As Christians, we’re called to love our neighbors as ourselves. It’s right there in Mark 12:31. We recognize that “neighbor” doesn’t just mean the people in the house or apartment next door; everyone we come in contact with is our neighbor, someone God has called us to love.
You’ve probably heard the statistics about single women in our culture. There are now more women on some college campuses than men. In some cities there are more single women than married women. Women outpace men academically and often times professionally. In many churches, the single women outnumber the men. For all of our emphasis on marriage being a good and important institution, singleness is the reality for many people.
Men who behave badly are all over the news these days. In fact, it’s been so much a part of our national conversation for the last year that I’ve had this post (most of it, anyway) written since we found out that we were having another boy—raising the Reissig boy total to four. I’ve been mulling over these thoughts for the better part of a year and finally got around to editing them. Unfortunately the national conversation about men doing bad things hasn’t changed one bit. It’s only gotten worse, which has only increased my desire to process what it means to raise four sons in a world where men behave badly.
A few weeks ago my sons were watching the popular children’s show, Doc McStuffins on television. I’m a big fan of Doc McStuffins. I like the diversity the show brings to the table. I like that the main character is a girl and a doctor. I like that she is African-American and portrayed in a positive light. I like that she is kind and helps people. It even holds my attention when my kids are watching it.
I wish I could say I always pay close attention to what they are watching. True confession: I don’t. While we don’t let them watch things that we haven’t vetted, I don’t filter every piece of content once we have approved it.
I learned my lesson.
I’m usually pretty behind on the news, though this week I’ve been paying attention to the A Day Without a Woman strike set to happen today. The organizers of the strike are calling on women to either refrain from shopping, wear red, or stay home from paid or unpaid work. While they acknowledge this is not a possibility for many women (and say that they strike for those women, too), it strikes (no pun intended) me as a fairly privileged event—and therefore not for all women.
When was the last time you went to your doctor? How about your OBGYN? Did you wonder how this specialty of medicine came into existence? I hadn’t given it much thought until I listened to a program on NPR a few weeks ago about the father of modern gynecology—J. Marion Sims.
But I don’t want to talk about him, at least not directly. February is Black History Month (and March is Women's History Month), so I want to talk about the women who made his discoveries possible. The women he practiced on. The women he studied. And more importantly, I want to talk about the women he exploited to find cures to ailments many of us no longer are at risk of facing.
Eight years ago my mom happened to be in town during President Obama’s first inauguration. As a daughter of a political junkie, we watched the ceremony, the balls, and the celebration that comes with the peaceful transfer of power in a democratic nation. Four years ago, I watched his second inauguration in the warmth of my own home while big and pregnant with the twins. Even though I didn’t vote for him, I appreciated what his inauguration represented. I’ve watched his state of the union addresses. I enjoy the political process in our country, even if my preferred candidate doesn’t always win.
But I’m struggling with this inauguration.
My grandpa coached football for his entire career. He gave his life to the sport, playing it in college and then spending his retirement years watching local teams play wherever he lived. My dad played football in college, coached my brothers growing up, and then enjoyed watching them play in high school and college. My husband loves football, joining the many men (and women) mourning the impending end of the football season. Even our youngest son loves football, saying one of the few words he knows (“football”) whenever he sees a game on TV. I have been surrounded by football enthusiasts and athletes my entire life, even though I have only a small interest in it. But I appreciate it.
Whether we like it or not, Election Day is coming. Soon we will know the outcome of this long political season, and we will all have to come to terms with the leader the people have chosen. This has been a hard election cycle for everyone, and in many ways I wonder how our country (and more importantly the church) will recover from the fighting, the insults, and the hostility over one another’s choices. But regardless of what Tuesday’s results mean for the nation as a whole, they mean something absolutely clear for God’s people—the church.
This is not our home.
Part of growing up is a growing awareness of the difficulties that life brings us. For most of my life I was pretty shielded from death, loss, and suffering. My parents loved us, cared for us, and pointed us to Jesus. As I stepped into adulthood the ground I walked on didn’t seem so stable any longer, and the world didn’t look as bright. Now with each passing year I am confronted with the brokenness that life in a fallen world brings all of us, and there are days that I miss the innocence of my youth. But then there are days where I feel a sense of responsibility for what I now know.
When I read The Warmth of Other Suns a few months ago I kept thinking to myself: “How did I never know about things like this?” How did I not know of the broad scope of the atrocities committed against African-Americans in this country? How did I not know that even though Jim Crow ended or people moved north, the systemic effects of such heinous sins still linger? How did I not know?