Dying for the Faith

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“It’s for when I am tortured.”

She caught me staring at her wrists, which seemed to have some scarring that I couldn’t figure out.

“Excuse me?” My brain wasn’t registering.

My early church professor, a Coptic nun, lifted up her sleeves and showed me scars in the shape of a cross on the inside of each of her wrists. She then explained to me that it is common for Coptic Christians to tattoo or scar crosses on the inside of their wrists to remind them of their faith when they are tortured or killed for being Christians.

When.

When they are tortured. When they are killed.

She wasn’t even the only professor on campus with a different Christian reality than those around them. There was another beloved professor with a noticeable limp and frequent health problems caused by the torture he received after his conversion to Christianity as a college student.

How ridiculous it must have been to be teaching all these predominately white, wealthy (especially among global standards) seminary students. How angry must they have been listening to our complaints about needing things to be fair or wanting special treatment.

I was reminded of these mentors yesterday when I heard about the martyrdom of the French priest, Jacques Hamel. It makes me sick to my stomach, but to die for the faith is as old as Christianity itself. I myself was named after the first Christian martyr, Stephen, whose story is told in the book of Acts. And almost anyone who has grown up in the church has heard the story of the early church martyrs.

It’s so real. It’s so foundational.

But I can’t help but ask myself, could I do it?

Seriously. Could I die or put myself up for torture for my faith?

When I say, “I believe”….do I actually mean it?

I honestly don’t know. And that’s sad.

Could you do it?

 

In My Sights This Week:

  • DNC…LOVED Michelle Obama’s speech on the first night. Second hand embarrassment for that celebrity music video on the second night.
  • I was also in love with this article on Mary Magdalene. What an interesting history of the church’s interpretation of her and her meaning to the church!

Saying Goodbye…

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“You’re the only one who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside.”

I broke down into some serious ugly crying during this Huggies commercial. It felt like salt in the wound, especially since I left Bennett and went back to work this week.

Leaving him is somewhat liberating, but also heart-wrenching and debilitating.

During my long drives back and forth to work, I kept wondering why when I’m with the baby I sometimes desire just a few precious moments to myself to breath. Yet leaving for work felt like losing a limb. And I’m aware this isn’t just felt by mothers. My husband shared with me that it took him weeks to get over getting back to work after Bennett was born.

Nevertheless, I am selfish in my grief right now.

I don’t have answers and I am sure it’s different for everyone, but I wonder if my pain stems from not just the bond between mother and child (an intense one), but the fact that up until recently the two of us have shared the same body.

For almost 10 months, I alone felt his every growth and move. Sure, I had relationships outside of the one with him, and he heard voices of those other than mine, but the two of us were one in the same. He told me when he was mad, excited, uncomfortable. He only had me and I grew him all by myself.

Even when he left me and joined the world, we still shared my body. Jeff held him and changed his diapers, but I alone could feed him and make him thrive.As much as it is asked of mothers to sacrifice everything we have and are in order to give our babies life – what do you do when your sun and moon and stars is handed to another when they still need you so desperately? I feel despondent. I feel as if a vital limb or organ has been taken away and I am expected to move forward as if the last 3 months – hell, the last 13 months – hasn’t happened.

I know it will get better. I know he will only get more and more independent – needing us less and less. But this does not bring comfort. My heart is broken.

Here ends my emo post…

 

In My Sights This Week

  • The RNC…no comment.
  • The Real Housewives of New Jersey is back! Judge all you want….sorry I’m not sorry.
  • One of my very favorite outreaches is Chicago Books to Women in Prison. Here‘s an interesting article that explains the importance of what they do. Support them if you can!!
  • I cannot recommend this read enough. I have had to go to physical therapy and may have some damage to organs from pregnancy and childbirth. I had no idea how common this was or how to advocate for myself.
  • This article about saying goodbye to my pre-mom self seemed like good timing for this week.

Lean In To God? But why…

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I knew this day would come.

“You’ll figure it out.” “Trust God’s call for you.” “You can’t do everything. Something will give.” “You may need to let something go.” “How much does either your job or your dissertation mean to you?” “I could never do that to my child.”

I’m going back to work in  a week. These are the comments I’ve gotten just in the last 10 days.

There were times in the beginning when this seemed years away. But now that our little unit has turned the corner with Bennett and a routine is inching its way into our day… I can’t make time slow down.

I have a ton of emotions about what this all means (most of it easily slipping into worry and fear):

 

  • A part of me is excited to get dressed, have lunch in one sitting, and have adult conversations.
  • A part of me is heartbroken to leave my son and would give almost anything to at least have a job that was part-time.
  • I am worried how Bennett will handle a bottle all day  every day.
  • To be honest, I still hate my body. It doesn’t look like the body I knew and cared for for 32 years. It also won’t fit into any of my clothes. This is a vain concern, but it’s real.
  • It’s hard enough to go back to work, but I am worried about finishing my dissertation. When will I have the time to do this? Where will I find the strength? Where will I find the energy? Where will we find the money?
  • I have to go to physical therapy because pregnancy and birth caused some serious damage. How can I handle all of this with such a broken a bruised body?
  • We’re moving (again) to our new home (if all goes well) in the middle of August. How will I handle this? That is more time away from my dissertation.
  • I will now live a good hour away from work and 30 minutes from Bennett’s care situation. That’s 3 hours a day that feels wasteful when time has become even more precious.
  • Where will I find the time to be a good partner now that I have three full time jobs (work, dissertation writing, mom) vying for my attention over my husband?
  • Etc., etc., etc.

 

I’m not writing all of this to enter myself into the “I’m more busy and stressed than you” Olympics. Everyone is barely scraping by. Everyone is drowning in their attempts to be present in all facets of their life. I am also the first person to admit that I have help where so many others don’t. As I freak out about how I will make it, I am still bathed in privileges that millions of others don’t have to help me through this period in my life.

But as I sit on my bed, counting down the days until I leave my baby and clumsily attempt to start back in the real world, I am struck by how people of faith approach me and how I, as a person of faith, am “supposed” to move forward.

Here are the two that seem to bug me the most: “anything is possible when you have God” and “just lean on God and it will all be OK.”

I intellectually understand it. I do. God performs miracles every day. God has a plan. God cares and loves me. God can literally do anything, but these phrases makes me angry and resentful.

There are single mothers and immigrants and parents barely making ends meat every day who drown under the weight of the world and their responsibilities. If I have to quite something or I fail, does that mean that God doesn’t find me worthy to succeed? Do I sit back and just wait, hoping a pleading for God to step in and do everything? How am I supposed to take that sentiment? I don’t take it as supportive, but as a way to shut me down. I need something more material to grasp.

Conversely, what does a person of faith say to someone drowning? How do you bring God into a tough situation without making it worse by throwing flippant God talk to someone who is looking for a life preserver?

I am curious to hear if I am alone in this. I am curious to know if instead of feeling comfort, people feel anger when someone tells you: “God has a plan” when you’re overwhelmed by life, fear, pain, mourning, etc.

I want to invite God in. I want to feel comfort in my faith, but the options I have been given so far don’t provide that. Does that make me a bad Christian? Does that mean that another person’s faith is better than mine because hearing about God’s “plan” gives them calm in a storm?

Where is God for you when the world becomes too much? Help me lean into God.