Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Road Rage

"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


  1. Could have been the bumper sticker. When we have our prayer rallies or pro-life walks you can tell how very angry some people are by the way they look at you. I am learning to be tough myself. Thanks, Anne!

  2. Anne,
    I am glad you prayed for this woman. There is also the chance that she is post-abortive. While I never went around making obscene hand gestures to people with pro-life bumper stickers, I do remember being very defensive about the whole abortion issue before my healing.
    So prayer was the correct response on your part no matter the reason for her reaction.

  3. Well, your kids either are entrusted to God or they are not. You drive as safe as you can, and, leave the rest/others to God. Right? Right? Leave the bumper sticker. What is Faith if it is not occasionally "shaken"? And, then proven with prayer.

    Hang in there. We all encounter the wrath of others for myriad reasons. Just let us not be quick to anger ourselves.


  4. It's very possible that the woman was "pro-choice" but we can't know for sure. It sure seems that only logical explanation. Unfortunately, violence over this issue rears it's ugly head on -both- sides. I have been shocked and angry at times when various individuals and groups who call themselves "pro-life" have thrown rocks, shouted "baby-killers" at people and worse...bombed clinics taking the lives of everyone inside. I am proudly "Pro-life" but I also remember that while I was yet a sinner...God loved me enough to send His only Son to die for me. He did the same for those doctors and women at the clinics too. I can fight against the sin of abortion while showing love, grace and mercy to those involved in it.

  5. Anne,

    Take courage: Don't succumb to fear and the dreaded disease of political correctness.
    God is with you. He is with us all. I understand your fears, and I have them sometimes myself. Fear is Satan's greatest weapon against us. Let's not give in.

    Bless you, dear friend.

  6. Please don't beat yourself about this. The other person's reactions may have been due to many reasons. She may be pro-abortion, she may have had an abortion herself, or knows someone who has, or maybe her actions may have had nothing to do with your car sticker. Perhaps she was in a hurry to go to the toilet ... !!! Have you thought of that?

    Anyway, you do whatever you feel comfortable with. Whether you keep the sticker or not is up to you and no one else.

    Trust in God to look after you and your loved ones.

    I have a small fish emblem at the back of my car. You know the one? Early Christian sign originated after Christ's death amongst his followers.

    I notice when I drive slowly other cars overtake me and then the drivers show one finger in the air to denote that I'm a "Number One" good driver!

    God bless.

  7. I'm not sure if it was your bumper sticker or not, but, there is a strong chance that it was. I truly understand your concern regarding the safety of your children however. You know, it's a hard call; we are called to be witness to a world that has forgotten God. John Paul II (my personal favorite), has said that the time will come again when we would have to be like the martyrs of old (paraphrasing a lot!), laying down our lives for the faith!

    I do know this, last night I was volunteering at a pro-life clinic, and a woman came in for a pregnancy test. Her chart stated that she had had two previous abortions. Her current living arrangements and economic status and past history give evidence that she is abortion vulnerable this time too! I guess what I am trying to say is we all have to do what we can to stand up for life in some way, abortion is not a right! Prayer is the best way, the bumper sticker is a small option, if you are comfortable great if not, that is okay too! We are all different in life and expression.

    Would you please pray for the woman I mentioned? God Bless, as always, great post!

  8. Anne, like you I am strongly pro-life in all of its aspects--from conception to natural death. And I know that it can be disconcerting to have someone openly--and as in your case--almost violently disagree. One aspect of the pro-life movement in which I have been actively involved it the abolition of the death penalty. It's fine when you're with a group of other abolitionists but the response from opponents can be really disconcerting!

  9. Ann, first of all, I am happy you and your family are okay. How scary!

    When our then pastor and now our vicar general (and very pro-life advocate) saw our Choose Life license plate, he asked me if we ever encountered any trouble because of it. I replied in the negative. He shared with me that one of his friends had her car damaged because of it. When I heard that I immediately and silently said thank you to God. I was very grateful to God that our car had been spared and protected.

    I believe our car is being protected because it was blessed by Fr. Bob when we first bought it.

  10. Works of charity can be various, but the pro-life apostolate takes pride of place :)
    Pro-life work is at the same time a spiritual and a physical work of mercy.

    Don't give in.

  11. There's probably a comment floating around in the blogosphere somewhere, I sent one but sometimes they don't go through. Road rage is scary, it could have been from the bumper sticker, but then again maybe it was just somebody in a rotten mood. As christians we'll never be politically correct but that's okay, Jesus wasn't politically correct either:) Praying for her is a good idea.

  12. Yeah, I'd just lean on God for this one. Personally, I wouldn't choose to have that sticker specifically, just because I have an issue with its implications... For example, I don't see bumper stickers that say, "You can't be pro-death penalty and be Catholic." I know it's not fair to compare these two issues but - people who espouse a "woman's right to choose" and practice the Catholic faith are mistaken, but it doesn't change the fact that they are a part of the Church. I like stickers that say, "It's a child, not a choice" or a quote from Mother Teresa.

    I always feel with issues with people I share the road with - you just can't ever know where that person is coming from - for all you know, that person may be Catholic and may, out of desperation and lack of knowledge, just had an abortion or encouraged someone else to do so. I don't think it's fair for anyone but the pope or those with similar authority to declare who is Catholic and who is not. I just think the statement, though it makes a point, has much heavier implications than what appears on the surface.

    And, I must add, I don't have any such bumper sticker on my car. I don't have bumper stickers on my car, period - it's just not something I'm comfortable with, especially as a single woman working in a city and parking in a parking garage. I also just don't feel like bumper stickers with political messages are my preferred mode of expression.

  13. I think you should do what you feel comfortable with. Praying for conversion of hearts is always a good idea. Some people are outspoken and some of us are quieter and more behind the scenes, writing our emails and calling our congressmen, and praying.
    I have a magnet on my car that says "God is Pro Life." I like it because it makes the point I want to make. I suppose someone could get angry at it but I am comfortable with it.
    Follow your heart, Anne. God bless.

  14. Thank you all so much for your comments! You have all given me so much to think about and pray about. I was so happy with the suggestion from Esther about having the van blessed. My van is 8 years old and has nearly 100,000 miles on it and I have never had it blessed. Yesterday I saw my friend Fr. Don and he was very happy to bless it for me, so I feel better already.

    Maria, I agree with you about how political the bumper sticker is. If I had purchased it on my own, I probably would have went with something like "Adoption, the loving the option." My sister Cindy has two adopted children and she used to have that bumper sticker on her car. She said that someone left an angry and mean note on her windshield regarding her bumper sticker as it was parked in a lot. I guess if someone is going to be upset about it, it really won't matter how my viewpoint is worded and I can offer up any suffering I encounter because of that to God.

    My hope in displaying the sticker is that it might bring about a change of heart in someone and although I may never know whether or not it does that, the benefits of one change of heart would be worth any pain I might suffer in displaying it.

    You are all wonderful and inspire me more than you can ever imagine! Thank you!