By Elise McCoy
While applying for grad school in 2010, I looked over my resume to make sure it was complete and represented me well. It contained evidence of mission trips, experience coordinating Catholic retreats, and considerable involvement in community service. There was one item however, I wasn’t sure whether to include. Right at the top of the Leadership section was a description of my work with Boston University Right to Life, including the detail that I had been president. I wondered how more liberal-leaning admissions officers would interpret my involvement, and whether owning up to the fact that I was proudly and actively pro-life would put me at a disadvantage.
Ultimately, I kept it on my resume. My thought was this: I’m pro-life; this is how I spent a good amount of time in college. If I’m accepted, I want to be accepted knowing I didn’t omit being pro-life. If I’m rejected, I’ll never really know why, but I’ll know I was honest about what I value.
My hesitancy to admit on my resume that I had been actively pro-life in college is just one instance where I have found it challenging to really own being a life-affirming woman. For me, the worry sprouted from a fear of rejection, that I wouldn’t get into the school I had dreamt of attending*.
We all can name environments or people that put us on edge, make us nervous or outright intimidate us into not witnessing to life’s immense and irreplaceable value. When do you find it most difficult to be a witness to life**? Are you most hesitant at school, rehearsal, practice—church, even? Are you most timid around friends, family, coaches, or college admission officers?
First identifying the people or places that challenge our willingness to witness is key to figuring out how to overcome the challenge. Understanding which emotions underlie our reluctance (fear of rejection, nervousness about reputation, worry you’ll hurt a friend, feeling misunderstood…) is essential to break through our own hesitancies and hold ups.
This is fodder for great prayer—being honest with yourself and God, and letting His love trample out fear and worry. It is also a great topic to dive into with life-affirming friends. The support of women with the same values is beyond encouraging—it’s powerful. What woman doesn’t feel more fit to face a challenge knowing God and her girls got her back?
January is a great time to sense the expansive and diverse community that stands in support of life. There are marches, conferences, talks at church, and (for some of you) life-affirming initiatives at school. If you are partaking in one of these activities—soak it all in, journal about it and take it to prayer while it’s fresh. Being a witness to life will have energizing days and it will have difficult ones. In challenging moments, if we turn to God and to one another, we will find the courage to be honest about who we are and what we value.
After all, if we are standing for life, what do we have to fear?
*I did, by the way, get accepted. And it felt better knowing I'd been honest about the student they were getting.
**Witnessing to life takes many forms: acknowledging the value of every human life, supporting women through unexpected pregnancies, attending the March for Life, listening to and loving the classmate who has experienced abortion--the ways are countless.