I was brought up in a household of legalistic Christianity. I was ultimately raised to be far-right by those in my community, however my parents were hands-off about politics. We didn’t talk about it. I had this notion that everyone in politics was a puppet, plus it was beyond me, not to mention boring. However, I loved music. Yes, even some Christian music. In high school, I was attracted by the Pro-Life movement. My friends and I attended Pro-Life Christian concerts and rallies, where pro-life conversation was on the “agenda.” We were swept up with the ever growing ska & punk scene that was straight-edge and screaming Oi! Oi! Oi! What we were engaged in was small scale. We didn’t write postcards to our senators, we didn’t engage politically. But we participated in the hoopla of the message.
The furthest extent we took it to was: Peaceful Protest . One morning a week, a group of us from school would arrive over an hour before our first class. We hopped on a little bus that brought us to the local abortion clinic, 20 minutes away from our Christian school. We walked around the sidewalk, singing worship songs. We made a point to not talk to anyone going into the clinic. There were some religious fanatics that were there, holding bloody fetus posters and yelling at the girls. We thought they were crazy, and mean. We didn’t talk to them. When they tried to get us to participate in their actions, or hold signs, we said no. We couldn’t do it, it felt so wrong.
We did feel that what the girls and doctors were doing was wrong, but we always came from the place of: “no matter what you do, God will forgive you.” We left the speaking, to the adults. Our adult chaperones, however, didn’t speak either. We were all just trying to bring peace to this 1-block radius in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and maybe change some girls minds by just being there, singing about God’s love. When we were at the concerts, skanking & moshing, then we could cry out pro-life mantras, but we didn’t dare try to convince anyone outright.
During that time, I would go to church with my friends and their families. These churches spoke to my heart. I’m really grateful for that time. I explored a wide array of evangelism and Christianity, and not even all of it. A lot of people hate Christianity because of it’s Christians. I get it. Who wants to spend their time exploring something they already made up their mind up about, to try and find something good in there? Who actively trys to change their own mind!? I did it because I had a curated Christian life. It was all I was ‘allowed’ to do.
I went to this one church that had a class teaching about women in the Bible. It taught against the notion that women weren’t allowed to speak in church, or anywhere in leadership. According to my father, women could teach or speak to women and children, only. I grew up feeling really uneasy about this. I know now it was because I’m a lot like my dad. When it came to leadership, I wasn’t allowed to be like him, even though I naturally was. Had I been a shy girl who leaned naturally towards submissiveness, maybe this never would have been a problem. My dad walked and talked with authority. I wanted to command a stage and an audience, and communicate thought too. Luckily, he allowed me to be an actress.
Over time, I slowly began to think differently from him; independently, freely. I learned to think for myself. I was still thinking with those on the far-Right, and thought it was the only right way. But I knew women could speak out and have a voice, and that the Biblical ideas of sexism and bigotry were part of an entrenched culture that went back for centuries. Still as ancient as it was, I was experiencing it at home. I had my free-filled church and Christian life; and I had my oppressive home life.
When I went to a secular college (secular = non-Christian), which I think my dad still regrets allowing me to do, my mind was opened up further. I met people of all races, religions, and sexual preferences. My mind was blown, and I didn’t want to come out of my cute, little, safe shell. I was so cozy in there. I was SCARED. So when the elections came around in 2004, I voted Bush in for his second term, only because I still believed abortion was wrong. I didn’t tell anyone. Even though I literally hated the guy as President, and thought he was stupid, I still felt that abortion was a non-argument. It was murder. It’s ALL I knew about politics. And it’s all that I believed.
Finally, my senior year in college, I took the plan B pill. A freak accident with a broken condom that got stuck in my vagina for 72 hours, was the single-act of God that slapped me in the face. I walked 3 days in someone else’s shoes. I experienced a world I had once shunned and judged, and never fully understood. I am so grateful for that pill. I am so grateful for Stacy down the hall, who knew to call a nurse at a hotline in upstate New York, who would call in this prescription to anyone in the United States. They saved my life. They saved my future. They saved my way of thinking. It completely changed me.
I was so ashamed. How could I do this? I felt like such a hypocrite! Everything I had preached and believed for the past 8 years, was down the toilet with one pill, one interaction. I knew girls from high school that had gotten pregnant in college, and kept their babies. I don’t know if I would’ve gotten pregnant, but I knew I couldn’t have a baby. Not then, not while I was still in school, not when I wasn’t ready, not with that guy. I was planning on moving to LA in a few months. I had so much opportunity in front of me. I felt it would be more irresponsible for me to bare a child, then to not have one at that time in my life. I know there wasn’t a heartbeat, but I learned that life started at conception, no proof of heartbeat necessary. This was a big deal!
Back in my senior year of high school, my most favorite teacher and Chaplain, was teaching on the topic of Grace. He said if we learned one thing from him before graduation, he wanted us to understand the concept of God’s grace. I graduated almost completely oblivious. But his desire for me to understand grace was not forgotten. It wasn’t until I was able to experience Grace, that I learned what it truly meant. The saying “walk a day in someone else’s shoes”, is truly profound. If you’ve never done it, then it will just sound cliché. Learning empathy is what I think could truly save America, not being Right, or right, or accurate, or correct.
What is true anyway?
God = Love.
Love is always right.
But what about Fear?