Praying for Choices

12Today’s post is a reflection from our ongoing series of responses to Faith Aloud’s Forty Days for Prayer.  This post on the 21st prayer is from Karen, who is an intern for Faith Aloud through Eden Theological Seminary while concurrently pursuing a Master of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. Karen’s wise words about praying for everyone’s choices show thoughtfulness, kindness, and love in a conversation that is often fraught with anger. Karen shows us that being pro-choice involves so many shades of understanding.

 

I am pro-choice and I pray. People who identify as pro-choice are often people of nuance. Contrary to the polarizing images presented in the media or society’s tendency to put people in boxes, to be pro-choice is to recognize that everyone has different contexts: family structures, friends, support networks, economic resources, educational backgrounds, physical conditions, mental health issues, spiritualities… the list goes on. We who are pro-choice recognize that all of the factors that make up who we are affect the decisions we all make.

As one of many pro-choice voices, I aim to understand others with compassion, recognizing that others’ choices may not be my own.  Even when people make decisions that differ from what I would have chosen, I know everyone is just as worthy of compassion, dignity, and respect. I am confident that everyone is capable of making the choices that are best for them, within their situations.482235_10151534296663383_694611725_n

At Faith Aloud, where I work, we are devoted to ensuring that people integrate their faith traditions and spirituality into their reproductive decisions, rather than believing that in order to consider all of their reproductive options, they must leave their faith and spirituality at the door. We believe that no one should feel alone when seeking faith guidance on reproductive decisions, and everyone deserves to feel whole and loved.

Today, the prayer from Forty Days for Prayer is mindful of those in developing nations, whose choices and decisions might be different from my own. Today’s prayer recognizes that economic need and the lack of supportive political structures can press down upon a lack of employment and educational opportunities to make people feel trapped within their situations.

As nuanced voices for choice, we are attentive to the ways in which lack of access to birth control and safe abortion procedures may occur on economic, political, and personal levels. Nonetheless, we believe that all people have the power of self-determination, to make choices of their own, even when those choices may be limited by external forces or by internal struggle.

601606_10151535407973383_1688906799_n

When I pray for self-determination, through the prayers of Faith Aloud, I pray for all people to be empowered to find the best way to make life better for themselves, their families, and their communities. This is a prayer for people to courageously and creatively make decisions that bring peace to their souls and well-being to their lives. This prayer is based on hope, the hope that things can and will be better. I pray that all people will remember that even when their circumstances press down around them, they are not defined by their circumstances, and they are not alone. I pray that they have choices.

 

 

Advertisements

Choosing to Let Go

By: Autumn Elizabeth

AutumnElizabeth2

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

― Max Ehrmann, Desiderata

Being an immigrant can be frustrating, so can being a Christian, and being a traveling Christian feminist…that can definitely get frustrating. Most of my frustration comes from concentrating too much on the results of my life. I want things to go my way, want my prayers to be answered the way I want, want everything to go as I have planned. Once I choose a path, I want it to be the right one. I want to be the one in control of all the outcomes.

But that’s the thing, I am not in control, not of my life as an immigrant, and not as my life as a Christian. I have to give up that illusion.  Now, I am not one to say “let go and let God”. I don’t believe that if I sit at home and do nothing God will make everything perfect.  I am pretty sure God wants us all to strive, to work, to hustle for a better world.

However, sometimes, when we are doing the best we can, when we are working to change the world with thought and action, we can give our frustration to God. We can choose to let go of the result, if and when we have given our best to the process.

So this is what I am choosing. I am choosing to let go of those things that are out of my control, like the result of a job application, or a visa application. I am deciding that my hard work will eventually pay off, even if I can’t see it.

Isn’t that the whole mystery of the universe, of God anyway? None of us, not a one, can know the ultimate effect of our actions. Yet we are called, as humans of a hurting earth, to act, to create, to work, even if the end result goes unseen by our eyes.

I choose to continue to support organizations like Faith Aloud, even when it seems like we fight the same battles every day. I choose to continue to pray for the people of Syria, of Ukraine,and  for all people who live in the mists of this world’s conflicts, even when it seems my prayers go unanswered. I choose to continue on this life path as immigrant, even when I don’t know if it is the right one.

I choose to believe that my work and my life are important for this world, even if I never see the good they do.  I am constantly, forever, choosing to believe that I am a child of the universe, a child of a loving God, and, that with my help, the universe is unfolding as it should.

If you want to tell us what you believe, what you choose, and how you are making a difference, you can submit your words, photos, and prayers.

The Choice of Leaving Syria

Today’s post comes from Shaza Askar, a young Syrian woman. Shaza’s brave words shed a new light on the theme of choices. Above all, Shaza’s post gives us a glimpse into the reality of war, and we here at Searching Sophia’s Pockets are exceedingly glad she is able and willing to share her story.  

my room Homs

“A part of me is still there…” says Shaza of her room in Homs, Syria

From the outside, Syria looks like Armageddon. It just looks like full-on combat around every corner, but war-zones are never what they appear from the outside. There are always pockets of calm and neighborhoods where life goes on.

Around the end of the year 2011, I chose to move to the capital city of Damascus to pursue a Master’s degree there. You can never guess that life was almost normal in the neighborhoods inside Damascus. However, in the distance you could always hear artillery rounds landing, but it seemed like there were areas and pockets that were nearly calm except for some mortars and Grad Rockets falling every now and then, in addition to explosions taking place once in two or three weeks.

Despite choosing to move somewhere safer, I almost lost my sister in an explosion in summer 2013. More than twenty people were burned to death while they were riding a bus after it passed over planted explosives. People around the explosion were injured too. My sister was one of those injured by the explosion, of course but thankfully she survived it. The violence continued to escalate. Battles were surrounding the capital city; some of them even took place within the neighborhoods of Damascus. We had to make a choice.

Living in a situation like that, fleeing the country was the only choice for me. After the choice of leaving Syria was made, I, along with my sister, began the long and exhausting process of preparations. After a few months of working on our papers in such a complicated situation, and having to fly to Jordan or Lebanon whenever we had an appointment with the German Embassy, risking our lives with snipers who were readily placed on the way to the airport, my sister and I were finally accepted to study at German universities that were exceptionally supportive to us with regard to our special case.  I can’t be thankful enough for every person that showed real compassion during that time because it meant a lot.

Escaping Syria was my choice, but what of the people who are still there without the option to leave? What is their choice?

Without a Choice

60766_10151507897133383_153193316_n

Today we continue our series of responses to Faith Aloud‘s Forty Days for Prayer. Today, Jenni Taylor  is responding to a prayer about domestic abuse, and looking at those who feel they have no choice. So, Here’s Jenni with her wise words about violence, prayer, choices, and hope. 

For the women in my life who have experienced fear:

who have felt their ears burning in shame, burning more than the bruises and the cuts, the shame of walking away and then walking back, knowing your lips will remain sealed, knowing you will continue to stay out of love for him, love for your family, love for your children-

Do not be ashamed. Do not think you are alone.

There was a woman in the bible that knelt down to wash Jesus’ feet with her hair. I dream about my grandmother sometimes, a woman who raised eight children in the shadow of an abusive husband and father, and I hope someday I

can kneel next to her and pour oil on her wounds and say:

photo2

I love you.

I love you so much my heart aches. You never were, never are, and never will be shameful.

I will never blame you for making the wrong choice, for staying, for sacrificing yourself.

Instead, I will love and honor you for your strength of spirit. I will celebrate your life and know the man you loved broke your heart but never broke your will to survive. I can feel your spirit around me, grandmom, and I know you make me strong.

There are so many other women I know who have been abused physically, emotionally, and sexually. For those who have chosen to leave, I pray that you find loving support wherever you go, the strength to tell your story, and healing for all the hurt and pain.

419276_10151508050833383_1100438107_n

For those who stay because the other choice is worse, or those who feel they have no choice at all, I pray for protection over you and your loved ones, I pray for friends and advocates to come to your aid, I pray that you may find choice and freedom from a situation that seems impossible to escape. And I pray again,

Do not be ashamed.

You are never, never alone.

We are here for you.

Honoring the Choices of Others

19800_10151502294863383_552116017_n

Today, we start a series of responses to Faith Aloud’s multi-faith Forty Days for Prayer. After looking at the prayers, which are currently being prayed during the Christian season of Lent, we invite you to send us your responses. Today’s post comes for our very own  Autumn Elizabeth.

I have made a lot of choices in my life. I’ve chosen which church to attend as an adult. I’ve chosen which birth control method to use, which people I want as romantic partners, and even which countries to live in. I’ve chosen to make a lot of decisions that other people may not understand. But in every decision, I know that God understands.

The God I know, the Jesus I follow, does not require me to justify my choices to those who do not know me. I am called only to make my choices with my God, and to let the choices of others remain between them and their God.

We can never know the real reasons for the choices of others. Yet, the universe calls us to love, not hostility.

I have chosen to protect the very women today’s prayer honors. I have stood in front of anger, hatred, and violence at abortion clinics and tried my best to project the love of God. That was my choice–to protect the choices of those who I do not know.

So today, I choose again to use my voice, my faith, and my love to shield people from harm.  I pray for the women who must walk through crowds of hostility and anger. I pray that more people will choose to protect everyone’s right to make their own choices with their own God. I pray that we all choose to honor choice with love, respect, and care. 

76046_10151504441333383_1021051334_n

What You Choose to Believe Can Save the World

By: Jenni Taylor

When we were young, we were told we could be anything. Ballerinas, fire fighters, dragon killers and ostrich riders. We were unbeatable- until a scratch, cut, or broken limb sent us running back to the adult world to fix the things we couldn’t fix on our own.

I belong to the adult world now, but my feelings are the same. I am unbeatable- until an unkind word, work disaster, or soul crasher send me running to the hills looking for someone, anyone, who is bigger and more capable than me. Adult suffering is child suffering, except with large walls to hide the wounds.

The monsters I fight are sneakier now. They come in the guise of whispers, of shiny success, of matchstick “love” that puffs into smoke. I find myself swinging my sword at Goliaths- racism, sexism, hate, injustice- and not making a dent.

That’s when I have a choice.

Faith is believing in what you can’t see. I will never prove Gods existence to any of you, and that has never been my goal. But I can choose to believe that:

If I seek wisdom, I will find it.
If I am broken, I will not be broken forever.
If I am weak, I can be made strong.
If I need comfort, I will be comforted.
If I believe I have a purpose, I have a purpose.

If I choose to believe I am loved by the creator of the universe, I will have the courage to love others. If I make the choice and believe that love is bigger than the monsters, then I know that love will change the world. Like a little girl running to her mom for a bandage for a bleeding knee, I choose to run to my faith and know it will heal my broken heart.

So here I am, in all my adult glory, choosing to be small, choosing to be brave, and choosing to believe I am never alone.

I stand here knowing that what I choose to believe in could save the world..

Faith Aloud, Choice, and Change/ Faith Aloud y Opciones y Cambio

551362_10151504441133383_1068583490_n556025_10151729722553452_2107995952_n

This month for our Spare Change Spotlight we are focusing on an organization that is attempting to change the dialogue around reproductive justice.  That organization is Faith Aloud.  Faith Aloud is “The Religious and Ethical Voice for Reproductive Justice”.  This means that they work with and for people of all faiths and spiritual paths to change the dialogue about reproductive justice.

Este mes enfocamos en la organización Faith Aloud. Como dice en suyo sitio de web “Como la gente de fe religiosa y la convicción,Faith Aloud apoya la justicia reproductiva para todas las personas.”

Much like Searching Sophia’s Pockets, Faith Aloud provides a safe space for dialogue. They support people as they explore and understand their reproductive choices through their all-options multi-faith counseling, which can be reached at 1-888-717-5010 (US) or via the website.

Igual como Searching Sophia’s Pockets, Faith Aloud provee un espacio seguro para diálogo. Faith Aloud ofrece apoya a personas quien están haciendo decisiones reproductivas con suyo asesoramiento gratis. Faith Aloud tiene consejeros de muchas fes y todos ofrecen consejos sobre todos opciones reproductivas.

Additionally, during this season of lent, when some people choose to express their views by yelling and shaming women at reproductive health clinics, Faith Aloud has created a choice for peace and support. Their 40 days for Prayer, features prayers focused in supporting choice, health, and those who bravely provide those options.

Durante la estación de Cuaresma, Faith Aloud ha creado un opción por paz y justicia. Faith Aloud tiene 40 Días de Oración para apoyar elecciones reproductivas. Puedes verlos cuando bajas en el sitio de web.

If you would like to donate to Faith Aloud, they always welcome your spare change, but you can also help by sharing their  40 Days for Prayer.  You can also check out the Faith Aloud YouTube page, which has lots of excellent videos on choice, teen sexuality, and more.

Si quieres apoyar Faith Aloud, tu pudieras donar dinero, compartir los 40 Días de Oración, o ver y compartir el canal de YouTube.

We look forward to supporting Faith Aloud, and everyone’s choices, this month with more posts and important discussions.

Esperamos apoyar Faith Aloud, y las opciones de cada uno de este mes con más publicaciones y discusiones importantes.