It seems unreal that one year ago today I was standing in my bathroom, my hands shaking as they held a positive pregnancy test. That test would bring such joy and fear all in the same moment. I didn’t realize that it would also bring heartache, strife, resentment, community, support, and love. The journey that God had chosen to lead us on was overwhelming. Still, He provided us with everything we needed every step of the way.
Today, just a mere four months after giving birth to a beautiful son, our struggles seem almost distant. There are, however, reminders of that journey. We have lost friends. We have felt judged. We still feel judged. We have felt alone. Things have changed for us. We can never be the same. But it’s ok. God sometimes asks us to do difficult things because He knows in the end that they are in our best interest. He knows that without those struggles we may stay in the same place, doing the same things, and never grow the way He knows we need to grow. Looking back at our journey I know that every struggle, every battle, every heartache had purpose. Likewise, every triumph, every prayer raised for us, and every heart converted also had purpose. God used every single part of my pregnancy to help me see that my trust in Him would be my saving grace.
Our faith was challenged. I dare say that the faith of those around us was challenged as well. As Catholics we teach that we are supposed to give ourselves to God, to submit to His will. We are to cherish life, fight for it even! We are to trust Him in all we do. We are to rely on God to help us through the worst of the worst. We are called to live the lives of saints. I found out very quickly that while we like to preach this, often we don’t truly support those who decide to live this way.
We tend to have a romanticized view of what it means to live a saintly life. We look at the people the Church has deemed “Saints” and are amazed at the sacrifices they have made for their faith. We call them heroes for giving up their lives for their beliefs, for putting others before themselves, for selling all they own and living in poverty so that others may come to know God, for submitting to God’s will in every aspect of their lives. These Saints are amazing! They are wonderful! They are worthy of emulating! But in the “real world” when someone decides to try to live according to these same standards it suddenly is different… the person is foolish, selfish, and irresponsible. How can that be? Why do we look at some as saints and others as fools? I would struggle with this question my whole pregnancy.
Because I have been taught that the Saints are there for us, both to guide us to God through the example of their lives and to pray for and with us, throughout my pregnancy I looked to many saints to help me wade through the difficulties I was facing. We prayed for the Blessed Zelie and Louis Martin to intercede on our behalf. I asked St. Gianna to pray that I have strength and faith. I wondered if she face the criticism that I was facing by choosing life for her baby even though it meant that she would lose her own. I prayed that Mary, who also had a surprise pregnancy, would hold me close to her and help me forgive those who did not understand and who judged me. I pleaded with them to keep me close to them in prayer. While I knew I was a fool in many eyes I also knew that in the eyes of the One who matter most I was doing exactly what I was called to do.
God knows our hearts. I firmly believe He knew I would have no problem choosing life for my child. That was not the lesson I needed to learn. Perhaps others needed to see the beauty in putting my child’s life before my own, but for me He had another lesson in mind. You see, what I learned from this journey and through all that we experienced, both good and bad, was that in the end we are not put here to please others; we are here to please God. Others may ridicule us, they may not support us when we try to live the way the saints have lived, and we may even be persecuted for living our faith. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we continue to have steadfast trust in God and that all we do glorifies Him.
I won’t lie and tell you that it was an easy lesson to learn or that I still don’t struggle with wanting those people to accept my life, to accept my decisions, to accept my faith. But I know, just by looking at my tiny son, snuggled safely in my arms, that the decision to trust in God no matter what is far more important than what any person could think, say or feel about me. I have to live my life for God, not for others.
If you find yourself in a situation where God is calling you to follow Him and you worry what others may say about you or that it is too difficult a calling to answer, I pray you find hope in the trials we have been through. God has never left my side, not even once. He won’t leave yours. He will provide you with the grace and wisdom to make it through even the hardest times. He loved you so much that He sent His Son to lay down His life for you. He won’t leave you. His love is so much greater than we can ever imagine. I only have to look at my own son to know this is true.