Monday, August 27, 2012
I'm flying to Dallas tomorrow. Just me. All by my lonesome. (Well, besides the itty bitty baby dwelling in my womb. Apparently I do not take trips without bringing at least one of my kids along!)
I'm kind of nervous but I'm also super excited, because I'm attending the Catholic New Media Conference. Which is essentially a conference for writers, bloggers, tecchies, and anyone generally interested in using new media to tell the Catholic story.
As thrilled as I am to be going, I must admit that I debated for a long, long time over whether I should. Because, um, I am a relative nobody in the Catholic blogging world. (I also don't really know how to use Twitter very well. Shhhh.) So not only would I be sacrificing money and time away from my family, I'd be "posing" as a "Blogger"--amidst a bunch of people way out of my league.
But the more I thought about it, and the more my sweet husband encouraged me, and the more I considered my goals related to my blog and to writing in general, the more I really wanted to go.
I've told you before that I've gone back and forth over whether or not this blogging thing is worth my time. Because, well, it's time-consuming. And I'm busy. Remember that I have seven kids, I homeschool, and I have a social life that I rather enjoy. And yet while I've come close to throwing in the towel too many times to count, I've also discovered along the way that I just plain love to write. I really, really do. Processing my life and faith through the written word and engaging with all of you is energizing and life-giving for me, regardless how many hits I get or who links to me that day. (Not that I mind when my posts appear on New Advent or NCR. Nope, not at all. :) )
A few months ago I actually came to a crossroads of sorts, and made the decision to get more serious about what I do here. (This may or may not have come on the heels of having dessert with Jennifer Fulwiler, which may or may not have come on the heels of having dinner with Mark Shea and Kevin Knight. Yes, it really did happen, and yes, it was that evening that really got me thinking. Perhaps I'll share the story of how all this came about another time.) And after an unofficial hiatus this summer due to early pregnancy woes, I'm ready to jump back in. I'm even in the midst of a blog redesign that'll include a fun new logo and, as you can see, I'm now blogging here at www.briannaheldt.com. My very own URL!
I really do believe that God has given each of us a story. In stewarding my story well, I need to share it, and this is the platform God has given me. So while I have no desire to be an apologist or expert of any sort, I can at least share what God has done with the hope that it might encourage or inform someone else. I can offer you an explanation for why my relationship with Jesus took me from Evangelical to Mainline Protestant to Catholic Christianity. I can give you some insight into why my husband and I made the decision to adopt four children in need of a home. I can tell you what it's like to have two children with Down syndrome and medical needs. I can tell you why we made the decision years ago to be open to life in our marriage, and how that has actually improved our marriage in countless ways.
So ultimately, this conference will be an amazing opportunity for networking, learning, and for being inspired. Don't tell, but I've never really done any networking at all. And I am seriously introverted, which means I am also occasionally socially awkward.
So maybe instead of shamelessly promoting myself, I'll be lurking awkwardly in the back by the cookies and punch. Pretending to use Twitter.
Either way it's going to be an amazing week of focusing on writing and blogging, seeing fellow bloggy friends that I never get to see, and meeting bloggers I've only previously known online. Oh, and having a hotel room all to myself (!)
Funny thing is, I never really envisioned having a pursuit or passion beyond being a wife, raising my kids and being a bookworm.
But I guess now I'm a "Blogger".
So Dallas, hotel room, punch, and cookies, here I come!
Posted by Brianna Heldt at 1:30 PM
Friday, August 17, 2012
Something I write about far less than I imagined I would is adoption--in spite of the fact that I have four adopted children. There are probably several reasons why I don't gravitate towards this subject, but one of them is that I don't feel particularly connected to the culture of adoption.
This may sound strange coming from me, especially if you know that some of my closest friends in real life are raising adopted children, and that I have countless Facebook friends who are also adoptive parents. I've attended assorted adoption-related conferences and seminars over the past several years, and was one of the first people blogging about Ethiopian adoption in particular.
But still, I'm a little bit on the outside. And that is by choice.
The present-day culture of adoption seems to operate on two opposite spectrums: my-healthy-adopted-baby-will-have-no-issues contingent, and the medical/developmental-needs-are-SO-no-big-deal, so adopt a waiting child camp.
One group thinks adoption is the best ever because oh my goodness, babies are so sweet, and the other believes everyone ought to be adopting waiting children because any and all issues are completely correctable and workable.
Both sides love to emphasize how we are adopted by Christ, and that this supplies the mandate necessary to embark on the process of making an orphan your child.
Both sides miss the mark, in my opinion.
Because the fact of the matter is that adoption is hard. I repeat, adoption is hard. And I don't mean the process, I mean the act of taking a traumatized and hurting human being into your home and incorporating him or her into your family. I mean the transition period as well as the years to follow, the unending attempts to diagnose behavioral issues and foster attachment and correct for learning disabilities.
It is, ultimately, the long and hard work of love.
That is the crux. That is why adoption is hard. Because love is a choice, it is taking the long view, it is borne out in actions and also in silence, it is independent of feelings and it does not follow any one timeline. It demands sacrifice, self-giving, nurture and structure, and daily reliance upon God.
And adoption in particular tests our character because it illuminates the struggle to put another first, above ourselves. We must stare brokenness and vulnerability square in the face, our child's face. We must make decisions and rethink any and all conventional parenting strategies, and in the end accept a new definition of success...while still clinging fiercely to hope.
We must become very small.
This is what, I believe, so much of the adoption culture misses. To claim a child as one's own, we sign up to enter into a world of pain and sorrow and grief--some of which may never fully be healed this side of Heaven. This world is often filled too with cognitive impairment, impulsivity, developmental delays, congenital heart defects, Asperger's syndrome, and the like. These things do not fit neatly into the "cute baby" or "it's no big deal" categories.
For they are, truly, a most very big deal.
But this world is also filled with redemption. We must take care not to miss the work of Jesus, especially in the small things, because otherwise we will only see the big, hard things. We must continue setting standards for each of our children, and helping them to reach their potential, in spite of their difficult start in life.
It's no secret that I believe adoptive families ought to be open to waiting children. I confess that my sympathies do indeed lie more closely with that side of the spectrum. But we must go in with eyes wide open, and reject the idea that any and all effects from institutionalization or Cerebral Palsy or ADHD will be corrected with just a little time and love. Some will, in fact, not be. Because when you raise a child, adopted or biological, it is the work of a lifetime, not a list of milestones to be checked off until the age of 18 when the child disappears into the void. And many (most?) of our adopted children have essentially sustained brain damage--whether due to undernutrition or trauma.
It is the work of love.
And love is long-suffering, it perseveres, it forgives and it remains. It is the very essence of God.
So while I count it a great privilege to talk to people about adoption, and wish for families to think long and hard about whether there might be room in their home and hearts for a child without a family, I also know that once the dust settles, adoption simply becomes the toil and joy of parenting. It is exhausting and exhilarating, all at once, and will call you into a deeper and more difficult love than you have known. God has called some of us to this journey and most of us regularly wonder why. We feel woefully inadequate when it comes to such a humbling and beautiful task.
And yet, we know.
We know that our children would quite literally have nobody else were it not for us.
We know that our children faced abuse of all kinds in their respective orphanages.
We know that our daughter with Down syndrome would have lived a much shorter life were it not for receiving open heart surgery in America two months after joining our family.
We know, first-hand, how very important love is.
We know it is life, and we know it is mercy in action.
We know it is good.
And that is the adoption culture that I believe must be cultivated. This is the paradigm that is sustainable over time. It breaks through the unrealistic expectations while standing in awe of the miraculous. It is filled with hope and beauty while acknowledging hardship and yes, occasional suffering.
It is, in many ways, merely representative of life itself.
And maybe that's part of the gift, this being called by God to participate in adoption. Maybe He is giving us a unique glimpse into life that we would simply not otherwise have. Not only are we able to see the world through the eyes of a precious child, but we have a front row seat to healing, raw grief, and the importance and value of belonging.
Several years into adoptive parenting, I am more convinced than ever that we parents receive far more than we could ever give.
And this is perhaps the best-kept secret of adoption culture.
Posted by Brianna Heldt at 6:30 AM
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Today is the feast day of the Assumption of Mary.
For those who don't know the secret handshake, the Assumption refers to when Mary was assumed, body and soul, into Heaven. This is an important day in the life of the Catholic Church, and a Holy Day of Obligation, meaning that we attend Mass.
Anytime a Protestant friend asks what my primary obstacles were to becoming Catholic, Mary inevitably comes up. Some of the Catholic doctrine on this subject is, for someone generally unfamiliar with it (like I was), difficult.
And yet at the same time, I'm also quick to say that in many ways, the Marian beliefs were a joy for me to embrace. Because for as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated by the Mother of God...and troubled by the lack of respect paid her in non-Catholic circles.
Even as a Protestant I found it peculiar that her role in salvation--and in the Christian story--was so very diminished, considering what God chose her to do, and how much attention she received in the New Testament. I of course came to see that the downplaying of Mary was merely a reaction to what was perceived as problematic Catholic teaching on the subject, and that bothered me.
Was this really a reason to emphasize her youth, her nobody-ness, her naivete--over her faithfulness and obedience? Over her Fiat and Magnificat?
Was this really a reason to part ways with the Church Fathers and virtually all early Christians by proposing that she was a wretched sinner like the rest of us? As opposed to having been Immaculately Conceived?
And why the compulsion to buy into what was declared a heresy by Christians in the fourth century, this idea that she had a non-celibate marriage and as a result, several other children? Especially in spite of the fact that this belief was not held by Christians anywhere until a heretic, bent on denying Jesus' divinity, proposed this alternate reality?
Didn't the truth--and respecting the woman chosen by God to carry and bear His Son--matter more than distancing yourself from a faith tradition?
It is clear that over the centuries, Protestants have worked long and hard to make sure that Mary appears to be no different than anyone else, and that nobody in their midst spends too much time thinking about the Blessed Mother, period. Personally, I believe much of their vested interest (or disinterest) lies in the fact that Mary cannot be divorced from the teachings of the early Christian church, which have been handed down throughout the years and which are now collectively known as Roman Catholicism.
The Catholic view of Mary is of course a much bigger (and older) picture. We give her honor, because Jesus honored her. We love her, because Jesus loved her. We look to her as our Mother, because Jesus is our brother. The Church is a family, and it makes perfect, beautiful sense that our spiritual mother would hold a special place in our hearts.
Truth be told, I love knowing that Mary lives in Heaven and prays for us. I love thinking about how one day we too will be received into Heaven, as she was on the day she was assumed, and that Jesus wants to receive us too.
The very idea of celebrating feast days and solemnities is vital for me, in spite of my not experiencing this in its fullness until adulthood. Following the church calendar is a way to orient our lives around that which truly matters, and to honor saints and events which have gone before us. As a Protestant I of course observed Good Friday, Easter, and Christmas Day, but now as a Catholic I get to celebrate all manner of holy days. I feel so much more connected to Christianity throughout the ages, and I love it, in part because it helps bring about perspective and puts me in my proper place. Ultimately though, observing feast days by attending Mass means that I am entering into worship with the Communion of Saints, those in Heaven and those on earth and those in Purgatory, and the angels too. Beautiful, yes?
So today we celebrate the Assumption of Mary, and look towards the blessed hope of one day joining Jesus in Heaven as well.
Posted by Brianna Heldt at 9:54 AM
Thursday, August 09, 2012
Someone recently asked how and when we tell our children we're having another baby. We've actually done different things during different pregnancies, and I certainly don't think there's ever a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to this issue. We've had pregnancies where we've told our children right away, and a pregnancy where we've waited until the end of the first trimester. We've had a pregnancy where we had to tell them that their baby brother or sister died. So I suppose you could say that we've done it all.
And while there is definitely no "right" way to share such momentous news with a child, we have worked hard to cultivate a culture of life in our home, where new babies are cherished and wanted, and where more life equals more love. I have never once, for example, had a child disappointed about a new sibling joining the family, by either birth or adoption. Not once. Each and every homecoming has included lots of little people with big smiles and open arms (and occasional arguing over who gets to hold the new sibling first.) I love that I can tell each subsequent child that they were so loved by so many people, from the very beginning. And the same goes for children of friends--if we know you and you're having a baby, you can count on the Heldt kids being over-the-top excited.
Just yesterday in fact we had the privilege of hosting a dear friend's foster daughter for a couple of hours. Within minutes of this sweet girl being dropped off, my kids had a blanket spread on the floor with lots of age-appropriate toys all around. They adore this baby. They love getting to spend time with her. They take great pride in making her happy and in singing her songs and would keep her, if they could.
This is something that I hope my children never, ever lose, this being in awe of the gift of life, and the joy of loving the littlest and neediest of beings. They have not yet internalized the culture's disdain of the weak. Which is pretty great if I do say so myself.
So, how does one go about cultivating these virtuous attitudes in his or her children? Here are six things we've found to be helpful in this endeavor.
1.) Couch the announcement in positive language (and avoid the negative.) When we announced my current pregnancy, we did not for example tell Mary that she wouldn't be the baby anymore. We did not discuss the immense sacrifices we'll all have to make or the fact that a new baby will mean less of Mommy's attention to go around. No, instead, we expressed our own excitement--and thus allowed for our children to be excited too. We always play up the idea that they get to be big brothers and sisters all over again. We encouraged little Mary Lu to kiss my belly, and told her were so thrilled for her to step into the role of big sister for the first time. I truly believe children will follow our lead, so we must take care to lead well.
2.) Instruct your children in the faith. This may seem unrelated, but it's not. We personally subscribe to the historic and traditional Christian belief that sexuality is designed by God for marriage, and that sexuality is meant to be open to life. Our children understand this as well, because we've told them so. Not in graphic or overly-detailed terms, but they believe that when one chooses the vocation of marriage, they are also choosing to be open to children. They know that children are the natural fruit of marriage, and a profound gift from God. So they believe that family life, as designed by God, includes the occasional arrival of a new child. And that God calls it good.
3.) Instill a respect for the least of these, the weak, and the vulnerable. Children have a natural concern for the well-being of others. True, they are rather self-centered little creatures, but they also have a strong sense of justice. Anna was too little when we brought our sons home to voice much of an opinion, but when we adopted Mekdes and Tigist last year, oh my goodness, our children were thrilled. They found something very unsettling about two little girls growing up in an orphanage, and wanted them home. With us. We did discuss the idea that it might take the two newest Heldts a little longer to learn to do things (on account of years of institutionalization and Down syndrome), but nobody cared or gave that much thought. They know Mekdes isn't able yet to get her own cup of water, so they're happy to do it for her. They know Tigist needs help with getting out to the car, so they carry her. We try to teach our children not to look down on the helpless, or to ascribe value to people primarily on the basis of what they can do. Because dignity runs far deeper than that.
4.) Avoid voicing discontent over a particular life or developmental phase. My kids have rarely, if ever, heard me say that I can't wait for everyone to be out of diapers. Ever. Not because I'm so selfless that I love changing diapers (I'm not, and I don't!), but because that reality is decades into the future for me. When you know that you have several years of fertility remaining, you also know that diapers are merely a part of life. Because children are, simply, helpless. God knows what He's doing, and what better way to cultivate a tender, servant-like heart than to gift His adult children with needy little ones to care for? Don't believe the ridiculous lie that some people are just made to do things like wipe bottoms and clean spit-up off the carpet. Aside from that view being incredibly insulting to those of us in the trenches, it is also preposterous. Because no one likes those jobs. And maybe those of us who detest them the most, need them the most. They are merely part of life, and ultimately? What an honor to be given the responsibility of caring for a child. So if we don't want our child seeing their younger sibling as a major inconvenience, we must be careful not to act as if that younger sibling is a major inconvenience to us.
5.) Be realistic--while encouraging virtue. No matter how much I want my kids to be excited at the news of a new baby, I don't have super specific expectations. Kids are, after all, kids. On the one hand I refuse to tell my children how to feel, and on the other I will not tolerate excessive complaining or disrespect. And I don't have a problem telling my kids how God wants them to see something. So far they really have been unanimously happy and welcoming towards new siblings, but that may not always be the case for everyone. And, that's okay. Our family however is not run like a democracy, and at some point my kids may simply need to learn that obeying and following after God is not necessarily the easy or convenient road, even as it is the right road. And no matter how many children are in a family, everyone feels a little left out or misunderstood sometimes. Big families do not have the market on teenage angst or disappointment. So it's important to remember that people are people, and it's unrealistic to expect perfection all of the time. But we can certainly strive for virtue and for having a right heart.
6.) Get the kids involved. What school-aged child doesn't love holding a squishy baby? Or who doesn't feel important and valuable when they're responsible for getting a younger sibling ready for bed? My older children do a lot of work with the younger ones, and it is something that they have actually come to more or less enjoy. Not all the time, but enough, and most of all they know that it's just part of life. They help to look after one another, and while they are by no means parenting (and very much do live a carefree childhood), they are participating in family life in a robust and meaningful way. I have found that this builds incredible self-esteem and family pride, as well as lifeskills that will be useful in the years to come.
Hopefully this gives at least some small insight into how our family brings new members into its midst. We are certainly far from perfect, but I am forever in awe of the way that God weaves our lives together, and grows love in the hearts of my children.
And I really kind of love how He uses teeny tiny babies to do it.
Posted by Brianna Heldt at 11:59 AM
Tuesday, August 07, 2012
This pregnancy has been one of my sickest yet, second only to when I was carrying my first child nine years ago. Think complete exhaustion and around-the-clock nausea, which is only intensified by the intense Denver heat. I have more or less been hanging around the house for the past several weeks, sitting ever so still, and eating pickles and taking naps. And when I do leave the house, I find myself contemplating strategies for what to do if my nausea takes a sudden turn for the worse.
I honestly feel a little bit like my summer has vanished into a pathetic, sickly haze. Weeks have passed with relatively zero productivity on my part, writing plans have been put on the back burner, and any vestiges of a social life are on hold. Just getting to Mass on Sunday mornings--our one and only have-to-be-there commitment--feels like a huge effort.
And I'd be lying if I said I don't occasionally feel the slightest twinge of self-pity from time to time. It is hard mothering seven children when I scarcely feel well enough to take a shower. It is hard preparing meals that I know I won't eat.
And yet here I am, nearly at the end of my first trimester, my pregnancy still going strong. For this I feel unbelievably grateful! I have lost two babies over the course of my marriage, and so I do not take my fertility or ability to bring forth a child for granted. I refuse. It is a gift, and a profound one at that.
So I try to remind myself of this when I feel somewhat defeated, and disappointed in how my summer has materialized. There is a soul--a soul!--growing in my womb. No moment--no matter how sedentary--is wasted, because I am somehow caught up with God in this mystery of the creation of life.
And, God loves life. And souls. And love.
Just yesterday I was reminded of this when some friends and I ventured out to IKEA with our children (fifteen total, but who's counting?). And a woman at the store took us by surprise when she demonstrated that, well, she didn't like our children. Not because they were misbehaving or yelling or crying, but simply because they existed. The very idea that these needy creatures lived and breathed was too much for her, so she angrily (and loudly) informed my friend that we were "nuts", amidst much scoffing and indignation--and all in spite of my friend's big smile and gentle assurance that we were actually having a nice time.
It is a terrifying thought to me that someone could be so offended by the mere existence of a soul, and yet isn't that where much of society has positioned themselves? Disdain, disgust, and fear encapsulate a post-modern view on the fruitfulness of marriage, the natural and beautiful end of intimacy between spouses, the generosity that compels a couple to bring forth new life or to raise a child desperately in need of life. This deeply-held view that souls are worth less than vacations and pensions and, ultimately, autonomy, is diametrically opposed to the life-giving paradigm we find in God's vision and heart for humanity.
I find it highly ironic that what so many champion and herald and hope for can be found in the very place they despise and cast off: the heart of the family. Acceptance. Love. Authenticity. Fulfillment.
But people want these things without the sacrifice, without the ultimate submission to a higher view of life which is sometimes more difficult, but always more real, and more beautiful. Saying yes to Jesus is humbling and hard, but it is good.
There are some instances where the hatred of immortality and life is on display in clear and obvious ways. (Abortion, for example, is a distorted and hideous perversion.) But far more often, a more subtle suppression of life goes unnoticed. Until a person is confronted with the preciousness of life, and is repulsed, and lashes out in anger at strangers in a store.
So as sick as I am, and as frustrating as it is to spend the end of one's summer sitting very still on the couch, I know that I am doing something worthwhile. I am nourishing life, simply by existing and by sharing my body with a helpless little one. In this I am loving my baby, and his or her seven siblings too, and we may not be taking many hikes, but my goodness we're living. Together. Saying yes to Jesus and making sacrifices in small and big ways. We may seem like we're nuts to the rest of the world, but somehow, in a really miraculous and astounding way, we're doing some pretty important things that have eternal significance.
Not a bad way to spend the summer, actually.
Because life is always worth it.
Posted by Brianna Heldt at 2:46 PM
Friday, August 03, 2012
Mekdes, right after being baptized.
My drafts folder is filling up.
Half-written, clumsy posts about everything from motherhood to chicken sit unfinished and unrefined, with the word "Draft" next to them in big red letters.
I haven't done much writing lately, at least not as much as I usually do, but even the things I have written remain in obscurity, unpublished. Some of this is because I'm not feeling well, but mostly it's because I tend to write on topics that I'm thinking about. And the topics that I'm thinking about are hard, and potentially uncomfortable.
You see, writing is personal. Or at least it ought to be. Because a finished piece of work, even a simple blogpost, is a window into the author's mind and heart--an imperfect, two-dimensional window, but a window just the same. And the difference between a blog and, say, a book, is that the blogosphere tends to be comprised of a far more diverse readership than the subset of folks who buy a book. And the communication on a blog goes both ways, not just one, which is really kind of amazing, but also intimidating.
So as I mull over things like religious freedom, faith, friendship, marriage, life, motherhood, and yes, chicken, I struggle to express my thoughts and also to pinpoint my purpose in conveying such information. Contrary to what some may believe, I don't primarily write to change peoples' minds. I'm kind of under the assumption that the views you hold are held for a reason, and I'm probably the last person in the world positioned to convince you otherwise.
I do on the other hand write for myself, for those who are attempting to live as faithful Catholics, for those struggling to follow Jesus, for those on the fence, for friends, for disenchanted Protestants, and for casual observers who hold a completely different worldview from me, but who continue to read out of curiosity. Simply, as an at-home mother, I have found blogging to be an incredible outlet for processing through and sharing my thoughts, and my journey through life. I have been so inspired and encouraged by the written word myself, and if I can somehow contribute to someone else's well-being through this medium, then it's worth it.
The trouble is, though, that my journey has taken me new places. I no longer write primarily about adoption or about the cute things my kids say. (That is so 2006.) Instead, I write about life. And faith. And I've always written about faith, but now my faith has a label--Catholic--and it's not a particularly popular one. I've always held relatively conservative positions on social and theological issues, but now you know precisely what I think about those things on account of the label. I've always believed that one should discern what is true, and follow that truth, but now you know I believe in absolute truth. On account of the label.
And, I have readers here from all phases and corners of my life. So as a result, I occasionally make people angry. Or disappointed in me. It is the irony of a growing readership--as more people I don't know choose to follow my blog because something resonates with them, more people I do know are frustrated because I say this or that, or don't say this or that, or because I believe such-and-such to be true.
It's a tight-rope act.
I've done a lot of thinking about the whole thing. About where one ought to draw the line, about whether a writing gig is ever worth alienating or aggravating people, about what should be said in a public forum where I know some people are going to disagree or think less of me.
And at the end of the day, I've decided that you should write what you know and write what you're passionate about, and accept the fact that a blog is very public and, as such, potentially polarizing. I don't think the goal should ever be to polarize (though I do think there is occasionally a time and place for such rhetoric), but I also don't think it's authentic or genuine to preface every opinion with "This is just my truth, and any other truth claim is equally valid." Because nobody actually lives that way.
I think often about an article that ran in a local magazine this past Easter, which included interviews of people from different faith traditions. As I eagerly began the section on Islam, I was dismayed to see that they had not sought out a practicing, devout Muslim, but instead spoke to a woman who disagreed with pretty much any and all traditional Muslim distinctives. A university professor, she had parted ways with the traditional expression of Islam and considered herself a progressive, attending a non-traditional Denver mosque.
I was genuinely disappointed that I did not get to hear from a pious practicer of Islam, and yet felt that the publication's choice in interviewee spoke much louder than the woman herself. Clearly the magazine was not comfortable showcasing people of faith who believe their religion to be true. Instead, they only sought out those with worldviews that appeared on the surface to be inclusive and non-threatening.
It should come as no surprise then that in spite of the statistical breakdown of faith practices in the Denver metro area, which include many Catholics, not one Catholic priest was featured.
Of course the irony here is that this open-minded worldview isn't any more inclusive than any other, they just differ in terms of who they include. The progressive Muslim for example certainly seemed to have a much more relaxed approach to religion, but was incredibly opposed to the traditional expression of her faith.
So what does any of that have to do with blogging? Well, it has a lot to do with it.
My Facebook newsfeed has been clogged this past week with peoples' views on marriage and free speech and tolerance. Surely yours has too. The particular issue in question is front-and-center and will not be going away--not now, not ever. It is something that matters deeply to many people--people on both sides of the fence. And that's why seemingly everyone is talking about it. Because it matters, and each of us wants a voice, and we care about society as a whole.
I think this is, generally, healthy. I appreciate when people can share opinions and articulate why they believe something. I appreciate knowing where somebody stands, and knowing that they had the courage to share. Even if we disagree.
What I don't appreciate though is the attitude that this or that person has no right to express their view. I don't appreciate when someone shares an opinion, and is labeled intolerant or a fundamentalist or a Hitler. I don't appreciate when someone presents a viewpoint, and is automatically deemed polarizing or divisive.
We.all.have.opinions. We all are coming from a place of belief. We all categorize some ideas as wrong, and some as right.
So when it comes to writing on a public platform like a blog, I believe you can be a kind, gracious, and approachable person while also maintaining a consistent, honest, and unwavering belief system. I want to be authentic. I want to be me. I want to be known. And so I can't imagine maintaining a blog where I avoid any and all mention of meaningful things that some might disagree with. Because any and all convictions have that potential. That's just the way it is. And the beauty of a blog is that a writer can pen their thoughts to the void, and people can choose whether or not to read, and some will, and some won't.
I'm honestly not sure what will eventually emerge from my drafts folder, and what will remain. I am sure that my blog will continue to be a place where I explore life from a Catholic, homeschooling, married perspective. Because that's where I'm coming from. I am defined by who God made me to be, and that certainly won't sit well with everyone, and that is more than okay.
And in spite of the inherent challenges and awkward situations that will surely arise, there is one overarching reason that I will continue writing what I know and what I'm passionate about.
God's story is incredibly beautiful.
The historical Christian faith, what we call Catholicism or Christ's Church, is rich and liberating and full. And, I believe, true. It is also incredibly misunderstood and has lived in relative obscurity in the United States for a long time now. And yet as Protestantism continues to shift, and belief in God changes shape in a post-modern era, the Church remains a source of wisdom and constancy. There are many people, afterall, asking questions and seeking answers--not necessarily about which branch of religion is right, but moreso about what it means to be a woman, what ought marriage look like, how does one find fulfillment in life, and what Christianity even is.
Not all of these seekers will become Catholic, not by a long shot, but that doesn't mean that the beauty of Christianity cannot speak into their lives, or help them recover a holistic and nourishing understanding of motherhood, or bring them to an appreciation of the holiness and grandeur of God. Some of my most treasured and respected friends who are passionately following Jesus are not, in fact, Catholic. They are Protestant. And while we may not agree on things like the Eucharist or the Blessed Mother, we probably do have a great deal in common in terms of the importance of faith and obedience to Jesus. I do not mean to say that the differences are unimportant, or that both manifestations of Christianity are equally true (since they are, by nature, mutually exclusive). But it is to say that to be Catholic is to hold to the traditions handed down by the apostles (including the Bible), and much of this is reflected in traditional Protestantism as well. Thus the Catholic perspective has the potential to enrich and inform people of diverse backgrounds, especially when the voice of Evangelicalism has changed so much over the years.
And so I feel convicted that I must share where God has brought me, how He has done it, and what I am learning. I am not expressly intending to make converts, but to openly share God's heart for humanity. He has given each of us a story, and I believe we must take care to steward that story well.
So this is mine.
I share it here on my blog, and I will humbly do so by writing what I know, and what I'm passionate about.
Posted by Brianna Heldt at 1:52 PM