Today I got a little worked up in the course of a conversation with a friend. I was jogging on the treadmill, listening to Catholic radio through my headphones at the Wellness Center, and a friend asked me if I would like to join him to play racquetball. When I said no, I am listening to a live show, he asked, “Is it Catholic radio?”
“Let me guess; it’s about health care.”
He chuckled, “Oooh, I knew it!” and strutted away, stopping briefly before he turned the corner to add, “I’m all for it! Yeah, health care!”
Knowing that he was saying that because he knew that I was against the bill (because it includes funding for abortion), and he only wanted to get me riled up, I replied (rather spitefully, I confess), “You don’t know anything about it anyway.” and went back to my headphones.
Well, my treadmill neighbor looked at me with a confused and somewhat offended expression and said, “The Catholic Church is getting involved with politics?”
I turned on him.
“Yes.” Of course! I thought.
He just furrowed his brows and looked at me out of the corner of his eye in an expression of distaste. Obviously he thought that the church should stay out of it.
“It’s not really a political issue. It’s a moral issue,” I added. Perhaps I was doing a little instigating of my own.
He frowned. “What does the Church have to do with it?”
I felt the flood waters of fervent emotion begin to rise from the tips of my toes into my legs, filling my stomach.
“It has plenty to do with it. It’s an abortion issue. The Church is very pro-life, and naturally it will not condone a law that would require tax dollars to be spent on abortions. Think about it, the USCCB—the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops—came out with a statement against it.”
“There are other things out there besides this one issue that do not promote life. Shouldn’t the Church be concerned with those?”
The flood waters kept coming, flowing into my chest and up to my neck. My legs began to weaken and my body temperature rose.
“The Church believes in just war, but certainly doesn’t think war is a good thing. Anyway, on this issue, Catholics are so strongly against abortion that they see it as a terrible evil. Why would I want my tax dollars going to someone who elects to have her baby killed!”
He fiddled with some buttons on the treadmill and looked sober. “When it comes down to it; it’s the woman’s choice.”
They spilled over then, washing over me in waves of passion. I’m sure I began to turn red. I stiffened my back, clenched the handles, and leaned forward; my voice rose, both in volume and it pitch. It took an incredible amount of self-restraint (and the Holy Spirit) not to yell at him.
“What about the rights of the baby?!”
The conversation went on from there, and by the grace of God, I didn’t lose my temper. Thankfully, my friend is very cordial, intelligent, and willing to listen. I tried my best to be the same. (I also tried not to judge him—we judge objective actions, not people. God is the Judge.) We threw arguments back and forth, and, I must admit, I certainly sounded the most unstable. Only by the Holy Spirit was I able to make points that made any sense. It was a good discussion and we both had the chance to share our opinions. We’ll see how the grace of God works here.
Afterwards, I told a friend of mine what happened and how I felt about it. She said that it sounded like the conversation may have helped me more than anything. It was, at least, “something to blog about.”
So, here I am, blogging about it. If there is one thing I learned through this discussion it is this: rely on the Holy Spirit. I thank God that he gave me a voice, and I want to use it only to do His Will. Every day I pray that the Holy Spirit give me the right words to say in any situation. He certainly helped in this one. Knowing myself, those flood waters would have crashed like a raging storm; I would have yelled, cried, insulted, judged, or called him names if it weren’t for the Holy Spirit. Thank God!
Holy Spirit, I am your voice. Speak through me.
[Editor's (Wait, that's me!) Note: The details in the story may have been changed to protect privacy.]