Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pouring My Heart Out (about Same-Sex Marriage)

Last night, in New Zealand, the same-sex marriage bill passed its third and final reading. This means that as of August this year, the legal definition of marriage will change to allow gay and lesbian couples to get married. Needless to say, in the past year there has been a lot of heated debate around the subject. It seemed that everyone everywhere was talking about their views on whether or not the bill should pass. And last night my Facebook newsfeed exploded, as my friends in both camps expressed their joy or their distress at the outcome.

For the most part, I kept quiet on the subject, thinking it was most likely inevitable that it would go through, and that I didn’t feel strongly enough about it either way to really take a stand anyway. To me, there were bigger and more important issues to concern myself with.

When the bill passed its second reading, I felt stirred by the massive amount of discussion going on about it. It became clear that as a mother, and as a Christian woman, my children would be waiting to see where I stood, and how I would respond. So I prayed. I prayed a lot. And as I did, I read, and I talked. I read my bible, and I read essays, articles, blogs and pages and pages of comments and discussions people were having on Facebook. I talked with friends and family who had views on both sides of the debate. It didn’t take long for me to find where I stood, as it seemed there were snippets of conversations and articles that jumped out at me as though highlighted by God himself.

What I saw so clearly in all of this, was that there seemed to be two camps. Those pushing for “equality” and declaring the need to “move forward” and legalise same sex marriages, and those against it, mostly Christians quoting scriptures and declaring the move a sinful act that was “anti-family” and “cultural vandalism”.  Both camps expressed a lot of anger, even hatred, towards the other. Both camps made a lot of assumptions about the other’s mindset. Both camps were extremely passionate about their belief in what was “right”.

Then there were the messages that really stood out to me – those expressed by people who lived homosexual lifestyles. Their message, whether read between the lines of what they were saying or stated outright, was common and strong and very, very clear. They felt hated and judged by the church.  They had heard what Christians had been saying about their lifestyles, and it hurt. Even those of us who choose to be kind by saying it is the sin, and not the sinner that God is against (“I’m not saying God hates you or other gay people, it’s the sin of homosexuality that he hates...”) have caused these people pain. They see their sexuality as a big part of their identity, and so they believe we hate who they are. The real tragedy is not that same-sex marriage has been legalised, but that there are people within our reach who have experienced years and years of hatred and judgement from the church, when what they should have experienced was Christ.

The first time I walked into a church I was an unmarried teenage mother. That was my sin. I know only too well how it feels to walk in seeking answers to something bigger than yourself and to find judgement. Nobody talked to me, though a lot of people looked my way. I saw it all on their faces, and I don’t blame them really. I know what I must have looked like. The only thing worse than the looks I would get, was the terrible hurt of not being seen at all. As though I was somehow so beneath them that I didn’t even come into their radar. Eventually one girl did talk to me, and though I knew it was forced and we didn’t have anything in common, I clung to her. Because I needed to feel accepted, despite my sin, and something in the music and the atmosphere told me that God was real and that when he looked at me he didn’t see my youth, or my social status, or the state of my finances, or even the fact that I had being sleeping with my boyfriend and we’d had a baby. Somehow I felt that despite the indifference of the people, God saw me, and he loved me.

As I sat and read, and watched and listened to the hearts and words of gay and lesbian people in New Zealand I could relate somewhat to their hurt. When I saw their pain, suddenly my views on homosexuality and same-sex marriage became less important than listening to their views and their experiences. I knew exactly how I would respond, and what I would choose to pass onto my children, who will in a big way, whether I like it or not, become the adults I shape them into. On the subject of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, I will allow my children to make up their own minds. Showing love and respect for others is an expectation. That is what I will pass on.

I do not feel any distress at the passing of this new law. I feel distress at the hurtful things that have been said and done, and at the absolute loneliness and isolation that people are living in. I feel sad that these people feel their freedom has now come, through the law, and not through Jesus Christ.

What have we done?

I have been accused of diluting the message of the gospel. I have been accused of jumping on the latest bandwagon, of going with the popular trend, instead of what is right in the eyes of God. I have been told I lack faith, or lack strength to stand up for God’s word, that I need to read my bible properly. Well, I have no time for those accusations, nor do I feel the need to address them. I want to address their pain instead, and show them there is a God who loves them – not in spite of, but because of who they are.

 I remember a day, when I was seventeen, standing in the Square waiting for a bus. I remember it so well that I even remember what I was wearing – a tattered black woollen jersey stretched over my very pregnant belly. A woman came up to me and said very loudly “I need to tell you that Jesus loves you...ok?” and she smiled a big smile and walked away, pretty satisfied with her brave efforts. I could imagine her going off to one of her coffee groups later that week and “casually” slipping into a conversation her story about the poor young pregnant Maori girl in the Square, and how she told her about Jesus’ love.  I know she meant well. I also know that what she felt was pity, not love, and that she clung to the belief that if only I knew Jesus, He would fix me, and then I would look more like her.

I have four very strong-willed children. Believe me; sometimes I have whole days when I am gritting my teeth in frustration. But when I look at them, I know that I don’t love them in spite of their behaviour. I completely love them because of the amazing people that they are. I believe it is the same when God looks at all of us, and we need to focus a whole lot more on sharing that with others, instead of sharing condemnation. 

Stand up for what you believe is right. But find a way to do it without tearing a person’s world apart and making God look like something He is not.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Recovery

So I missed the Proud Mama linky on Saturday...sorry about that. It was a tough week.

My mother was in hospital with pancreatitis. She deteriorated quite quickly, and then developed pneumonia, and for a few looooong days we waited for updates every hour, waiting to find out whether we would have to travel up to see her and say our goodbyes. It was that bad.

My sisters, who live closer but still a few hours away, went to see her on the weekend. When she heard my niece make a sound, she sat up for the first time all week, and she's been slowly improving since then. About half an hour ago my sister txt me to say that mum is sitting up in a chair and she could talk to her on the phone. I'm amazed. We really thought she might die just a few days ago.


It just goes to show, we were not designed to live alone. We are built for relationships. We function well only with love and support from others.

I am a writer. I like my own company. I spend as much time as possible alone, and often resent situations where I am forced to be in the company of others for too long. I struggle with church sometimes because it requires effort on my part to interact with other human beings. I chose to study by distance learning so I could do it alone at home.

But I know I'm supposed to reach out to others, and let others in. And hearing how much my mother has improved in the last couple of days, it just goes to show that just simply having people around, who love you and want to see you do well, is vital to our own survival. To be healthy, we need to be loved and cared for, no matter how old we are or how far we've come.

The Bible has over 200 verses relating to fellowship.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 - encourage one another and build each other up

Galatians 6:2 - bear one another's burdens

Hebrews 10:24-25 - And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another


God wants us to know how important it is to be in relationship with others. To love and be loved. To be part of a family, whatever that looks like, that will be by your side when you are not ok.

This is why The Sisterhood works, why it grew from a small idea to a huge gathering of women in a matter of weeks. It's why when the earthquakes shook Christchurch the number of people attending church services increased. It's why Social Media is so popular, why it's almost necessary to have your own Facebook or Twitter account, if not both, in order to stay in touch.


I'm rambling a bit. I'm blown away with relief, after spending days on edge, wondering if she would make it or not. And then the sight and sound of her six month old grand-daughter; the touch of a hand; the knowing that there are people who loved her to enough to sit by her side as she drifted in and out of consciousness - somehow was enough to bring her back to health.

She still has a way to go in her recovery. But I'm a lot less worried, I no longer doubt whether or not she'll make it to the end of today. I'm sure she'll recover, and might even be back home by the weekend. (Fingers crossed.)


I still have a way to go too. I need to practice friendship, letting others in, before I can come to a place where I'm not forcing myself to be around people. It is natural, apparently, to want to be connected to people, to build each other up and to be built up. But for me, so often, it doesn't feel natural. I need to get back to living the way I was designed to live. And if I reflect, even for a moment, on these past five years since we moved down here, away from all our friends and family, and on how isolated and alone we have felt since making the move, I know that it is all true. If I am to survive, if I am to be completely healthy again, I have my own recovery to do.

xo

Monday, February 4, 2013

To Blog or not to Blog...?


I keep thinking about this blog, and about how much has happened that I could have been posting about, but I haven't been. It felt good to take a break. To just feel sad for a while, and strangely, it felt good not to explore those feelings through writing about them. To just carry on being, and crying, and laughing, and just going with the flow.

For a while I toyed with the idea of closing down this blog. I still am, I think. Not sure if it's really turning out to be anything at all, but for now, here I am.

Christmas was quiet, and lovely, and hot. 

New Year's was loud, and chaotic and fun, with my sisters and their families visiting for the week.

And now, here we are, a month into 2013, and back into the school/work routine. It's gone all quiet again.

I feel like I'm waiting for something to happen. Like everything in life is still in planning stage. The kids are growing, and I get hints now and then at what they might become. Hubby is busy working most of the time, launching a new prisoner reintegration service in town,.

My days are filled with washing and dishes and vacuuming and grocery shopping and playing toddler games and running to school and back. It's all terribly exciting.

I am sitting here, staring blankly at the screen now. I literally have nothing left to say. But it feels ok to just post nothing, just to let you all know that I am still here (somewhere). And to those of you who have sent me messages and emails in my absence, thankyou, your love was so beautifully felt, even if I didn't always respond at the time.

xo

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

All Babies Bring Joy

It's been one month since you left us.
One month since my body finally let go of you, after clinging to you for two weeks after your heart had stopped. {I didn't want to give you up without a fight, my love.}

We were robbed of any memories to speak of.
What I wouldn't give to talk about the colour of your hair, to have felt it, soft under my palm, as I smoothed it back from your forehead. Or the curl of your lips as you slumbered, tiny in my arms. These things are only imagined. {How beautifully cruel the imagination can be, so vivid and detailed.}

I don't want to speak of you as if all you were was a medical condition. I don't want to tell people the story of how you left us, how I lay on my bathroom floor, bleeding and semi-conscious, my body in shock from losing too much blood too fast, until I was rushed to hospital.

The imagined memories are so much more lovely than the real ones.

Except...you didn't exist in my imagination. You were really here, inside me, and I felt you there. And though it was too, too brief, your time here was complete. You had already become part of our family, we had talked about you, made plans for you, changed things to make room for you. One month has passed, and I'm still finding little reminders, stinging reminders, that you lived. A bag of clothes as I'm putting away washing; a brochure for car seats as I'm clearing out my bag; a hand-written list as I'm searching for stickers.  And though these little reminders stop me in my tracks, though they sting like a sudden, unexpected slap, they are the evidence of a life lived here with us, and for that I am thankful. Your life was not lived wholly tucked away, but spread out through this house and through our lives, no different from your brothers and sisters, only shorter.

All babies bring joy to families who love them, no matter how brief their life is, and you were no exception. You brought joy through the plans we had for you, and perhaps my greatest joy is that one month on from your passing, I miss you. Only someone who had known you could have that terrible joy.

We will be reunited someday, all of us together finally, and it comforts me to know that for you, and for your sister who went before you, now in a place that exists outside of Time, that reunion will happen in the twinkling of an eye. For you, there is no waiting, only peace and love and togetherness. You exist in a place where you have already felt the warmth of your Daddy's smile, the tenderness of my kiss on your beautiful face, and known the joy of standing with your brothers and sisters and laughing and shouting and holding hands.

One day I too will know the feel of your hand in mine.
Until then, I will think of you and smile, miss you and treasure the imprint of you on my heart and on my life.


Friday, October 5, 2012

I already loved you

I had a scan this morning. A scan I had been dreading for the past few days, although I didn't know why.

I guess I did know, deep down. I knew something anyway. I had a feeling something had changed.

I saw my baby, tiny and adorable...

and lifeless.

There was no heartbeat.

I stared at the screen, just stared and stared. I wanted to memorize his shape, burn that picture into my memory. Because I already loved you.

Too bad I already loved you.





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