Sunday, January 25, 2015

I Have a Fire in My Belly After The March For Life by Patti Smith

Now I'm home from the LCMS conference and the 2015 March for Life.  My heart and mind is just overflowing -- what I heard and learned, and the people I spoke with, the worship services, the fire in my belly rekindled for Life and most of all for service to the Lord.

I was very humbled and kind of blown away when a Pastor from Montana and his teen daughter pulled me aside and asked me for 5 minutes of my time.  He said he heard me speak about rape and incest exceptions during the Q and A time with Carol Tobias from National Right to Life Conference - NRLC, and he was very challenged and impressed.  He asked me how we can bridge the divide and the conflict within the pro-life movement.  How can we create an atmosphere of mutual cooperation with such differing views of HOW to be an advocate both in our own lives, in our communities, churches and in our government?   That was a huge question, and having no real answer at the time, I asked HIM what  his thoughts were.  I want to hear from other people because, honestly, I felt I really am not the one to give these answers!  

He was insightful and very informative, suggesting books and other works for me to read.  His daughter who was maybe 20, was so knowledgeable about government, history of abortion, and legislation, and like so many millennials, has grasped and embraced on to this present Social Injustice - the right to life for all with a zeal which inspires me.  And I saw that same zeal and conviction in the youth with whom I spoke and heard from at the convention.  Hope arises!!!    

So -- what do I do with all this?  What is my action plan moving forward?  I've been up all night (jet lag and Charlie horse in my leg,) my mind filled with thoughts like: how ARE we going to reverse Roe v. Wade?  How ARE we going to present legislation that is 100% pro-life with no exceptions?   And how on earth will that ever get passed?   Then I thought, what do I know about how our government works?  What do I really know about abortion?  What do I know about who the movers and shakers are and HOW do they do what they do?

Beyond my known calling for pro-life work as an adoptee conceived in rape and as a Lutheran, what is MY role in all of this?  What is MY "assignment from God," as it were?  How does my voice, my life and my convictions fit within this massive puzzle of being an advocate for life?   

I always tend to see the Big Picture, and then I get overwhelmed. I fail to stop and roll it back a bit and look at the details and breaking issues down to "doable" chunks of time and effort.   I think, I'm just one person, what can I possibly do?  I'm not a lawyer, I'm not a politician, I have not even gone to college. I am one person, with a heart that is bursting with zeal for my country, for freedom and for protecting and honoring that very basic freedom -- the right to life for all -- with no exceptions. 

After spending the night thinking, taking notes on my thoughts, one thing is clear:  I need to get that "education."   In order to be a responsible advocate for life, to speak to life issues, to educate others, I must educate myself -- learn the basics, learn more.  What is abortion, how is abortion performed, what are the "complications" of abortion? I bought the book "Complications" at the conference.  I need to learn about bioethics, about how our government works, about what rights we have and what rights are incrementally being taken away,and about how to be an advocate. I need to learn from those who have gone before me, and to learn from those movers and shakers we have in the pro-life arena right now.  I need to learn who my legislators are and what their stand on life issues are.  I need to learn from history, from heroes of the faith, and from those who have declared war on humanity.  I need to learn from current events to those from antiquity, and how to gather support from constituents and lawmakers. I need to learn how to communicate in rational, convincing ways. I need to learn how to bridge the divide opening doors for dialogue and exchange of ideas, respecting other views, while not being shaken in my own moral stand. Then when I am myself educated, then I can best educate others.  I can go and be a stronger voice. 

I have not completed my training with Lutherans For Life -- but will commit to doing that, which is one of my first steps in my learning commitment. 

It has become clear to me that having a life team at my own church may not become a reality -- agreeing with my pastor that we already have "life teams.” He says every ministry IS a life team, and that is true.  I want to support in every way the "life teams" which exist in my church -- the quilting crafters who make projects that support the crisis pregnancy shelter and center which our church supports, our youth group who does many of the outreach projects that I read about in the LFL materials detailing life group activities, our grief group which reaches out to those struggling with loss, our community life group which runs the food pantry for the homeless – etc, etc..  They are all essentially life groups.   So perhaps forming a Lutherans for Life Chapter in Southern California -- Orange County would be prudent.  

But first things first.  I'm getting my own house in order -- preparing the way of the Lord by educating myself, listening and learning from others, reading, studying, grounding myself in God's word which is a lamp unto my path and praying more than I have ever prayed before. I am continuing to sidewalk counsel at Planned Parenthood for that is one place where I learn life lessons on advocacy the most.  I partner with other organizations, always learning, always listening, always asking questions -- opening my mind to new ways of being that voice for life and freedom, and surrendering my life, my talents, my resources and my convictions to the Lord of Life - through with His strength, I can do all things. 

Please pray for me as I resume this journey, one step at a time, with renewed conviction and this Holy Fire in my belly to go forth and be the light and voice for the "least of these."  I don't know what God has in store for the rest of my life, but I know that if I stay in His light and in his precepts, and guided by the Holy Spirit, God can use me in amazing ways for His kingdom of life and to His glory.   

So -- on to step one. Learn. Complete my LFL training. Learn more. And pray without ceasing. God is going to do amazing things because He is an amazing GOD!!!

Stay tuned -- Patti's on fire.
BIO:  Patti Smith is an adoptee who was conceived in rape, and a worship leader for a Lutheran church in Huntington Beach, California.  She's active with Lutherans For Life, a sidewalk counselor, as well as a pro-life speaker and blogger for Save The 1.