Friday, September 14

The virtue of faith

So... this blog is very much overdue for an update. But you should thank me for sparing you an earlier post. Because it would have read along the lines of "blah blah blah... complain, complain, complain some more... my life sucks... 'nobody knows the trouble I see, nobody knows'..." and so on and so forth. However, now that I've taken some time to "process" I can hopefully articulate a few thoughts without resorting to venting.

While most my FB buddies know this, here's a short recap of the summer. I got pregnant, my grandma died, we went to California for the funeral, I came back, found out I was miscarrying, found out it was an ectopic pregnancy, went to great lengths to ensure that the baby wasn't viable any longer, had surgery to remove the placenta, which was still growing although the baby had died earlier. And then we finished remodeling our house in town. And then we went and remodeled a house out of town and moved into it a month after my surgery. We decided to move out of town because our neighbors were troublesome as regards to our kids. There you have it - mid-June through mid-August. It's fall now and definitely feels like it. The summer was over before I was ever cognizant of the fact that there was a summer.

During my self-pitying moments, I find myself thinking that it's just as well that summer is over as I would never like to live through such a summer again. But if I am honest with myself, that isn't true. I "lost" a baby, medically speaking, but I've gained my own little angel. A couple weeks back, we were visiting at a friend's house, and our friend, Patrick, began talking about a homily that Fr. Kellar had given. The reading had been about how Jesus said that it was better that Judas (his disciple who betrayed him) "had never been born." This is a very harsh statement and could make one wonder if it were better that certain lives had never been lived, that certain people had never been born. Patrick went on to discuss how Fr. Kellar had explained that this Gospel should actually give us hope. The reason being that Jesus did not say "never existed"; He said "never born." This is actually a message of hope to parents of children who were never born, who only existed for a short time in the womb. For once a person is born, they have a whole lifetime of choices to make, some which will be good, and some which will not be good. A person who is born can choose to live their lives as a Mother Teresa or as another Hitler. This isn't to downplay the beauty of living life in this world, of growing up, of making choices, and all that goes into being a conscious adult. However, in the intervening time between now and when I lost my baby, I've given this loss a lot of thought.

What I've come to realize is that I didn't "loose" a baby. I have a baby. She just isn't here with me now, but she exists. When I find myself thinking that I wish I'd never had to go through the miscarriage and surgery, I catch myself now. It's not true. Because of that experience, I have another child. Granted, I'll never see her in this life, but she is as real and as present as Greta or Joseph. The major difference is that she will always be perfect. She will never hurt anyone, she will never experience pain, loss, or suffering, and she will never sin. In short, she has what I aspire to, what I hope to help bring my children to - union with God in heaven. Granted, this is a nice thought, but it doesn't mean that I'm not grieving, it doesn't mean that I don't still experience moments of indescribable sorrow at her passing, that I don't wish with all my heart and soul that in spite of this imperfect world, I wish she could have been born and that I could have held her and watched her grow as I do Greta and Joseph. I wanted to give birth to my baby. But that isn't how things worked out and nothing I can say, do, or wish will change that.

When I was miscarrying, I prayed so hard that I would be given the faith to pray for a miracle, that my baby wouldn't die. "Faith the size of a mustard seed" and all. I took to heart "Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find." When it was obvious that the baby had died, but that I would still have to have surgery, I prayed that the pregnancy would be reabsorbed and I wouldn't need surgery. Well, neither happened as I had asked. For the first time in my adult life, I was truly faced with a crisis of faith. If God said all of the above, why didn't He answer my prayer? How do you trust someone who doesn't do what they say they will do? I have God's grace and my English major background to thank for getting through. Those words, "ask and you shall receive" kept whirling around my frustrated mind. A practice from analyzing English literature came back to me. You read every single word as it is written. Don't interpret just yet, don't assume you understand the author's intent. Just read what is written. Sometimes the most insightful notions came out of this exercise in class. Read "literally." On its face value, "ask and you shall receive" is just that. Nowhere does it say that what you asked for is what you will receive. Ah ha! Where faith and hope come in is when you believe that what you received is actually what is best for you.

I've always thought that you can learn a lot about a person by their struggles/crosses. I truly believe that it is through difficulty that people become better people. If everything was always perfect, no one would ever have the chance to "rise to the occasion," to exercise virtue. "Building character" is only done when said character is being tested. God knows us better than we know ourselves. He allows us certain sufferings that are particular to our given characters; what we struggle with is tailor-made to our personalities. It is exactly what we need to become the best person we can be.

To tie this monologue together, I realize that it was a good thing for me to go through this difficult summer. I'm not sure how or why, but I trust that it was right. And I'm still here, not too much the worse for wear. I'm still recovering emotionally. I go through bouts of depression and anxiety often. I struggle to be loving to and patient with my husband and children. But when that happens, I pray to my little baby, Faith, and by God's grace, I muddle through.