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.

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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.

 

 

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Without a Choice

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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:

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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.

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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

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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. 

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

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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. 

Sophia Sighting: Alicante

Paella

By: Autumn Elizabeth

Location: Alicante, Spain

ah food…who doesn’t love food? I feel like a lot of important spiritual teachings surround food, whether fasting like Gandhi or feasting like Jesus. This particular dish of Paella was made for me by two amazing people who hosted me for a time in Spain. The dish, like life, is a sumptuous mixture of different ingredients, various tastes and complex sights and smells. There is holiness in the making of this dish, and the sharing of this dish. Comiendo es sabiduría, y cociendo es ternura.  Eating is wisdom and cooking is tenderness.

Familiar/Unfamiliar

By: Autumn Elizabeth

A veces necesitamos algo familiar.  El sonido de una palabra reconocida, las vibraciones la risa de un amigo, la sensación de una besa de una amante.  A veces Dios está muy cerca a nosotros. Para mí, en los días buenos, me siento Dios como el abrazo de una mama.

Sometimes we need something unfamiliar. We need something to awaken us to the new and different possibilities before us.Sometimes God is in the places where we don’t expect beauty or love. For me, God can be in the way a plastic bag is blow up against a chain link fence. Sometimes God is in a foreign word I hear cooed over a tiny baby in the subway.