that all the sad divisiveness of the past year had risen up a movement to bring women of different backgrounds, political beliefs and faiths together, with common goals of respect, peace, dignity and a desire to build bridges.

My daughter and some of her friends plan to march and I was thrilled that they have this forum to display their power as women and voice their right to respect.  “Why not me?”, I thought, “I need an outlet too and I want to show solidarity”.  However, as a 58 year old woman I’m sorely aware that for decades, major women’s groups have a track record of speaking on behalf of all women with the arrogant assumption that all women have the exact same beliefs.

The Women’s March on Washington is billed as a march for all women no matter who you voted for, no matter your color, no matter your religion…no matter.

So I got on the website for the Women’s March and read the organizers “Unity Principles” and realized, sadly, this is not a march for ALL women. There is one “matter”.  I am a Pro Life woman and there is no room in these “unity principles” for respecting my right to my values.  My Civil Rights (as written in these principles), including “freedom to worship without fear…freedom of speech…protections for all citizens regardless of race, gender, age or disability” have a proviso:  rights and respect don’t apply to women like me – women who don’t want their government involved in “affordable abortion”.

I’m wondering how this jives with the Catholic immigrant women, the Muslim women and the black Christian women this march purports to be standing up for?

No wonder our public discourse has become so angry, rude and contemptuous.  The very citizens who organize a march that ostensibly has a mission and vision to “stand together…recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country,” isn’t really open to the diversity of women’s beliefs.

The mission to “stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us” falls flat to me when “all”  is not “all”.

Can’t we listen to President Obama this once? “Understand, democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders argued. They quarreled. Eventually they compromised. They expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity — the idea that for all our outward differences, we’re all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.”

I long for women to accept that we are not all alike in every value and opinion but we do need to have “a basic sense of solidarity”.  We are all in this together.  We will rise or fall as one.

I did not want to march for policies or politics.  I wanted to march for human dignity and solidarity.   But with the agenda set out by these organizers, if I still march I’ll be marching with a sign that says:

RESPECT FOR ALL WOMAN

INCLUDING

PRO-LIFERS