Turning to Mary and Trusting When It’s Hard

Trust is constantly on my mind these days. My husband and I found out that I am pregnant. Anyone who has read my previous work for Catholic Exchange knows that I have had three miscarriages and spent 3.5 years afflicted with post-partum depression and anxiety. The doctors know why I had miscarriages and my Catholic NaPro doctor told me three years ago that she could possibly help us have another successful pregnancy. In the meantime, she was able to begin treating my severe hormone deficiencies.

At that time, I had just suffered my third and most traumatic loss which resulted in emergency surgery. The post-partum that had developed 10 weeks after I gave birth to my daughter, deepened after each loss. That was not the time for another child. My husband and I knew that God wanted us to heal and walk the Cross of post-partum depression. My body also needed major healing after all it had been through. We didn’t know when the post-partum would lift and we knew the risk of me getting it after another pregnancy was high. Thankfully, NaPro offers a post-partum depression progesterone treatment that has helped a lot of women.

After that difficult time, we didn’t know or think we would have any more children, but God’s ways are not our own. It would have been imprudent to try and I wrote about the need for prudence in such decisions. God calls each one of our families to a different path to holiness and we cannot compare our situation to the person sitting next to us in the pew because we have no idea what they are going through, can handle, or what God is asking of them. Being judgmental is a sin for a reason and it stems from the destructive sin of pride. But, God is also not done with any of us. Crosses lift, evolve, or take a new shape. Old Crosses disappear and new ones take their place. In all of these we are called to trust.

Trust is a battle for me. Right now I am in the weeks where I usually miscarriage. My husband has had to learn how to give me inter-muscular natural progesterone shots and more HCG shots in the hope that they will help my body sustain another pregnancy to term. Four times a week he gives me a shot and we wait. There is so much waiting.

A few months ago a friend introduced me to 33 Days to Merciful Love by Fr. Michael E. Gaitley, MIC. I had just completed the 33 Days to Morning Glory and done my Marian consecration. I picked up Merciful Love and began reading it a couple of times, but never seemed to make it through the first couple of weeks. Right when I found out I was pregnant I found the book in one of my bags and set out to read it in its entirety in order to complete the consecration to Divine Mercy. As I began to read it again, I discovered that the greatest struggle in my spiritual life is trust.

Trust is difficult for me right now because I have grieved so much and struggled in dark times for prolonged periods. The joy of a new baby is tempered by the pain that I still feel from losing three babies. My husband and I are in a period of cautious joy as we wait for an ultrasound to detect a heartbeat next week. It is those ultrasounds that have revealed our three losses and I haven’t seen a heartbeat since our daughter. In all of this I have to confront the fact that I doubt God’s goodness. Fr. Gaitley writes about this struggle in Merciful Love:

To one degree or another, as sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, we all have a trust problem. We tend to distrust God. In other words, just like Adam and Eve hid from God when they heard him walking in the garden after their sin, so we, too, tend to hide from God, especially when our sins weigh heavily upon us. This is one of the effects of original sin, one of its “tragic consequences”.

The Fall has placed us in a distrustful position with God. Our sin pulls us away from God and this can be exacerbated by periods of suffering in which we do not trust God, but become angry and afraid of Him. This is because we do not see God as goodness itself.

And what has become distorted about our image of God? His goodness. We tend to doubt God’s goodness. And when we don’t fully believe that God is good, then we don’t fully trust in him—and that’s a problem.

This is my biggest problem. Loss has made me distrust God’s goodness. I cannot understand those losses beyond a physiological explanation. I will never know exactly why God called those babies home. He had His reasons and I struggle at times to accept that reality. This is because I am not trusting in His goodness.

So what do I do now as I wait to find out if our baby is developing properly? I turn to Mary. Since I am struggling with trust in God, I need her to show me the way to her Son by her great example of faith. Remember Mary stood at the foot of the Cross in loving trust of her Son. She suffered unspeakable pain and sorrow, but there she stood firm in faith.

It was there on Calvary, there at the foot of the Cross, that we find in Mary the glorious perfection of faith. It was there, in the midst of the most terrible darkness, that we paradoxically see the luminous blessing of Elizabeth shine for with ever-greater glory: “Blessed is she who believed that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled!” Yes, blessed is she who believed in the impossible. Blessed is she who believed “that God was able to raise men even from death” (Heb 11:19).

It is our Heavenly Mother who stands beside us in the great sufferings of our lives. She wraps us in her mantle and comforts us knowingly. She guides us on towards her Son when we doubt, fear, and struggle. She is also a mother. She knows the pain mothers feel at the loss of a child, no matter the age of the child. She also keeps us going forward in moments like these when I have to wait to see if this child will live. She is my constant companion who fixes my gaze on her Son, as she will do for all of us if we ask it of her.

We all struggle with trusting in God. It is an unfortunate result of Original Sin. As we battle sin throughout our lives, we can become distrustful of God’s goodness. In our already Fallen state, periods of profound suffering can also cause us to lack trust in God’s glorious and good plan for our lives. We must confront this reality within ourselves. We must be willing to go to Christ in our weakness and ask Him to teach us to trust and we must turn to His mother who can show us the way to faith and trust in Christ. Mary is the par excellence of trust in God’s goodness. So let us go to her, so that we may see the face of her Son. Mary, Our Mother, ora pro nobis.

Update from the editor: The author would like to thank everyone for their comments and prayers. Constance had an ultrasound and they found a heartbeat and announced the due-date next Spring. Glory to God for all things. 

image: Fotokon / Shutterstock.com

By

Constance T. Hull is a wife, mother, homeschooler, and a graduate student theologian with an emphasis in philosophy.  Her desire is to live the wonder so passionately preached in the works of G.K. Chesterton and to share that with her daughter and others. While you can frequently find her head inside of a great work of theology or philosophy, she considers her husband and daughter to be her greatest teachers. She is passionate about beauty, working towards holiness, the Sacraments, and all things Catholic. She is also published at The Federalist, Public Discourse, and blogs frequently at Swimming the Depths (www.swimmingthedepths.com).

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  • Suzie Andres

    Constance, thank you for this beautiful reflection. Yes, Mary is the one who can teach us…I too have been struggling with trust lately, and I’m very grateful for your reminder to look to Our Lady, turn to her, ask her help.

    I’ll be keeping you in my prayers — please keep us posted!
    Life is such a mystery, and so I can only thank God with you for this new life He’s given you, at the same time as I tell Him, “Okay, time to lighten the load on Constance and her husband! Let’s see some of that famous joy and peace now!”

    “We can never have too much confidence in the good God, He is so mighty and so merciful,” said little St. Therese. May He show You some of that mercy and power now, in this year of mercy!

  • noelfitz

    Constance,
    thank you so much for sharing with us so bravely. I wish you and your family every success and blessing.
    In these difficult times to rely on modern medicine and prayer, as best we can, seems the best approach.
    You touch on deep issues that touch many.
    You are in my prayers.

  • Ramanie

    Thank you Constance for sharing. I too struggled with post natal depression sometime back so I can understand your pain to a point. May God bless you and help you in His never failing Love to you.

  • Kathy Lopez

    Get the book, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause…it’s about progesterone..and our lack of it in our poisoned environment…believe me it will change your life and you will feel better..

  • Blobee

    Bernadette, please know the heartbreak you feel about your son leaving the Church is an extremely bitter and heavy cross.

    But I have heard it said, God has no grandchildren, only children. Each person decides for themselves whether to follow Christ or not. They have a free will, one not even God will override. As a parent you can teach them and show them, but then a moment comes when they decide to follow or not. You cannot control that. It is typically influenced by what friends and those around him in his employment or educational setting are saying. He will want to belong, and will listen to them as if their way is more sensible and true.

    I myself fell away for about 7 or 8 years — a very bitter experience for my mother and father. But at age 27 or so I turned around, so upset and dissatisfied with worldly ways and values. I wanted something more. I wanted my relationship with God back. (But I think my mother’s prayers, especially to Our Lady, had very much to do with me turning away from sin and coming back to the Church.)

    Pray with St. Monica for your son. Beg and plead to God for graces for your son to turn back to Him. Your son has a free will, but only the grace of God will help him to see what he is is turning away from.

    I’ll pray for you and him. God bless.

  • Sarah Metts

    Constance, thank you so much for sharing your struggles. I can definitely relate to having a difficult time trusting in God’s goodness after experiencing the pain of losing a baby, but you are right, Our Lady is a merciful mother and the best example of trust! I will be praying for you and your family.

  • Lynn Loring

    Thank you! I needed this very much this morning! My present trial is different and involves a daughter addicted to heroin. But, the truth you write reached deep into my abyss of fear and settled my soul with peace again! Thank you for sharing!

  • MaryB435

    “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” You trust God more than you realize, and when we carry our crosses, the Lord increases our trust. Thank you for sharing this. I’ll be praying for you and your family. Please know that there are MANY praying for you!

  • Mon1ca

    Walk the cross of post partum depression? That’s unreal! You are not supposed to walk the cross of mental illness. I hope it is being treated by a physician. (Progesterone treatments are short term, and do not have long effective outcomes, besides you are too young for those) I had severe post partum depression, it is worsened with every pregancy? I’m not being cruel, but PPD is an extremely serious condition, as it worsens. I understand your pain and joy, but really this is not a cross to bear. I hate to play devil’s advocate, and I’m sure your husband and you know what is best for your family, but to treat PPD as a symptom that you can pray away is unreasonable. — I don’t want any reader to tell me that I am being horrible, I’m not. Unless you have suffered through PPD, you have zero idea on what a horrible condition this is. I pray that your path to motherhood becomes a path of joy, but you have to take care of yourself. I’m sorry, but I wholeheartedly disagree with PPD as a cross to bear. I pray you find solace in Mary’s comfort and grace.

  • Mon1ca

    Read Brandon Vogt, Dr. Scott Hahn and Bishop Robert Barron about helping them return…and the one thing they all stress, is this is not “your” fault. Here is a link to all three https://helpthemreturn.com/game-plan — Peace.

  • Constance

    While I am sure your presumption is meant out of some place of caring, it is imprudent and unwise to think you know another’s situation. I am not you. I no longer have PPD, which I noted. I also know how to take care of myself and seek medical care. You do not know my history and I trust my doctor who actually went to medical school with my care. Mental illness is a Cross, just like all other illnesses. Your comment reads like someone who has become very bitter. For that I am truly sorry. PPD comes with immense suffering, but our suffering must always be given back to God no matter what form it takes. That is a part of the journey to holiness, giving EVERYTHING back to God. I will be praying FOR YOU. Pax Christi.

  • Constance

    Thank you very much!

  • Constance

    It is a blessing to know God has helped you through this piece. I will be praying for your daughter and you.

  • Constance

    Thank you very much!

  • Constance

    Thanks for the book suggestion!

  • Constance

    Thank you for reading Ramanie! I am sorry to hear you had PPD as well. I truly hope we can find better solutions for women very soon.

  • Constance

    Thank you very much, Noel!

  • Constance

    Thank you! Divine Mercy is the message for our times!

  • Constance

    Thank you very much!

  • Constance

    I am so glad God has blessed you through this piece, Bernadette! It is very difficult to watch family walk away from the Faith. Both of my sisters have left and it is heart-breaking to watch them wander so far and to see them suffer because they won’t turn to God. Thank you for sharing! I will be praying for your family and you!

  • Constance

    Bernadette, Send me an email at constance.t.hull81@gmail.com. I actually am the guardian of a First Degree St. Monica relic.

  • Mon1ca

    While I’m sure you are mad and upset with my comment. I don’t believe you should be referring PPD as a cross to bear, to your many readers. Just like the Pope needs someone to clarify what he is implying, your article required that. No one is”bitter” as you insinuate, and as an author, who is writing about PPD – you should also be promoting mental health care as a subtext. I’m not going to stress you out, but mental health care is serious, especially PPD, and with your loyal readership following you shouldn’t categorize this as simply “”a cross to bear”. That’s all. Peace.

  • Constance

    Mental illness is a Cross, as are all illnesses. That doesn’t mean we don’t seek medical assistance or professional help. Anyone who has read my previous articles on mental illness would know this quite well. The problem is that rather than looking through history of what I have written in the past you have taken an article entirely out of context because of your own personal struggles. I am sorry that you have had PPD. It is a terrible Cross. Saying something is a Cross is not saying we don’t seek treatment. Cancer is a Cross and clearly people get treatment for cancer. It is my humble suggestion that in the future you look through the history of a writer before defaulting to presumption. God bless.

  • Bernadette

    Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words. I too fell away due to for a few years. Can you fall away, but still attend church? I guess my fear (which I shouldn’t have if I have faith) I never stopped believing. I didn’t openly reject everything like my son. I do now see where I could have made better choices with my son. I am trying harder with my younger son and I see a willingness to learn about our faith. I did not have that with my older one. I have encountered St Monica at every turn during these trials. I think God is sending speaking to me through you and everyone else. I will start today spending more time with St Monica. God will probably say, “Finally!” LOL

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