"He who commits sin, is the slave of sin." John 8:34
I'd been feeling a bit of remorse over the fact that I don't openly live my Catholic Christian faith in a way that others could readily tell what it is that I believe in and value. This feeling was made clear to me last Spring while spending some time reading Jennifer's My Chocolate Heart blog. Jennifer embraces the pro-life cause openly and proudly. She doesn't seem to have any qualms about defending innocent life regardless of any backlash she may receive from others who oppose her view.
Last year, my niece Jenny gave me a bumper sticker which reads "You can't be Catholic and pro-abortion." I thanked her and promptly put the bumper sticker in a drawer, not wanting to advertise my pro-life views publicly. Yes, I'm pro-life and I pray for the end to abortion every day, but did I really want to advertise that fact to a non-believing world? Not at that time, unfortunately. But after reading Jennifer's blog, I decided it was time for me to stop hiding like a coward and to finally stand up for what I believe in publicly. So, I pulled that bumper sticker out of the drawer and put it on the van.
And nothing happened. For a while, anyway. I have since then received two compliments on the sticker-one was from Jenny who has the same bumper sticker on her van and was probably wondering what took me so long to slap mine on my van, and the other was from a man I met at a rosary prayer group who told me that he also had the same bumper sticker on his car.
Last month my son John completed the last of his "behind-the-wheel" driving instructions to obtain his driver's license. When he pulled up to our house with his driving instructor, the van was parked out front. John told me that his instructor commented on the sticker and said that it should read "You can't be Christian and pro-abortion". Of course, he’s right, all Christians should espouse pro-life views, not only Catholic Christians.
All of these positive comments had me feeling pretty proud of the fact that I finally put that sticker on my van. Until this past Sunday, that is.
On Sunday afternoon, I loaded up the van with three of my children and one of their friends. We headed down to the Seminary for our monthly Holy Hour for Vocations. After giving our respect and adoration to Jesus, we hopped onto the freeway for a drive out to the country for a visit with some friends at their "barn", a building filled with fun and active equipment like trampolines, climbing ropes, sponge pits and basketball hoops.
Now I don't have a reputation as a very good driver, in fact I have been known to have a lead foot and struggle to hold myself back from tailgating. But I am quite sure that on this particular trip I was not offending any other drivers with whom I was sharing the road by my poor driving habits. So, I was extremely startled when another car completely cut me off, nearly taking off the front end of my van as the driver careened into my lane. My son who was sitting beside me in the front seat was also in a state of shock over the near life-altering accident that was averted by my foot slamming on the brake. Later, as we passed that car once again, the driver sent an obscene hand-gesture my way which made me question whether or not I might have been driving in such a way as to have upset her. I'm sure I didn't.
Thinking back, I wonder if it was my bumper sticker that might have offended her. Could she have been an angry pro-abortionist who delighted in harming others who disagreed with her point of view? Would a person really be so vile as to nearly cause the death of innocent children who are passengers simply because she didn't like to be reminded that abortion is murder?
Maybe as a chronic worrier I am simply over thinking this incident, but I can't help but wonder, am I putting my children's lives in jeopardy every time I drive them somewhere in the van with that bumper sticker? I may be willing to die for my faith, but is it right that my children might be taken along with me? Is it time to cover up that bumper sticker with something more politically correct?
Regardless of whether that woman's reckless driving and obscene gesture were due to my bumper sticker or something else, I have decided that I will pray for her and others like her who feel that behind the wheel is the place to vent their frustrations, and I will pray for the safety of all travelers regardless of their faith values or lack of faith values.
"I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live." Deuteronomy 30:19