Praying Hands Statue, Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, OK

Timing is critical in both comedy and music. Being off tempo for either could become the lynchpin in success or abject failure. Consequently, I tend to think that religion is similar.

Formerly, I served in Youth Director roles in some churches; a position which I relished. I truly enjoyed meeting and walking alongside many families over the years. I can’t speak for anyone else’s journey, but what eventually ended my time in that field was a lack of funding. While I was able to manage a certain amount of underpayment, I wasn’t willing to make myself a martyr. The same places that could earmark funds to cover a new youth building should (in my humble opinion) also be able to pay a living wage to it’s staff to fill it. The minute that “The Church” decides that they wanted to perform and operate as a business model, they should also expect that it’s employees ask for fair compensation.

But, overall, I have made my own peace with the situation I found myself in. After the better part of a decade, it was indeed time for me to hang up the mission trip air mattress; the weekly standing Little Caesar’s pizza order and the lessons on morality aided by timely resources.

I don’t know that I was very much of a preacher as much as a storyteller and discussion leader. A moderator. An emcee. A referee. A late night talk show host monologue. A bad stand up.

Yet, if I am honest, some days I felt as though I took more away from those discussions than the kids did.

My hope is that this was always more than just call and response.

I watched these families grow for a short period of time, but I hope that time positively impacted their future decisions. Occasionally, I will see a selection of their life events pop up on my news feed. It may seem insignificant, but it rarely feels that way in the moment.

All of this to say that when thinking of timing and religion I was hesitant to say much of anything about the overturning of Roe v. Wade in the past week, despite weighing heavily on my heart.

Firstly, I recognize that I am male and that may not incite my opinion as authoritative, especially when it comes to female reproductive health. I am not claiming to be an expert. I defer to the many cries from very capable leaders whom happen to be female. I hear them as I think that you do too.

I land on the side of upset at the overturning of Roe v. Wade, however, maybe for a different reason than you may readily assume. I do belive in body autonomy as well as personal choice as it relates to medical decisions. But, while I am compartmentalizing those issues for the moment, what I want to hilight in my pain and heartbreak is a focus on the many understaffed and underfunded foster care systems.

I have served students in youth ministry roles, in traditional education settings as well as in camp settings.

I have a friend who I know supports the decision based on her religious beliefs. I care very deeply for her, even if we disagree on this policy. I do want to make this clear: I refuse to stop caring about anyone for applying their religious beleifs. I belive in your right to support what your religion, belief system, life credo or life experiance informs. Respectively, I expect the same in return.

The friend I know who supports the overturning of the precedent practices her religion whole heartedly. She has a very large family, some of whom have arrived through the process of adoption. This family has historically fostered children as well for decades. Yes; decades. When it comes to putting her money where her mouth is, this friend has consistently set the bar for her beliefs. She regularly shares of her experiances of parenting multiple children, even some who present special needs care.

She told me many years ago that one day I would make for a great father. I still am trying to live up to that affirmation.

I struggle at times with “providing the best” best for my own daughter, though she rarely goes without. At times I feel sadness for not having the idillyc catalogue/ Christmas Card life for her. If honest, I have better and worse days on how I cope with my own high self expectation. I never want her to feel as though she should really have to want for life’s necessities. My own medium of how this plays out is trying to teach her wants as well as needs and that we are not defined by a label.

I have another friend who shared a story of losing a child to miscarriage, well after the first trimester. Access to safe and affordable healthcare was just one part of the tolling process that she faced to attempt to emotionally recover from that experiance.

I guess that what I really want to acknowlegde the experiences of both of these friends. I am fortunate to know and care about them equally.

However, on the topic of overturning the precedent set through Roe v. Wade, I lean toward the friend who had the miscarriage and was able to make decisions about her own health because of those freedoms.

What I have seen in my experiance working with foster care systems, it has depended on the hospitality and generosity of citizens to supplement the minimal state and federal funding alloted. Frankly, that dependence has failed to provide a comparable lifestyle for those kids that are a part of the system.

If we focus on a growing population that may not have otherwise been delivered in a Roe v. Wade world, I think of the ways that we will have to adapt for the benefit of their lives.

At this point, I statistically am not seeing many religious folks stepping up to adopt (or support those who do). How are we going to deny essential care for adults (or even teens) making hard decisions about their reproductive health (understanding that Planned Parenthood does more than perform medical procedures) and then also not step up to provide for the children who make into the world because the law prohibits their termination.

It’s not lost on me that I am skimming over major arguments about the implications of no body autonomy, a reduction of freedom, termination of pregnancy as a medical solution for underdeveloped (see ectopic preganancies).

I just don’t see enough historical proof of “well meaning” citizens stepping up to care for our current fosters that encourage me to support policies which will inevitably only cause more.

The track this week comes from the famed preacher and televangalist Oral Roberts himself. He comes off as a psalmist in a way with this hymn. Psalms traditionally start out in a low place or in a way where the author is wrestling with a higher power. Sometimes there is anger and pain; questioning and doubt before the author recalls a grace or steadfastness that is characteristic of  the higher power. Roberts was credited as an early adopter of a prosperity gospel, something that I too am not a personal supporter of. But, while I think that may be a post for another day, I will call it a night for this week.

At the end of the day, I am still trying to figure out where we go from here. Yet, I keep reminding myself that we must go together. So, buckle in and keep caring about your friends on both sides of the aisle. Check in with both sides.

And until the next time, take care of yourselves and one another.

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