Abortion, Catholic Spirituality, Culture of Death, Evangelization

We are still sisters

January 24, 2017

I was a little astonished by the overwhelmingly positive and peaceful response to yesterday’s post. I credit that to the working of the Holy Spirit, because when I work alone, I tend to be a lot rougher around the edges. I say this with a lot of humility and embarrassment, that I’ve been cruel and capricious with my words in the past, which – even with the conviction of speaking what is true and good – must always, always be spoken with love.

That is not my native tongue.

I am quick tempered, choleric, enraged by injustice and allergic to inefficiency. Ask my poor children, who live with the most autocratic Lego policeman of a mother you could ever imagine. I don’t like taking the time to make the relational connections necessary to have the harder conversations – I like to jump to the punchline and deliver the logical conclusion like a grenade.

Which is a really, really ineffective way to evangelize, it turns out. Who wants to be exploded upon, turns out?

At any rate, for the sake of full disclosure, I wanted to acknowledge that I have been a cruel Christian at times, too insecure in my own position and too angry at the evils the culture is perpetuating on my sisters in particular. I’ve spoken rashly and used the wrong words. But I beg you to look past those mistakes, if you are willing to, and see the deepest desire of my heart, which is that each of us know and love Christ.

In the sea of positive comments and thoughtful critiques, one in particular stood out to me, and I paraphrase: “I left the church. thanks for reminding me why. You are not my sister.”

Which is not true.

No matter how deeply rooted your belief that a woman should be free to choose to abort her child, no matter how divergent our political ideologies, there will never be a moment when we are not sisters.

Take it from a woman who has 4 of the good ol’ fashioned flesh-and-blood variety, but difference of opinion or even radically-divergent worldviews do not the bonds of sisterhood dissolve.

Particularly when we are united – indelibly, inalterably, inextricably – by the bond of baptism in Christ.

It is so essential that we recognize ourselves in the hearts and faces of “the other” who we oppose. Opposition needn’t mean hate. It needn’t mean rejection and vitriol and violence. It can be hard and it can be messy and of course, disagreement is often painful and our interactions potentially pain-filled…but you will never stop being my sister.

If you kill your unborn baby, you will still be my sister.

If you stand on the highest podium in the land and pledge your allegiance to the warped ideology of modern feminism, pledging hand-over-heart fealty to Planned Parenthood, you will still be my sister.

If you can’t stand the sound of my voice, can’t stomach the words on this page, can’t reconcile the notion that a woman who stands opposed to your worldview can still acknowledge your human dignity, you will still be my sister.

Disagreement needn’t make us enemies. I want to invite you to wholeheartedly consider the possibility that even in profound disagreement and anger, we needn’t be that.

I do not hate women who see the world differently than I do. (Or men, either, for that matter.) That’s kind of the entire crux of Christianity, I think.

And if you are away from the Church, or have never stopped to give it a second look after lapsing in your Mass attendance after college, I beg you to reconsider. There are flawed sinners in the pews every Sunday. None of us are doing it perfectly. But we all hunger for Jesus. And He meets us there in the Eucharist, undeserving and imperfect though we are.

I want to invite you to consider the possibility that He is inviting you there, too. And that He has something to say about your life, about the plans for that life, and about the unique mission He has entrusted to you alone.

Even if we can never come to terms with our differences and even if you never make that trek home, know that you will never be my enemy.

Respectfully,

your sister.

 

24 Comments

  • Reply Katie January 24, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Thank you, for this. I have seen SO MUCH hate in the past few weeks. Last night, I despaired that most Catholic women that I know had appeared to have lost their identity in Christ to political agendas–whether that be conservative or liberal. I felt alone. But this response is what I hunger for. Love. Not the sad, empty kind that allows all sorts of abuse, but real, gritty, difficult, hardcore love. The love that JPII tells us to seek. The love that drove Jesus to the Cross. Love, beyond the choices others make, and the beliefs that they hold. Love! This is what makes a community work. Thank you for your humility and grace, and most of all, for your heart.

  • Reply Susan Moser January 24, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    It is my prayer that your message is far reaching to all our sisters. God bless you for making yourself open to His Holy Spirit to speak the words others of us (for whatever reasons) could not , did not, cannot do…

  • Reply lorna January 24, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    My dear sister, by getting it wrong we are getting it right. He called you, He is calling me. Together, we will all be Sisters in and for Him. I too cut to the ending pretty quickly withmy kids, it’s a parenting style, not a flaw!

  • Reply Melissa January 24, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Yes yes yes!!! I have been struggling because I made the not so wise (for me) choice to engage with someone on social media who for whatever reason can not recognize the reality that you can still love someone without condoning or approving of their decisions. But I will pray for and love her anyway … and this whole thing was so so perfectly put. Wish everyone could read it

  • Reply Natalie January 24, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    Jenny, you’ve inspired me to seek a new relationship with Jesus. Thank you.

  • Reply jeanette January 24, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    As Catholics, we are supposed to understand that love of the other is wanting their good. Often the areas of disagreement are precisely that: what I think is good because of how my faith informs me of what constitutes the good may not be what you perceive to be the good. I still want what is good for you, we just don’t see it from the same perspective. And we won’t, unless we are united as one in Christ. And if you reject Christ, you may coincidentally be “united” with me in thought at some times, but never at the very heart of things. So it will always keep us at arms length.

    Some find that to be cause for hatred of the other. But a Catholic should find that as cause for being moved by love to pray for the other and continue to want what is best and to continue to love them. That kind of thinking seems so foreign to some people, so they cannot possibly believe that you can love them in spite of differences, because that is not how they treat people. They treat people as enemies who do not think like they do.

    It is a barrier that is hard to overcome when you are discounted as not worth loving simply because you do not agree with someone. But it is further compounded by the fact that to engage in a genuine relationship, one must engage towards a meeting of minds at some level. Faith does not permit us to yield to principles that are false, so the divide will always feel a bit on the permanent side, in spite of our desire to love the other person. But we have to realize that love of the other is not equal to acceptance by the other. This is what young people go through: abandoning what they know to be true just so that they can be accepted by the other and not remain at odds with the other. But yielding to untruths is a mistake and generally leads to falling away from the faith. Which in turn puts you at odds with other people in your life who also love you. Funny the tradeoff people will make just to be accepted by others. We must keep strong in our convictions to live in the truth even while attempting to love the other, otherwise we are nothing more than a chameleon.

  • Reply Kaitlin @ More Like Mary January 24, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    This is how it’s done Jenny. Thank you. (And I’m stealing your “allergic to inefficiency” line because goodness that described me to a tee!)

  • Reply Rebecca January 24, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    This might be better in response to your previous post but I didn’t want it to get lost in the sea of 80+’comments, so I’m leaving it here. On Saturday morning I had the privilege of coming across this beautiful, powerful film. It’s a wonderful response to the prevailing attitude that in order to support women and minorities, one must be pro-choice. It’s only 6 minutes long, please give it a look.

    http://www.desiringgod.org/person

  • Reply Laura January 25, 2017 at 12:20 am

    This line, though: “I am quick tempered, choleric, enraged by injustice and allergic to inefficiency” = AMEN. Using super loving language isn’t my native tongue either. [But I’d argue that you’re usually pretty loving and respectful – at least from what I’ve read]. Injustice REALLY gets my goat. It makes me so sad how many people are lost. And it makes me MAD when evil ensnares otherwise perfectly reasonable people. Anyway. I like to remember that it’s not people we’re fighting, but ideas, principalities, and the big man downstairs. The fight is never against my brothers and sisters, even when we disagree. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

  • Reply Penny Buck January 25, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Thank you Sister. I am new to the Church, attending RCIA. Your blog gives me so much.

  • Reply Rose January 25, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    Jenny, thank you for writing. Thanks for your obedience to His plans for you. This post and the last one are especially beautiful. Good work, lady. When ever I make it out there to visit Meg again, I hope to see you. You’ll be in my prayers!

  • Reply Karyn January 25, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    I’m a new Catholic so maybe I’m wrong….but if a person gets an abortion without remorse or supports abortion, that person is in a state of mortal sin and no longer has God living within his or her soul, regardless if they were once baptized. She may be our sister in the general womanhood sense but not in the sense of being sisters (or brothers) in Christ. We should, of course, pray for our prodigal siblings and be ready to have the feast when they return.

  • Reply salha January 25, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    Are you a sister to the Syrian refugees? Will you share your cities with these people to help them start over? Or are you only a sister to other catholic women?

    • Reply Jenny Uebbing January 25, 2017 at 7:49 pm

      Sahla, I am sorry this is a painful conversation for you, but I’m deeply grateful that you are willing to engage in it.

      You level a common accusation that many in the pro life world are familiar with, in the genre of “you only care about women when they’re fetuses.” That is a straw man fallacy, but the concept of pro life being whole life (and pro woman being all women) is critically important, you’re right.

      As far as supporting my sisters who are Syrian refugees, yes, we financially and materially support a welfare society in the Middle East, specially for displaced and terrorized refugees. We also pray and work to raise awareness about the grave evil so many women face around the world, which is part of what made 95% of the coverage of the Women’s March so frustrating. I saw hundreds of signs and hashtags for planned parenthood, and very few decrying genital mutilation, child trafficking, and genocide. It is frustrating that while women around the world (and here at home) are struggling for their lives, our American concept of “feminism” has been hijacked and raunchified, if I can make up a word, by Planned Parenthood and angry celebrities. I know there were women there marching for serious reasons, like the one’s we’re discussing here. But it was hard to see them over the vagina hats.

      • Reply salha January 25, 2017 at 9:21 pm

        It’s frustrating that “other women have it worse” is used as a reason to discourage women here from fighting for better. All politics are local. The day after the march there was a workshop attended by 500 women interested in running for office.

        Do you know what happened when I went to planned parenthood? I went for a check-up, I was new to my city and didn’t have a dr yet. At the end of the appointment I was given a bottle of multivitamins and told that women of child-bearing age should be sure to get enough B vitamins so that if they do get pregnant, that baby will be healthy. I was respected.

        If you really care about the worldwide oppression of women, then you would object to the gag rule. This rule, imposed on women by Republican presidents since Reagan in 1984, prohibits any involvement with abortion in order for an NGO (non-governmental organization) to receive funding from the U.S. for family planning. This means that an organization can’t even use its own money—not only in providing abortions, but for a physician counseling his/her patient as to the best care for her, or referring a patient to another place for that necessary medical care. This time, trying to show how YUGE his reach is, Trump didn’t just reinstate the rule, but extended it to muzzle and shackle all global health funding, not just family planning.

        It affects both married and unmarried women, many who do not have a say in whether they have sex. Family planning services allow them some measure of control over whether they get pregnant. And a giant body of evidence shows that when women are able to delay childbearing, and to have fewer children, they are more likely to get educated and to help their communities grow economically.

        • Reply Jenny Uebbing January 26, 2017 at 2:27 pm

          Salha, you keep moving the goalposts. You asked specifically what I was doing to help Syrian refuges. When I answered that question, you deflected and asked another question. If we’re to have a meaningful dialogue, it’s necessary to truly engage the opposing viewpoint, not just circle round and round. I know we both have other demands on our time, so I’ll bow out here. Peace of Christ to you.

          • salha January 26, 2017 at 4:35 pm

            Ok, Thank you for helping Syrian refugees.

          • jeanette January 29, 2017 at 2:27 pm

            Salha: Are you inviting blog readers to reject Jenny because she is not serving your purposes and doesn’t live up to your ideals? I don’t get your point here. It is her blog post, and from what I read, her post was pretty specifically referring to how she accepts people who differ in opinion on the subject of abortion, and does not consider them her enemy. She especially was noting the bond between Christians by baptism motivating her to call women her sisters. It wasn’t from what I could see an open invitation to take over her blog. Maybe you should start your own blog to express your opinions on the subject matter that you are passionate about and maybe you will get the readership you are looking for. Criticizing Jenny for not accommodating your personal agenda for her blog is really pretty out of line. She has no obligation to host conversation that is not to the point of what she is talking about here. Changing the subject to demanding proof that she conforms to your idea of sisterhood is really going beyond the discussion and “hijacking” her blog to express your political opinions. The people who read this blog regularly can certainly recognize that when it happens. You are looking for an audience, but I don’t think you are really persuading anyone to agree with your method.

          • Susan January 30, 2017 at 3:56 pm

            Thank You, so true. So many other forums available to you for that.

    • Reply Jean January 26, 2017 at 12:03 pm

      A number of parishes in our diocese have been sponsoring Syrian refugee families, assisting in finding housing, furnishing and equipping their homes, help with English as a second language and finding employment. As Catholics we are compelled to be sisters and brothers to those in need though you won’t see many news headlines highlighting personal efforts on our behalf because in general Christians aren’t popular members of today’s society. I’d also like to mention that there are quite a number of Christian Syrian refugees rebuilding their lives in our country, as well as Muslim Syrians. When we’re asked to donate to help Syrian refugees we don’t ask what religion they come from because we know we are all God’s children.

      • Reply salha January 26, 2017 at 4:36 pm

        Jean, I am so happy to hear that your parish is helping. I hope that your parish also resists any policies that would hurt other Syrians.

    • Reply Colleen January 27, 2017 at 1:58 pm

      Salha, the explanation you requested.

      http://yalejreg.com/nc/should-congress-impeach-obama-for-his-emoluments-clause-violations/

  • Reply Colleen January 28, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Trump divested himself from his company. He has a stake in the stock the same same way Obama was allowed to hold treasury bonds.
    The reason you’re accusing him of taking foreign money is because the Trump empire is largely hotels which people from foreign countries are allowed to stay at.
    Are you really going to maintain that people from foreign countries staying in hotels (that he no longer runs in any way ) is akin to treason?

    A side note that I feel didn’t get to be brought up on the last thread (where you blamed the Church for misogyny) was the central role of the Virgin Mary. Even secular historians will tell you that is was the influence of the Virgin that turned barbarian conquerors into chivalrous Christians. This was based on the idea that if God Himself relied on the consent of a woman and submitted Himself to Her then mere mortal men could as well.
    Only Catholicism has brought this to the world throughout the centuries and it is the ONLY reason we as women aren’t in shackles here in the West. You would do well to research that the tremendous freedom afforded you is solely because of Jesus Christ and His Church and the MEN and WOMEN who have fought to build and maintain societies governed by His principles

  • Reply Laura February 2, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    A beautiful post, Jenny. Thanks for saying what needs to be said, and should always be said, sister. We are all still sisters. See you at church. 🙂

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