I remember before I became a mom I thought it would be hard. But I also thought it would be the best journey and a joy to experience. My husband and I married after he finished Graduate school and we had our first child a little over 10 months later. We decided having them close together (God willing) would be good so before long, I had a 17 month old and a newborn. We soon realized with us, our 80 pound lab, two young children, and wanting more children in the future we would have to make a change. The change for us, was to move away from where we were living at the time. The cost of living was high, the houses were tiny, and we had very little resources to do things that were important to us and the children. There were downsides however as we would be leaving my parents, my only sibling and his family, my husband’s oldest sibling who had several children, and a lot of very reliable and trustworthy friends. It was definitely a scary decision, but a decision we felt was best.
Once we decided, of course we had a lot of questions from a lot of people. The area that opened up with the best job opportunity for my husband was far away, and many people could not grasp why we would choose to move versus finding ways to stay. We were even asked about why we would “do this” to the grandparents or how we were going to “keep our faith” by doing such a drastic move. I, too, had thought this over. Were we doing the right thing? Yes we would miss people, but especially these days, there were plenty of effective ways to keep in touch with family and friends. Yes we would be “on our own” but as adults weren’t we always on our own to be responsible with our faith? Once we weighed all the pros and cons, we were confident going was the right thing for us. Not necessarily the “comfortable” thing but definitely the right thing. Seven years later, here we are. And we love it. Was it an easy transition? No. But through the ups and downs, we have grown as a family unit, found new friends, and grown our own family. It’s home.
Fast forward four years. We were pregnant with our fifth daughter. At our 19 week ultrasound, a serious brain condition was discovered. Upon seeing the perinatologist we were advised to terminate. When we declined we were encouraged to meet with the genetic counselor for a detailed meeting. There really were no details, but instead a 45 minute session of us answering questions as to why (gasp) we would want to bring such a child in to the world when we already had four to tend to. Again, it was a very uncomfortable situation. Was there ever a doubt in my mind what we would do? Absolutely not. However it was awkward and uncomfortable to sit there and restate what felt like the same argument over and over in the face of what was obviously not support for our decision. Seeing my daughter about to turn three, starting to crawl, talk, and smile at everyone in sight – defying every single thing that counselor told us is gratifying. It’s been a tough road, and will continue to be, but having her with us was always the right decision, no matter how uncomfortable it made others. We cannot imagine our lives without her.
Thinking back on those particular situations (and the countless others, both important and trivial that have occurred in the same timespan) and the struggle it was to make or stick with such a big family decisions, I have started to realize how much that is like our faith today in this world. Think of all the things we have coming at us daily whether from pop culture, news media, horrible events in the world, or non-faith sharing friends who share “harmless” Catholic jokes that have us writhing inside. All of these things just scream at us to stay in our comfort zone and hide. Even small events within our own day to day lives that make us squirm or have that moment of doubt if we are doing the right thing. I once heard a teacher say “If practicing is easy, then you aren’t doing it right.” She was talking about dance…..but I think this applies to us all in our faith lives. Practicing isn’t easy. It just isn’t. And sometimes making the right decision for us or our family is also extremely difficult and uncomfortable.
Despite this discomfort that may occur from time to time, we must never lose sight that we have the ultimate Comforter right at our finger tips, right in our heart, and right in our soul each and every day. God is always with us and most especially in those situations in which we doubt our choices because of how they will affect others. He is always with us to help nudge us in the right direction. As Pope Benedict said, “We must become mature in this adult faith, we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith.” All decisions in our lives have consequences…but decisions where choosing what is right for us, our family and our faith that cause us the greatest discomfort in others’ eyes, are often the ones that reap the greatest rewards in our lives….both here and in heaven. And I guarantee a few hearts will be pulled with you along the way.