Exploiting Women Hurts Everyone

Rosie the RiviterBy Heather Walton

I have hesitated to share this because I don’t want to dishonor anyone in doing so, but here’s the problem with that: many people are hurt because people fail to stand up and call evil what it is. Like many of you, I watched the Super Bowl half-time show. I actually sat there horrified at this display of borderline pornography. Oh, it’s just a little harmless entertainment, you say? I beg to differ.

As a victim of childhood sexual abuse and a failed first marriage due to pornography and its effects, I can tell you, without hesitation, that this was not harmless entertainment, a celebration of culture, or any other positively spun act. It was evil, vile, and exploitative. How awful that one of the performers’ young daughters saw this, and actually was part of the show!

How many of us would welcome women dressed like that, doing a sensual dance, in our living rooms? Isn’t that exactly what we did on Sunday?

Our culture has normalized sexual sin. We expect that “boys will be boys,” we think it’s fine for people to have sex outside of marriage and to love whomever they want. As women, we want to be treated with dignity, yet we excuse pole dancing because it’s entertainment or a display of athleticism. We endorse practical nudity because they did a great job dancing. There is something very wrong with this reasoning, which is nothing short of justification of sin.

I’m thankful that my husband turned his head and talked with me while this scene was playing out, but some of the men in the room did not. As someone who previously had felt she had to try to compete with women with flawless bodies, I feel for the many women whose husbands or boyfriends didn’t turn away from the screen. But I feel even worse for those who are okay with that.

Ladies, we have the power to ignite a cultural transformation by insisting that women not be considered mere eye candy, that we be valued for what’s beneath our skin, that we be applauded for contributions other than those related to sex and physical attractiveness. The Lord created us with a special beauty, but He did not create us to flaunt that beauty or to be objects. And we are the ones with the power to shape the way men, other women, and especially children, view us. If we see ourselves as sex objects, they will too. We need to consider the logical consequences of our thoughts and our actions, rather than blindly accepting cultural attitudes.

We are worth more. We need to believe it, we need to express it, and we need to live it.

What Does it Mean to Be Like Christ?

By Heather Walton

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Have you ever prayed to be like Christ? Have you ever prayed to know Christ? Then what have you prayed for? Can you relate to any of these? (According to Isaiah 53 and many other Scriptures)
 To be unattractive
 To be despised and rejected
 To suffer
 To endure pain
 To have others hide their faces
 To be despised
 To be looked down on
 To be betrayed by those closest to you
 To have those close to you think you’re crazy
 To have those who know you lose heart and abandon you in your hour of need
 To bear great responsibility
 To teach people who won’t listen to you
 To have one of your closest friends betray you, then refuse to accept forgiveness
 To not receive the glory due you in this life
 To completely trust the Father when it doesn’t look good
 To have Satan gloat over your “defeat”
 To be alone
 To not indulge in things you have a right to
 To not claim your rights
 To go up against the religious authorities
 To hang out with people the church looks down on
 To be considered radical
 To have even your family think you’re crazy and abandon you
 To have no place to lay your head
 To have to put up with people who think they’re great, when they’re so clueless
 To be so afraid and grieved that your body has intense physical symptoms
 To not make a move without praying and listening to the Father’s voice
 To have to fight off the greatest temptation, which is to do something you’d be completely justified to do and are completely entitled to
 To have those who should be singing your praises actually mocking you and calling for your death
 To be humiliated and embarrassed publicly
 To be falsely accused
 To be punished for doing the right thing or being right
 To be beaten within an inch of your life
 To be poor
 To be hungry and thirsty
 To be misunderstood
 To be without honor
Think of the opposite of each of these points. Isn’t that what we normally pray for? For example, don’t we normally pray for things like being loved, not suffering, being understood by those close to us, and having our needs met? There is nothing wrong with praying that way, because God tells us to bring our needs to Him. However, how many of us have prayed to be like Christ, but then we protest when God allows difficulties to come into our lives? I know I have. Instead, we need to appreciate the opportunities we have to be be conformed into our Savior’s image. So the next time we go through something tough, let’s try to remember to thank God for giving us an opportunity to be more like Christ. It will likely change our perspective, and help us to grow more in our Christian walk than we would have otherwise. I know this is counter-intuitive, but it is the truth.

Holidays have a gift for the grieving

By Heather Walton

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in Me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am gong there to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place I am going.” John 14: 1-4

Christmas Tree 2015

 

It’s almost Christmas—the “most wonderful time of the year.” However, for many people, this is a time when grief is highlighted. That special loved one is conspicuously absent in the midst of all the cheer. Perhaps this is the first Christmas without someone special, or perhaps it’s one in a string of many, but that may not lessen the pain. Whether the loved one was lost through death or a falling out, whether that loved one was human or a furry friend, whether a child had been born, unborn, or maybe just longed for, the holiday season can be less merry for you than for those around you.

A few Christmases ago I had just started going through the divorce process, and my kids had to leave to be with their dad’s side of the family at 2 p.m. Christmas Day. Some family and good friends invited me over, because they didn’t want me to be alone. It was so nice of them to include me, but I remember just being miserable and wanting to go home. Here I was, hanging out with families, but I was all alone. I really wasn’t in the Christmas spirit that year, and I was relieved when New Year’s came and went.

 

This year is not like that one for me. This year I am very happily married and I’m looking forward to Christmas. But there is still the heaviness of grief as my would-have-been due date approaches in early January. Honestly, I’m tired of grieving. I keep thinking I’ve turned a corner. But as I wrapped a baby gift for a friend this morning, the heaviness returned. This time of year, there is much to remind me that our baby is gone. We are celebrating the Savior’s birth, and there are a lot of songs about the “Baby” Jesus. Our little girl’s middle name would have been Noelle, and Noel is a popular word at Christmas.

 

But in both of these situations, and in anyone’s situation during a time of grief, the above Scriptures, which I read this morning in my Bible study, apply. In John 14, Jesus was addressing His disciples at the last supper, after He had told them that He would be betrayed and that He was going someplace where they couldn’t follow. Jesus comforted them, telling them that they should trust in Him and that He was going away to prepare a place for them.

 

Heaven is the place to which He referred. In heaven, ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4). In heaven, there is no death, no divorce, no disease, no miscarriage, no ectopic pregnancy, no separation, no falling out, no sadness, no anger, no bitterness, no grief. In heaven, we will be reunited with many of the loved ones we have lost if they were followers of Christ or if they were children. In heaven, we will not feel the pain of separation or loss. The heaviness I feel over the loss of a child, the loneliness I felt over the loss of a marriage, and whatever grief you may feel over your losses will simply not be there anymore.

 

Jesus has asked us to trust Him on this. Since I have trusted Him with my life and my eternity, this really isn’t asking too much. And just because I choose to trust Him on this, that doesn’t mean that the heaviness is gone.

 

And even if this Christmas is hard for you because you have lost someone precious to you, remember that without Christmas, there would be no Easter. And Easter is the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus, which is what makes eternal life possible for us and for our loved ones. Without Christmas, there would be no hope to recover our losses or to heal from them. Even through great trials and grief, Christmas is a gift.

Running From Grief

By Heather Walton 

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I have been running as fast as I can from the grief process for about three months. For the first month after I lost our first baby, our precious little “Jellybean,” I sobbed daily and felt the intense sense of loss as I went through the motions of each day. But then I unconsciously decided it was time to move on. It wasn’t. It will never be time to “move on” or to “get over it,” because it is not possible to forget one’s child, even if the child was never born.

I immersed myself in my work, in solving other people’s problems, and finally, in a doctoral program, in order to run so fast, to be so busy, that I didn’t have time to think about our loss. It worked, too, until a couple weeks ago. I had a few very stressful incidents take place within a two week period, and the difficulty of those events brought back the trauma of losing our babies.

To add to the difficulty, a friend of ours is due at the same time I was, and I am witnessing all of the milestones I should be experiencing myself. And I am anticipating how difficult it will be when she delivers her child, and I will witness that child doing all the things mine should be doing, and at the exact time mine should be doing them. Don’t get me wrong–I’m happy for my friend. But I have to wonder why God chose for us to get pregnant at the same time, if He wasn’t going to allow us to ever hold our baby.

Many call it pregnancy loss,  but it’s really the loss of a child. Most Christians consider themselves to be pro-life. I personally used to work in a crisis pregnancy center,  pleading with women not to end the lives of their unborn children, using whatever means I could to prove to them that they were carrying children,  not mere embryos or fetuses,  but babies. Helpless babies. Human babies. If that’s true (and it must certainly is true), then why don’t we give much consideration to families that have lost unborn children? Why don’t we validate their grief and honor their losses?  Not simply the loss of a pregnancy.  The loss of a child.  The loss of a dream.  The loss of many of their hopes.

Back to my sprint from grief. A sprint, not a marathon,  because I couldn’t keep it up long enough for it to qualify as a marathon. A sprint because I was running as fast as I could.  In doing so,  I also was running from God. Not a good choice.

So now grief has caught up with me.  I must allow it to be my companion for a season,  or else I will spend my life running.

If you have lost a child before or at birth,  or if you know someone who has,  please be aware that Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is October 15 and October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. The church especially should promote this cause, since God calls us to honor the unborn.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139: 13-16)

 

Ashes to ashes … beauty to come

By Heather Walton 

This week in particular I have been reflecting on the concept of grief. Except that grief hasn’t been just a concept in my world lately. While I don’t discount the many blessings in my life–my husband,  my children,  my job,  my church, my friends, my extended family,  my home, my freedom, and most of all, my faith–I also have become no stranger to grief in the past few years, the past few months, the past week,  and the past 24 hours. From the loss of a marriage in the last few years, to the loss of an unborn child in the last few months, to the loss of another unborn child in the last week,  to the observation of my husband’s family’s loss of a beloved family member early this morning.

So I have been reflecting … and questioning.  Why does it have to be like this?  Life.  Why can’t we be spared of the suffering?  I have always had a lot of good answers to this question. Solid theological answers.  All true.  All well thought out. All meaningful. But all sounding kind of hollow right now.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t go back on any of it. It all still solidly applies. It just seems deflated in the face of actual,  real-world, gut-wrenching, cold, hard grief. In the face of pleadings, tears, bargains, and unfulfilled hopes,  these very true explanations just don’t seem appropriate to share.

Last night,  in the wee hours, I had the honor of being among my husband’s family–my new family–as we stood around the hospital bed of a godly lady who was ready to enter into the glory of eternity.  While we all understood that it would be a wonderful homecoming for her,  I also could feel the aches in their hearts as they prepared for a world that would no longer include this beloved sister,  mother, grandmother, aunt, and friend. The pain in that room was tangible, and will continue to be for some time to come.

As Christians,  we don’t grieve as those who have no hope,  but we do grieve.  The grief I have been through over the past few years,  months, days, and hours, has helped me to become more compassionate and it has helped me to have a greater desire for that day when all will be made right.  Grief has humbled me, as I realize how little I can truly control.  While grief isn’t a good friend,  it is an excellent teacher.

As I sit among the ashes of grief,  I await the beauty once again. It will come.  Though I don’t understand,  I do choose to trust my great God,  the One who promises beauty from ashes.

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