Eating Our Own

Well that didn't take long.

Dear Elizabeth,
I can't tell you how disappointed I am that a former editor of Welcome Home would write such strong support for Sarah Palin. Don't you think that Mrs. Palin should be home with her children, particularly since she has a new baby with Down Syndrome? Shame on you!

Holly ( a longtime reader)

Dear Holly, thanks for writing. You really are a longtime reader! Because of your note,  I spent a pleasant evening reminiscing fondly about my days at Welcome Home. I wrote my first published piece for that wonderful magazine when I was twenty-five years old and had one child. I was honored and grateful to be the managing editor until after I'd had my third baby. I was blessed by the professional mentoring I found there--bright women who were articulate and savvy about the publishing business shared freely from the wealth of their knowledge and experience and encouraged me unabashedly. It was a truly beautiful place to learn and grow. More than the professional experience, though, I will always, always treasure the mothering wisdom I learned from some of the best mothers on the planet.Welcome Home shaped me in so many, many ways--all of them good.

I think that you, Holly, might not understand fully the mission of Welcome Home and the Mothers at Home organization. It was never, ever to judge or condemn mothers who chose to work outside their homes. Instead, it was to encourage mothers (or fathers) who had made the decision to be at home with their families. That's a big difference in purpose. Mother at Home staunchly refused to enter into the "Mommy Wars" when media outlets persistently called for interviews and asked if we'd go on record disagreeing with the choice to be employed outside the home. It was the belief of the organization that it is counterproductive for all of us to sit in judgment over one another. Far better that we should encourage one another and build each other up. (see 1 Thessalonians 5:11)

We stand here at a precipice. We can elect a president who believes that babies who don't die in the course of abortion should be left to die alone on a dirty shelf in a hospital. Or we can elect a solidly pro-life team of candidates. The truth is, Christian women can make or break this election and the appointment of the next justices to the Supreme Court. It greatly disturbs me to read the buzz out there.  We need to come to our senses. Christian women who are threatening to stay at home instead of voting for a woman who has a baby and growing family are really missing a valuable point. And it's a point we miss again and again on large and small scales.

We eat our own. We make up litmus tests and then level judgments. Does she dress the way a Christian woman should? Does she wear her hair the way a Christian woman should? Does she go to the "right" parish? Does she manage her finances the "right' way? Use the "right" curriculum? Spend her time the "right" way? Does she have enough children and are they spaced the "right" way? If the answers don't fit what we've decided--in our opinions--constitute holiness, we chew the woman up and spit her out in disgust.

And we become women of opinion, not conviction, to use a phrase coined by Colleen Mitchell. We become women who are so preoccupied by judging and condemning that we tear down our own homes with our own hands. The spirit of condemnation pervades the very being of the woman and erodes at the gentleness, peacefulness, and goodness her family deserves.  She becomes a bitter women and her life bears bitter fruit.

I appreciate the trip down memory lane, Holly. I was the youngest member of the staff by far in my Welcome Home days. I learned so much from the women with whom I worked. Now, with the benefit of time and experience, I appreciate even more the "policy" Mothers at Home always had regarding women employed outside the home. It's a policy that we should extend to all our relationships.

I can't imagine being Vice President. I can't even imagine being the managing editor of a magazine, working from home, any more. And you know, I can't imagine running a lacemaking business from my home either. But Zelie Martin did. And she will be canonized a month from now. I can't imagine being a busy doctor while caring for several young children. But St. Gianna Molla did. I can't imagine starting a ministry with my husband, involving my children in it, and moving countless times as necessary to see it grow. But Sally Clarkson did.  I can't imagine having to enroll my children in school and resume a professional career because my husband is gravely ill. But one of the holiest women I know did exactly that. And in every case, those women did what was right for their families. In every case, the fact that mom had a job was part of their family culture. In every case, these women and their husbands raised great kids. Every one of those women is heroic. Every one of those women was an intimate friend of God and listened to and followed His call, no matter how daunting it seemed. And God blessed that courage and conviction and discipline. God is big, very big, much bigger than our narrow notions of how women should look if they are holy women. God has big ideas for women.

We have an opportunity now to shape the future of our culture, an opportunity to ensure that our children and our grandchildren are safe in a  culture of life. We have an opportunity as mothers, wives, and women to  effect change: meaningful, positive change. And you can bet that the forces of evil would like nothing better than for us to be sidetracked by judging Sarah Palin's "fitness" as a Christian woman. We are the voting block that can turn the tide in this country.

I've thought almost incessantly in the past twenty-fours about how in the world Mrs. Palin can possibly accomplish all she does. I want her time management skills. I bet she doesn't waste one precious second peering into other women's homes and marriages and families and judging how they should be living out their vocations. Instead, she hears the call of her Maker. She keeps her eyes on her own work.  He's asking her to make a huge sacrifice for His kingdom. He's asking her to take on a daunting task for the culture of life. He's asking her to act as a woman of conviction. Instead of wasting time worrying about the intimate details of her family, maybe we all should spend our time in prayer for her and for our country.

And then we should roll up our sleeves and help get her elected.

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