Thursday, May 31, 2012

The in-between

I posted a mildly controversial cartoon on my Facebook today and got the response I expected. Posting it was more of an act of courage than you might think. Up to this point have preferred to keep my Facebook and blog politically neutral on certain issues, mostly the pro-life issue, to be exact.

From the time I was little, I knew that my family (and therefore I) was pro-life. In high school I often taught youth group at church on the night when we talked about how abortion was a sin. I knew all kinds of statistics on why it should be illegal and what harm it does to both the mother and child (obviously the child, because the child is being aborted). Mostly, I talked about how it was a sin and it was murder. We also talked about how this would only be an issue if you are already sinning by having sex when you don't want children, but that is another blog post.

Still, somehow one day my senior year, a girl that had been in the same elective as me every semester for 3 years missed class. When I asked her why she looked at me and said she had an abortion the day before. She confessed that she didn't know why she told me, but she had to tell someone and she knew I wouldn't judge her. She also said she knew I was a Christian and asked me to pray for her. I was surprised, because I honestly didn't judge her. I always had thought it was such an awful sin and anyone who would do it was obviously selfish; I didn't think that about her. I was simply shocked that she had made that choice the day before and we never talked about it again, but I did pray for her.

All through college I continued to be pro-life without thinking about it very much. The only time it came up was when I confessed I didn't vote for Bush; people asked me how I could vote for baby-killing democrats. I responded that I didn't feel like Bush did anything about abortion; therefore, it wasn't a reason to vote for him.

I finally started thinking about it again my second year of seminary. If I had a map of the Baylor campus in front of me I could point to where I was when my friend Chris looked at me and said most pro-lifers are  pro-birth. I had never thought about it that way, but it made perfect sense. For the first time I started wrestling with my thoughts on the issue on a grander scale.

I had a few more really intense conversations on the subject, and again I can tell you where I was sitting for most of them. Changing my stance on the issue wasn't easy, and when I realized I had changed my mind I went silent.

Today, I chose not to be silent. I chose to share the cartoon, not because I wanted conservative friends to be offended. I shared the post because I do feel that we have lost sight of what it means to be pro-life, and I have no desire to be pro-birth. I want society to change in a way that makes it possible for 17 year old girls to have their babies knowing that they are loved and supported by everyone around them. (I don't think it is a good idea for 17 year olds to have babies, but I think it is a worse idea to scar them for life by making them choose between being judged as sluts, raising a child they are not prepared to raise, or having an abortion. They need a fourth option.) I want women to feel that they have a better option. I want society to be set up to take women and babies and children in, I want us to raise children that were unplanned, and I want those children to experience love, I want those children to be provided for, and I want mothers to have the help they need to provide for those children. I want the same for fathers.

To be clear, if a woman chooses an abortion as a form of birth control (sadly, I have met women who have) I think she is wrong. I do not support her right to choose. However, for all other women, for most women, who wrestle with this issue, I am heartbroken that the world is not a place where they can feel the freedom to bring life into this world knowing that their child will be cared for and loved. I am heartbroken that they are afraid they will not be cared for and loved. I am heartbroken that the systems these children will be born into are designed to keep them poor, disenfranchised, and neglected. Until this changes and I see a political party that is willing to take on the systematic evil that oppresses so much of our society, I am heartbroken to admit: I am no longer politically pro-life. I am also not pro-choice. I am instead stuck in the in-between, frustrated, and searching for hope, but I am not in despair. I believe that there are people both Christian and not, that are willing to offer these women the hope and provision they need. More people like them need to be willing to take a stand.

I confess that my silence has not helped the issue, and my cartoon post was probably more polarizing than helpful. I just didn't want to be silent anymore.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"play shapes our brain, helps us foster empathy, helps us navigate complex social groups, and is at the core of creativity and innovation." Gifts of Imperfection p 100

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My name is Sarah Montoya, and I am a hipster.

Watch this and you will understand.

Important clarification: I do not have a trust fund. I am aware of my discontent with the way things are as the root of my nostalgia.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Stories of Shame

Image found on pinterst 
I was recently asked to share a story of reconciliation in my life. I answered that yes, like most of us, I have so many stories of relationships that have been mended, but I just don't know how to tell those stories in a way that honors the other people. I stated that I am just not sure how I can share those stories without bringing up accusations toward people who have done me wrong, but I have forgiven. It just doesn't seem fair to them. I mean, I shouldn't share anything that might make them look bad, right? And, obviously, I am just too selfless of a person to call them out in pubic and embarrass them.

A few minutes after this conversation the I came to the painfully embarrassing realization about why I have a hard time thinking of a story of reconciliation I would be willing to share with a room of 50 people. I don't want embarrass me. You would think I would have recognized who I was protecting much earlier in the process, but it was about 10 minutes after I hung up the phone that I realized I didn't want to talk about my stories of reconciliation, because I didn't want to talk about my own moments of humiliation.

I don't want to be exposed. I don't want to be perceived as the type of person that is weak enough to be mistreated, abused, cheated on, lied to, mocked, judged, or even just hurt. I want to be seen as fearless, strong, capable, lovable, desirable. I don't want to share the stories of people who have hurt me and how we have forgiven each other, because I don't want anyone to think of me as wounded, broken, or even healing.

I want to be seen as perfect. I want to be perceived as someone who is so lovable that no one would want to hurt me, ever, and therefore I have no stories of betrayal. I want people to believe have no stories of neglect or rejection, because no one would dream to devalue me.

A few weeks ago I stared reading The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown. She researched shame and with that vulnerability, authenticity and wholeheartedness. I have linked her TED talks before, and I love them.

At some point in the book or video Brown states that courage is telling your story with your whole heart and her book is set up to invite people into wholehearted living.

Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done, and how much is left undone, I am enough... (pg 1)
At first glance, this can sound very self centered, at least to me. Still, one amazing thing I have realized about forgiveness and reconciliation is that it requires compassion, for everyone, including myself. I have to believe I am enough, in order to believe others are enough, and to offer them compassion. "Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It is a relationship between equals." ( pg 16)  Furthermore, if I hide the wrong that has been done, I create walls that prevent it from being undone/healed. Instead I create space for shame to take over. "Shame needs three things to grow out of control in our lives: secrecy, silence, and judgment." (pg 40)

So, here is the truth: I am still in process of forgiving; I have been unloved, betrayed, and wounded; I am worthy of more, and so are the people who hurt me; I desire to be unashamed of how I have been treated, and I am working to live in way that allows me to be unashamed of how I have responded.

I am still unsure of what story I will share. I am still wrestling with the shame I feel about ever having allowed anyone to hurt me. Nonetheless, I will at least admit who it is I am hoping to protect, and I will work to recognize that this same protection might be the thing that is preventing me from fully living into forgiveness.

Monday, May 14, 2012

People don't get married in California.

In recent months I have been joking with my friends that I need to move back to TX, in order to get married because people don't get married in CA. This map has proved my point.

Now to decide do I want mountains, oceans, amazing hiking trails, cool weather, amazing culture, and fabulous San Francisco living more or less than I want a hubby?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Riding my bike through the panhandle the other day I looked up and saw a woman in an adorable vintage dress ride past me. My immediate thought was, "I need a floral vintage dress! She is so cute on her adorable bike, in her adorable dress, and all I have on is a striped (vintage) dress and that isn't as awesome as a FLORAL vintage dress, and my bike only has a metal basket and hers is woven, and clearly I NEED a floral vintage dress, because I don't have one, maybe I do have one, but not one with a dark background. Why is she cuter than me?!" 

Yes, most of that really did happen in my head: I had a jealous freak out that another women, who I will likely never speak to, looked cuter than me, at least in my mind, for the 5 seconds I saw her, I think she probably, looked cuter than me.

I like to believe I am a rational person. So, how does a rational woman justify that inner dialog? I think it comes from the mistaken impression that life is a competition, and my goal is to be better than everyone around me at everything. By everything I do mean everything, even my flaws need to be better than everyone else's. I don't think I am alone in this. I have countless conversations with loving and kind, well meaning people, who at one point or another are trying to prove to me, and everyone around them, that they are in fact best/worst at whatever is being discussed. We all seem to find identity in this competition, and in this competition we are all loosing it; not simply loosing the competition, but our own sanity.

It seems that in order to win the competition we find our thing that we feel is ours and we run with it. Sadly, no matter what it is we choose, our winning thing is often very fragile. My thing is my style and the way I ride around on a cute pale blue mixie. So, when I looked up an saw another woman looking cuter than me, I had lost the competition for the day. 9:00 am is way too early in the day to loose. So, I had a spaz moment in my head. Not because she actually looked cuter than me, but because compared to her, I had lost, and therefore my identity for the day was declared less.

Comparison kills joy, and it kills identity. Here is the shockingly bad news: none of us are the best person ever at anything, and we never will be. We are also not the worst, our life is not tragically harder or worse than everyone else's ever. Someone will be cuter, smarter, more stylish, and generally more awesome than you at something, or going through a harder crisis. You can deal with this in one of two ways: be jealous of their awesomeness or celebrate it; compete with their pain or grieve with them.

I wish that I had seen that woman that day and appreciated her style. Thought to myself "wow, that was a great dress" and stopped there. Simply celebrated her beauty instead of being jealous of it. I wish that every time some shared something hard, I offered genuine empathy. I am making a goal of both of these things. I know it will take some work. It will require that I remember that someone else's success does not imply my failure: I will need to learn that my identity is not found in comparison to others; I will have to take time to be grateful for the things I have; and I will need to face my own pain so that I can sit with others in theirs. I am pretty sure if I do these things I will loose fewer nonexistent competitions at 9 am, and that sounds like better idea than buying another vintage dress.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Jaclyn's Bachlorette Is This Weekend

I am off to the Russian River and so thrilled for a weekend with friends in nature. Joy to my soul! Let the shenanigans begin! 

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