“How are you feeling today?” reads the text message that’s just come in. Contemplating the nearly unabated nausea that began shortly after I opened my eyes to the morning’s light, I type back one word, “Nauseous.”
“Cool, glad to hear it, honey. Have a good day!” is the response from my sweetheart of a husband a moment later.
Now before you write my spouse off as some cruel barbarian caveman, who drags me around by my tresses, you should consider a different perspective.
The Last Few Years
Over the last few years, our family suffered the loss of several miscarried children and we’d begun to think that our days of childbearing were coming to a close.
Yes, many of us, from our first grader to our older children were praying persistently for the blessing of just one more sweet newborn head to kiss, but we understood that not all prayers are answered in the manner we expect.
So, one year after our last eternal soul was carried up to her heavenly home, we were overjoyed to accept the gift of a new life in the womb. Of course, along with the joy came that nausea and a number of other unpleasant physical challenges. But rather than pray for the removal of these daily crosses, we understood that they’re positive signs of a life continuing and a chance to offer thanksgiving to God.
Relishing Each Day
Oh, to be honest I do complain now and again, but then I gently tell myself (or that wise spouse of mine reminds me) that each day is an opportunity to relish the time I have with this baby. Truly, our earthly time together may be limited to days, weeks, months or years.
So, rather than waste a single moment, I try to embrace the sacrifices needed to grow and protect this child and trust that this offering of my body is worth it no matter the final result. Because even if we are called to relinquish this little one before we are ready, he or she was created for eternity and that’s an awesome perspective.
The readings at Mass this weekend focused on the Visitation, when our Blessed Mother, carrying the newly conceived Word Incarnate, traveled to the home of her cousin Elizabeth. Mary was in her teen years, having not even been with a man, when the Holy Spirit sparked life in her womb.
Elizabeth was close to giving birth in her old age. While today 40 is labeled “elderly” in the obstetrical world, Elizabeth is considered to have been far beyond that age. Counseling women friends through our Natural Family Planning ministry, I’ve rarely heard a woman say she’d consider a teen-aged or a senior-aged pregnancy a welcome blessing.
When we view these circumstances from a proper historical distance though, our eyes are opened to the reality. Mary said yes to God’s plan even though it made no sense to her at the time and placed her in very vulnerable position. However, her example of supernatural surrender and heroic trust opened the door for salvation for every human person to follow.
Elizabeth, who suffered the cross of infertility and carried the label of barren for so many years, was now about to give birth to St. John the Baptist, of whom Jesus said, “…among those born of women there has been none greater…” I imagine these joyful mothers scarcely considered the minor inconveniences of motherhood too much to bear.
Arriving At Knee-Jerk Conclusions
How simple it is for us today to arrive at knee-jerk conclusions, to offer our opinion based on erroneous ideas. Our culture fuels a plethora of misconceptions and false opinions around which many form their consciences.
Consider how we mourn as a nation over the devastating loss of life in Newton, CT. The innocent children, who were gunned down, are rightly upheld as precious, lost lives. The women, who selflessly donated their lives to protect their students, are honored as they should be. Our president was moved to tears as he addressed the shocked nation, referencing his own cherished fatherhood.
On the very same day in our country, we allowed an abortionist to dismember an innocent, unborn child and called that a reasonable choice that his/her parents were entitled to make. Rather than offer support and encouragement to brave mothers, who unexpectedly conceive, we encourage the opposing message that strong, free women place themselves first even if it is to the detriment of another life. The president, who contemplated the faces of his own beloved daughters, has forgotten that they were once unprotected, living persons developing in their mother’s womb.
What if one of the teachers, who gave her life so readily for her students, had been pregnant? Would we count an unborn child among the dead? Would the church bells have rung 27 times? What would have been our perspective of an innocent, unborn child slain by Lanza while still within his mother?
Of course, this unthinkable tragedy may lead others to hold their children a little tighter this holiday season. Perhaps, the parents, who were focused on purchasing presents, will instead take their children to church for the first time and refocus on the true meaning of Christmas this year. Maybe, a frightened unwed mother saw her unborn child in the faces of those sweet, Newton students and found the resolve to embrace her motherhood.
Basing Our Perspective On Truth
Basing our perspective on truth is necessary if we are to rightly judge the circumstances we encounter as we live out each day. If God creates all persons and if He creates all persons in His image, then each person is worthy and valuable.
Spending a little time thinking about the real life characters documented in the Bible, we meet a diverse bunch through whom the Creator chose to make manifest His plan of salvation. It is than that we gain a clearer perspective.
Greedy tax collectors, weak-kneed Apostles, adulterous women, stubborn prophets and unborn babies were His ministers to carry out His work on earth. Of course, those who were living in sin were called out and they ultimately chose the better part, a life for Christ and in Christ.
My family’s openness to life and our surrender to the possibility of suffering allowed Our Creator to reach down from the heights of the universe and form a perfect, unrepeatable person, made in His image. We hope to hold the result of our openness, to stare deeply into the eyes of this expected child at the appointed time. Regardless though, we stand firm on the truth that our sacrifices will not be in vain because abandoning oneself to the Divine Plan always has an eternal reward.
Nibbling another salt cracker in an attempt to keep my nausea to a tolerable level, I offer this simple prayer, “Lord, thank You for this day, for the chance to cradle this baby in my womb. Thank You for allowing me the privilege to sacrifice myself for another. And thank You for shaping my perspective by way of Your cross.”