Share the Rainbow

Typically, I shy away from giving my opinion on a variety of political and social issues. For one, I find that those who are more than eager to offer their opinions are doing so in such away that divides and hurts people (and I am looking at both sides of the aisle here). Second, I have more than enough to deal with in my own life before I can start picking apart the actions of others (for instance, today I could have fed an entire family in need on what I spent at Starbucks…hello, selfishness).

But, then there is this hashtag, #shoutyourabortion. And, it’s a thing. Like a real, trending thing. And, my heart has shattered and landed in my gut. And, I’ve realized that I just can’t be silent. You see, there was a time I didn’t think I could have children. Which was a relief, because I definitely didn’t want them. In fact, I faked being excited about having a kid up until the point I was pushing my daughter out.

nature-person-hands-girlMy first pregnancy wasn’t planned. Actually, many would label the pregnancy as an “irresponsible choice.” You know what is also an irresponsible choice? Calling it that (also, my Starbucks visit…see above). The only time I contemplated abortion was when I thought, “man, I wish there was a way I didn’t know this was a baby.” But, I did. From the moment I saw those 2 lines, I knew there was a baby. Not a group of cells. A baby. A child. A person. A life.

And, I chose to walk through an incredibly difficult period filled with judgment. Just a few of the not-so-quiet whispers behind my back (or sometimes straight to my face) I heard were as follows:

  1. “Wow! She should have been more careful.”
  2. “Her poor parents. They must be so ashamed.”
  3. “I bet she was trying to baby-trap him.” (only got this one from people who didn’t understand my independent streak)
  4. “A baby is the last thing she needs.”
  5. “That was irresponsible.”
  6. “That’s what you get for whoring around.”
  7. “Slut.”
  8. “Wow! That baby does NOT look like a preemie.” (in response to our daughter being born 6 months after we were married)

As you may have already guessed, most of these comments (for which I have come up with VERY, VERY harsh responses in my head) came from people who were active in the church. The very people who are supposed to be a beacon of God’s grace!! And, with every plunge of sworded-tongue, I was so glad that I knew without a shadow of a doubt that there was a baby. A child. A person. A life. Because if I hadn’t been sure, I might have been shamed into making a much different decision.

While my heart cries for every child we lose to abortion (I would, quite literally, take them all in if I were allowed…or if it were humanly feasible), I am absolutely disgusted by the way we, as Christians, treat women who are walking in this period of confusion and guilt. We have to change the way we see these pregnancies if there is ANY way to end abortion. We cannot shame away abortion (you would think The Scarlett Letter would have taught us this by now). But, we have been given two extremely powerful weapons in this fight: hope and grace. Hope and grace. Hope and grace. Hope and grace. Say that out loud as many times as it takes to sink in.

My daughter (the one I never thought I wanted) constantly makes me see things in a way I never have before. Recently, she has insisted that she is the My Little Pony character Rainbow Dash (she even has the glitter costume to prove it). And, I will admit, at first I was NOT on board with this obsession. My Little Pony!! Glitter Rainbows!! But, as she prances around, shouting “I LOVE RAINBOWS!!! Rainbows make me happy,” I am reminded that I, too, love rainbows. They symbolize the hope and grace I have in Christ. The hope and grace I am supposed to share with other. There is a promise and freedom in rainbows.

Today, as I was trying to figure out how to piece together all the feelings, I came across a note I wrote to my daughter about her name:

Dearest Lillian,

One day you will hear a famous quote by a man named William Shakespeare: “What’s in a name?” Your daddy and I took very special care in picking out yours. While you might not share our last name forever, you will carry around “Lillian Grace” your entire life. And, we hope you do it with pride.

Lillian means in Hebrew “My God is a vow.” You will learn the overwhelming truth in this statement over the hopefully many years you are here on earth. For God’s promises will not fail you, even where you fall short. And, trust me, you will fall short. But, don’t worry, you are not alone: every single human has failed at some point or another. And, it is when you do that you will understand the meaning of the word (and your middle name) Grace.

However, the meaning of the name Lillian is not the only reason that you have your first name. One of Mommy’s favorite verses is Luke 12:27. It says to “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” As you will soon learn, the overall context of this verse is telling us to worry about nothing; God has it under control. Mommy and Daddy will spend our lifetimes trying to teach you this, and you will spend yours learning to comprehend the magnanimity of this lesson.

Mommy and Daddy can’t wait to meet you, and we can’t wait to watch you grow up! We know that you are a wonderful blessing, and will teach us so much more than we can ever hope to teach you.

Love Always,

Mommy

So, there you go, friends. God’s promises will not fail us. His hope and grace will not fail us. Embrace this. And, share it. #sharetherainbow

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*I do feel it particularly important to add that we were also afforded grace by many individuals. And it was refreshing and greatly appreciated.

Helpful Self-Help

I don’t really like self-help books. Let me rearrange that sentence. I REALLY don’t like self-help books. Most of the time, they are filled with superficial fluff, and serve you only slightly better than watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy (my guilty pleasure). And, when they aren’t as shallow as kiddie pool, they seem to tee you up to feel like an epic failure. Notwithstanding my feelings on self-help books, I finally found one that I feel obliged to share.

When we first got married, someone gave me a copy of The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick. Of course, in my true self-help hating fashion, I put it away in Randal’s shed with the rest of the books that didn’t quite make the cut to fill precious bookshelf space (I own a lot of books). I stumbled upon this book when cleaning out part of the shed. And, in a moment when our marriage seemed to be filled with a little less than sunshine, butterflies, and puppies, I curiously opened it up.

This book is great for a few reasons. First, you only have to read 2-3 pages per day. Second, the 2-3 pages are actually filled with substance that makes you think a little deeper. Third, each day comes with a non-cheesy “dare” that makes you apply what you’ve read. The first three dares included refraining from saying anything negative to your spouse. That’s 72 hours of not complaining and not pointing out any flaws. And, since I am obviously 100% perfection all the time, he needs me to point out these flaws, right?! How else would he know what he needs to fix?

And, I have to admit, it was somehow a very hard and very easy 72 hours. It was hard because it made me consciously think about what was coming out of my mouth. And, let’s face it, even for relatively quiet females (like myself), it’s easy just to talk for the sake of talking. However, it was amazing how easily the void of small nit-picky comments were filled with actual, deep conversation. And jokes. I love to tell silly jokes.

One thing I noticed is that negative words don’t just pervade my marriage. Snide remarks often find my conversations as I dole out gossip in an attempt to “relate” to others. Or my frustration leads me to say things that I know cut down rather than build up.

So, I am challenging myself. For the next 72 hours, I will not say anything negative to or about anyone. Period. Instead, I will try to replace negative words with gracious ones (or silence, if I’m about to break). This may not seem like a very long time; however, if you are female, and are prone to conversing with others, you may quickly realize exactly how hard this could be. I mean, what do you actually talk about if you can’t gossip?