Sunday, August 20, 2017

The daily chore, and blessing, of forgiveness, by Jennifer Christie

It's not the day.
It's the days.
It's moments.

I am uncomfortable .
A vast understatement.
I sip milkshakes through a straw and take little bites of pudding that I can't taste because it's all I can manage.
I had two back molars pulled yesterday. Teeth that shattered some months ago during a spate of uncontrollable seizures . I ignored the pain for a time until infection set in and now here I sit. All chipmunk cheeks and popping ibuprofen wishing it were Percocet..but my toddler here is a tempest ,(as toddlers tend to be), and needs a caregiver who doesn't come with a warning to avoid operating heavy machinery.
Being sober minded however has its disadvantages. I can't help but think about the origin of my pain..
and I find myself in the position of needing to forgive.

I've talked a lot about forgiveness lately. People assume that I mean the rape. That one day.
That nightmarish morning into afternoon.
They wouldn't be entirely wrong, but it's much more than that.

Not the day.
The moments.
It's the call that will have to be made to our landlord ..again.. apologizing for not being able to make rent this month because everything we had went to fix my mouth.

It's the blood that won't come out of the bedsheets because even after two surgeries there is intestinal damage that remains from being violated with a broken glass bottle.
(I've never shared that publicly before..I didn't intend to just now. I know how difficult that will be to read.
I assure you, it was more difficult to write.)

It's the loss of independence when my epilepsy requires a driver,
a cook,
a babysitter.

I feel angry.
I ask "Why me?"
I think back to my life before it all.

Not the day.
The days.
The moments.

C.S.Lewis said that everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive.
For me, for many of us, it isn't an idea. It's a daily reality. If you are a follower of Christ, forgiveness is more than a suggestion. It's a command.
And not just for ourselves.

I forgive for my joyful baby. All light and love.
I forgive for my older sons, growing into the good men of tomorrow.
For my daughter who watches me to see how a woman of faith responds when in the valley.
For my devoted husband who needs and deserves a helpmate who is present and whole.
And I forgive for myself. For my Savior.
So I may become that empty vessel, that tool in His Hands as He molds me into the woman I was born to be.

I'm not looking for pity.
I don't want praise.

I write to anyone else out there who lives in this challenging place of seemingly endless forgiveness. Cliche alert: Recognize the blessing in disguise. Spiritual battles, of every sort, keep us on our knees.
The only way battles can be won.

So today.
Swollen and weary, I forgive.
Seventy times seven and beyond.

I forgive.

The day .
The days.
The moments.

I forgive.

BIO:  Jennifer Christie’s story Raped While on a Business Trip – My Husband and I Chose
 went viral after it was published on our blog and elsewhere, with over 1 million shares to Facebook. She wrote a follow-up story, Raped, Married and Pregnant:  When People Said We Shouldn’t Have You, We Loved You Louder, and her husband Jeff also wrote out their story from his own perspective:  My Wife and I Both Saw This Baby As Something Beautiful Coming From Such Evil.  The latest update of her story — with the rapist-murderer having been killed is My Son Was Never a “Rapist’s Baby” or “Product of Rape” – He’s My Child.  For more information about Jennifer see her page on our website
Friday, August 4, 2017

All Across The World, Children Like My Son Have Targets on Their Backs, by Jennifer Christie

All across the world, children like my son have targets on their backs. They are targeted for genocide. Even in
countries like Ireland where all preborn children have been protected for many years without discrimination, there is a growing contingent who believe that children like my son should not exist, that they do not deserve protection, and that they should be put to death for crimes they did not commit.  And these voices of death are getting louder. 

I'm not a politician, I'm not a lawyer, nor do I have an impressive string of letters after my name.  No, my credentials are even better -- I'm a mother, and I will not be silenced. 

The targeting I'm referring to is called the "rape exception," and you've probably heard of it.  There are many people who think they are pro-life, but compromise in this area. I'll say it:  there is no compromise! There are no gray uniforms in this war. You are with us, or you are against us. You believe in the sanctity of life, or you do not.

I am a mother, and I will bear witness for the unborn.

In Ireland, those fighting to repeal the 8th Amendment and to legalize abortion chant in unison their call to arms:  RAPE.  RAPE???  Do you really have the audacity to try to own my assault, my pregnancy, my CHILD to assuage your collective conscience for demanding the unconscionable -- abortion, for any reason, at any time during pregnancy and at taxpayer's expense?!

I have a question for the people of Ireland who claim great concern for the pregnant rape victim to the point of demanding abortion:  What have you actually done to help us? Do you counsel?  Have you offered rape victims maternity clothes, prenatal care, baby items, food or even shelter?  Have you helped facilitate adoption? Do you help to make sure we and our children are safe? Do you help us to seek justice? Have you advocated for a law to terminate the parental rights of rapists, like we've passed in U.S. Congress?  Or does your alleged concern for the pregnant rape victim begin and end with the destruction of our babies? 

I've seen people deftly slip on the mask of phony compassion, their voices softening as they speak of the brutalized woman, asking such loaded questions as, "How can we force her to carry a rapist's baby?"  And, "What psychological abuse to know she's growing evil in her belly!" They suggest that it would be horrific to have a constant companion as she lives with the ever-present reminder in the face of the child, as though he or she is simply a smaller version of her attacker.

I say: How DARE you!  How dare you use me and my sister survivors to justify the unconscionable slaughtering of millions every year!

How dare you feign to speak for Paula Love who was pregnant after being drugged and raped at 18: "There was always a voice in my head telling me that I could have an abortion and it would fix everything. The truth is, choosing life fixed everything. I’m thankful every day that I didn’t buy into the lie. My daughter and the two incredible grandsons that she’s given me fixed everything. They have turned my sorrow into joy." 

Shame on you for thinking you know the mind of Elizabeth Diaz Navarro, who was raped and pregnant while attending university.  Of her daughter, she says,"thanks to her birth, I am a more complete human and a strong and happy woman. I now know that abortion would have made my situation worse – especially since I am unable to have more children.  She is my blessing.  Abortion is never a solution. Thank you my child. You make my life a place full of love and hope!"

You speak out of place when you say pregnant rape survivors like Michelle Olson needed abortion as their solution. Michelle explains:  "She made it easier to get past the rape. I got a beautiful baby girl from what happened to me. She is sweet, loving, and beautiful. What I went through was nothing compared to the joy my little girl has brought to my life."

The heart of these mothers are not the exceptions. They are the majority -- WE are the majority and our global network is nearly 500 strong.  Won't you stand with us? 

I am a mother, and this is also my story.  My precious three-year-old son was conceived during the darkest day of my life. It was the day that changed who I was forever -- as a human being, as a woman, and as a wife. I became another statistic.  During a nightmare I couldn't awake from, a child was conceived.  This child had nothing to do with the attack on my body or the scars on my soul.  He had everything to do with my healing -- giving me a reason to hope.  I did not save my son.   He saved me. 

I am not raising a "rapist's baby."  I am raising MY BABY. He is the love that I pour into HIM.  He is the love of the father who is raising him and siblings who play with him and the grandparents who dote on him.  He is all of these things and more.  As unique as a fingerprint, he has something that is just him, and he's perfect. 

Is he a reminder? He is.
He's a reminder that, as women, we can be stronger than our circumstances. 
He's a reminder that beauty can come from ugliness. 
And he's a reminder that how we began does not determine how we end. 

Some may seek to dismisss me -- to dismiss all of us. They'll say we made our choice. 
This is not about choice!  This is about the humanity of our children at their most vulnerable state.  

When we were raped, we had been unable to protect ourselves.  But for our children, we can and we will protect them.  We will work to make the world a more loving and accepting place for them where they will not be hated, demonized and targeted.  But as long as they are being singled out for destruction and discrimination, we will speak out. 

I am a mother.  I will not be silenced.

BIO:  Jennifer Christie’s story Raped While on a Business Trip – My Husband and I Chose
 went viral after it was published on our blog and elsewhere, with over 1 million shares to Facebook. She wrote a follow-up story, Raped, Married and Pregnant:  When People Said We Shouldn’t Have You, We Loved You Louder, and her husband Jeff also wrote out their story from his own perspective:  My Wife and I Both Saw This Baby As Something Beautiful Coming From Such Evil.  The latest update of her story — with the rapist-murderer having been killed is My Son Was Never a “Rapist’s Baby” or “Product of Rape” – He’s My Child.  For more information about Jennifer see her page on our website
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

My son was never a "rapist's baby" or a "product of rape" -- he's my child, by Jennifer Christie

The technical term is "survivors guilt".  It doesn't sound especially technical, but I give it full points for accuracy.  It could also be called "throw up and cry a lot" . . .  because that's what
I did when I heard about the next victim during phone call from an FBI agent who told me 
that the DNA collected during my rape kit three years earlier had returned a match.

The woman had been brutally raped and beaten to death. I thought back to the hotel housekeeper who found me unconscious in the stairwell, badly beaten and barely clothed. We always believed her presence saved my life -- that my rapist never intended to leave me alive.

The FBI agent told me the murdered woman also had red hair -- like me.  I'm not sure that last detail was one I was supposed to know, but once it was uttered it dangled in the air before me like a key to Pandora's box.  If I opened it, I could potentially drown in a world of pain, in gut-wrenching questions:  Did anyone call her their "Strawberry"?  Was she around children who would play with her hair and ask her to sing "Part of your world"?  

The FBI had not even contacted next of kin yet because she was a university foreign exchange student in Ohio. Would her family be told about me?  Would they hate me for not being able to stop him, and for surviving?  In that moment, I hated me for not being able to stop him. 

I clung to this: There was no record of his DNA when I was attacked, and now there was.  I did that. That had to count for something. . . .  Didn't it?  Not enough, but something. It helped me to cope. 

But then they found the next woman -- their third redhead. My life suddenly felt like a poorly scripted made-for-TV movie. 

"Find him", I whispered on the phone. "Just stop him." 
"We'll get him."  They assured me of this. They didn't. But he WAS eventually "got.".

Somehow they now had a lead, and DNA evidence to make an arrest. But the rapist was a native American, so I was told that would be a delay because local law enforcement had to work with tribal police to find this man on his reservation, and federal laws applied where they couldn't just go and make an arrest.  

Then I received the call -- several states away, the rapist/murderer was stabbed to death by a fellow tribe member whose 13 year old sister had been raped nearly a decade earlier by this monster.  Unable to live with the stigma and the pain, she took her life one year after the attack.

In ten years, her brother never gave up seeking justice for his sister. I wish I could shake his hand -- not that I support vigilantism, but because my family and I have endured much of the same pain. I can't ever reach out to him or his family though.  My case has been closed and with that ends any connection to the rest of the story.  I've done an Internet search with the sketchy details I had been given.  The FBI won't provide me anything further. 

I don't know specifically what tribe the rapist was from. I have no idea what tribe my son --who was conceived when I was raped -- has blood ties to.  I still wonder if I may be able to find out one day.  I think it's information my son will probably want to have. 

I also don't know the real name of my attacker -- only the alias he was using at the time.  I don't know the identities of the other victims.  I won't know how many women there were in total, or if cold cases will be solved.  I also won't ever know if this man's death helps to bring any peace to the families of the two women sIain.  I won't know the end to everyone's story. I only know the end to this chapter of mine. 

As far as that goes?  Hearing that he was gone, I exhaled a breath I didn't know I'd been holding -- and three years is a long time to hold your breath.  I felt such a weight lift from my chest that I thought I might float away. The relief was dizzying. It still is.
I'm safe.  My son is safe. I'll never have to face my worst nightmare in court or recount, in excruciating detail, everything he did . . . things I've learned from my doctors, things I've tried so hard to forget. 

Equally as important -- and this is going to be hard for some people to understand -- somehow with him gone and no longer a threat, he becomes someone I can begin to forgive, someone I have to forgive.  When he was at large, still tearing apart lives, I justified holding onto anger, and even hatred.  That hurts me though.  It damages my spirit.  I believe God tells us to forgive for several reasons -- one being the freedom it gives us.  And I want to be set free. 

So I'm letting that happen.  For me.  For my family.  For my God.  I'm letting it happen. 

Forgiveness isn't a "once and done" thing -- rarely, if ever.  I imagine this is going to be something I'll need to actively forgive, repeatedly, daily, probably several times a day, for the rest of my life.  That's okay.  There is much to be learned in the process. 

I guess I'm choosing a path of forgiveness. That's the only thing that makes my story one of "choice" though. It's a story about my son -- about his life, which is a life he never asked for.
You might wonder, now knowing the depth and breadth of the man's evil, how it changes the way I feel about my little boy.  It doesn't.  My son was never a "rapist's baby" or a "product of rape".  He's my child.  He's my husband's child.. He's a child of God. 

Why should he bear the anger and vitriol intended for his biological "father"? And to the point of death?  We hold ourselves up as a great civilized society yet tear apart our most vulnerable and innocent when they're inconvenient or evoke bad memories. 

Some people read my story and want to hold me up as an example of a good person. It's a kind thought, but I'm not a good person because I kept my baby.  I've been called amazing. . . . Amazing?  Think about that for a moment.  I take into consideration the writer's heart when commenting and I'm blessed by every encouraging word, but I ask you to think about that one.  I'm an "amazing woman" because I love my son?!  How offended would you be if I applauded you for loving your child?  I don't see my baby any differently than you see yours. 

I'm a deeply flawed human being, not too different from most.  I became pregnant.  I had a child. That's really all there is to it. 

I recently read a comment under one of my articles which simply asked "Why is this a story?"  Exactly -- it shouldn't be!  In a better world, it wouldn't be.  I'll keep telling my story until it isn't.

BIO:  Jennifer Christie is a wife, mother of 5, pro-life blogger and pro-life speaker for Save The 1.  She's written two prior articles for us:   Raped While on a Business Trip – My Husband and I Chose Life! and  Raped, Married and Pregnant:  When People Said We Shouldn’t Have You, We Loved You Louder,, and her husband Jeff wrote this article for Save The 1: My Wife and I Both Saw This Baby As Something Beautiful Coming From Such Evil.

See 3-minute video where Jennifer shares her pregnant by rape story while signing it in ASL: