Wednesday, July 27, 2016

On suffering, and a brief update

Sacrifice has been on my mind this entire pregnancy. Why are we being asked to bare and give up yet another child? How do I find the value in this sacrifice, this giving up of self? More than a few times I have found myself feeling bitter or frustrated, with 3 months of nausea, constant fatigue since January, insomnia nightly, pregnancy discomforts that make even walking difficult. And I don't have the benefit of knowing at the end of 9 months of sacrificing my own comfort and well-being that I'll have a cute, squishy, delicious smelling baby bringing me joy. I remind myself that all life is precious, all life adds value, even if the value isn't immediately evident, and that this is still my daughter, with as much worth or significance, to me and to God, as any of my other children. But even that fails to speak to the full meaning behind a true sacrifice, one made not with bitterness in ones heart, but out of love and even joyfully. Today I read this in Bishop Robert Barron's Eucharist. I thought it was so beautiful and moving that I read it several times, and then knew I needed to write about it.
A world gone wrong can be addressed only through sacrifice, that is to say, through an act of love which takes on evil and reworks it from within. In Jerusalem, the night before his death, Jesus indeed hosted a festive meal at which humanity and divinity were reconciled, but at the heart of the feast was sacrifice, the giving away of his body and blood. An act of self-negating love made possible the communion that they enjoyed.

The loss of my children is not evil per se. Death or disease is not intrinsically evil, but is the result of a fallen world. Through the act of not only giving up my body for the benefit of my daughter, but ultimately, in the very giving up of my daughter, I am uniting my suffering to that of Christ. Truly, without Christ, suffering has no meaning. Can my small sacrifice be used even for a greater good, to actually address a world gone wrong? A world in which over one hundred thousand babies are aborted each day? A world in which priests are slaughtered while celebrating the Mass? If that is true, then I gladly accept my cross, and I will bear it with joy.

This has been a bit of an emotional week, with seeing Bethany on ultrasound, and finding more about her current development. Her kidneys continue to grow larger than they should be, and there is so much fluid on her brain that her head has reached the size of that of a full-term baby even though I am only at the start of the third trimester. There is nearly no amniotic fluid, and I've been very concerned for several months that she may be experiencing pain or discomfort. So, when on Monday the perinatalogist said we may need to induce labor in the next few weeks, or I'll be facing a c-section due to the size of her head and abdomen, there was some relief. I am ready to meet sweet Bethany, even though it means saying goodbye. I am ready for her to be with Jesus, free of pain, deformities, or illness.

I was recently asked why we keep having babies when we know this can happen. I am sure many people have wondered, but only one person was bold enough to actually ask. My response was that only God knows why life is given and life is taken away. Our vocation as married Catholics means an openness to life, and a trust that God is in control. And just maybe, the lives of these babies we've loved and lost have impacted the world in ways we may never see in this life.

If you're suffering through something right now, I will leave you with this encouraging verse to medicate on:

We know that all things work for
good for those who love GOD,
who are called according to
His purpose. Romans 8:28

Even our greatest sufferings, most painful tragedies, and most difficult crosses can work for good if God wills it, if we accept it gladly, and we follow His will.

1 comment:

  1. Stephanie, may God continue to bless you, Steve and your beautiful family. I find comfort and healing through your insightful posts. We do not know God's plans for us, but I continue to believe He loves us and our children, and that He has a beautiful plan for us all.