My journey deeper into the Cross has continued into even more arduous terrain since I wrote “The Strange Ways God Heals Our Sufferings”. Oftentimes we are called to go without knowing where the road will lead or when relief will come. We must trust and continue following Our Lord as he asks us to walk paths we wish to avoid. I share my own suffering in the hope that it will help someone else. So many mothers and fathers suffer in silence while grieving their lost unborn children. Far too many families live the intense grief of infertility or secondary infertility. These are difficult Crosses for Catholics since we are commanded to be ‘fruitful and multiply.’ I also want to demonstrate the power of charity in that a grieving mother can lovingly serve as a witness at an abortion clinic. I want to remind all of us—myself included—that the Cross is a requirement of the Christian life and it is how God transforms us.
Writing about pain is easier than living or talking about it. My tears can flow freely as hands type on the keyboard. It is quite another thing to share my pain in person or on the radio. In the last week I have been asked to do both. God is asking me to trod rocky and arduous terrain as I walk through this period of intense grief. I keep walking in blind trust. I don’t know what is up ahead.
As I was praying at Planned Parenthood last week, a woman from one of the other Catholic churches in the area saw my sign sharing the loss of my four babies. She asked me if we had ever considered adoption. It is in fact something we are discerning at this time. She then asked me if we would consider adopting a child at risk of abortion. I was stunned, but of course we would do anything to save a child. I didn’t want to make a unilateral decision, so I informed her that I needed to speak with my husband. I called him and he told me to tell her we are completely onboard and will do what is needed as long as it is legal. The strangeness of the situation dawned on both of us. My husband was in awe that of all people, I was out that morning and I was asked to help this woman in whatever possible way I could.
Saturday at the mid-point rally in front of Planned Parenthood she asked me to go to lunch with this woman and her as a sort of introduction. I was stunned and didn’t know what to do. All I could do was go along and praying constantly on my way there. We had a nice lunch and chatted with her. Thanks be to God, it appears that she is no longer considering an abortion and she wants to keep her baby. She is struggling with the idea of adoption. That is completely understandable. Mothers are united to their children from the very beginning, whether this is consciously understood or not. Our main goal in ministering to her is to help her avoid the catastrophic mistake of killing her child. I did not go to that lunch expecting to adopt her child. I went because God asked me to go for His reasons.
After leaving lunch, I sobbed all of the way home. This woman is due at the same time I would have been due in March 2017. She had just had her ultrasound to detect the sex of the baby, which is exactly what my husband and I would have been doing last week had we not lost our child. I didn’t understand—I still don’t fully—why God chose me out of all of the people in our 40 Days for Life campaign to be a participant in her care. A woman grieving a child who would have been the same age as hers last week. Once again joy and sorrow mix. I am overjoyed that she has chosen life, but it is heart-wrenching to discuss baby names, ultrasounds, and the future when my arms are still aching for my most recent baby and my other three that I have lost.
On top of this situation I was given the great privilege of being interviewed on Al Kresta’s radio program. My interview will air Wednesday at 4pm EST. It was the most difficult interview or discussion I have ever had to do. I am thankful it was pre-recorded because the topic is so deeply personal and hard to talk about. My twenty years of public speaking, teaching, and writing could not prepare me for the difficulty in discussing my own pain to such a large audience. As I said earlier, it is easier to share pain from behind a laptop screen than it is to verbalize. Regardless, I did what God asked me to do, even with the tears and pain that followed.
In reality, God can only use us to minister to others if we are willing to live our own suffering in the open. People need to know they are not alone. That is how we reach out to one another. C.S. Lewis understood this when he discussed the nature of friendship. He said: “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’” There has to be a connection, a uniting force that brings people together into communion. While this occurs supernaturally in the Mystical Body, it is human nature to want to know that others suffer and experience as we do. Suffering deepens existing friendships or awakens new friendships as two or more people are unified by the Cross.
As a writer I know at a deep level that I must be vulnerable and open to my own pain if I truly desire to minister to my readers. I can write theological essays until I am blue in the face, but to reach out to you, I must share something of myself. I must point to my own Cross, so that all of us may be united at the foot of the Cross of Our Lord. We all suffer. There may be periods of reprieve, but suffering is certain in this vale of tears.
I am learning through this period of grief that transformation requires intense pain, vulnerability, and trust. I must be willing to step out onto the water as the storm rages around me with my eyes fixed on Christ. All I can do is place one foot in front of the other and hope that some good will come out of my openness and pain. I don’t get to know exactly what God is up to or what He is doing with me. In fact, many of my tears are of frustration because of my own lack of trust in the face of my heart-break.
What has happened to me in the last few weeks makes very little sense, even to me. I am a grieving mother who has been called to not only pray and minister at an abortion clinic, but I have been called to openly discuss my pain with others while attempting to save a mother and child who are where I would have been had I not lost my baby. As I said in my last piece, it takes fortitude to walk into the furnace. The process of purification is painful, in fact, it is excruciating, but thanks be to God we know in hope and faith that we will be transformed and so will the world. The journey to holiness means walking the Via Dolorosa. I hope in some small way through my writing, speaking, and witness, we can walk it together.
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”