In all seriousness, what would Jesus do?

Sometimes I feel like I get upset about the wrong things.  Let me explain, there’s this meme going around that talks about a new pastor’s first sermon to his shiny megachurch.  The story goes that the pastor pretended to be a homeless man and everyone ignored him, even when he begged for money.  He was asked to stand in the back of the church, and when he was finally introduced everyone was horrified, until he preached a really scathing sermon which culminated in his asking the congregation if they were ever going to choose to be disciples.

It seems like most of my Christian friends have been forwarding this meme around.  A lot of people say things like, “wow,” or “so humbling!”

My first reaction to it was to be sick to my stomach.  Then, I was angry.  Then, I was angry-sad.  Then, I had a headache.

There’s a part of me that thinks we all need reminders that Jesus told us that we would be judged by how we treat “the least of these.”  So why don’t I like that meme?

Okay, let’s go through it step by step:

  •  It isn’t true.  This is a story that someone made up, probably to try to put some of the things that Jesus said into a more modern day context, making the church analogous to the pharisees.  I’ve made that analogy myself, so why does it bother me so much in this context?  While I am a little bothered by the meme’s assertion that only a handful of people out of 10,000 would acknowledge the pastor’s presence, I’m more bothered by the pastor himself.  Here we have a well-to-do man with his suit and tie concealed under homeless man’s clothes.  He isn’t really a man of the street that lives off charity, but he pretends to be one.  When Christ said, “What you do to the least of these you do to me” he wasn’t saying it from a comfortable position as a pastor of a megachurch whose tailored suit was hidden under beggar’s clothes- he was saying it as a beggar.  He lived off of the charity and hospitality of others, so when he said, “do it as you would to me” that could be taken quite literally.  If you would welcome Jesus into your home, welcome the beggars in.  If you had food to share with Jesus you had food to share with the lame.  If you would offer Jesus a cup of water, offer it to the sick.  Every offering as such Jesus would accept as an offering to his own person- not because Jesus didn’t need the offerings, but because he did.  These days, we as Christians are far distanced from the reality which Jesus had to live.  I don’t know if we really understand the fact that Jesus didn’t have a pension plan, couldn’t file unemployment, and couldn’t ply his trade while traveling and teaching.  He didn’t have a trust fun he was living off of, he lived off of the goodwill of others.  When we feed the hungry and care for the sick and give room to the homeless, we are remembering that God himself once shared their lot.  This meme?  It doesn’t seem like a humble reminder of that reality, it feels like the opposite.  It treats the reality of Christ’s life that he lived for us as a charade, to be put on and then taken off at the most humiliating moment.
  • It’s a “GOTCHA” moment, not a humble reminder.  Jesus doesn’t deal in shame, so why should we praise those who do?  This isn’t the case of a pastor humbly searching for truth in the guise of a homeless man, like this one, this is a pastor knowingly setting a trap to catch his congregation in.  The whole story hinges off of the judgment that Christians, as a whole, aren’t choosing to be disciples.  That churches do ignore people who aren’t dressed right.  That parishioners with cash in their pockets for the offering basket would give no change to a hungry, needy man sharing their pews.  The pastor, prior to ever preaching a sermon to his new congregation, has already decided they aren’t following Christ and need a scolding.  And rather than, say, inviting actual homeless people in to be cared for, he pretends to be one just to hammer a point home.  No, no thank you.  Jesus didn’t contrive situations to shame his followers.  He lived his life as a genuine example.  Those teachable moments the Bible is full of?  They happened as a natural consequence of how Christ lived.  The only time he set up “traps” for anyone was in response to the traps that had been set up for him.  Jesus didn’t trade in shaming his followers, so neither should we.
  • Who made it up?  What was their motive? We don’t know.  Rather than putting their own name and face to the tale, someone made up a story just to prove their point.  I’m all for parables, Jesus himself was known for them, but this doesn’t feel like that.  This is a lie parading as the truth.  The internet, yes, is full of such things.  Pictures of babies born with deformities meant to shame you if you don’t share them.  Mangled fetuses.  Abused dogs and cats for whom some unnamed stranger will donate a dollar per “like.”  To put it plainly, bullshit.  But this bullshit I’ll take personally, because this bullshit is about the church.  This bullshit about the church hinges off of the fact that no one will question the idea that a congregation of ten thousand are ready and willing to reject a homeless man.

So what does that tell us about the person who wrote the story, and what does it say about those who share it?

Judgment, and shame.  We’ve all judged the church as having fallen on it’s sword, and we all believe that it needs to be shamed.

What.

 

The.

 

Hell?

 

I spent one of the most fulfilling years of my life working as the site supervisor for a homeless shelter.  That shelter operated based off of the goodwill and cooperation of a couple of handfuls of churches surrounding a relatively small, but active, community.  Volunteers stayed with our guests overnight to make sure their needs were met.  Volunteers prepared and delivered hot meals for them twice a day.  Volunteers cleaned up after them.  Volunteers often picked them up and drove them to church on Sunday mornings.  Volunteers talked to them.  Volunteers let them know about job openings in the community, sometimes offered them small jobs, brought gently used clothing to hand out, made Easter and Christmas baskets, and donated thousands of dollars every night to pay the staff who served them.

None of those churches would have ignored a homeless person on a Sunday morning.  Quite the opposite.  Their attention and interest brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it to this day.

Let’s be evenhanded.  If we all agree that most churches don’t give a crap about the people who walk in their doors, what does that say about us?  Our faith?  Or, even more important, what does it say about our belief in God?

Essentially, what that meme says is not that we need to be reminded that Jesus asks us to care for the “least of these”;  what it says is that faith is pointless.  That no one is getting anywhere.  That two thousand years after Christ’s death, the church is useless.  That Christians are, as a whole, hypocrites.  (With the exception of a few self-righteous pricks waiting around for “gotcha” moments to humiliate us all and remind us how little we’ve grown.)  The meme doesn’t remind us of Christ’s love, it reminds us of our own selfishness.  What it offers isn’t hope but condemnation.

I have seen a pastor preaching shirtless in the streets because he gave the shirt off his back (literally) to a street kid.  I’ve seen a poor woman wander into a church in the middle of a service and seen everything stop while the congregation found out what she needed and got her help- including people running to the store to buy her baby diapers and formulas, and her having so many lunch invitations she had to choose who to turn down.

That’s my faith.

I’ve seen people give away the dinner they just cooked for their family and have toast for dinner instead because they heard that someone down the street lost their job and couldn’t get groceries.

That’s my faith.

I’ve seen families take in kids whose parents were arrested so that those kids wouldn’t have to go into foster care.

That’s my faith.

I’ve seen so many people show up at the hospital to pray for a sick relative that some of them never even got in the room.

That’s my faith.

That’s my church.  And I’m not just speaking about one church, but many.  All of the truly genuine people whose example brought me back to the feet of God after I thought I’d left him forever.  I may speak about the judgment of the church making me question my faith in God, but never let it be forgotten that it was the genuine love of the church that brought me back to him.  This is a sword that cuts both ways and cannot be ignored.  Yes, some Christians are assholes.  But there are still many who truly seek to follow Christ and emulate his love, and the only cure for the one is the praise of the other.

If we want people to stop being assholes, we shouldn’t be assholes towards them.  We should seek to be as loving, open, genuine, and kind as they are not.

The solution for a church that ignores the homeless isn’t a heaping helping of condemnation- it’s a loving example of the proper way.

*

Do I sometimes have harsh things to say to other Christians?  Yes.  I believe some of the attitudes I’ve seen towards the poor, towards single mothers, towards gay people, are incredibly destructive.  But I speak against it not because I believe the majority of Christians are selfish assholes but because I believe the opposite.  I believe that if most Christians realized the impact their attitudes had on others, they would willingly and quickly change.  And guess what?  In the six years I have helmed this blog that is what I’ve seen, time and time again.  I have so many stories of hope and change and trust and love that I could spend the rest of my life writing about them, and I’m only just getting started.

So, yeah, I had an allergic reaction to this particular meme.

That’s not my faith.

You, dear reader, you are my faith.  And you deserve better than to be shamed by a lie.

*This cannot be overstated.  If you want a church to take interest in the homeless, the best way is to bring the actual homeless into the church and take care of them.  People respond to love with love, and when they see you loving others their natural response is to do the same.  This is far more effective than shame could ever be.  Give the church an example to be like Christ, and if the church is full of Christians, it’ll happen.

 

Depressing Commonalities.

I may have said this before.  My brain, were I to compare it to any appliance in my kitchen, is a bit of a crock pot.  I tend to stew things for days before being really sure what I think about them.  (This is especially ironic when compared to the way I tend to reflexively make judgments about everything.  I snap to judgment and then rue it for days.)  So in the past few weeks, I’ve been exposed to several things I’ve had to mull over.  They aren’t things that have very much in common.  The first is the Netflix series House of Cards.  The second is Paula Deen’s cheerful racism.  The third is rape.

Sigh.

I realize now that there is a common thread:  News Media.

I haven’t been able to decide if I like House of Cards.  There are a lot of brilliantly executed moments in the show, the acting is incredible, and the plot was pleasantly surprising.  It seems like the kind of show I should like; it’s darkly cynical, hard to predict, and makes you think.  So why don’t I like it?  I think it may all boil down to the fact that I don’t like the way the reporters in the show are portrayed.  No one cares about truth in the show.  Everyone cares about getting a good break and beating the competition and keeping a razor sharp edge.  But truth?  Integrity?  F*** that sh**, who has time?  Gotta meet the deadline.  Gotta break it first.

Which brings me to Paula Deen, I suppose.  Almost all of my friends, even some of the most compassionate and racially sensitive, are angry that Paula Deen is being made a whipping girl for institutionalized racism in the South.  “She doesn’t deserve this,” people keep saying, “just because she said some crap 30 years ago that she regrets now.”  First:  If Mrs. Deen hadn’t willingly turned a blind eye to (and alternately propagated herself) institutionalized racism in the South, she couldn’t very well be made a whipping girl for it, could she?  She was the CEO of a company that had racist and sexist policies.  The CEO is held accountable, because everyone beneath them acts in their name.  Her company had policies that punished employees for the color of their skin.  Her family members, who managed HER establishments, abused their employees, exposed them to sexually explicit and abusive materials, mocked and insulted minority employees (including women) and behaved in a manner that is neither legal, prudent, or even understandable.  Yes, Mrs. Deen should be punished for all of these things, if they are true.  Yes, anyone with a few neurons firing in a normal manner who is in a position to distance themselves from her company is wise to do so- including the people who co-produce her shows and publish her materials.  That doesn’t make her a whipping girl, that makes her accountable for her own freaking actions, as well she should be.

Which brings me to rape, naturally.  Because people should be held accountable for their own actions.  A friend of mine posted a story about how she had said no repeatedly to a guy, and he kept pressuring her, and she was drunk and exhausted and didn’t want to make him angry so she silently caved in.  I’d like to point out that if a woman has said no multiple times and then mutely lets you have her way with her, that is rape.

And it makes me blindingly, searingly, furiously angry to realize that we live in a culture that calls that a determined, self-made man getting his way.

I’d like to take this moment to point out that I’m not sure if it is the heat wave making it 90 degrees in my living room despite the air conditioner running full bore, or just the fact that after 30 years of being nice I’m tired of being nice to people who are absolute bastards, but I’d like to take a moment and just scream a general F*** THIS SH** to the world at large.

F*** IT.  WITH A RUSTY SPOON.  THEN DOWSE IT IN KEROSENE AND CALL IT THE FOURTH OF JULY.

Because if you live in America you live in a country where there are scads of journalists ready to pick my friend apart and tell her how she could’ve avoided getting raped, and then blather on about how it’s so unfortunate that her rapist had a moment of flawed judgment which is totally excusable because of my friends rocking bosom.  Which may have been overexposed.  (It wasn’t.)

We live in a country where Paula Deen is pitied instead of being called to account, where the discussion is about poor rich white women having to watch their tongues instead of the beaten black sous chefs that provide them with wealth and are underpaid in return.  We live in a world where a TV show about a politician f***ing his way to running the news is sadly believable, where no matter how dark and cynical Hollywood paints the story it doesn’t feel as dark and cynical as real life.

I’m effing tired of it.

So to my friend, I love you.  I wish we lived in a world that defended you and others like you, because you deserve to be upheld and not torn down.  To Paula Deen, your empire should fall.  It was built on taking advantage of others, which is the worst kind of avarice and cowardice.  And to the producers of House of Cards, eff you.  I’ll watch the next season, though, because it’s still good television.

I just wish it didn’t feel so much like real life.

Let me tell you what Hell is.

The text read:  “Im going to burn in hell ne way.”

*beep beep*

“Life is pain.  Why live?  Pain forever, then hell.  I want it over with.”

I got his address off of Facebook, we’d become friends only days before when he’d been given a copy of my novel.  I wasn’t sure what had inspired him to reach out to me.  All I knew was that I’d stayed home from church that day because I was sick, and here he was.  Reaching out.  Not wanting to die alone.

“Don’t be an idiot”, I texted him back.  “There is love.  There is hope.   If you go to hell I’m going with you.”

Painful seconds passed.

“I’m almost to your house,” I wrote.  “Calling you.”

I will never, ever, forget the pain in his voice when he answered his phone.  When we’d met a few days before, he had been the kindest, gentlest, most soft spoken person I’d ever known.  He had been so quick to laugh, and although he obviously was living with a great deal of pain his spirit shone through.  The voice I heard through the phone was almost robotic in it’s monotone and so desperately lacking in spirit.  “Just stay alive another minute,” I told him.  “I’m turning, where are you?”

He came out on the front porch and agreed to go with me.  I took him to a mental health clinic that was fortunately only a few blocks away.  Even so, it was one of the longest car rides of my life.

“God doesn’t hate you,” I said.  “God loves you.”

“You know what they say?”  He replied, “I would’ve never been gay unless God totally rejected me.”

“For F—‘s sake, you said you’ve known you were gay since you were six!  What did a six year old do to get wholly rejected by God?”

“It doesn’t matter, does it?”  He wiped away tears but it was like wiping at the Columbia, it just kept rushing out.  “I mean, I can’t not be gay and no one cares, I mean, they don’t care no matter what.  It’s like, ‘well sure you’re depressed, it’s what comes from sin.’ And like, ‘the wages of sin is death’ so like if I kill myself, that’s justice.  That’s justice.”

“And here I took you for someone pretty smart,” I responded.  “You know homosexual acts are listed right with gossip and idle talk and drunkenness.  If your suicide is justice half that freaking church needs to put a blade to their wrist.”

“I can’t believe you just said that.”

“Well I’m kind of pissed that you almost died on my watch.  I could say more.”

He just stared at me.

“God is love, right?  You remember my favorite passage.  It’s all over the book.  The people that won’t help you because you are gay can’t be speaking for God because it’s not loving to turn away from someone’s pain.  Whatever they said it doesn’t matter.”

“You didn’t hear them, Ell.  All of the verses, and it’s like, ‘hey, it’s in the Bible.  We’re just being obedient.'”

“Shut the eff up, man, or I’ll pull over and slap you.”

“Ell!”

“I don’t want to hear that crap in my car even if you are quoting someone else.  Forget it.”

“I don’t understand, I mean, I thought you were a Christian.”

“Of course I’m a Christian, that’s why I can recognize bull when I hear it.  The fruit of the spirit is goodness and patience and love and whatever the other ones are.”

“Ha!”

“I’m a little distracted by how pissed I am and can’t do the brain thing, forgive me.”

“What were you saying?”

“Love.  That’s the fruit of the spirit.  If the fruit of their obedience is your death, it’s not my God they are obeying.”

“Oh,” he said.

“And honestly I’m feeling more Christlike right now than I have in years.”

* * *

A few weeks later we would be emailing back and forth, and I would say this.  “What you said about Hell.  I can show you hell.  It’s a kid going to a church because he’s on the brink and he needs someone to love him, and they show him the door.  I don’t know where Jesus is right now, but he is weeping.  And he still loves you.  Don’t give up.”

Here’s the thing:  I don’t care what your personal conviction is about homosexuality.  What I care about is my friend, and other people like him.  Sadly, he’s not the only kid I’ve ever heard tell that story and I doubt he’ll be the last, even though I fervently pray it’s not the case.  I’ve talked enough blades off of wrists for my lifetime.

Here’s the thing:  gay people aren’t the enemy.  Homosexuality is never singled out in the Bible.  It always appears hand in hand with other sins:  hubris, for example.  Drunkenness and gluttony.  Idolatry.  Idle talk and gossip.  What infuriates me more than anything else in the whole debate about sexuality is that you see people saying “we can’t let gays get married because it goes against the Bible” but the same people aren’t trying to pass laws to outlaw idle chatter, gluttony, or even premarital sex.  How is it okay for Christian organizations to be pursuing keeping sodomy laws on the books while their employees chat about who Julie is dating on their breaks?

I’m sorry, guys, that may strike you as an extreme example but I am being completely serious.

The Bible doesn’t make a distinction between the sins it lists.  Being gay is no worse than being a gossip, and both things are equally condemned in the church.

But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.  (1 Corinthians 5:11)

At the end of the day, what makes a sexually immoral person such a target as opposed to all of the other sins on the list?

And then we get into discussions about the law and about how opposing gay marriage is just obedience to God.  Let me tell you something:  God never once commanded us to make laws regarding the morality of people outside the church.  In fact, He said something more like:

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? (1 Corinthians 5:12)

Their sin is none of our business.

The more Christians speak out against gay rights, the more they talk about the sin issue, the more they put out literature talking about how Gay people are sold to sin and more likely to abuse children and get drunk and have “depraved sexual relations” that “go against God”… the more I think about people like my friend, with the razor to their wrist, thinking that there is nothing to do but die.

Let me tell you what Hell is:

It’s a church so focused on sin that it’s forgotten how to love.

We have absolutely no business talking about the sexuality of those not in the church.

It goes against the Bible.

And for those inside the church, we should talk about it quietly, in confidence, not blast about it on the internet for every suicidal 19 year old gay boy to see.

Just.

Stop.

For the love of God, think about what you are doing.

a post in which I say nothing significant about mental health

I spent a year working in a residential treatment facility for people with chronic mental health problems.  I’ve been wanting to write about my experiences there for some time but feel at a loss for what to say.  I cared very deeply for our residents and never felt like there was enough that I could do for them.  I didn’t have any real training for how to care for their illnesses- my position though advertised as social work mostly involved keeping the toilets clean and the washer and dryer running, and cleaning up after meals.  We did have group therapy sessions that the aides would lead, but they were repetitive and weren’t therapy so much as a way to kill time.  Working there taught me so many important lessons, though.  It taught me about our society in a way that working at the homeless shelter didn’t and couldn’t, because at the shelter you could expect the guests to get on with their lives.  You could assign them the responsibility to grow and change.  The residents at the mental health facility, though, were helpless to control their own future.  Some of them were helpless to control when they slept and woke or even their own bladders.

We had many residents who were schizophrenic.  Some had severe personality and mood disorders.  Some had “undifferentiated symptoms” that regardless of a firm diagnosis were sufficient to get them sent to a treatment facility.  Some of them were judged a danger to themselves or others, so the state paid for them to live with us.  All of them had routine meetings with their supervising doctor every few months for medication monitoring.  The aides, like me, were in charge of taking down routine group notes and individual notes to monitor how the residents were doing, and reporting any suspicions about adverse reactions to medications or symptoms not responding to medications to the nurse who worked 9-5 or to the doctor, who was in the facility once every 4 weeks.

It’s important to understand that these people were heavily medicated, some taking as many as 25 pills a day, and they saw their doctor once a month for 15-20 minutes.  We had residents who were hospitalized because of severe adverse reactions.  We had one resident who had a medication discontinued because it lowered his white blood cell count to the point that it could kill him, he went nearly catatonic and had to be moved out of our facility.  We had residents who had narcotic medications that they could request at will who would daily take as many as they were allowed.  When the staff reported that there was a concern about addiction it was met with the equivalent of a shrug.  “This person is mentally ill, at least they are more or less stable, what do you want?”

I don’t really even know what I’m trying to say.  I admire all of my ex co-workers, I admire the company that I worked for and the job that they did.  The working budget was constantly being cut.  We never were fully staffed, and everyone worked overtime constantly.  I worked 12-16 hour shifts every weekend and went to school all week, and constantly felt guilty that I couldn’t work more.  We only had two aides on in the evenings and nights to care for 28 residents, and did the best that we could.

A lot of the residents were people who had lived in poverty for most of their lives.  Most of them didn’t get into the mental health system until their symptoms were so severe that their lives were unsustainable.  A few had accidents that left them with brain damage, so living with us was their only option.  One has to wonder what their lives might have been like if there had been earlier interventions.  For those with mood disorders that statistically respond well to talking therapy, there’s this question in the back of my mind of who they might have been if they’d been able to get that therapy. Was it inevitable that they would slowly implode to the point that their rights would be revoked, and they’d have to take pills every six hours for the rest of their lives just to stay stable enough to live in a facility where they would routinely act out just to get attention, and have the staff respond by upping their meds?

Meds which could kill them.

I want to say something really deep and powerful about the mental health field, about dependence on mind-altering medications, about poverty and mental health and the sick cycle it creates.  I want to say something powerful about how ignored the mentally ill are.  How reviled they sometimes are.  How helpless they are.

All I can say is that the budgets keep getting cut, and the patients have nowhere to go.

28 patients taken care of by two overworked aides with insufficient training being paid only slightly above minimum wage, and a doctor with a case load that rivals Atlas’s.  We like to call this fair country the land of opportunity.  With hard work and dedication, anyone can get ahead.

And the budgets keep getting cut.

An abortion story

This story came to me through a friend.  The author wishes to remain anonymous, but I can attest to the fact that it is a true account and the people involved are good people.  I thought I’d post it to this blog to sort of put a “human face” on a topic that tends to be impersonal to a lot of people.  Please, read it, and digest it.

I have something to say about abortion.

It’s an ugly topic.  Pro-life conservatives call it slaughtering defenseless unborn human beings.  Maybe it is, but I would like to tell all you alleged pro-life individuals reading this that if you had your way 5 years ago then you would have likely sentenced the woman I love and intend to marry to a painful death or at the very least crippled her for the rest of her life.

I grew up in a conservative household in a small town, as a young boy I went to church and heard the rhetoric.  Abortion was wrong.  I knew this, but it was a topic far removed from my young life so I never considered that it would ever matter to me.

When I was 19 I met the woman I am with to this very day.  She has been the light of my life since we met and anyone who knows us will attest to the fact that we are as good together as two souls can be.  We’ve had our trials though.  She is and has never been what anyone would call healthy.  Born with muscular dystrophy it was estimated that she would not be able walk once she reached adulthood.  Her childhood was a constant barrage of medical tests in and out of hospitals working to diagnose her condition.  I know this because I see the scars that early 80’s biopsies produce.  They are not pretty.  However all other evidence of these trips has not been found for over a decade.

As a teenager my beloved moved across the country, and a year later her former doctor retired.  Somewhere during that transition her medical records were lost to the point where we have not been able to locate them yet.  As a result none of the doctors in this part of the country know what disease she has.  She can tell them she has muscular dystrophy, but without any documentation it means nothing.   This has frustrated me to no end as every morning I see her stumble out of bed barely able to stand, and I wonder to myself when her next slip will be the one to confine her to a wheelchair for the rest of her days.  I’ve tried to convince her that she needs to go and have the tests redone, but tests cost money and come with considerable amounts of pain, and while money is something we’ve recently begun to acquire pain she has quite enough of already.

Early on in our relationship we began living together.   The first two years we were not well off, I had found hardly any work and she was barely able to support herself with a minimum-wage grocery clerk job.  Our land-lady forgave us 5 months of rent that we swore we’d pay back but never did because the building we lived in was sold before we could do so.  During that period she was told that her birth-control pills were causing her to have extremely high blood pressure and that to continue to be on them would be hazardous to her health.  This is just one of the many complications her illness has inflicted upon her over the years.  So she went off the pill and without having the money for alternative forms of birth control we attempted to get by with condoms.

It never occurred to us what the real cause was when she got sick.  Constant puking day and night dehydrated and malnourished her for several weeks.  She was unable to work, and with me not working our situation became even more untenable.  Finally after 3 weeks of escalating sickness she went to the doctor and discovered she was pregnant.

Together it took us three days to decide what to do.  Her parent’s were involved and supportive.  Mine weren’t, they wouldn’t understand and I don’t ever intend to subject them to the pain of an account of the event.  They can keep their beliefs, because I’m considerate enough to let them.  It was not an easy decision for either of us, I was prepared to support her as best I could, but at that point the only support I could offer was the emotional kind and we both needed much much more than that.  Her health was the biggest concern, already the constant nausea had weakened her, and none of us had any illusions obscuring the harsh fact that she likely wouldn’t come out of the whole affair standing on her own two feet.

I didn’t go with her the day of the abortion, I can’t exactly remember why, but I don’t think I would have wanted to.  She spared me the details, – though several years later she admitted to me there were complications and she had lost a lot of blood – and when she came home we cried some, and then got back to the process of living our lives.  She immediately got on another form of birth control that was less harmful to her heart and I managed to find a job and we have hardly ever looked back.

These days we are far better off, but it’s been only recently that we’ve actually had the money to begin addressing the numerous health problems she has.  It’s going to be a long road, and I don’t know if she’ll ever be fully functional physically but we still work at it.  We still don’t have her childhood medical records so without them all that can be done is treat her symptoms as best we can, and even then we’re constantly wary that any given treatment might just make things worse.  We choose not to have children currently, but if one were to occur by chance we would not abort again.  We don’t discuss this but it is nonetheless true.

I am not clairvoyant, I cannot peer into the world of what might-have-been, so I can only speculate.  But we were not ready to become parents in any way shape or form.  The baby would have likely permanently crippled my beloved without even considering that her disease could pull a plethora of complications from it’s lovely hat of misery during her labor.  We had no money to mitigate any of these risks, and certainly none to raise a child, and we didn’t know yet if our paths were to remain together.  A baby at that point would likely have destroyed all three of our lives.

I realize that we are just two people, but our circumstances don’t seem particularly extraordinary.  If the pro-life movement had it’s way at that time my story would be very different, we would not have been afforded the choice to abort.  Even if there might be extenuating circumstances due to her health condition, without her medical records there would be no way of proving that she was suffering any more than a particularly nasty case of morning sickness.  We would have been told that we should have been more responsible to deal with the repercussions, and if those repercussions included her death then such is the price of our irresponsible lifestyle.

In the grand scheme of things I don’t think my story will effect the opinions of many people.  To some abortion is a heinous act resulting in the death of an infant.  They believe that it is too easy a decision to make, that the three days of our agonizing about what we should do, is similar to deciding whether to have pork or chicken for dinner.  According to them, my love and I should be damned to hell for the horrible crime we committed.  To them I have only one thing to say:

“After you.”

Postscript from Lindsey:

The story is raw, I know, and in some ways it is inflammatory.  I respect everyone’s right to comment and express their views, but I ask that you do so with respect.  Any comments attacking the author, his character, or his relationship with his beloved will be deleted, and the commenter will be reprimanded.