Friday, October 17, 2014
31 Days of Courage: The Courage to Swim Upstream
Here’s a quote by a wonderful author and blogger whose words have many a day given me courage:
"Any dead fish can go with the flow — you have to be intentionally alive to swim against the current."
~ Ann Voskamp
This post is going to offend some people. And believe me when I say I have no intention and no motivation whatsoever to be offensive. I try very hard to stick to universal truths in my blog posts, and to stay away from politics and touchy subjects. Not because I don’t have strong beliefs, but because I believe my little calling in these daily scribbles has always been to bring encouragement for everyday people in their everyday world. Other folks, much smarter and far better educated than I have the grand calling of the big picture.
But Ann Voskamp’s quote, not to mention her fearless and grace filled writing, have given me some courage to tackle a topic highly controversial but deadly important. And I’m scared because I might be misunderstood, accused of being judgmental, and instantly dismissed. These are all things that push the chicken buttons of my heart.
So with fear and trembling I want to spend just a few paragraphs today in defense of the defenseless. And in the age we are living in even mentioning this horrendously painful topic is most definitely swimming upstream. But I don’t want to be a dead fish.
Since 1973, approximately 57 million unborn children in the United States of America have been denied an opportunity to take their first breath. There probably isn’t much sense in going over the arguments surrounding this silent holocaust, euphemistically referred to as “women’s reproductive rights”. Those who defend the practice of abortion and those who oppose it often cannot be moved. And I’m sure I will change no one’s mind today. My point here is that there is a cultural tide moving in the opposite direction to those who stand firmly in the defense of life. We must be willing to be thought of as intolerant, judgmental and pharisaical. We must swim against the stream and accept the consequences. And above all, we must not become ungracious and mean spirited in our unshakable grip on the truth. One can run into the wind without spitting into it.
Yesterday I wrote about encouragement. The giving of courage to another. And who needs it more than a woman who finds herself with an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy. It takes a tremendously brave person to risk her reputation (although that’s not as big a factor here in the 21st century), her career, or a relationship to give the gift of life to another small, helpless human being. It takes even more courage to then place that child in the loving arms of an adoptive mother. That kind of courage, self- sacrificing and profound, is what elevates our humanity. It is like the fire fighters who went up the stairs of the World Trade Center to rescue the helpless ones inside. They were willing to risk everything to save those souls. Beautiful in the extreme.
There is no easy when it comes to courage. It is not neat and clean like it looks in the movies. Courage costs big time, and not just in ways that can be seen, but in emotional losses that can last a lifetime. The strength to carry a baby to term, and then give that child away requires great endurance and willingness to accept loss. It demands being intentionally alive, feeling a million feelings, and swimming against the current.
Smitty and I regularly support a ministry called Alpha Center, which devotes itself to meeting the physical, psychological and spiritual needs of women who make the brave choice to keep their babies, and also to bring comfort and hope to those who have already experienced the devastation of having had an abortion. This is where the pedal meets the medal. How are we going to be there for the mother who makes the hard choice, and the one whose courage was battered?
I know it’s a complicated issue. So were the international politics of 9-11. But that didn’t matter to the people in the towers. They just wanted to live. They just needed someone to be brave enough to pull them from the flames.
Perhaps we ought to swim upstream with all our might, whatever is thought of us, to stand and deliver. Not with violence or harsh tongue or clenched fist. But with tenderhearted compassion and open hands and brave hearts. In whatever small way the Spirit of the Living God shows us.
That way, we won’t be dead fish.
Your friend on the pilgrim road,