The Women’s March – A Different Perspective

Dad's mother and his best Father's Day gift ever, me.
Dad’s mother and his best Father’s Day gift ever, me.
There’s a lot of debate going on about The Women’s March, which has, to some degree, fueled the very harsh reactions to Donald Trump’s presidency. There’s the assumption that only Hillary Clinton supporters, or pro-choice people were lining those streets. That’s actually not true.

There’s one letter in particular circulating where a woman named Christy says, among other stuff,  that this march wasn’t hers because she is anti-abortion, and if all women made good decisions in their lives, like she did, they wouldn’t need this extreme form of birth control. Yikes.

After my last rant, I prayed that God would remind me how to write womens-marchcorrectly, and not fly off the handle like a ranting lunatic. Wisdom from above is always gentle and encourages peace between us, and clearly, I wasn’t being gentle or peaceful when I wrote those posts, and for that, I apologize. I’m going to strive to do better this time, even though again, this subject is one that hits close to home.

Dad, stop reading here. Seriously.

sad girlIn a recent study, it was found that one in three women are sexually molested by the time they reach adulthood. This is a conservative number because a lot of these kinds of victims don’t tell anyone. Often, the perpetrator is a close family member or friend of the family, and that kind of secret can threaten all kinds of things in a child’s life. I am that one in three. My stepfather molested me for years. I wrote about the experience here.

If you’ve never experienced this, it is hard for me to describe just how pervasive the wreckage in your life can be. It affects your self-esteem, your body images, your confidence in yourself, your understanding of the opposite sex, your understanding of what love should look like…literally everything about your life can be influenced by something like this.

For me, it made me hyper aware of everything, especially of men’s motivations. It takes me a long bird2time to trust any man, and I always have this little doubt resting in the back of my mind about their true motivations for wanting to be with me. It made me less self-confident, which in turn, made me doubt that I could make it in college, and thus, I dropped out. It made me feel like I wasn’t pretty, no matter what I was told, and if a man said I was pretty, I instantly assume he is telling me that because he just wants to have sex. I live in fear of being considered a plaything for men to use and toss away. I don’t demand equal pay for equal work most of the time at my jobs, because deep down, the experience taught me, although erroneously, that I’m not as valuable as a man.

I’ve struggled my whole life to make what I know about myself with my mind match correctly with what I feel about myself with my heart. I’m still struggling to this day.

Why do I bring any of this up?

I never got an abortion, birth controls pills don’t work on me, and I can count on both hands how many times I’ve ever gone to have any kind of checkup in my life. I’m locked in poverty. You would think this isn’t my fight either, right? Wrong.

cropped-pixect-20130316152300.jpgI can’t tell you how happy my heart was to see so many women walking together. I’m not pro-choice/pro-life in such black and white lines, but I do understand how hard it is to be a woman, locked into some things in your life that you didn’t “just bring on yourself with your own bad decisions”, constantly judged and found wanting, looking around at everyone else around them and wondering, what the hell is wrong with me that I’m finding this life so hard to live? I feel so alone all the time.

I can’t march in crowds of people because I’m afraid to be around a lot of people (hypervigilance from PTSD from being molested so long), so I’m glad they marched for me. I am locked in a struggle to believe my voice should be heard, so I applaud others who can be that voice for me. I pray earnestly daily to help me push back the fears that keep me locked in poverty, self-hate, and hopelessness. I appreciate others acknowledging this kind of struggle.

What is a life worth if it is lived without empathy? Maybe every concern or birdcause doesn’t pertain to your own life, and for that, we should all be thankful; but it does mean something to someone else. If we lose the ability to stop for a moment and wonder what could make a person do something we so disagree with, but instead close up ourselves from any dissenting voices that do not tickle our own ears, where will that leave the Christian mission to bring people to Christ? He didn’t tell us, go out there and just gather the Republicans, or the Democrats, or the Pro-Lifers, or any other specific group. He told us to love one another, not broadcast salvation assumptions of people who disagree with you on Facebook. He did not tell us to call each other out. I too have been so guilty of this. I was wrong. I’m sorry. Jesus has the right to pass judgement; anyone else doing it is wrong.

I can see easily how much more of a ruin my life would have been had the Lord not reached down and guided me from so much darkness. Even now, when I still grapple with the long-term effects of being molested, my joy always comes from the knowledge that one day, I will stand before the Lord, away from all these fears, this broken and evil flesh, and psychological wounds, and I hope to hear Him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” That is what is most important to me. I believe He allowed me to experience this horrific thing that has affected my whole life so tremendously so that I would be able to offer up hope to someone else who needs it. I praise Him for His wisdom.

Bird's Patched Up Heart These Days...
Bird’s Patched Up Heart These Days…
Maybe this wasn’t YOUR march, and maybe you don’t agree with some of the reasons other people did find it their march. I only ask, did you stop and try to empathize before you plastered your derision and judgments about everyone else who disagree with you, first? It is time for us to remember to think first, type second, especially if you are professing to be a Christian. Don’t forget, our mission is a heavenly one.

~ Bird

 

Jesus Was A Homeless Guy

Homeless_womanLast Friday, I stopped at a convenience store to pick something up on the way home from work. All along the side of the building were homeless people, their worldly possessions in bags strung about their feet, their pets looking as gloomy as they did. What made this incident stand out in my mind was the presence of a small baby. She was in a beat up stroller, and the mother was doing her best to comfort her cries. It was a horrible sight.

Living and working in the area of Tulsa that I do, homeless people are in abundance. For some of them, it is fairly easy to determine how they came about to be in this position. Mental illness and drug addiction are by far the culprits for most of them. A smaller number of them, though, have the look of shock that accompanies a down turn in fortune that was not expected. Divorce, abandonment, and unemployment has struck them, and their eyes tell a story of the devastation of a soul soaked in poverty and burning dimly with hopelessness. .

The staffing agency I work for is located on the bad side of town. It probably comes as no surprise that this kind of business normally attracts to it workers from the neighborhoods around it. Several of the major staffing agencies we compete with recently moved their offices to better neighborhoods. This is an understandable decision, from a business point of view. However, one of the things that makes me so grateful to work where I do is the owner’s refusal to do the same. We’d probably make more money if we moved, but a huge chunk of our workers would be unable to follow us, as we put a big percentage of Tulsa’s homeless to work through our work-today, get-paid-today department. Each morning, I walk through a large mass of people boarding buses and vans, ready to put in a hard days’ work to buy themselves food and shelter. Yes, I’m sure many of them will probably buy drugs or alcohol as well. I simply don’t care. Until you’ve experienced the fear of having no place to go home to, you cannot fault others for the methods they use to cope.

This morning I read an article on a site that really pissed me off. It was written by a Christian pastor homeless.jpg-thumbexplaining his opinion that people who are poor are reaping the seeds of irresponsibility and poor decisions, and the Church is not expected to physically care for them; only to preach the Good News so their souls would not be impoverished. I’m not putting a link to it because I refuse to help that writer get any attention whatsoever. What a self-serving, bullshit lie!!! (I will send him a link to mine privately so he can respond if he wants to. What a schmuck!)

It may come as a big surprise to a lot of present day Christians, but Jesus was homeless. He had no house to call his own. He depended on the believers in each city for food, shelter, and company as he traveled. Was Jesus reaping the harvest His seeds of irresponsibility and bad decisions had netted for himself? Uh. No. He told us, what you do to the least of these, you do to me.

News Flash: The Example we are to emulate was a homeless guy.

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the impoverished souls of this world. Nothing fills me with more joy in the Lord than to see the hopeless, ashamed look in a person’s eyes replaced by a little dignity and optimism. I truly couldn’t possibly care less how a person’s decisions and actions had brought them to this low point in their lives. Drugs? Don’t care. Booze? Don’t care. Crime? Don’t care.

homeless1If each one of us were to get what we truly deserve in this life, without God’s merciful grace to temper it, we all would be homeless and hungry. Nothing….nothing!! you or I do in secret is missed by God, and I doubt we’d have even one person left on earth if God allowed us all to reap only the harvests we sow in our own lives every day. We were told that we will reap the same amount of mercy from this life that we’ve shown to others. Why are so many of us harsh with Christian churches these days? Could it be because they are showing so very little mercy to anyone else?

I watch several of this city’s mega-churches build youth centers and hold fund-raisers to send missionaries to places abroad, and I instantly dislike them. I know the poor will always be with us. Jesus never instructed us to fix this problem, only to feed the poor, and take care of the orphans and widows. Somehow, churches today have decided that throwing good money at people who might never be able to get their act together enough to get a house with utilities on and a car in the driveway, or God forbid, tithe,  is just a waste of money. By having this attitude, they have missed a very valuable lesson we learn from our poor people. We learn how to administer grace, like the grace we ourselves receive from the Lord.

Grace. Giving something away to those who have not earned it, and expecting nothing in return. We want a return on our kindness, and that defeats the purpose of our mission to help the poor.  A good percentage of these people will remain homeless until they die. That is just the sad fact about people who can’t cope with what life has offered them, and it was never our place to judge them, or to change them. We are only to serve them and to share with them the true Author of our good works. That is all.

I believe we are only going to be able to address the poverty of these souls,  if we first try to Latern_Homeless_Shelterease some of the physical distress these people are in. Handing a cute cartoon booklet to a guy who is wearing the only clothes he owns is stupid and worthless, and frankly insulting to everyone involved.

Maybe it makes the church feel all warm and fuzzy thinking they’ve done their part to draw in the harvest, but the fall-out to Christianity’s reputation from that particular exercise feels bitter to me.

What does that man or woman think about a God whose followers handed them a pamphlet and not a little food? I just want to scream, “Hey, Members of the Elite Clubs of God. If you aren’t going to help the Christians who are working on the front lines of this war for souls, at least don’t make things worse!”

I work with an exceptionally empathetic set of people who daily treat those people society deems less valuable than the rest of us with dignity, respect, and just the right amount of tough love. Make no mistake, you simply must have a heart for the poor to work in the part of this city that we do. It is dangerous, and we are constantly reminded of that.

A lot of my co-workers are Christians like myself, but a number of them are not as far as I can tell. And yet, I often see these “unsaved” people acting more Christ-like than a lot of the church members I know. We all, saved and unsaved alike, work hard to find some way to help those less fortunate than us. Time after time, I see mercy poured out on people who my finite amount of mercy and compassion would have long been finished with. Yet, their wells of compassion, mercy and kindness seem to go so much deeper than mine.

I am both shamed and reminded of just how much mercy my own life requires from God daily, and even more beautiful, how He often uses those people to instruct me who the church refuses to accept among their ranks, like the homosexuals and the drug addicts.

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I would emphasize for everyone today, we are going to be judged by the amount of mercy we’ve shown others.

What you do to the least of these is what you are doing to Jesus, as well. We all will reap what we have sown, and all the stupid sermons in the world about how we can act in whatever manner we see fit with only the loss of some vague reward system in the sky as our only consequence is just plain stupid. The child that the Lord loves, He disciplines. I get my proverbial butt spanked all the time. Do you?

Remember that next time you pointedly refuse to look at the shaky, dirty man holding up his cardboard sign at an intersection. I hope you feel ashamed when you find yourself justifying your lack of giving by deciding he looks healthy enough to get a job, or his obvious addiction has landed him where he is, and as such, he isn’t your problem. Obviously, he’s reaping what he sowed.

He is your problem. He is my problem. His poverty, and what he did right or wrong that lead up to that moment, is not our problem.

We are told to give until it hurts weekly by our church management when they collect tithes. Where is that same consistency and urgence when it comes to helping our fellow man? Do you give to others enough to have some impact on your own life? If you don’t, you should.

People were made in the image of God, and this includes those who have slipped so far down the social ladder, they’ve become homeless. Their worth is no greater, nor is it less than, anyone else’s in the Lord’s eyes. How we treat those less fortunate will be seen by the Lord.

His love and mercy is poured out on those very souls who deserve it the least but will value it the most. We’d better do the same, or we have no right to call Him our father.

~ Bird

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