The Nitty Gritty Not-So-Glorious Pro-Life Life

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Written by Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director

There’s a part of me that wants to do great things.

Big things. Awesome things. Culture-changing life-saving awesome-awesome things. The kind of things that make it into the movies that stir our hearts. Whether it’s the film Amazing Grace, about the abolition of the slave trade, or even the heroic quest of Lord of the Rings, something in us is captivated by adventure, heroism, and saving the day.

Then there’s the part of me that looks at the great things, blanches, and says, “Nope. No Way. Not me.”

I suspect most of us can relate to both of these and are well-acquainted with the tension that exists between them.

I know some that don’t let the ‘no way’ part get in the way of their drive for greatness. But ‘no way’ tends to be more in control of my life, at least in terms of how I feel about my ability to do great things.

In many if not most moments, I can push away that sky-high hope for greatness and think, “I don’t want to do big things. I don’t want people to make movies about my life because I don’t want to have to do anything big enough to warrant having a movie made about my life! I don’t feel capable of big things.”

It’s a paralyzing place to be.

The good news, though, if you suffer from the same fears as I do, is that the little things are the important things. They are the critical, foundational, essential, necessary things. And they are doable – even for shrinking violets like yours truly.

Am I saying not to aim for great things? No, absolutely not. But if you want to achieve those big things, you’ll still have to start with small things.

They are the little choices we are faced with everyday: the opportunities we have to speak up to defend life, the tasks we decide to accomplish to work towards that club event or that project, the emails we write to follow-up with that student we spoke to at our clubs table, the activities we decide to attend.

Consider the movies I mentioned earlier, or really any movie where people right injustice, where they overcome the odds. There’s a moment at the end of Amazing Grace where my heart nearly bursts as we watch the members of Britain’s parliament vote to abolish the slave trade. That’s what we want. We want to watch our parliament vote to protect preborn children and their moms from abortion. We want our culture to have shifted to the point that this vote is what all Canadians want.

But the thing is, Amazing Grace depicts a 18 year struggle in…2 hours. A lot of life is simply not captured. In fact, in so many movies, you’ll often see a sort of music video in the middle. That montage of people doing all of those little, hard, boring tasks that are necessary but…not very exciting for the audience. Hence the music video format. Whether it’s about abolition or whether it’s Frodo and Sam plodding along to Mordor, it’s all the work that goes into a victory.

It’s easier to be a part of the big, rousing events, like marching in the March for Life, in a sea of people who all believe what you believe. It’s harder to make those choices for life in our everyday lives: that conversation, that project, that monthly donation, that weekly club commitment. It’s harder to put ourselves out there when we’re not part of a sea of people but when we’re among our own communities, our own families, our own friends – the places where our reputations are on the line, the places where being pro-life might cost us something.

And yet, that’s where we have the most influence.

We often get discouraged because we don’t understand how we can affect society – it seems so big, so distant, so immoveable. But when we start in our existing relationships, within our communities, amongst the people we have access to and influence with, the people who know us, the people we are in contact with, that’s when societal change starts to follow.

It’s not easy; I won’t pretend it is. But that’s what social transformation needs. That’s what leads to victory.

And that’s our challenge: to be faithful to the cause in those small sacrifices, those not-so-momentous moments, the things that might never make it into the movies of our lives. And regardless of whether we want the big things or we’re afraid of them (or somehow both!), the good news is that we all can do the little things and all of the little things make all the difference in the world.

 

 

 

Photo by Sebastien Wiertz, CC 2.0

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A Note from Rebecca on her Upcoming Departure from NCLN

Written by Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director

AGP_3888“I just wish I could do this full-time.” The thought kept popping into my head as an undergraduate student several years ago. I had become involved in founding and leading – thanks to some peer pressure – the pro-life club at the University of Ottawa. The realization of how important it was to reach out to our peers with the pro-life message had somehow made my paralyzing shyness less paralyzing and was shifting my plans, my priorities, and my future.

And so, upon my graduation in 2010, I was recruited to work with National Campus Life Network as the Executive Director. I was doing campus pro-life outreach full-time. I was no longer reaching one campus but helping students across Canada reach their campuses too. One year on staff turned into two and somehow turned into five.

Five years of working with incredible staff members and board members – past and present. These women and men constantly inspire me with their dedication, their talents, and their passion. They have challenged me, encouraged me, and journeyed with me as we’ve navigated the challenges and opportunities of the Student Pro-Life Movement. I am very excited to see Anastasia Pearse take on the direction of NCLN, bringing her determination and enthusiasm to the organization and the movement in a new way. Although I’ll be leaving staff, I look forward to continued involvement with this wonderful organization.

Five years of working with the most amazing students in the country. Students who make sacrifices on a daily basis with their time, as they balance multiple commitments with their life-saving work. Students who persevere and are bold and courageous even when facing censorship, discrimination or opposition on campus. Students who speak the truth with great love and great compassion, who are becoming – and are already – the nation’s great pro-life leaders. Students who graduate and go on to lead in pro-life organizations, in their fields and in their families.

As a student, I experienced how critical the support of NCLN and its staff was to the success of our pro-life club and my growth as a leader. After five years on staff with NCLN, I believe even more strongly in the importance of pro-life campus outreach and the essential way that National Campus Life Network equips students to be leaders at universities across Canada.

I have seen firsthand the difficulties that the university environment can present. But I have also seen firsthand how much hope there is on campuses, and how student leaders and NCLN are making a real difference in real lives and in the future of our nation. I believe in universities – and I’m going to return to university now. I believe in students – and I’m going to be a student once again. It will be incredibly difficult to leave this staff team, but I am looking forward to returning to university to pursue graduate studies. Universities produce Canada’s next generation of leaders – I intend to be one of them.

I will be stepping down from the Executive Director position on July 31st and officially leaving staff on August 31st. I am very grateful for the encouragement and support of NCLN’s staff and board during this time of transition, and I look forward to my continued involvement in this incredible organization.

Will you help me support NCLN in its incredible work? I am becoming a monthly donor. Would you consider a monthly or one-time donation in order to support us through this time of transition?

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