Provided by 2014 Rider, Christine Kania
Yes, that small child on the blue trike is me as a toddler, and yes, I did miss the first time I tried to get on. But I tried again, mounted successfully, and continued on my way. What attitude do we have toward our setbacks? When we fail or miss the mark, do we get back up and try again? Or do we hold ourselves to an unrealistic standard of perfection that results in shame and discouragement? Perhaps we miss the mark because we are aiming for the wrong place. We subscribe to an artificial standard of perfection imposed by the culture, and we promote that standard when we refuse to accept setbacks and failures in our own lives. Instead, we need to accept those imperfections so that we can live our lives more fully and convey support, encouragement, and optimism to others as they struggle with their own.
My personal attempt to measure up to the culture’s artificial standard of perfection culminated in an eating disorder that lasted for about five years. In my struggle to attain the cultural standard of beauty that I perceived, I had completely missed the mark. As I deprived my body of food, my ability to live up to my full potential was significantly inhibited. Weak and tired, I would allow myself a handful of pretzels in order to eke out a 2-mile run. When I finally found the courage to reject the culture’s degrading standard of physical perfection, I found a strength that I never knew I had. On the road to recovery, I found that I could go for a long run without carefully planning my calorie intake, and I even ran my first marathon.
Because of my past eating disorder, I find something very powerful in how Biking for Babies combines the pro-life message with physical exertion. Biking over a thousand miles seems a fitting way for me to express how grateful I am just to be active, healthy, and alive. My newfound standard of perfection means that I can live my life to the fullest. Although most people will not express this sentiment in a 1000-mile bike ride, we can live up to our full potential whenever we devote ourselves wholeheartedly to a worthy cause or do even small tasks with care and enthusiasm.
When I listen to pro-choice arguments, I often hear a subtle underlying question: Is life worth living? With all the pain and struggle that people endure in this life, should we force another person to undergo such misery? Caught up in this paradigm of artificial perfection, many pro-choice advocates miss the mark, thinking abortion is an act of mercy that spares the child from the sufferings of this life – an insecure home, drug addiction, teen pregnancy, physical disability, the stigma of being “unwanted” – the list could go on and on.
Consider the statistic that 92 percent of women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome choose to abort. Consider the finding that 48 percent of pregnancies in the Bronx end in abortion, compared to 30 percent on Staten Island. The cultural standard of perfection justifies ending a human life simply because a child may be born with a disability or because a child may grow up in difficult circumstances.
Perfection doesn’t mean that we won’t have sufferings and setbacks. Perfection doesn’t mean that we won’t stumble and fall. Perfection is living life to its full potential. We cannot succumb to the cultural notions of perfection that inhibit our ability to live life to the fullest, in the same way that we cannot accept cultural standards of perfection that justify ending a human life. And so we face the perennial question: Is life worth living? Let’s live life in a way that says, “Yes, life is worth living – and it’s worth living well.”
Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”