The Other Foot, The Other Shoe

Folks who really know me and who read this blog must be wondering when the other shoe is going to drop. If they’ve read my posts The One Where I Lose Friends, The One Where I Lose More Friends, and The One Where I Just Lose, they know that my life makes me practically a poster child for opposing abortion and gay marriage.

In college, I contracted epidydimitis, a kind of mumps gone south, which later led to a small, non-spreading cancerous tumor of the Lance Armstrong kind. In short, I could no longer father children with my own genes; adoption was my only option; and abortion really cuts down on the number of babies that are available to adopt.

My first wife left and, from all accounts I’ve been able to gather, lived with her girlfriend.

There is no reason for me to favor abortion for the sake of convenience or gay relationships made conveniently legal. And, to speak very plainly, I don’t.

But as a divorced person, I have also experienced being on the outside. I’ve shouldered my share of guilt. I’ve gone through the agony of trying to find a church home at a time, in the mid 1980’s, when it was still a little tricky for a divorced person to do so.

I was very blessed to find one.

At the same time, I found myself at that church yesterday morning with the shoe on the other foot: my lovely and loving wife and two beautiful adopted children on the pew beside me. I had just listened to a sermon explaining Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s planned Covenant Marriage event planned for Valentine’s Day and I was blissfully singing “God Give Us Christian Homes” when my eye caught a young, black single mom and her two kids a few pews in front of me. A lump caught in my throat. How did she feel about me singing about homes with a God-given father?

I could sing no more.

Then there was a verse about a godly mother’s “queenly quest” and all I could think about was a friend sitting a few rows over whose marriage is coming apart at the seams.

Then there was the verse about children, and I remembered how I felt when I found out I could not father my “own.”

It was never the intention of the song, I don’t believe, to pray just for the Dan Quayle vision of only perfect families. But suddenly that prayer-song went hollow and cheap for me.

And I thought about years before hearing a sermon condemning abortion – without making any distinction between the simply convenient and the medically-advised; without closing on a note of forgiveness or redemption or freedom from guilt – and wondering what the effect would have been on yet another friend who had endured an abortion because her fetus had become cancerous.

I don’t have a clever way to end this post. No witty way to express what I feel. No wrap-it-up conclusion or solution or prayer. Sorry.

Today I just hurt. For some of my friends who are hurting. For others I don’t even know. For the person that I forget I once was … and the one I too often become.

7 thoughts on “The Other Foot, The Other Shoe

  1. Thanks for sharing your heart. May you be comforted by the fact that these events and your introspection bring you closer to the heart of God.

  2. Brenton Brown and Glenn Robertson’s song poetically expresses the Galations 6:2 moment you communed with others, sharing their burdens:

    All who are thirsty, all who are weak
    come to the fountain;
    dip your heart in the stream of life.
    Let the pain and the sorrow be wash’d away
    In the waves of His mercy as deep cries out to deep.

  3. See, how could you lose friends, readers or anyone when you open up your past and your heart to us. Thank you for perspective on all issues.

    Our church is the church home of a children’s home that includes unwed mothers and their babies. Many a sermon on Mother’s or Father’s day hurts me for them. Sometimes its hard to keep our eyes open to the fact that we are all not carrying the same cross.

  4. Keith, just a few weeks ago we sang that song at our congregation, and the SAME THOUGHTS occurred to me. I have a hard time singing it, not because the desire expressed isn’t noble, but because I just think of all the people I’m looking around at who aren’t blessed at the moment with anything like what it seems to represent as the “correct” or “blessed” situation.

    I sometimes perform a song called “I Wanna Be B.B.King”, which is about a middle-class white guy in his Polo shirt and Gucci shoes wanting to learn to sing the blues. One verse goes:

    Only Delta I know
    Is my Oldsmobile
    But I ain’t blue
    Behind the wheel
    My baby ain’t left me
    For some other man
    I’m talkin’ bout things here I don’t understand

    I feel that way sometimes in choich, too. May we all learn to see things from different perspectives, in order to reach out to those hurting. You got a good heart.

  5. Thank you for this post. It’s so easy to condemn an idea, but when you put a face to it & see someone who is hurting, it’s a lot harder. I pray that people will hurt for others & look for ways to help even if it goes beyond their own “morals”. Until you’ve walked in their shoes, you REALLY don’t understand the kinds of hard decisions that people make. I hurt for people who are faced with tough choices, whether I think they are right or wrong, it is still not my choice to make, but it is my choice to help or not to help. I think it’s good that you are hurting (seriously!) It means that you have a heart for PEOPLE, just as Jesus did.

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