Where are all the Pro-Life Protestors?

If you were raised in the evangelical church in the 90’s and early aughts you heard a lot about innocent child life. You heard a lot about the child not being punished for the sins of the parents. You heard a lot about how everyone had a right to life.

I still identify as pro-life. I probably wouldn’t picket in front of an abortion clinic and I think the pro-life folks should be all in on contraception, so you know I will never be their poster-girl. I think the issue is complicated and should center all the people. But I found another place where all of these arguments go, a place where we can all agree on them.

There is right now, as I type this a child who is dying because we are worried about the “sins” of his father. A.J. Burgess needs a kidney. His dad is a perfect match. This seems like a pretty easy solution except the father, Anthony Dickerson was a prisoner. The hospital wants to wait three months. They want to make sure Anthony Dickerson is in good standing with the parole board before he is allowed to donate a kidney to save the life of his child.

We don’t know if A.J. Burgess has three months. We know he needs a kidney now. We know he has one available. Where are the pro-life protestors advocating for this child? Where are the people demanding that a child not be punished for their parents sins? Where are the people crying out that A.J. Burgess have a right to his own life?

I think one of the most important things the church has to tell the world is that all life is beautiful. We were all born in the image of God. We all deserve to live. I absolutely believe this. I know there are a lot of things the church disagrees on but surely the life of A.J. Burgess is a place for us to meet.

If you are local: Thursday November 2nd, 2018 we are meeting at Asbury Circle on Emory’s campus at 12:05pm walking 10 minutes to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta on Clifton Rd. We will likely pray and sing on the way and then return to the Candler building for class before 1:00pm

From anywhere: Call this number. Leave feed back. Let the people who are in charge know that their actions are immoral. 404-778-7777

Where are all the pro-life protestors? I am praying it is simply they do not know. Now, you know.

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Birthday Musings:

Today I turned 34. My youngest daughter remarked that they HAD to be nice to me because it was my birthday and I am too old to go to school and my oldest stood aghast. Priscilla! It isn’t nice to call people o-l-d. Apparently 34 is the bright line for being o-l-d. I will take it. I think for me my thirties is when I realized that very many things I thought of as flaws are ACTUALLY features. But for sure the best present I have given myself is prozac. That probably should have happened in the late 20s.

I like what I like. I have written here and here and here about learning to let the soft animal of my body love what it loves. I am a notoriously picky gift getter, and also I love getting presents. I have an Amazon wish list I don’t feel bad about that anymore. It is okay to like what you like. (Here it is because I do not think I am the only one who is DEEPLY curious about people’s wish lists. I love looking at them.)

And on the note of liking what you like,  I say I listen to anything and don’t have any musical tastes but if I am choosing music for myself on Amazon streaming I always, ALWAYS, pick a soundtrack to a broadway show. Now that I am thinking about it, I did this in High school and Middle school but was embarrassed about it. I stopped being embarrassed about it a few months ago. Thank you Hamilton for making this habit of mine semi socially acceptable. My kids also now know all the words to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor dream coat AND Dear Evan Hansen. We are working on Bring It On next. Judge your mom. I like what I like.

I love a good cheeseburger. Like, I really love a good cheeseburger. Medium rare. And I am serving nachos at my house for birthday dinner. If you want to take me to a fancy dinner I will revel in it, but I also love just plain great bar food. That is okay too.

I laugh really really loud, and I talk too much, and I love champagne with anything and for pretty much any reason. I have too many balls in the air (podcast! blog! book deal dreams! seminary! speaking! consulting!) and I am finally willing to own up to the fact that I do that because I like it that way. I like doing all of those things.

And mostly all this space I have given myself to be me, has been a gift because it gives me so much more space to see you, really see you. I see the ways my friends are amazing at things that I am not, that their critical eye, their attention to detail, their slow to speak up until they have heard and carefully considered all the things, their ability to bring the energy down (not up) are features. They are beautiful amazing features, not flaws.

Today my friend gave me such a gift in the compliment that I call myself good, and I do, and that has been hard fought. I thought on the other end of that battle I would be LESS inclined to call others good, but instead I find there is so much more. I am 34 and the best (and apparently o-l-d hahahaha) and YOU are too, you are the best too. Those things that build your youishness, those are features. Not flaws.

Why I’m not using the word LIT (even though it is a great word).

I am at SheLoves magazine writing about cultural appropriation and learning to police myself. That part is hard. 

Hi. My name is Abby and I am super white. Also, I really like to describe things as “lit.” At least I did, until I started thinking about it more critically, and now I don’t. A lot of people think it’s just a silly word, but I’m beginning to think my love of the word “lit” is endemic of something more problematic than a 34-year-old using the language of a 16-year-old.

I was raised in the Midwest and went to a predominantly white church, high school, and college. I knew I was white, but kind of thought of my whiteness as the neutral. I didn’t have to think about it because I didn’t have to. Everything around me was built for me, until it wasn’t.

I moved to Atlanta and began teaching at a predominantly black school. Suddenly, my whiteness became very obvious. As my students liked to point out, I talked like a white girl. I dressed like a white girl. I said things that I thought were totally “normal” that put my students into giggle fits simply because “Ms. Norman you are sooooo white.” I know it seems like it shouldn’t be a revelation with my white name, parents, experiences, and family. But it didn’t really occur to me that there were experiences that were completely different than mine. I figured that out the hard way, but I learned.

you can read the rest here.

What are we waiting for?

I wish I could give you a better explanation, but the Holy Spirit told me to be friends with Tanya Marlow. I may have cyber-stalked her a little bit until she became my friend. I am not even sorry about it. Not even a little.

I don’t quite know how to explain my relationship with Tanya. We have never met in person, but she knows me, really knows me and I her. We get each other. We are both two’s on the enneagram (though we have different wings) and just generally think in similar ways. A lot of our stories are the same too, and we are both figuring out how to tell them.

Here is the bizarre piece of the way our puzzles do and do not match up. We suffer(ed) from the same kind of illness. We have both been talked to like we are idiots by doctors and told to just pretend we are better until we are better by people who are unqualified to tell us anything. We both know what it is like to become mysteriously ill and watch all our life plans veer into the unknown, and we both know what it is like to beg God for a healing for years and year only to be met with radio silence.

But this is where our stories diverge. I was healed 13 years after I got sick, and Tanya is still waiting for healing. I struggled through pain and exhaustion, and she literally cannot get out of her bed or her home most days. I got better. Tanya is still waiting.

If I am 100 percent honest I have not yet sat and read through the book Tanya Marlow has written about waiting. I am in seminary and it just is a terrible time for me to read anything that no one is going to test me on eventually, but what is also true is I do not have to read this book to recommend it.

Tanya knows what it is like to be sliced through by people who are wielding the Bible like a samurai sword when they should be carefully cutting like a scalpel. She hasn’t just found the easy answers people like to give theoretically unsatisfying, but personally heart braking and brutal. She knows first hand there are no easy answers and she isn’t about to give anyone any. She knows better than most of us how those answers may go down easy, but can leave us sicker than when we started.

Tanya wrote a book about waiting while she is still in the thick of it. She wrote about God breaking your heart with the silence, while she is believing the story of my own healing and deciding if she has the energy today to hope for her own. Sometimes that answer is no, and you know what? That is okay.

All too often christian books are only written from the perspective of the healed, the better, the let me tell you about my story now that I am at the end. I think that does us a real disservice. I haven’t read this book but I don’t have to. I know Tanya. I know how she has been hurt by easy answers. I know how she is so achingly careful about never ever doing this to anyone else.

I get into a surprising number of conversations with women with the same kind of thing I had. I wish I had more answers for them. I wish there were a way to explain my own healing besides shrugging my shoulders and saying it is miraculous. It was, it is, I don’t know how to explain it. God is good, and also Tanya isn’t healed and God is good and that makes no sense to me. I am so very grateful that she is writing in the midst of the waiting and not in the neat and perfect ending we all want.

If you are longing for something and God does not seem to be hearing you, I am praying God finally breaks through. Until then, there is company in the waiting.

You can buy those who wait right here. 

You probably don’t know, you know an abuser.

I know it is really hard to believe, but right now you probably know someone who is abusing his wife, his girlfriend, his assistant, his kid’s teacher or babysitter and you probably have no idea. I know you don’t want to believe it, I didn’t want to believe it either.

But there it is. The statistics on domestic violence don’t lie and are probably under reported. The fact is, you may not know that you are currently in relationship in some way with a survivor.

When Harvey Weinstein was outed last week as an abusive man who sexually assaulted women he had a lot of power over, everyone was wondering how this could go on for so long. Everyone wanted to know who did know and who didn’t know, and mostly they wanted to know, how could people not know?

I am sure there were many, many people who DID know and kept quiet. I am sure the reasons are complicated, and a few years ago I would have judged them. I would have written plainly on this blog that there is right and there is wrong and if you see something you should say something, shout it from the rooftops even. I hope that more often than not we speak up, but I just realize that it may be more complicated than we want it to be.

However, when I hear people say that they cannot believe that people close to this man didn’t know, I think they are kidding themselves. We want to believe that abusive men are over there. They are in Hollywood, have more power than our circles have access to, they are over there not in contact with me. If that is the case then abusive men and how to hold them accountable never has to be my problem. This simply isn’t true.

The first time someone tried to tell me about her abusive husband I told her I thought she should stay, work it out, try again. I knew she was unhappy, but come on aren’t there rough patches in everyone’s marriage? My mind was changed the day she asked for a separation in order to reconcile. His reaction made it clear that he did not see her as a whole person; he thought of her as a piece of property that he was entitled to control.

I started reading more about domestic abuse, emotional abuse. I started understanding the difference between a marriage that was having a rough patch, and a husband that believed that he was allowed to do whatever he wants. I began to understand that the reason I hadn’t seen it before is because the abusive men didn’t want me to see it.

A year later a woman I thought of as a dear friend told me all the things that happened behind closed doors. I had thought of her as a confidant, I had thought I really knew her, knew her marriage, knew her husband. I am sure when it comes to marriage, you only know what they want you to know. And that feels really terrifying.

You want to believe that abuse happens outside of your circles. You want to believe that you would know if someone you loved was being abused. You want to believe that you know who is a good guy and who is not and that knowledge will protect you and the people you love. You want to believe if you are smart enough and good enough and capable enough you won’t be abused or assaulted. You desperately want to believe if you just raise daughters who are smart, and loud, and free enough they will be protected.

I understand why you would want to believe those things. They aren’t true and they aren’t protecting you. Of course other people did not know that Harvey Weinstein was sexually assaulting women, he didn’t want them to know. He likely did things, on purpose, that protected him from true accusations. People who are invested in manipulating their power make sure they get to keep it.

You probably don’t know that you know an abuser. When their victims speak out, I pray that we hear them.