Everyone has a story, and every story has a bellybutton. In the shadow of Planned Parenthood and what has been aptly called abortion’s Wilberforce moment, it could be said that bellybuttons are the most natural and prolific pro-life bumper stickers around. I caught a glimpse of this glorious reality, strangely, during a game of Scrabble with my wife Brittany who was at the time very pregnant.
[Note: This essay was first published by Carrots for Michaelmas and is reprinted with permission.]
“When is the last time you looked at your navel?” she asked from over the planet of her belly. Hers had popped earlier that week.
“Ah,” I said, at a loss for words.
“Thirty-six weeks pregnant and my navel looks like a timer poking out of a Thanksgiving turkey,” she said.
I stared at the nub protruding from her maternity shirt. It looked like an Eskimo had built an igloo on the moon.
“Think about it,” Brittany said. “Everybody, no matter what their religious beliefs or political views, has a bellybutton. Indisputable evidence that, apart from a miracle, every one of us owes our existence to one particular man and one particular woman.”
The room was quiet, and I settled on a word that gave me only 9 points.
“I wonder if Adam and Eve had bellybuttons,” I asked absentmindedly.
“I don’t know. God just made them, you know? They were never born.” Brittany said, wiggling her toes.
More than your midriff’s décor
I did not realize it at the time, but this was one of Brittany’s many profound pregnancy-induced utterances. Apparently thirty-six weeks of carrying a five-pound human around brings some serious insight. All of us born, and this means every human story—however epic or glamorous or seemingly independent—has a bellybutton.
The navel. That rounded, knotty depression in the center of one’s tummy is nothing less than a scar. I’ll never forget when I cut the umbilical cord that attached my son to his mother, my wife, with a scissors. The detachment was more than perfunctory; it was poetry.
Our bellybuttons remind us where we come from and who we are. They remind us that no one is a self-sustaining deity. All of us have a beginning. Every one of us is needy, mortal, and dependent on other human beings for our own wellbeing. Everyone has a story, and everyone’s story has a bellybutton.
The beginning determines the end
The beginning determines the end. If we get the beginning wrong, even by an inch, by the time we get to the end we will be wrong by a mile. From start to finish, a person’s life is one story. Like most stories, the beginning not only introduces the plot scenes and main characters, but also hints at the deeper meaning of the story. And every human story has a bellybutton.
There is something very humbling about having a bellybutton. We are needy. Every single one of us was once entirely dependent on our mothers. The impossibility of human autonomy is written into our bodies, grafted into our bellies. We live lives of mutual giving and receiving, loving, and being loved. When does this life of relationship and love and mutual self-giving begin if not at conception?
Pro-choice ideology leaves the beginning of human life open to endless debate and speculation. It shifts the focus away from the human life in the womb to the feelings and circumstances and prospects of someone else’s life, usually the mother’s, and often also the father’s. This slight-of-hand is not grounded in reason and biology but in emotion and whimsy. It’s the difference between fact and fiction. If human life begins at conception, should not also human dignity?
Flaunt it if you got it
Rainbow profile pictures and equals sign bumper stickers are a creative way to share a set of values about human life. Why isn’t there a sticker or profile picture that can quickly and vibrantly communicate that life begins at conception?
Well, there is. The symbol for the At Conception initiative is the @ sign. It’s the letter a with an umbilical cord, an a curled into the fetal position, just waiting to be born. And the letter a stands for the beginning.
Everyone has a story, and every story has a bellybutton. Life begins @ conception, and you only live once. People everywhere are changing their profile pictures and joining the movement. It’s just part of a fresh, positive way to share the message every bellybutton has been saying since Cain and Abel, maybe even Adam and Eve.
“Either life is always and in all circumstances sacred,” writes Malcolm Muggeridge, “or intrinsically of no account; it is inconceivable that it should be in some cases the one, and in some the other.”
Everyone has a story, and every story has a bellybutton. A mother’s womb should be the safest place on earth. The father should love and protect the mother and his unborn child. Without love for unborn children human dignity lacks coherent meaning and purpose, for only in a deep and inherent respect for life in the womb can there be respect for human life at all.
Read it in Carrots for Michaelmas
Editor’s Note: Getting your profile picture overlap with the @ sign couldn’t be easier!
- Download the @ profile picture: https://www.facebook.com/aforbeginning
- Download your Facebook profile picture
- Go to Picmonkey.com, a free photo editing site
- Click “Edit” and find your Facebook profile picture on your computer
- Click on the butterfly (these are “overlays”)
- Click on “Your Own.” This will take you to your computer files
- Find the @ picture that you downloaded to your computer
- Use the circles on the corners of the @ picture and edit how you see fit
- Fade it with the “Transparent” slider in the pop-up box, 30% to 50%
- Save, and upload as new profile picture!