Here’s the thing friends, I really wanted to be there, at the Women’s March in Los Angeles. I heard about it from a dear friend a few weeks ago and then found the website to learn more:
“We stand together in solidarity for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families…” yes, of course
“…recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.” Yes, and amen!
“…We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.” Again, yes! I could not agree more.
“The Women’s March is a celebration of human rights…We call on all defenders of human rights to join us.” I’m in!
Josh was out of town so I got a babysitter set up, laid out my “Shout Their Worth” tee and opened my computer to make sure I knew where I was headed the next day. Then I started digging around. One site lead to another and one particular discovery prompted me to, sadly and with a heavy heart, bow out.
I texted my girlfriends who I was planning on Marching with and told them I would not be able to go.
Before I go into the reasons of why, please hear me say, I cast zero judgement on all the beautiful souls who attended The March. My convictions are not your convictions. I have only love and respect for you, please as you read on, I ask for the same in return.
What I learned in all my digging around the internet is yesterday’s Women’s March made room for every kind of person, while excluding direct partnerships with pro-life feminist groups. I am not saying this to put anybody down, I am simply saying this because it was an important enough reason for me to be unable to proudly hold a sign and march.
The thing is, I am very much pro-life.
I knew the Women’s March had a strong pro-choice piece to it. But I was okay with that. By this time of my life I can comfortably sit uncomfortably with people who I strongly disagree with and deeply love.
And I want to also say I am pro-life in every since of the word. A lot of people I know who are adamantly pro-life really seem to be anti-abortion. There is so much more to being pro-life than simply not having an abortion and feeling negatively towards it. I believe if we are to love and fight for unborn children we must love and fight for the women who have the choice to give them life or not. Don’t get me wrong here, I am anti-abortion, but you will never find me standing outside an abortion clinic picketing nor offering anything less than total love and grace for anyone who has had an abortion or believes it is their right to do so. And while we’re on the topic, I just have to say, dear followers of Jesus, if we expanded our pro-life convictions and beliefs beyond being anti-abortion by simply loving the already born children who are suffering at the hands of a broken system, we would radically change our culture and this world. Need I remind you, if every church in the united states committed to caring for ONE child in the foster care system, there would be no foster care children in the system any longer…pro-life friends…pro-life. It is so much more than being anti-abortion.
I believe being pro-life also means being pro-broken and hurting people (I am not for people being broken and hurting rather I will support and love and stand with/for people who are broken and hurting). In all the back and forth on social media the past 24 hours, I’ve heard a lot of people question why a March at all. Saying things like, “I’m a women and I’m treated fairly, if not better than men at my place of work.” Or “women have it better now than ever before.” Here’s the thing, we cannot let our own reality and experiences negate the reality and experiences of others. That’s not how it works. I’ve discovered people usually don’t start making a fuss until they find themselves in the resistance. And most people do all they can to progress and live a full and joy filled life in a peaceful manner…until they feel their basic human rights are at stake and thus find the need to resist. This may not be your reality, you may not understand it, but that is not a reason to stop listening to the voices gathering to try to be heard. People are feeling broken and hurt. And so we march.
This concept was foreign to me before I had Macy, then Truly, then August. I sat comfortably in the center of my many circles of majority. I’m ashamed to say so now, but so often I scoffed, even if only inwardly, when the people I didn’t understand, whose worlds were so different than mine, felt the need to resist and “make a fuss”.
Then one day I walked my daughter into a school where she was viewed as less worthy than her non-chromosomally enhanced counterparts. And I called a meeting to be sure she would be given the opportunities she deserved, and with each “no we can’t” or “but she isn’t_______” I found myself backed further and further into a corner and the only thing the peacemaker in me knew how to do was resist. I came out swinging because backing down and letting things be as they are for my children is not an option. The system has left me with no other choice.
For the first time in my life I recognized that an entire people group, starting with my daughter, would continue to suffer if I did not come out swinging. It was resistance or nothing at all. And so we March.
Then God chooses me, gifts me, gives me the honor, to raise up a little girl with chocolate brown skin, forcing me to step even further out of the only circles I had known and into the fringes of a world I had never been a part of before. And to sit there, with my black brothers and sisters and shut my mouth so I could listen, really listen, and hear their stories and see their realities with my own eyes.
Uncomfortable continuing to be my new normal.
And I watch as the world around us continues to push these men and women, these fathers and mothers and sons and daughters and pastors and doctors and professors and musicians and artists further into the corners and I begin to see the situation from a different lens and begin to understand, in a way I would not have before entering their world, why they come out swinging shouting, “Black Lives Matter”. (Which can we clear up once and for all, never for one second means others’ lives don’t or Blue lives don’t.) Because yes my friends, yes my sweet Truly Star, black lives matter so very much, your life matters so very much. And so we March.
And I look at my brave friends on the front lines of the refugee crisis. I hear story after story of women and men just like Josh and me, violently forced from the only life they’ve ever known, never to return. I’m haunted by one in particular. The story of a mother of four, violently forced from the only home she’s ever known. On her journey as she seeks to find safe refuge for her and her four small children, she ends up standing in a train so packed with broken, searching, and hurting people she had to keep her hand by her small daughter’s nose to make sure she didn’t suffocate and stop breathing. And I close my eyes and imagine I am her and the child is Macyn and I weep, and I resist a world in which a refugee is shut out and left without a seat at the table. And so we March.
And I say to my daughters and everyone who put their feet on the pavement yesterday, “dear women, I love you regardless of and because of your race, ethnicity, sexuality, county of origin.” Please understand my convictions cut me deep and I made a choice, and I stayed home.
The thing is, the strongest conviction on my life right now, is resisting a society in which my children with Down syndrome are viewed as less valuable, less worthy of life. Currently in our world it is expected that a pregnant mother be given a certain blood test in order to rule out Down syndrome or if tested positive, terminate the pregnancy. Aborting children with Down syndrome is the main purpose of this test. And it has become a cultural norm.
Aborting children with Down syndrome, solely because of their Down syndrome, has become a cultural norm.
This is not an issue of pro-choice, this is modern day eugenics.
So while I wanted to march for so much of what other’s marched for yesterday, I made the decision to stay home for I could not march for that.
But I also cannot stay silent for silence is too dangerous an option.
I know when it comes to seeing the worth of my children with Down syndrome, as reflected in the school system or in the eyes of so many people I meet, I want nothing more than for every parent at the school to SPEAK UP and join me in shouting the worth of my daughter. Not in spite of her Down syndrome, but because of it. To join me in telling the school system that although Macy may not be able to read and write like her peers she is every bit as worthy to learn alongside them. Yet I show up to IEP meeting after IEP meeting, alone. Me vs. a school system that continue to try and prove that Macy does not belong in a typical classroom with her peers.
Yes, my friends, I see first-hand how painful silence can be. So while my convictions kept me from placing my feet on the ground, I join you dear woman, as I put my pen to the paper.
To those who Marched, I join you in unity and in love and in hopes that while your Marching has not offended me, may my convictions to “March” with my pen to the paper not be found offensive to you.
I put my pen to the paper for my daughters as a symbol to let them know how important they are, how their voices are needed in this world. How they can pursue the desires God has placed in their hearts no matter their ability or race. How important it is to join arms with people who are different than us, to hear their stories, to share our own. To love, to extend grace, to love some more and to extend more grace.
I’ll end this by saying, we don’t need to agree with one another. It’s in the tensions of disagreement we see the most growth. What we need to do is try hard to hear one another. To really listen. To embrace each other and love each other in spite of, or maybe even because of our differences. To recognize there is always room for all of us at the table of Grace. I look forward to sharing a meal with you there.