Note from the Editor: This article is the first 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 1: Taking The Leap Without Losing Your Balance
I started getting involved with grassroots efforts to support women and religious freedom about eight months ago. In that time, I’ve met with a congressman, flown to D.C. for spokeswoman training, organized a Women for Religious Freedom rally, and coordinated a service day for the Little Sisters of the Poor (among other things).
I’m also the mother of three children under six. They’re homeschooled. I hear “I don’t know how you do it!” pretty often.
Well, sometimes I don’t know how I do it, either! But I do know that it’s not rocket science and that it is rewarding.
So if you’re someone who wants to do more for women and religious freedom but remains unsure if you can, then sister, I hear you. Engaging these issues is tough physical, mental, and spiritual work. But sometimes, a cause just grabs your heart and you know you have to do something, even though you don’t know how it will work out. That’s what happened to me.
In this series, I’m offering what I’ve learned about how to “step out there” while maintaining a balanced life, peace of mind, and an open heart.
Seven Ways to Keep Your Life Balanced As You Take the Leap
- If you believe in God, pray. Pray to understand the good of religious freedom and the good of women and families everywhere. Pray for guidance, for help from others, for doors to open, for the wisdom to know how to prioritize. I’d recommend that you spend at least a week just praying like this every day before doing anything else.
- Pick one thing to do, and commit. Make it something a little bit outside of your comfort zone, but not too intimidating. It could be writing a brief letter to your local paper, scheduling a meeting with your state senator’s office (believe me, they’re more afraid of constituents than you are of them!), or signing up to join a local group that advocates for the cause you care about. Use the “helps” from WomenSpeakforThemselves.com – the fact sheets or editorial letter cheat sheets, etc.
- Find a community that moves you forward. Maybe at your Church? Or among your friends? Seek out like-minded people online and in real life who can help you. If you are a writer, look for people who have gotten their op-eds or letters to the editor published. If you are looking to educate your state or federal representatives, connect with people who are politically active. Taking the time to get trained by or listen to other people who have had success will help you focus your efforts.
- Adopt a problem-solving attitude. When we have the opportunity to do X, it’s easy to jump to the thought, “I can’t do X right now.” Try to think instead, “How could I make X work?” Talk it over with someone else. And if X really isn’t possible, perhaps you could do Y.
- But resist the temptation to do ALL the things! When you’re passionate about something, it’s tempting to do EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW, but that’s a quick road to burnout. It’s O.K. to limit yourself.
- Step back when you need to. Sure, there will be those nights when you stay up late writing an article or working on a project, but you shouldn’t be running ragged all the time. In the same vein, when you find that you’ve been fitting in family around activism instead of vice-versa, it’s time to do less. Spend some time reading with the kids, go on a date night, call up some friends, go for a walk, go to sleep…just take care of yourself and the people in your life!
- (For Moms) Make it a family affair! One great way to balance family life with political activism is to let your kids be a part of it. It’s wonderful for them: they learn that it’s important to be involved citizens and to stand up for what they believe in, and you teach them how to do that. So, going to a rally? Let the kids make their own signs! Meeting your senator? Bring them along—it makes a great field trip! There are so many things you can do with your kids, so do them together and teach them that they’re never too young to make a difference.
I’m not going to tell you that you can do more for women and religious freedom, no matter what your life is like. You’re the only person who can make that judgment call. But if it’s tugging at your heart and won’t let go, I hope these tips help you as you’re thinking about taking those scary first steps.
Remember, we may all be speaking “for ourselves,” but none of us are in this alone! How do you find ways to get involved in this cause without derailing the rest of your life? Share 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.