Tired in the Tension: My Reflections on Today’s March
Posted on January 21, 2017
I’m tired today.
I’ve been watching all morning the vitriol back and forth between people I know, all of whom would claim to love Jesus. So much judgement being hurled. It hurts and it feels personal. It all has to do with the Women’s March.
When I first heard about the march happening here in LA, I was excited. I saw it as a chance to “pray with my feet” for the rights of minority women, immigrants, and refugees. It seemed to be a way to put action to my verbal protest of rhetoric and policies that are coming from our now president and his administration.
Then I saw the article from Christianity Today and learned all about how clearly it was being communicated to pro-life groups that their support wasn’t wanted.
Sigh. As a woman of color who values life from conception to death, I hated the sinking feeling that came from knowing my values weren’t wanted at the table in this march. It stung.
I live in two very different worlds.
So, I decided to sit it out today. I knew friends who were going anyway, “complicating the narrative” as some were saying by being pro-life marchers in the mix. They were the believers holding signs saying things like “no human is illegal”, “black lives matter” and “refugees welcome”. Some were marching for Native women. Some were marching alongside their Muslim friends. Some were marching with their young kids, praying they will grow to know a better country. They were my people, and they didn’t take the lack of alignment with the entire platform of the march as a sign they couldn’t come and walk in solidarity with women whose values overlapped in a many ways with Imago Dei. I supported them in spirit. Prayed for them as I saw their pictures online.
But then I saw all the other posts. Friends who were indignant that anyone who valued life would be out there today. Friends who said things about how those liberals just needed to stop the whining because women are not actually oppressed.
I live in two very different worlds. I live in a world where friends who follow Jesus saw their march today as a living out of gospel values in both word and deed, even if they disagreed with parts of the platform as Christian women and men. I also live in a world where, to other friends, it was unfathomable that any true follower of Jesus would march next to anyone who thought killing babies was okay. To them, it was a politically liberal march with a liberal agenda. It was a bunch of angry women wearing pink hats yelling about vaginas. That’s it.
If I’m honest, I know that both of these worlds were in my head when I decided to stay home today. I also know, again if I’m being truly honest, that I stayed back today partly because of my moral conscience, but also because the world of my friends who would judge me for going felt too weighty for me right now. I have been so hurt the last few months (and years) by Christians whom I would call friends. Friends who have questioned whether I care at all about the unborn. Friends who have made outrageous, evil claims about me related to why I voted for Hillary. Friends who have dismissed my concerns about Trump as insignificant in light of supreme court justices and roe v wade. My objections were simply a sign that I had strayed too far and had become “liberal”. The label itself has become the ultimate way for evangelicals to malign their fellow Christians who disagree with them.
So, I made a decision to not to invite more criticism by showing up at a march for women’s rights that some of my brothers and sisters in Christ saw as questionable at best, morally bankrupt at worst. I was tired of being labeled and targeted as someone who was outside the evangelical club because of my advocacy for marginalized communities of color. I hated giving my evangelical friends another reason to throw me outside the gates because it wasn’t clear enough-based on only my Facebook posts-where I stood on issues like abortion.
Ironically, the more I have come alongside the marginalized, the more pro-life I have become. I have sat in women’s clinics with students who having already had abortions, hoped beyond hope that God could have mercy on them. I’ve talked to Christian women who daily live through the haunting trauma of having aborted a child and are never able to tell another person about it because of their fear of rejection by the Church. It is because of these and many other stories that I remain pro-life.
But, alas, it has become easier to label me as “liberal”, instead.
I would also love to work at bridging this divide that exists in between my two worlds. Worlds that I care about and worlds where I still find myself. But the gap just seems to get wider, and my arms just seem to get tired trying to hold myself in the tension.
Well, I’m tired of issues like immigration, Black Lives Matter, and refugees all being labeled as a liberal agenda. Because my motivation behind these social issues, and many others, is not primarily political but theological. Imago Dei, Imago Dei, Imago Dei is the compass that holds me to standing alongside these communities. I believe it is what it means to live out of Micah 6:8. I believe it is how I model my belief not only in the death and resurrection of Jesus, but also in the life he lived too.
Now at the close of the day as the marches have ended and people head home, I see I made my decision based on exhaustion and fear, rather than out of conviction. I should have marched today. That would have been me living out of my convictions.
And I would also love to work at bridging this divide that exists in between my two worlds. Worlds that I care about and worlds where I still find myself. But the gap just seems to get wider, and my arms just seem to get tired trying to hold myself in the tension. Friends, I’m tired of being tired.
Lord, have mercy on your church. Lord, have mercy on me.