Most of you know that we have five boys, three of which have a very rare genetic disorder. (See CaringBridge link at the bottom of the page for more info.) At this moment, I am spending the night with my youngest two (#TinyDictator the 8 month old and the #TwoYearOldKing) at a friend’s home near the Mayo Clinic. With a snow storm forecasted for the early morning, it was better than driving through it for two hours before the early appointments for them both.
As I sit here hoping #TwoYearOldKing will eventually settle down and sleep (but not daring to shut my eyes until he does), I ponder suffering. I realize it’s slightly outside the New Feminism topic per se, but within it in the sense that every man, woman and child suffers at some point in their life. Some more than others. And there is physical suffering, but there is also emotional and spiritual suffering, and I believe mothers feel those last two tremendously.
Within a few months recently, we went from the assumption that only one child had this disease to realizing that three of them had it. Knowing the pain and suffering my 7 year old has gone through, it broke my heart to know the potential disasters that would await the other two and all that came with it (for example, daily injections, for my baby?! How could I?!! But alas it is now a daily necessity).
So many people (well meaning and people I cherish as my dearest friends) told me that ‘it’s all going to be okay because God never gives us more than we can handle’ or ‘you’re a great mom; you can handle this’ or ‘you are an amazing woman; you will get through this.’ My internal response was always ‘no, I won’t and I can’t, but God can, so I’ll lean on Him.’
The more I’ve been reading “Abandonment to Divine Providence” it is as if my eyes have been open to a deeper layer of reality. Another veil has been removed and I find myself feeling so silly for the way I saw things before (and probably a step behind all of you!). The book explained the reality of God being in every moment of your life, especially the ones that are most mundane and simple. God is there; and if we look with the eyes of faith we can see Him and know His will. Yet, faith is a gift and each of us is on her (or his) own journey. In the past few days, God has given me new eyes of faith.
I couldn’t embrace the suffering of my children. I still can’t. Everything about the sickness is contrary to joy, love and life. And I have been having such a hard time grappling with the pain of my broken heart and trying to understand God’s will and then – I saw it. As simple as can be.
God is in each moment, in each person, in each situation we encounter – it’s not the the suffering of my children or my broken mother’s heart that I need to embrace, but it is GOD in the suffering that I embrace and love. I can surely do that! I do not have to be submitting myself to sickness or distress, but to the most merciful Father in that sickness, present in that distress. Lightbulb! When Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta would say “When I serve the poor, I am serving Christ in them”, that wasn’t just a nice theological statement! She must have really meant it. Mindblow.
And sometimes it does feel like we are taught to just suck it up and get it done, as if we can simply will ourselves to feel a certain way or force ourselves to accept the suffering of this life as God’s will and that’s just that. Life is tough, deal with it. (Or even by sheer will obtain holiness...) But that’s not our loving Father. He is present in those moments to help us, carry us, heal us, bring us joy.
So, no, I cannot embrace my cross, but I can throw my arms around my Savior who hangs on it for me and with me – burying my head in his chest, as his precious blood mingles with my own acting as a balm to the wound. Here, am I healed; here, do I find peace on the cross – here – held by my Savior and Lord.
... and the #TwoYearOldKing is finally asleep … adieu!