She said that she wanted to save me.
She came crashing into the hotel and raised her sign, her voice, and her message that I, and all the women there, were slaves who needed to be liberated. She was angry, screaming, and accompanied by several others who were shouting (though not so loudly) the same message.
I was attending a pro-life convention surrounded by hundreds of people when her group intentionally interrupted. I looked around at the people I was with, most of them women. Beautiful, courageous, confident, talented, faithful, joyful, free women. As I walked toward the commotion, I passed the founder of the convention; a woman. I saw the committee members gathering; many of them also women. I passed exhibitor booths staffed by women and noticed attendees, so many of them women who purchased tickets with their own money. Free and happy women.
And she said that she wanted to save us.
I pondered that late into the night, wondering what evil she had encountered in life to inspire such hatred. I imagined… and couldn’t fault her for her anger. I know how unsafe this culture is for women and we have learned to accept violence against our minds, bodies, and spirits. I don’t agree with the woman’s conclusions about life, but I understand her anger.
Her group hates porn… and I hate porn. They spoke out against 50 Shades of Grey when so many feminists defended it … and I spoke out as well. The group hates all injustice against women… and I also cry out against it. I believe that the woman’s angry shouting reflected a true desire to save me from the same violence. I understood that and forgave her… but ultimately, I distrusted her. Because true concern and love do not speak like she spoke. My heart, also wounded by the violence of this culture, seeks a savior who demonstrates authentic love. She wasn’t that savior. I heard her ugly words and knew that they weren’t for me.
She said she wanted to save me. As much as I wanted to believe that her concern sprang out of authentic love, I could see in her face and voice that this action was not really about love at all but about control. She hates my church, my faith, my beliefs, and the things that bring me joy. She hates me for opposing the killing of unborn human beings. She sees my autonomy as a threat to hers and seeks to suppress it.
How easy it would have been for her to approach me and engage in dialogue and to extend her offer of freedom! If she wanted to simply share her views publicly, she could have done so with far greater success if she had stood with dignity and peace. She came to make a statement. But love? Concern? There was no possibility for it when she came armed with hate to protest violence with a spirit of violence.
And how… how does that angry spirit change hearts? And how can women choose freely unless they are free from bullying tactics from others, both male and female?
The protester’s actions revealed the lie of her words. No amount of screaming or hateful speech would have given her an opening to my ear and to my heart. She stormed into my peaceful community with angry words to tell me that I’m enslaved. She would have gotten a lot farther by approaching with respect and a request for a conversation. No one would have blocked her way or called security. We could have had a peaceful exchange, even if it did become passionate. Perhaps we could have parted with mutual respect and agreed to continue the conversation another day. And perhaps… perhaps… she could have made her concerns understood and learned something from me as well.
But her organization makes it’s purpose and tactics known. They don’t do conversations. They do screaming and profanity. They do bloody hanger waving and physical intimidation. They enter our churches to protest our right to worship and believe as we do. Their tactics reveal the lie. Instead of communicating true concern, they seek victory through bullying other women to a place of docility and fear.
They have suffered violence and protest violence. Must it be true that they now promote their own agenda in that same spirit?
She said she wanted to save me. Instead, she disrespected me. She alienated me. She caused me to become concerned about the safety of my children and others in our group. She expressed her desire to destroy what I love. She made herself into an enemy. She made dialogue impossible. Love does not do that.
That woman is my sister in our great big human family… and my sister came to my door to express her anger and hate. And that was all she came to do. How shall we ever build a culture in which women are truly free if we insist on committing violence against our own? The tactics of her group belie their stated purpose.
To the woman who came to my door angry – We have more in common than you know. Perhaps next time you come to my community gathering, you can come in a way that doesn’t get you kicked out by security… and we can talk. You can sit at my table and share my food and we can listen to each other. Otherwise, we will remain enemies at your insistence. And when you threaten my family and friends with your aggression and hate, I will never hear you. Never. Stuck in the bitter dregs of mainstream feminism, you are missing my heart which seeks a Springtime of renewal and hope in the beauty of my life-giving femininity. I am a New Feminist… and I invite you to discover what brings me joy.
There is a lesson here for pro-life women as well. Do your actions and words invite discussion or do they increase division? The truth that you speak will always upset people who do not like what you believe. You have no control over that or the pain that touches wounded hearts. But the manner in which you communicate can set the stage to change lives. And save lives. Not as victories to be calculated for your cause… but as acts of love for your sisters.
photo credit: Distaste for Photography via photopin (license)
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