When I first had the idea to write this a few days ago, I wasn’t going to do it. What I had on my mind was a big part of my heart, and there was no way I was going to reveal this to y’all. It wasn’t worth the shame. But then I read the prompt in my writing book and decided to share the deepest parts of my story, very few of which I’ve shared with anyone. First, let me share the prompt itself. “Reflect on those moments where people have dismissed or disrespected your writing pursuits. Did you shrink? Did you defer? Did you become silent? Think about ways to rebel–to defy the expectations they’re setting for you. Commit the crime of being yourself.” (52 Pep Talks for Writers, Grant Faulkner) While this seems to only be a writing prompt, I will also be discussing my life story because they’re intertwined–my life and my writing–to a point where they can’t be separated.
So, what started this line of thought, or should I say when did it start? It happened a few days ago. January 22. I woke up thinking there was something important about the date. I considered it over breakfast and while I was scrolling social media, but the only thing I could come up with was that people I know had birthdays that day. Later on, I saw it. January 22, 2020, was the 47th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing the right of a woman to have an abortion in the United States. There were postings on the upcoming March for Life as well as articles about making sure abortion remained legal for anyone who wanted it.
I have a funny relationship with Roe v. Wade. Let me first say that I have never had an abortion and firmly believe that abortion is the killing of an unborn baby. A part of my Christian faith, so to speak. But, and this is a big but, despite all that, I’m not an activist on changing the law. I’m not someone who gets into arguments about the law, and I’m definitely not someone who makes nasty comments towards those who have had abortions. I ask myself why. Why wouldn’t I get involved in something that I say is so important to my faith? I can tell you why. Changed laws don’t reflect changed hearts, and I truly believe changed hearts is what God wants from us first.
I was born a few years before Roe v. Wade to teenage parents. They did all the right things. They didn’t try and abort me (in a back-alley fashion), and they got married. Now, there are many people who would say I should stop right there. Everything about my existence was done in the “Christian” way, and I have nothing to complain about. Don’t get me wrong. I do appreciate that I am here. Psalm 139 is one of my favorite psalms, and it tells me that God has a plan for my life no matter how I came to be. At the same time though…at the same time, I grew up thinking I was someone else’s mistake. I didn’t feel loved and valued as a person which has colored my outlook on life. I had a hard time believing God loved me when I came to faith as a teenager, and I still have a hard time today believing God’s love translates into love from my Christian brothers and sisters.
That’s why I have a hard time believing that changing laws will result in changed hearts. Even if the Supreme Court decision making abortion legal was rescinded, there would still be poverty (along with a whole host of other things). There would still be families who struggle to get by, and there would be shame. Shame placed on a child who doesn’t deserve it. Shame placed on a family because of their mistakes. I don’t believe God wants this. I believe He would rather see us make abortion unnecessary than to have a child be thought of as someone’s mistake rather than the precious little soul they are.
Now, I want to circle back to the prompt I quoted at the beginning of this post. Because I have internalized being someone’s mistake, it’s hard for me to think of my writing as something worth reading. Anything I have to contribute, really. I stare at a crowd and wonder what I have to contribute. The things I try aren’t noticed, or they’re just noticed as an aside. Then, I become silent. If my writing or the other things I try and do aren’t noticed, what’s the worth in using my voice?
Then, I come to the last sentence of the prompt and realized that’s where my answer lies. “Think about ways to rebel–to defy the expectations they’re setting for you.” I also look at the title of this pep talk, “Creativity as an Act of Defiance”. I need to defy the expectations of my background and of my psyche. I do have something to say. People might not like it. My closest friends and family might not like it. I might lose friends and family because of what I say. I might even lose Christian brothers and sisters. Who am I kidding? I’ve already lost Christian brothers and sisters. But, it’s who I am, and it’s who God wants me to be. Writing my thoughts and stories is the only way towards the most authentic expression of myself.
So, I write as an act of defiance. I write to change hearts and not laws. I write because God wants me to write, and I write because it’s how God made me. I hope all of you who write can find the reason you write today.
God bless you all!