6.16.2011

Once Upon a Time

I really thought I had figured out the cross that we would have to bear in our life.  Our struggles with money seemed at times to be so great that we would crumble under them.  Yes, we made poor choices.  Yes, we lived outside of our means.  And yes, we've had to face the consequences.

Facing the possibility of bankruptcy, I drew closer to God than I had ever dreamed I would.  I quickly learned that it's not about the things that I have and that if I didn't stop trying to do it all myself, God would continue to push until I finally turned toward Him.  And I did.

And like an idiot, as I stood up from the humility of bankruptcy, I patted myself on the back a little.  Saying, ok God, if this is our cross, I think we are doing an OK job.  Sure, at times it is heavier than it seems money could be, but we've turned to You and we are going to be OK.

I thought that was it.  Our cross to bear was going to be struggling financially.  Ok.  I know what I'm dealing with, I can handle it.  And while things have been much better recently, we certainly aren't 'there'.  We don't go out and buy whatever we want - we budget and we plan.  And we are OK.

And then, we felt the heavy weights of our just reasons to postpone pregnancy start to lift and we started TTC.

And suddenly, a new cross was thrust upon our shoulders.  And it is so. much. heavier.  And the pain is more than I could have ever imagined.  And the wondering why is becoming almost an obsession.

But then, it slaps me in the face.

12 years.

12 years of taking The Pill.

12 years of manipulating my body that worked just fine in the first place.

And the rational me says 'God doesn't punish us'; but the irrational me says 'but what if He does?'  And the cross gets heavier because I instantly feel isolated.

Because here I am.  Today, faithful to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and ready to walk this journey in that Faith.  But do I really belong here, in this blogging community?  Where so many of you have always been faithful.  Have always known and believed?  And I wonder if when I write here or comment in your spaces if it's not just a big slap in the face to all of you.  If I'm trying to fit like an awkward square peg into this awesome round space?

What about with friends and family who chose differently?  There are more than a couple.  Those who may not understand why we are making the choices we are making.  Who, more than anything, I want to understand that just because my choice may be different it doesn't change how much I love them.  But how do I explain our choices to follow the Catholic Church's teachings in this delicate way?

And God.  Where once He felt so close, He now feels so far away.  Where once I read His word and the teachings of His Church, and I loved the Truth and felt the Grace, but now, despite loving and craving the Truth, I struggle to feel.  I struggle to have the sense that all will be OK that I once had.  Feeling again, like a square peg in a round space.

I am scared and I cling to the words in this blogosphere and in Catholic Teaching.  But what if the answer is that I did this to myself?  That God created me with a working body and I destroyed it?  Is it even fair to ask this question here?  Of so many of you?

Once upon a time, I was a girl so determined and focused and confident that I packed up my car and moved to Los Angeles for a year.  Today, I am a girl scared to death of what lies ahead.  And of the isolation that I see around it.

18 comments:

  1. Where so many of you have always been faithful. Have always known and believed?

    But there are equally as many who are in your situation, or were not too long ago... who lived lives of sin and now are striving to live lives of virtue.

    I don't know why God chooses to give us crosses, but I do know they're not punishments for past behavior.

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  2. I agree with Joanna. Many of us have not always been faithful. I've never used contraception in marriage, but I used it for years before I was married. You'd be hard-pressed to find a lot of bloggers out here who did not make similar mistakes.

    Read Jeremiah 29. God has beautiful plans for you and your family my friend. :)

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  3. Agree with the other two. I think you'd be more hard-pressed to find all that many who have ALWAYS KNOWN AND BELIEVED and ALWAYS been faithful. Yes, maybe there are some out there, but it's not a ton. Many strive to live so faithfully because they've been to the depths of sin (raising hand) and are so happy to have found the loving forgiveness of God and the love of the Church's teachings.

    I pray you see that your cross is not a punishment...and God is able to bring good from the most hopeless situations.

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  4. Oh, this seems so providential, and dovetails exactly with my post today. You will see there that so many of the bloggers live with a heavy past. You are like us and we are like you. And God has mercy on us all.

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  5. I was just reading Leila's post from today and thinking...Hmmm...Rebecca needs to read this, I think she will gain a good perspective. (I am not saying that reading about other people's sins should make you feel better, no rather, this is not as cut and dry as maybe you think it is?)

    Anyway, my real point is that no one knows exactly what another blogger or anyone else for that matter has struggled with in the past (unless they told you directly). And even if they didn't struggle with the same things you did - Sin is sin and we all fall short of the glory of God. We all sin in a variety of ways. But - and you know this, the more amazing thing is there is redemption and forgiveness and MERCY is just waiting for us. One of my favorite images is the Divine Mercy and really, that sums up all of this. God writes straight with crooked lines!!! Look at St. Paul - he murdered Christians before his conversion and yet, he went on to be one of the greatest Saints in the Church - spreading the Gospel to many places. Or St. Augustine - an adulterer, and he is revered as one of the greatest Doctors and Theologians of the church. Jesus said himself that he didn't come for the healthy, but rather for the sick - which is all of us!!

    Finally, (sorry, if this is becoming too long), keep clinging to God - even when you don't feel him near - He is near, but this could be your cleansing fire, a dark night of the soul perhaps? I don't know, just a thought. God LOVES you so abundantly and so do so many other people.

    I will be praying for you and your Man. May you be filled with the Holy Spirit and set on fire by the love of God!!!

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  6. We all sin in some way or another, it is our nature. Nobody who blogs (or who doesn't) is perfect.

    I never used birth control at all, and I have one "child" (he is 30) and lost one and that was all I could have with 32 years worth of marital relations and some fertility help form doctors. God neither punishes or rewards us like that with babies or without. There are doctors who use Catholic teachings to work with couples in fertility. (Some are in St. Louis)At a conference for Catholic women I went to this spring they talked about all the charting that can help you figure out what the problem is.

    But, there are many things that any fertility doctor can do that are perfectly in line with Church teachings. Don't sit at home and do nothing.

    But, I will pray for you and invite you to deepen your prayer life. God may be speaking to you and you need to listen to Him not to all the opinions of all the rest of the world.

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  7. Sweet friend. Crosses are so hard to bear, and I ache for you and all the questions you are struggling through.

    I remember when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, sitting on the couch with our church's on-staff counselor and saying, "What did I do? Am I being punished?" And listing off sin after sin after sin.

    He pointed out the window at my three little ones playing tag with my parents. "Did any of them sin against you today? Any disobey?" Oh, yes. They all did. "Pick one." he said. I looked at him confused.

    "Which one will you give cancer to? Don't they need to be punished?" Oh, I would never!!!! He smiled, "If you feel that way about your children, how much more so does God feel about you?"

    I hope that encourages you like it did me.

    For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.

    ~ Psalm 86:5-7

    Keep calling in your trouble, sweet friend. He promises to answer with goodness, forgiveness, love and grace.

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  8. 1,200 years of using contraception could not equal a moment of the sin of pride of imagining that one deserves a baby because one has been "good."

    I am sorry that you are feeling even more isolated because of all of this. I hope that you will be able to take comfort in connecting to others with both similar sufferings and beliefs online. Considering how wise you are with the way you approach things, I have no doubt that you will be fine with talking to your family and friends who view fertility differently.

    One thing to remember is that if there was nothing wrong with either of your bodies, then it is statistically more likely than not that you would already have gotten pregnant while on the pill for 12 years. Maybe you were above average in always taking it correctly, but we still don't know about all of the various things that can interfere with its effectiveness, so even if you were perfect and avoided all antibiotics etc., there is still a tremendous chance of pregnancy if used by a perfectly healthy couple for that long. Seriously, run the numbers.

    It is incredibly unlikely that "God created you with a working body and you destroyed it." We have some degree of control over our fertility, but ultimately God is always the one who creates life. Fertility is complex, but there is a simple truth about babies: God does not give them (or deny them) based on our merit.

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  9. I wonder if God punishes too. I always believed he did, and I struggle to see him in any other way. It’s hard to wrap my mind around an all-loving all-powerful God, when there is so much pain and suffering and disappointment in this world. And you know the crazy thing? I was one of them who had “always known and believed”. I wasn’t Catholic, but I was a devoted Christian who read my bible and prayed every single day. I never drank, smoked, or did drugs. I never had pre-marital sexual activity or used birth control. And here I am now, questioning it all, and having a hard time really trusting that God even exists. You are definitely not a slap in the face to me, but are more compassionate and loving than most of the “life-long believers” I have known. I know I often question if it is fair for me to write about my hard questions and struggles, knowing that faithful Christians read my blog, and not wanting to mess with their faith walk. But I have to know that if it ever became too much for anyone to read, they can just make the choice to stop reading my blog.

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  10. I don't think that God punishes us like that. I know a lot of people that take birth control for good reasons, just with a really bad understanding of what they are doing and how it fits with God's plan for the world. Many of those people are able to stop birth control and have a child. I know others who have never taken birth control and struggle to conceive. Whether or not birth control has had any role in your struggles, I don't know. But I DO know beyond a doubt that it is NOT a punishment.

    Now I feel we should get together and hang out for a while, because this post says some of the things that I've been feeling for a while (like where the heck did God go in all this?!) Too bad we don't live much closer!

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  11. Oh, Rebecca... my heart breaks for you. I know how you feel. I will try and email you later tonight some thoughts I have regarding this post.

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  12. As many of the previous posters have written, I too don't know why we are given crosses but I've come to understand that sometimes we are called to meet God in the furnace ~ but I'm sure that he is there.

    He is there for you, and so am I.
    Hugs and Prayers!

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  13. You know, it was always easy for me to know and accept Church teaching (not that I don't sin, of course I do...too much!) But premarital sex and birth control weren't sins that I fell into. So when I had a hard time conceiving, at times I would think: "God, I did everything right; I followed what you wanted, why are you doing this to me?" And Rae is totally right-that pride that I had, because I'd been "good" (haha, yeah, right), was a HUGE sin, and had the capability of causing a lot of spiritual ruin. I don't want this to sound like I've overcome it, but IF did help me recognize it in myself, and at least start to fight the good fight against it.

    I hope you come to believe that God isn't punishing you. He's chosen you for a special purpose; He has great plans for you. I don't think our IF days are over, even though I'm pregnant now, but I look back on the struggle of the past 4 years and feel so blessed through it with lots of fruits gained that I would not have had otherwise. God has a plan, and it is good.

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  14. Contraception is not a sin and infertility is not a punishment. Patience, however, is definitely a virtue. I have friends and family who have struggled with infertility for years and even decades, all of whom are good, loving people like you who would (and do!) make wonderful parents.

    Hang in there, don't lose faith and don't what-if yourself over things, especially holidays. I actually refused to celebrate the Mother's Day that I was pregnant because I was convinced it would jinx my pregnancy. My husband answered my phone for me all day and collected all the Mom-to-Be cards from the mailbox before I could see them and he gave them to me the following year because I was completely (no doubt hormonally-induced) paranoid about it.

    All this to say - RELAX! and stop discouraging yourself. Go see a fertility specialist to ease your mind and/or take action on whatever might actually be awry; but in the meantime, just enjoy everything that God has blessed you with and surrender yourself to whatever is in God's plan for your life. You're in good hands!

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  15. Oh honey, I am so sorry. I know how you feel. But, you are NOT being punished!! When these feelings rush over me... I imagine myself wrapping my arms around Jesus' neck and holding on for dear life. (Also if possible go to Adoration, spend some time with Jesus. You can cry with/to him, or complain to him... He can take it.)

    When our feelings don't affirm our faith, it doesn't mean our faith is wrong or weak. Keep believing even if you don't get the warm fuzzies. It strengthens our faith to believe in spite of our feelings. Feelings can be deceptive.

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  16. I posted last night from my phone but it wouldn't take it - but I am not Catholic and I respect your Faith and beliefs, however - I honestly feel that God is not punishing you. God has a plan, not a discipline action in store for you. I know you have lots of questions, worries and heart ache right now. I wish there was something I could do to help. I will keep you in my prayers and pray that God's plan is shown to you soon! HUGS

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  17. There is not one of us out here that can cast the first stone. We are all guilty (or were at one time) of something.

    I have felt as you do in the past. There was a period of my life not too long ago that was extremely difficult and I lost that feeling that you describe. I have not gotten it back. But I believe that some day I will. Try to hang on. Try to have faith. I know that is easier said than done. Praying for you...

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  18. I think most of us have our faith and confidence knocked around once we leave our early twenties. :( But know that you are not alone... I was on the Pill for 1 year and made a ton of mistakes I regret even beyond that. We're all sinners. Seriously. And thank God, He is merciful even if sometimes we feel the heaviness of our crosses.

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