Teaching Dignity

Our family honors and respects life. Sometimes I don’t know exactly what that means when I look at the world around me and see the violence and harm people commit daily. I struggle to learn how to disagree with someone while still upholding their dignity. I forget how to discipline my kids without relying on subtle shame. I don’t always know how to eat ethically. I don’t always know how to spend my money without supporting unsafe work conditions. And sometimes I just want to stop thinking about the inherent outcomes of the millions of decisions I make daily. I count on grace for the things I have done and the things I have left undone, but I don’t think that excuses me from making deliberate choices to honor the dignity of life in this world.

Our 7 year old is reaching the stage of childhood where justice is very apparent, and injustice is unacceptable. The weight of every living thing is heavy on her heart. At our county fair she took a pony ride which she looked forward to all day. She struggled to be patient, waiting for her turn. And when it finally came she got on the little pony and started riding around and around. Surprisingly, she struggled to hold back her tears the whole time. Afterwards her Aunt asked her if it was fun and she said, “It was kinda fun for me, but I don’t think it was any fun for the ponies. I don’t think they do anything but walk in a circle all day.”

Here is a very dignified grave site for "Delicate" the Painted Lady butterfly

Here is a very dignified grave site for “Delicate” the Painted Lady butterfly

She is also raising some Painted Lady butterflies in her bedroom. Three of the caterpillars didn’t survive their life cycles, and one of the butterflies never fully expanded her wings. As an adult, I know that this is the reason why insects reproduce in such large numbers. Their delicate lives require the strength-in-numbers strategy of carrying on the gene-pool. Ants will cannibalize their dead so that they can reuse the nutrients for the survival of the colony. There are no individual ant’s right, or respect for the individual butterfly in the animal kingdom. But she doesn’t know that yet. She is grieving the loss of each one, and feeling terribly guilty that their short lives are happening in a mesh cage in her room, not the big green world of flowers.

People are animals. But they’re more than animals. The world is a ball of resources. But it is more than just resources. Having respect for the dignity of a butterfly is a small act, but it is one that I hope will translate into having respect for the dignity of all life. We won’t always know how to respond to that dignity, but at least we will acknowledge that it exists.

Sadness in Conn

I don’t have much to say. I will say that I am one of the few people who feels as much sadness for the shooter as I do for the children and their families. There is a big crack in our social support system and we need to fix it, not patch it or ignore it.

I have told my own girls that I love them about 3,000 times this weekend. I will give love to them and fill them up, no matter what.

Love is the answer 99% of the time, but when it doesn’t work, what do we do then?

Christian Feminism

I heard Rachel Held Evans on the Q last week talking about her recent book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood. I was very interested in her from the moment she answered the first question. The concept seemed so perfect, and so perfectly in tune with where my thoughts have been the past three or four years. I listened to the whole interview while I did the dishes and Cressida played with Chritmas themed foamies in the kitchen. And I bought the book immediately after the interview, not because of the concept, but because Jian Ghomeshi asked her, “Why not throw the whole thing out and just take the parts that inspire you? Why remain a Christian?” and she answered, “Because I am drawn to the story of Jesus Christ who is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, and he said the all of the Law hinges on these: Love the Lord God with all your mind, soul and strength, and love you neighbor as yourself… So I need to read these texts with the prejudice of love and wrestle with the parts I don’t understand.”

Now I don’t want to pretend that I already had Evans’ concept in my head before I read her book, but I had told my very good friend Jennifer days before I heard the interview that I always default to love when I have a problem with scripture and I fall back on forgiveness when I may have allowed too much acceptance of “sin.”  How could I not read this book when she so clearly understood what I’ve been trying to get out of my heart and into the world for quite some time?

I’ve been reading it very quickly. I am not done with it yet, so I’m not ready to share all of my thoughts on it. Though honestly, I’m growing weary of sharing my thoughts on the internet (especially controversial ones) because then everyone gets to just decide what kind of person they think I am. But I will say this, I am so glad that Evans is representing the Christian Feminist position. She is smart, likable, a good researcher, and willing to change her mind. And though I may not be ready to open up a debate forum anytime soon, I am finally willing to come right out and say, I am a Christian Feminist. I am struggling to figure out what that means. And though I struggle, I know for sure that it means I want to actively work to advocate for women no matter what they choose for their lives/families. And I want to live to see the end of the Mommy Wars. That would be a good thing, too.

But here I am… Opening up again. Maybe it is time to be brave… maybe in my next post.