i’m in the anger phase. 

Gabriel got new braces today. And I hate them.  
Structurally, they’re no different than his previous pair. The straps work the same way and he goes on with his life like they hardly exist just like he did before, stopping perhaps only to play with the Velcro for a moment then moving on to something else.

Because Gabe’s feet don’t grow in proportion to the rest of his body, the telltale sign of a toe growing over the edge of his orthotic had not yet happened, so it hadn’t occurred to me that he needed new ones. But his legs have grown a great deal since January, when his original orthotics were fitted, and they don’t grip his legs well enough anymore to keep his feet in the correct position. Enter, the new pair, reaching up to just below his chubby, dimpled knees.

His socks no longer fold over to cover the ugly plastic or crunchy Velcro that’s sure to be dirty by week’s end. These braces look so dominant to me, like a glaring reminder that this is all going to get harder. He may very well have to wear this style of brace well into his school aged years. What ugly names will kids dream up for them, for him? What kind of shoes will fit over these? While his brother is picking from countless pairs of basketball shoes or soccer cleats, what will Gabe be left with?

Life is about so much more than peer’s opinions or choice, I know this. To be reminded of our weakness, our dependence, our limitation, is in truth a blessing rich and pure. But blessings can feel like stones sometimes, when my heart is crying out for bread. It takes time to acquire the taste, to realize that these aren’t rocks in my mouth, but morsels of heavenly manna. And tonight, that time looks like acknowledging the grief cycle and validating it, accepting that it’s repeated itself many times over since Gabe was born and will again. And tonight, I’m in the anger phase. This isn’t what I want for him.
It could be so much worse, I know. But has that mental game ever, and I mean ever, really lifted one’s spirit beyond a fleeting moment? Of course it could be worse. Gabe has legs, and he crawls on them. Though it may be awkward or challenging, by God’s grace, he will most likely walk. But tonight, I’m just grieved for my child. I’m grieved that soon his mind will understand the questions about what he can and can’t do, about this one part of who he is that threatens to rule his story.

“Is he walking yet?”

“What’s his diagnosis?”

“Are his legs broken?”

Questions so well meaning, so understandable, so unfairly and unintentionally landing like breath-stealing punches.

Maybe it’s overboard to share moments this raw, the moments where I can still confidently say that I trust the Lord but that I loathe the hand we’ve been dealt, just for tonight. The moments where I’m sure grace and joy and hope will come in the morning, but tonight, Gabe’s story feels crushing and unending and painful. Maybe it’s overboard, but I think that more likely, it’s just another piece of the manna, the realization of just how imperative this truth-telling is, that letting others in is perhaps the only way to allow some of the agony to bleed out. It doesn’t feel like agony every day, but today it does. And the agony feels like angry and the angry begs me to call it what it is and just sit here for a minute, just feel it. So I’m feeling it, and sharing it, and not wishing it away, but welcoming it, as my dear friend Amy taught me this week. He can work all things together for good, even a mother’s heartbroken anger.

So, I’m just going to sit here a minute, and whisper out to each of you, “Hi, I’m Abby. And I’m in the anger phase.”

flesh & bones.

The planned parenthood videos. It’s all been said and yet it can’t be said enough. Their contents are horror and tragedy and grief, babies mutilated and mothers deceived, made to believe this is a new beginning when it is, simply put, the most tragic of endings.

Abortion is many things. It is a tangled web of problems masquerading as a solution. It is a way into darkness though it promises to be a way out, toward the light. It is, as Trevin Wax has said, “the blood sacrifice we make to the goddess of unfettered sexual desire.” It is also, oftentimes, the result of systems leading to their natural ends, of the marginalized feeling as though they have no other choice, that abortion is the most merciful act possible, at least the child won’t have to endure a world of pain and hunger and poor.

For Christians, this is the time for a response, a time to recognize that the world is watching for our next move. Many have spoken to that. I’ve been especially encouraged by and thankful for the surge of voices exhorting us to speak for the unborn and for women, to open our arms to all – to those who would consider abortion, to those who have done it, to the babies looking for arms in which to be held.

A flame burns inside me and it can’t be snuffed out – we must, mustMUST be hands and feet in these evil days, we cannot simply be mouths. We must counter child sacrifice with personal sacrifice, we must fill empty bedrooms and give more than feels safe and open doors we’d prefer remain closed. We must ask questions that would rather stay locked up in our minds, because the answers may lead to conviction, may lead to lives that feel reckless but maybe they are really just love in all its robust glory. If we claim to be lovers of the flesh and bones of tiny beings ripped apart, disregarded, even trafficked, we must put some flesh on the bones of our beliefs and step into the darkness with compassion and relentless devotion.

There are so many ways to do this and those listed below just scratch the surface. My hope for this post is to spur conversation, encourage ideas, foster change, help us all become brighter reflections of the bright hope within us. We need to show the world that we are here, church; that we will love and defend and welcome and help when no one else will. We cannot lead those faced with the dreadful decision of how to “handle” a pregnancy away from abortion if we are unwilling to step in, to be life on life encouragement, support, and aid. I pray we will become passionate about becoming the type of people who are thought of as the ones who will help, the ones who will say yes when the world says no. May we be the early church, rushing to the aid of the oppressed, alone, afraid. May our love for God’s way, truth, standards and people lead us toward the broken and fearful, not away from them.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Let us help one another to think and engage well, to wisely and graciously enter into our culture with hearts and hands that live out our message – I will suffer so you don’t have to, defenseless baby, frightened mother, isolated family. I will suffer because my Jesus suffered for me, because He took my sin and shame and sadness on Himself and He paid for it all. I will suffer because I’ve already been told that in this world I will have trouble, but I can take heart. My Jesus has overcome the world.

May we reach out, unafraid.