2.24.2016

Let's Talk About Being Pro-Life

If you haven't already, please read: *Disclaimer Post*

I have been wanting to write this for a while now (and it's still not as polished as I'd like, but I need to hit publish and keep writing), and well, it's just time to talk about being pro-life and what that looks like to a non-Catholic or someone who does not 'fit in' with the circle of 'orthodox/faithful/traditional/whateverothertermyouwanttouse' Catholic.

From my own experience with this: (Reminding you of my own transformation from being pro-choice, of the 'I'd never do it, but who I am to tell someone else what to do' ilk, to being fully pro-life from conception to natural death including opposing the death penalty and euthanasia.) I remember the first person who said to me "Thank you for choosing life" upon learning I was pregnant with Sugarbeet. At first I was a little put out, thinking why would someone even say that to me? Not choosing life had never even crossed my mind, placing her for adoption had (that is a story for another day), but not carrying her to term and giving birth to her? Um, nope, never even occurred to me. And then, I thought about it.

Pregnant. By someone other than my husband. Facing having to quit my job. Facing having to tell my parents. Facing having to tell a community of faithful Catholics who I considered some of my dearest friends. Starting over, with no guarantee of support from anyone.

Oh. I got it. I was nearly the poster child for NARAL and a woman's right to choose.

And then I did share the news. And many of the things I feared would happen, did indeed happen. To list a few: people I considered friends quit speaking to me because I did not do things the way they saw to be the 'only way'. My Dad and my relationship is fractured to a point I'm not sure it can recover, he has only seen his granddaugther 3 times in 6 months. My stepmother has never seen Sugarbeet, nor has my littlest brother. I was removed from blog-rolls, deleted from being able to see private blogs I followed, unfriended on Facebook and in real life. And more.

I feared, and quite honestly knew, these things would happen. I dreaded them. And I'm so glad I didn't even consider some of the other things that would happen. I fought the urge to just quietly disappear and not tell anyone, so that I could at least pretend it was all my 'choice.' And then I thought, oh my. What would my 19-year-old self, or even my 25-year-old self, have done in the similar situation?

And y'all, I was shaken to my core. I knew, without a doubt what she would have done. She'd have 'taken care of it.' Her pride, wanting to preserve the way others saw her, and fear would have taken center stage, and she'd have done anything to preserve it.

Knowing that rejection and not being accepted are two of the things that I struggle with more than any other. Knowing that only in the last few years of gut-wrenching soul searching and spiritual direction have I even been able to admit that aspect of my own weaknesses. Knowing that without years of infertility, I did not have a full respect for life from the very beginning.

And, where this fits into the bigger pro-life picture, and our responsibility as pro-life Catholics/Christians is this: what about the girl or woman on the outside looking in? The lurker who read comments in this space refusing to congratulate me because my pregnancy was not in the perfect circumstances? Which I have said I intellectually understand, and accept. But, if we say all life is a gift and is to be cherished, why do we withhold the congratulations on this gift? And what of the girl who never hears the word 'congratulations' because those around her are too busy focusing on her sin and not on the life that is growing inside of her?

And about the girl who knows her father will quit speaking to her?
Who knows she will no longer be invited to participate in activities with the people with which she has found a home?
Who will be forced out of a group that she founded to support others?
Who will have friends (who she once called friends) of friends refuse to be in the same space with her?

How do we possibly preach pro-life and behave like this?

It is no wonder that girls and women walk into Planned Parenthood and 'take care of it'. They hear that they are loved and begged to choose life, but then they see the actions of those same people towards someone. And dare I say, they see it and it frightens them more because it is 'one of their own.'

We truly do say: Your baby's life and your life are valued, if and only if you adhere to our standards. Do things our way. These may not be our words, but these are the actions of so many.

You may be thinking: but you knew better. You were different. We treated you differently because you knew better. And to that, I say. Yes, I knew better. So what?! I was still a woman facing uncertainty, pregnant and in need of the support we claim to offer. Yes, a few (and you know who you are, and you will never know the lifeline you have been to me) offered this kind of support, but the majority abandoned me. My place of refuge, of love, became a place of rejection, all because I no longer fit on the pedestal upon which I had allowed myself to be placed.

I shudder to think of the number of women who have been my 19 or 25 year old self and walked through those doors. I shudder to think at how my own actions in the past have contributed to any woman walking through those doors - directly or indirectly.

If we truly want to change our culture of death, we must change the way we respond to unplanned life among us. There is a way to walk with someone and to love them, without condoning their sins. Some of you, have done a beautiful job of this, and I don't want you to feel forgotten in this. From those of you who offered congratulations, to the one of you who offered me sanctuary, to those who offered tangible resources if needed, to those who have shared in my joy of Sugarbeet (which reminds me, I do have a secret FB group with more frequent updates and pictures if you are interested, just send me a PM or email and I'll add you), to the small gifts and notes offered along the way. These are the things that are the actions of truly pro-life people. Sadly though, these are what have caught me most off-guard; what have surprised me. Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't it be the other actions that surprise? The other actions that are the exception? And, I suspect, those of you who have remained connected to me have received some push back as well. In fact, I know it to be true in more than a few instances. My head, my intellect, understands it is a consequence of my sin and our fallen world. Fortunately, I am not 19 or 25 year old me, and I can bear it, and I can reach out to those who are willing to walk with me when needed.

The very human side of me, who found a community and a 'home' here during some of the darkest days of my life, well, she still doesn't get it. There is a hole in my heart. You may say I deserve it. I deserve the isolation. That my sins demand it. Fortunately I am learning (finally, perhaps) to fill that hole with Jesus and no one else.

But, I ask you then, what does that say to the young woman standing at the door of Planned Parenthood? How does that give her any hope that she and her child will be welcomed and loved? That her acceptance as a human person, and that her baby's worth to be congratulated depends on her manner of conception?

We preach and march and vote and pray 'pro-life'. We must find a way to truly act it.

13 comments:

  1. We love you and your little family. Thank you for being such an important part of our lives.

    'Baby' is mentioned a lot around here. JP asked for her today. <3

    ReplyDelete
  2. It is the year of Mercy....Some of us need to get off our "judgment" and have mercy for others...It is always easy to think...I wouldn't make that mistake...and forget the sins I did make, which Christ suffered for just as much as the "little" or "big" ones I didn't make.

    Babies are a joy. Babies are to be celebrated. Babies are a miracle...no matter the background they come from.....God has a plan for them and for us....

    And I am rambling, but I just wanted to say, good job for having your baby...Good job!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm so thankful that you're writing and sharing your experience with others. I've read your blog for a long time, but seldom commented. But as you noted so many of those reactions you received are exactly why it is so hard for young women in precarious positions to choose life. I hope that this post is a reminder to others to show mercy and celebrate those tiny lives, and embrace the women who we should be supporting, even when circumstances aren't ideal. Thank you again for writing, even when it must be very difficult to.

    ReplyDelete
  4. If you know my life story, you would know that judgment on the circumstances of a child's conception will NEVER matter to me. Never. Life is a gift, under all circumstances and the sin will be dealt with by God only. Only God can offer consolation that will bring a broken soul to peace. Rebecca, you are loved no matter the circumstances or choices you have made, the only thing you can do from this time forward is learn to live in peace with yourself, trusting that God will love you with an everlasting and all-consuming love. Having a baby in an ideal situation is a blessing but is still so hard, having a child in in a environment of sin is still a blessing, it just takes even more courage to embrace it as such. Much love to you friend. I was conceived in a ugly manner of sin, however one truth I cling to: God wanted me here. God loved me into being. God desired me. I know that is the truth for your beautiful girl. There is so much I wish I could say to let you know that even though the road ahead may be full of bumps and bruises and be necessary, they are worth it all because you are preparing yourself and your daughter for Heaven. You will get there, you will and she will happily be skipping next to you learning mercy, genuineness, and grace. Hugs and Prayers!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am so glad you are finally addressing this aspect of your situation. I have never been more disappointed in people that claimed to be "faithful Christians" than when you shared your story with us all. The disgust I felt at those refusing to congratulate you and feel joy for the life growing in you and instead decided to talk instead about their own feelings of sadness and disappointment almost sent me over the edge. I've always felt that it is my job as a Catholic Christian woman to hate the sin but love the sinner and to love you where you're at. You didn't need to be told or reminded of your mistakes in life because you were/are already your toughest critic. You needed love and support and you needed someone to remind you that despite how your sweet little girl was conceived that we was/is a joyous blessing that deserves to be celebrated! A new life was created and it doesn't matter how that happened. This post was raw and true and I love everything about it. I also hope those that chose to be less than charitable to you read it and get a reality check on how their "holier than thou" attitudes do nothing to help the prolife movement and if anything they should be ashamed of themselves because it's people like them that cause more harm than good. Thank you for always sharing your heart with us and being so open and honest and transparent. You will always have my support. xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  6. That was beautiful. Thank you for sharing. We're all on the road together.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sin is very divisive, but we certainly should all be united in praising you for choosing life for your beautiful daughter. And as an adoptive parent, thank you for considering adoption when so many others never would. Looking forward to reading that story one day. Prayers for your journey.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I learned a lot at a pro-life center dinner a few years ago, the speaker was a 20'something guy. He got up to say he came to know the center better, a) not because his parents donated lots of money there every year but b) because he took his girlfriend there. He said this center was the first time someone told him and the girlfriend Congratulations, and then quickly offered them their first gift for the unborn child. He offered up who his parents were, and their affiliation ( $$$) with this place. The counselors, said, oh they must be ecstatic, he said, well not so much. They were shocked! The lesson for the rest of his 1/2 hour speech, was that no matter who you are, status, social circle, if you are going to preach you are pro-life. Act it everyday. Not just to those you "feel" are vulnerable. Abortion is not a thing for the poor, it is also a thing for those who know better who are shamed into it.

    If we are Pro-life we celebrate Life with No Exceptions.

    ReplyDelete
  9. A truly heartfelt post Rebecca and I have been mulling it over since last night when I first read it. I then read K's comment above this afternoon and it finally helped me put together what I was trying to make sense of what is on my heart.

    As K said - "If we are pro-life we celebrate Life with No Exceptions."

    I agree.

    And I think we need to take that further and not just apply it to babies in the womb. If we are pro-life we should be concerned about body AND soul of each member of the family. Because life is MORE than just the body. We firmly believe that as Catholics.

    To be clear at the outset and if it wasn’t obnoxious, I would put this in all caps, but hopefully you get my drift. I know you know that I personally think Sugarbeet was/is/will always be a blessing, of course that is true and NOTHING will negate that. In all our interactions and continued conversations I hope it is clear that I and I would surmise many other people that love you have never wavered from that.

    However, the extra-marital relationship and your continued persistence in it when you first posted about it, it appeared to me that this is what people were focusing on, not Sugarbeet’s impending arrival because hey, that is a done deal and baby’s are ALWAYS blessings. I believe that to the core of my being.

    But hey, I and so many others love you and the baby. To view it metaphorically, if you were on the edge of a cliff and didn't see where you were going (even if you thought you did), I would be screaming, waving my arms, trying anything to prevent you from going over the edge and still will. 1) Because you are my friend and I love you and 2) because your baby needs you for all eternity! Just like I hope a pregnancy care center would not just focus on the pre-natal needs of the Mother and Baby, but also enquire about their living situation, are they safe, are they in a vulnerable position, and if not, I hope they would help out that situation as well. I am NOT saying your living situation is not safe, but more than anything I am just saying as with so many Catholic things, this could be a situation of both/and. We celebrate Sugarbeet AND we can still share our concerns about the moral issues of the relationship. I think this is all part of the love the sinner, hate the sin, but how it gets applied in real life…yeah, that is the messy part. And I am very sorry you were hurt by less than charitable applications of this way of relating. And please, if I personally failed at this in any way, well, I hope you would tell me as I am a sinner too and I would like to ask forgiveness for any transgressions.

    I am sorry if this comes across as rambling, so I will just wrap it up now. Rebecca, go forth and be a SAINT! That is the best thing you can give little Sugarbeet! ☺ Love in Christ, Marie

    St. Eugene de Mazenod, pray for us!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm so glad you decided to share this. I can't imagine how hard it is to hit publish, but we really do need to ask ourselves what "pro-life" actually looks like in our daily lives. Many of us who say we are "pro-life" and bemoan the state of the laws in this country don't do a thing to actually give women a choice; we don't offer our unconditional love and acceptance of them as a person and the beautiful child within them (which is not the same thing as condoning whatever circumstances led them there), we don't offer the physical support that is needed either. If we would offer both emotional support and options to help women support their children, the laws would not matter nearly as much. Because many women want so badly to choose life if only they could find a way or if they weren't so scared, or if they knew someone was in their corner. Love you, friend!

    ReplyDelete
  11. thank you for putting yourself into a vulnerable space yet again and standing tall. i'm proud of you, sweetie.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I have been astounded at the way things went down for you, Rebecca. I'm glad you shared this. What I have seen through actions, over and over again, among Catholics saddens me. You're right...the way Catholics often treat each other and show the world what they really must think...pushes many a woman through the doors of Planned Parenthood and shuts the door in the face of many a would-be Catholic. Praying for you always.

    ReplyDelete

Comment moderation is turned on so you may not see your comment show up right away.