By Ruth (Lobo) Shaw
For the past eight years of my life, I was a nearly full-time prolife activist who did school on the side, planned her wedding in her spare time and thought of pretty much nothing else but pro-life strategy. I lived and breathed activism in every aspect of my life- would I do activism in a box? Would I do it with a fox? Would I do it here or there? Would I do it anywhere? I may do it in a tree!.. you see where this is going..
And then BOOM I became pregnant with my first babe and things began to shift, and then BOOM again, my life drastically changed as I lay on a hospital bed agonizingly and beautifully pushing a new human being from my body- William Eli Shaw. My son. My little charge. Suddenly, it became evident to me in a new way that yikes! My life was about to change. Not only did I feel responsible to help protect the babies who are being taken away to slaughter, I also had a little life in my hands who needed me. My convictions were the same, but how I was I going to live out both callings, both of which are extremely important? And so, in choosing to be a stay-at-home mama who has the heart of an activist, I began my journey of living Intentional Motherhood where I live out the calling in a new way.
You see, in some ways, being a full-time pro-life activist is easier than being in the world in terms of living a life of purpose, and trying to affect great change in the world.. There are daily reminders that abortion is abhorrent, you are surrounded by like-minded amazing people where mutual admiration exists, you have a strong community around you, you’re motivated because you see the evil daily, and your fellow soldiers are right there beside you- you live, breathe and think non-stop about how to save babies, and it’s amazing.
I have found it much harder to live out my pro-life mission now that I am a full-time Mama Activist at home. There are many reasons for this (one of them being a lack of discipline, another being naps).. but the main reason is that there are zero reminders of the existence evil in our society unless you seek it out. I was not use to this- for my entire adult life, I had constant reminders in class, in the workplace, on the street. I chose to know, but was an easy choice.
Now, however,I could go an entire week and not once be reminded that abortions are happening. This could be my life now that I’m at home with William: I could go for coffee with a friend, go for a playdate, go on a date with husband (hint..hint..ahem..) , take William to the park, drink more coffee, take a nap, frolic in my backyard, read a Jane Austen novel, do laundry, more coffee, pick up toys, cook dinner, bedtime, the end. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
This is no comment, of course, on the merit of these individual activities as many of them are important and necessary for living a balanced life while having a family. But the point is that, if I decided I didn’t want to know about anything bad going on, I would not have to be bothered by anything ever again. I could delete people off Facebook who write controversial things, I could stop reading blogs that tell me what’s going on in the world. Now that I am at home and the choice is before me even hourly, there are days where I find it extremely difficult to choose to know. To choose to grieve. To choose to be motivated to action on issues that sometimes, I wish I could literally close my eyes and block out so that I would not feel compelled to do something. Enter: Intentional Motherhood.
Why should I choose to know about these things in our world? I could easily leave the work to someone else in hopes that someone else will make the change, that someone else will help so that I don’t have to feel so responsible. Wouldn’t that be nice? Isn’t this how our world got so messed in the first place? Call what you like, I call it diffusion of responsibility where everyone can see the situation happening, and noone acts because everyone thinks someone else will. Because we didn’t feeeeeeel like it. Everyone has some role to play so let’s not be foolish by thinking that simply because we are not responsible to do everything, therefore, we aren’t responsible for anything. Yes, I am responsible to William. I am also responsible to change the world whenever and wherever I can. I can’t do everything I use to do, but that doesn’t mean I should do nothing. It’s simple: If you can do more, you should.
With grace that I know cannot be my own, I have to force myself to intentionally choose to know about the evils of our generation to the best of my ability. I intentionally find reminders so that I do not forget that I am called to do something to love and change this broken world. And, I intentionally take breaks so that I don’t drive myself crazy by feeling like I am working hard to affect some kind of change to no avail. I intentionally spend time outside so that I am refreshed to put my hand to the plow and keep trudging along. I intentionally take William with me to activism opportunities because I intend to teach him (at the right time, in a way according to his age) that we need to stop evils in our society. I intend to teach him that we need to live a life of purpose in small ways, and big ways. I intend to teach him to live a purpose driven, intentional life so that he makes the most of his life and has the greatest impact possible on the culture. Though it’s probably obvious, my son is going to be totally bad ass (just kidding.. sort of 😉 )
I intentionally involve myself in pro-life activities because now: I have to seek them out, they are no longer handed to me. THAT is the key difference between living in the world, and living in a a bubble- the daily questions before those of us who choose to live in the world and seek the opportunities for change is this: Will I choose to live an intentional life? Will I seek out the opportunities in front of me to reach beyond what I know, beyond what is comfortable, beyond what is easy?
What each person is called to is between them and the Man, but there are some principles that we are all called to live out in some capacity: to love, to serve, to use our time intentionally, to sacrifice, to give of ourselves daily in some capacity or another. How are you called to live out these principles?
The call to motherhood is in and of itself a call to sacrifice and die to one’s selfish desires. I constantly have to choose differently from what I would like to do, and order myself to what I am NEEDED to do, both at home and in the world. The world needs you, did you know?
Synonyms for “intentional” is deliberate, planned, designed. Is your life, your time here, deliberate, planned and has purpose or design?
So, I have 3 final things to say, I promise:
1) I want to emphasize again that I am not suggesting that the work mamas do at home is by any means insignificant. It is often important, good and necessary. What I also want to emphasize, however, is the need for all of us to discern if we are using our time at home to the best of our ability and being intentional with the time we have ( I am quickly writing this in a half unpacked house while dirty dishes sit on the counter and toys are scattered on the floor.. these things are important and I will get to them. This is important too- we need to find the balance.)
2) How do we live out intentional motherhood? Maybe you have read everything I wrote and are left feeling frustrated thinking to yourself, “well thanks for the totally awesome thoughts, Ruth, but now what? I have no clue how I can intentionally remind myself that there are evils in the world that I am needed to fight against? Going to events is impossible with kids, so what are you suggesting I do?”
Fret no more, friend, here are some ideas:
– Put a poster/sticky note/plaque of some kind up on your wall wherever you spend alot of time that reminds you to use your time with purpose (yes, sometimes that will mean putting the computer away and doing the dishes. Sometimes that will mean letting the dishes wait while you answer a friend’s questions about abortion or gay marriage.)
– I keep an image of abortion next to my wallet by the front door so that as I am leaving the house, or tidying up, I am reminded that I can pray for these babies, the mamas, those doing full-time pro-life work and muse about what more I could be doing as I clean (being at home alone has given me time to be more thoughtful..hoooorah.)
– I have started going for a walk with William every day. He loves it, I love it and I drink less coffee when I do. So, why not drop some postcards in some mailboxes on your way? As I mentionned previously, there are few to zero reminders in our culture that abortions are happening daily at an immense rate. Part of our responsibility is to be a reminder to the culture, or to put the reminder out there. CCBR has some great ones here: http://www.unmaskingchoice.ca/endthekilling/postcards
– The next suggestion I am going to give has been a hard one for me. Sometimes, on Saturdays, I just want nothing more except to laze around in my Pjs, spend time with my men, nap and drink coffee.. sometimes we all need to do this, but I probably want this more than I should. If I were to follow my own suggestions above, I need to put some thought into how we can spend our time better on Saturdays to allow for us to spend quality time together as a family, but also serve in some way. ( Seriously, Ruth, you can’t give a 2 hours on a Saturday afternoon to talk to some people downtown about abortion? To be very honest with myself, yes, I can, I just don’t want toooooooo. But alas, we can spend time as a family while serving. And, these babies have no family to love them at all.. surely I can sacrifice my family time to try to ensure that these babies have a life at all.. if I choose to, I could sacrifice a little.)
– Join Mama Activist on FB and message me to join Ottawa Against Abortion (a local grassroots activism group) to keep up with the activities that are being created in order for you to be able to do what you can, when you can. I am leading some pro-life activism downtown with my little family this Saturday in Ottawa.. send me a message if you want to come!
– I have listed many more suggestions here: https://mamaactivist.wordpress.com/big-and-small-ways-to-give-of-yourself/
Also: “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little” – Edmund Burke