Note from the Editor: This article is the second in a series which will offer guidance to women who hope to become more politically active on the issues that matter to them, including religious freedom.
Part 2: Peace of Mind While Engaging A World Not At Peace
In this second part of the series on political involvement, I’ll share some thoughts on how to keep a positive outlook and peace of mind as an activist. We wouldn’t be doing this at all if we weren’t responding to problems in the world, right? Sometimes, it can be hard to take on those problems without getting discouraged. Maintaining a good life balance is important (see part 1), but here are some more strategies for maintaining peace of mind and heart.
I. Shift your mindset.
- If you believe in God, pray frequently. Yes, I mentioned prayer in my last article. It’s that important. When it comes to maintaining peace of mind, it can be especially useful to follow this ancient wisdom: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
- Remember that changing the world starts with you. Examine your conscience often, and figure out where you need to grow. Make your own mind and soul your first priority, your family your second. You don’t have to be a saint to engage with the rest of the world, but we’ll get nowhere if we try to change the world while ignoring ourselves.
- Know it doesn’t all depend on you. It’s not up to you to fix the world or change other people. Just “speak for yourself,” do what you can do, and treat people well along the way.
II. Change your focus.
- Think local. What resources do you have in your community? What can you do to advance women’s freedom and religious freedom locally? Every community has its own strengths, its own needs. And it’s much less daunting to think about working locally than to think “I have to change the national culture!”
- Get “off the grid” occasionally. Sometimes the news, online comments, etc. can get to be too much for just about anyone. If needed, it’s O.K. to take a break (and maybe log off of Facebook for a while).
- Celebrate the good. It can be so easy to focus on our fears and concerns about what’s going wrong in the world, but there is a lot of good! One of the things I love about Women Speak for Themselves is that WSFT draws attention to that good. There are so many positive things you can do in your community! Write a letter to the editor extolling a local religious ministry or the benefits of fertility awareness. Plan a service day to support a local religious charity. Organize a ministry fair to connect people in need with support. Plan an event to educate people in your community about healthy relationships and sex. Celebrating the positive is so important–not just for the success of your efforts, but for your psyche.
III. Connect with others.
- Don’t go it alone. You’re not alone! As I wrote in the last post, it is so important to seek help and support from like-minded people. Work on building a community of friends who stand up for women/religious freedom together (even if it’s only you and two others!) Seek out spiritual, emotional, and psychological support when you need it.
- Show LOVE to both your allies and your opponents. When people start out doing grassroots activism, they are often motivated by anger, grief, or fear. Something happens that makes them think “I can’t take the way things are going anymore without doing something!” That’s a fine place to start, but it’s a dangerous place to stay. Eventually, we have to move beyond those emotions and start adopting a mission of love! Act on this shift in mindset by considering yourself the servant of everyone else—including your opponents. Those who manage to serve others with joy are the only people who can be involved in this fight for a long time and be happy.
More on that last point in the next post.
How do you stay sane when you’re in the midst of grassroots activism? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Laura Doroski is a homeschooling mother to 3 young children. A graduate of Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, GA, Laura founded the college’s Catholic Student Union and Students for Life. Because freedom of religion, women’s and family issues are now inextricably linked, Laura is doing what she can for the sake of her kids to speak out about the consequences of women suppressing or circumventing their reproductive systems and denying life to their own children.