Thursday I took the kids to the library. While they looked for the books they wanted I punched words into the computer to see what sort of books they might have on “infant loss” “death of a child” “stillbirth”. Ugly words that are now a part of my every day life. Another first.
I found 3 books that captured my attention. The first one I started reading has made me so angry, frustrated, and sad, for different reasons though than why I have felt those things up until now. I refuse to even give the name and author because I am seriously considering paying for the book so I can destroy it. I truly do not want anyone else to read this pathetic mess. Mark asks why I keep reading it. It’s like a train wreck, you can’t help but feel sorry and want to see what will happen next. Before I burn it.
You see it was evident from the first page that the author doesn’t have one very important thing, faith. She mentions “As for me, I believe that if there’s a God–and I am as neutral on the subject as is possible–then the most basic proof of His existence is black humor.” She goes on to tell the story of her loss and it saddens me but makes me want to throw up and shake her at the same time. I do honestly realize that everyone deals with this type of experience differently. For her it was by drinking, smoking, dark humor, distancing herself from reality, not giving her child an identity, referring to it as a “thing” rather than what it truly was: a person-a human being-a gift from God.
We are often asked how we are coping, how we are finding strength, how we are doing it.
People say we must be so strong.
That actually couldn’t be farther from the truth. The simple response is that we are WEAK, we are not doing any of this at all. It is ONLY because of our unwavering faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that we have the energy to simply breathe. It is only because He is carrying us that we keep moving forward. It is not because of anything within ourselves except His love, mercy and grace.
I remember back to the many years that I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand how a God that is so wonderful could be so selfish and want us to put Him before everyone and everything else in our lives. I remember prioritizing my life with Mark, my family, my friends at the top of the list, then I’d fit God in when I ran out of other options. He was there when it was convenient.
But then I started to get it. It was a gradual process and sometimes painful. Even though I grew up in the Catholic Church I didn’t really get it. I went through the motions. Well-meaning friends tried to “save” me in junior high if I would just “say this prayer”. But then what? Shouldn’t there be some relationship that was being built? Isn’t there more to it than that? What would stop me from going back to the sinner that I was? I started to fall into it until I heard a speaker tell me and a group of other vulnerable teenagers that we would “go to hell if we married someone like a Catholic.” What?!?!? Wait a minute. Talk about confusion.
Time marched on, I fell away from my faith, it was there when I wanted it to be. I mostly turned my back and relied on my own goodness. I would just try to be a good person, make good choices, be nice to people, lean on Mark since he was “my rock” right?
When our journey into homeschooling began my faith began to be tested more than ever. Well-meaning friends again started asking hard questions. Ones that I didn’t have answers to. Ones that made me question why I was Catholic.
What did that even mean?
Now I praise God for those well-meaning friends in my life because if it weren’t for them I would probably never have sought out the answers to those hard questions. I may never have fallen head over heals in love with Jesus. The more I read, the more I researched, the more questions I asked, led me right to where I began when I was baptized 36 years ago. Right into the arms of our Lord, and the Catholic Church. I had no idea what I was missing out on.
Through that journey I began to understand that He is not being selfish in wanting to be first in our lives. He is protecting us. See as humans we are weak, we are vulnerable, we are sinners. Leaning on Mark to be my rock put so much pressure on him and on our relationship that it almost did us in. As humans, we will fail each other. We were created for more, we were made to give back to the one who can handle it all. The good, the bad, the ugly. We humans can only take so much. God can take it all.
As I read this disaster of a book I mentally keep asking the author, why? Why go on? Why continue to live? What does it matter if there is no hope for more than this? If this is all there is to it then why not just give up? With pain this real, knowing it will be there the rest of our time here on earth, why bother?
But I know that there is more to it than that. I know that we were made for more. I know that His promises will be fulfilled. It makes me want to be the best person that I can be. That hope makes me want to toe the line, live a holy life. So that someday I can be reunited with Sophia and the other babies we have lost and we can have that big family we always wanted.
It will be so worth the wait.
My prayer in all of this mess is that someone reading this will start to get it too. If you are that person, I pray that you start looking for answers. Stop settling for putting your faith and trust in yourself or in another person. That will only take you so far. Do something. Ask us how we can help you. We would be honored to help you find the truth. Start right where you are. Pray with your family. Let go of the fear and insecurities.
We are not any holier than anyone else but we do feel like spiritually we have been catapulted way beyond a lot of the peaks and valleys that formerly lay before us. Through this experience we feel like we are closer to God than ever before. After all, he has one of the most precious things we have ever known. She was His all along and we were just truly blessed to know her for such a short time.
We also remember where we started and how confused and lost we felt. We remember how scared we were and how many times we fell flat on our faces and mired in the muck before we finally started allowing Him to help us back up and dust us off. We remember how hard it was to choose to go to mass, no matter where we were and who else was around. But we also know how much better it feels to go and receive those graces, as often as possible. We know how it feels to be humbled. We want everyone we know to feel the grace that we have been given.
Because you just never know when something like this will happen and you will need all the grace you can find.
My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Psalm 62: 1-2
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11: 28-30
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13