Whole Parenting Family

Sorting Out Which Differences Matter Between Us

The past few weeks I’ve been in the blur of a newborn, complete with being pooped on, spit up on, and little sleep. But in those few moments of clarity, when the older kids are playing nicely (okay, very few moments), and the baby is nursing or sleeping on my shoulder, I’ve felt deeply there has to be a better way to sort out the differences between us as women. I’m seeing this in the Catholic circles, but lots of my thoughts here apply to all women, regardless of creed.

My social media feeds are chuck-filled with people telling other people they’re wrong, and they’re not just wrong, they’re WRONG. Like, so wrong that they’re bad.

If it’s not whether or not you marched for women (pre-born & born) last week or you’re marching for pro-life this week, it’s Santa Claus. If it’s not whether or not Santa is “wrong,” it’s yoga and (Godforbidwetalkabout) yoga pants (are they leggings or tights and can you wear them without anything covering your butt?). If it’s not exposed curves, it’s working and being a mom. If it’s not abandoning or saving your children, it’s natural family planning. If it’s not spacing or trying to have kids, it’s how you feed those kids. And on. And on.

Okay, ladies. The moral questions are few and far between. They really are. The rest is discretionary. I know it’s hard to find and believe such gray mass exists, and that it’s okay for your sister to do it differently than you. I know because I, too, want to hang on tight to my firmly held preferences about yoga pants (yes!) and organic food (yes!) and solemn Latin mass (yes!).

And if I let myself crack open and admit that the other side, the other view, has merit, that will erode my position. If I bend and then break, I will lose the very things I am grasping so hard to in my righteousness. I’ll have to trust that the Holy Spirit will guide me through the gray zone. I’ll have to believe that my sister can hold different views but still have even more deeply rooted commonality.

And that’s scary.

{Speaking to my Catholic sisters, yes, let’s dig deeper and water those roots of the handful of moral truths the Church, in Her wisdom, teaches us about life: conception to natural death. Let’s let go of so many of the discretionary questions. We can still believe our preference is right! We can still be Democrats or Republicans, or something in the middle. We can be all those labels and yet still close to each other–so long as we’re actually rooted in the teachings of our faith–the ones we’re trying to live out–first.}

I want to stay open to hearing what my sister has to say on the other side of these and so many more issues. I want to understand where they’re coming from without being afraid to lose my own beliefs. Even when I completely disagree on a moral issue, I’d like to be respectful about it.

Don’t we want to love more deeply? Finding common ground without losing our own footing? How do we live this out in 2017? Tell me your thoughts!

I’ll be talking with Jen Fulwiler about this and more on her show this afternoon so tune in!


  1. Katie on January 23, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    Yoga pants lol. I remember in college when there was SUCH a strong opinion among my Catholic community that LEGGINGS ARE NOT PANTS. Great post!

  2. Elizabeth on January 23, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    Love this. Thank you, Nell!

  3. Amy A. on January 23, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    Oh, my heart. Thank you for these words. You and several other women I have met in this past year have done so much to make me feel at home in the community of motherhood, where I am sometimes so overcome with fear of being judged and misunderstood and rejected that I am afraid to even cross the threshold. It takes such courage to be the person who God made us to be AND to let our sisters (and children, and husbands) be who God made them to be, and not who we would have them be. I will definitely listen to your conversation with Jen, and I pray that you and your family are well!

  4. Emily Hartung on January 23, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Thanks Nell for speaking the truth in all this mess. I have been struggling more so with the conservative side recently and it is really hard.

  5. Maria Delany on January 23, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    I love this post Nell!!! Yes to all of it! Sometimes we are quick to judge and think the way we do things is the only right way to do it. But guess what, we are all different and what works for one woman will not for another. In the end, if we are trying to follow the Church’s teaching and we are doing our best, the rest is not very significant.

    Recently, the priest during his Sunday mass homily said, “We are called to love everyone, we are not called to judge our brothers and sisters. When the time comes, we will all face judgement for our actions but that is not our job here on earth.” It really struck me and sometimes I’ve caught myself making a quick judgement about someone and I’ve had to remind myself of this. It is not my place to judge.

    • Natural Mama Nell on February 1, 2017 at 1:22 pm

      Beautifully said!!

  6. Elisa Kucia on January 23, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    Great post!

    • Natural Mama Nell on February 1, 2017 at 1:22 pm

      Thanks, friend!

  7. Bridget on January 23, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    Amen! Reminds me of quote attributed to Augustine: “In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity”

    • Natural Mama Nell on February 1, 2017 at 1:21 pm

      Omgash, YES!

  8. Victoria on January 23, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    Love this and heard you on the Jennifer Fulwiler show this afternoon and I loved it! It stuck with me all day and made me think of some of the crazy Catholic conversations and debates I have had over the years. We really do need to let go of the small stuff and focus on what is important. I love what you said about how it’s ok for them to be wrong, such a great perspective.

    • Natural Mama Nell on February 1, 2017 at 1:21 pm

      Isn’t Jen the best? I love talking with her and hearing her wisdom. Totally okay for others to be wrong, and still love them!

  9. Patty on January 23, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    Preach it Nell!!! I think one of the best things for me is when I really try to listen and understand someone on a side different than me. To take the time to read and educate myself….if we cannot listen to each other how can we love each other well?

    • Natural Mama Nell on February 1, 2017 at 1:20 pm

      And it’s okay for us to still disagree, too, but to listen kindly is hard!

  10. Kristen on January 24, 2017 at 10:19 am

    This is beautifully written and SO MUCH NEEDED for everyone to hear . . . REALLY hear. We need to keep praying that all hearts in this world soften and learn to love everyone completely despite differences in opinion.

    • Natural Mama Nell on February 1, 2017 at 1:20 pm

      Hugs, sister!

  11. Laura on January 25, 2017 at 12:51 am

    Thanks for keeping this conversation going, Nell. For quite a few years, I’ve posted about a variety of controversial issues. It’s what I love to talk about, and unfortunately I know that it’s bothered some people in the past. I still have very strong beliefs, but I love how we’re talking about how important it is to peacefully find common ground when we disagree. I tend to post about political, moral, and life issues – so it’s a hard line for me when I know how important the topics are. But my approach has certainly grown more kind over time. Thanks for reminder to always build up the sisterhood!

    • Natural Mama Nell on February 1, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      I used to be a real moralist about cloth diapering. What a hill to die on!! Thank goodness we all soften and can open our eyes to our sisters’ perspectives as we grow!

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  13. Melissa on January 26, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    Yes! Yes to all of this. So much to say about this topic (these topics). I think our country (world) could use a lot more tolerance and empathy.

    • Natural Mama Nell on February 1, 2017 at 11:59 am

      It’s hard to see other people’s perspectives when we are really convicted by our own!