9.28.2016

The Question I Was Asked


In my prior post, I shared that there had been a question that I had been wrestling with for over a year that I finally got an answer to, and that is what led to being able to go to confession and truly resolve to sin no more.

I remember it clearly, sitting in Fr. D's office, newly pregnant, trying to figure out the mess that was my life and he asked me "What must Sugarbeet sacrifice?" as we were talking about my and R's living situation and Fr. D was asking if we could not live together. And in good spiritual direction, the questions are posed to the directee, Church Teaching is offered, but the decision is left to the directee...it is not, nor should it be, a 'you must do this' type of relationship. Free will is respected.

I left Fr. D's office so angry that day. Angry that he was suggesting that the best thing for Sugarbeet was for R and I to not live together, and angry that he was suggesting that Sugarbeet had to sacrifice anything. Already my mommabear claws were up in wanting to protect my child from any sort of harm or struggle in life. And also open to considering the question, because any other time I had left his office angry with him, the results had been so fruitful. I trusted that this too, would be fruitful, I just couldn't imagine how.

Every fiber of my being screamed to me that Sugarbeet growing up with his or her parents not living in the same household was NOT the answer. I had grown up that way, I would NOT pass on that kind of struggle to my child. Nope. Many suggested that it would be a virtuous and heroic thing to sacrifice this; that it would help R and I to discern our relationship, from their perspective, more fully; and many other reasons why we should not live under the same roof.

While my head could acknowledge there was some truth to each point, even it (my head) could not agree that it was the right thing to do. Our Church clearly teaches that children should be raised with both parents when at all possible; social sciences again and again show the importance of a mother and father in the home, raising children together; my own educational background in early childhood development and education was steeped in the importance of both parents being active daily in the raising of the children.

As time went on, my instincts were reinforced in the daily living of life, and parenting our unborn child. As R felt random moves and kicks, and we argued over baby names, and he made sure I ate well, etc. etc., it was clear that this time of pregnancy was equally important for him to bond with Sugarbeet as it was for me.

Yet, the question I didn't want to answer remained. "What must Sugarbeet sacrifice?"

And so, too, did my own weaknesses and sin.

After she was born, and my cycles returned at 3 months postpartum (I didn't know that if your baby sleeps well, despite exclusive breastfeeding, your cycles will likely return - stupid AF), I realized there was even more to it. That the words I'd said so many times of "this is never about one baby, but babies, a family of many" and all of the emotions of infertility came flooding back, and the worries if there would be more and would it be difficult.

It was then, that I started to realize my own resistance to living in continence (abstinence) was partly centered on a desire for more children. As I heard my biological clock still ticking, frightened that infertility is still a part of me (as every test ever underwent and both surgeries showed, it is my body that was infertile), and desiring so much for siblings for Sugarbeet.

But the devil is not stupid. In fact, he is very smart. And as failed cycle after failed cycle happened, he was screaming in my head "you're not conceiving because God is punishing you for your sin"; "you're not conceiving because you do not deserve more children because of your sin" and more. Each cycle, getting progressively worse and worse until one afternoon in late spring when I found myself pouring over Familiaris Consortio by Pope St. John Paul II, seeking in the words a way that R and I could still remain under the same roof and somehow also be able to receive absolution in Confession and return to the Eucharist, because I knew that I could not battle the attacks of the devil on my own, that I needed the fullness of sacramental grace to help me. And as much as I knew that, I also knew that separating Sugarbeat from her father was also not the answer.

And then I found the answer, or rather the answer found me. Words that I had read so many times before professionally; had applied to others relationships, but not been able to apply to my own, seemed to come off the page at me (emphasis mine).
Reconciliation in the Sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children's upbringing, a man and woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they "take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is by abstinence from the acts 'proper to married couples'" ~Familiaris Consortio, #84
And as I read those words, words I've read over and over again for many different reasons, the asnwer to Fr. D's question also became clear:

"What must Sugarbeat sacrifice?"

Siblings.

Biological siblings.

For now.

And as I let those words settle on my heart, the tears of the bittersweetness that is the et et, both/and, of life and of the Catholic faith, the tears I've come to recognize as so clearly God's word and hand in my life, became clarity on what had to come next.

And I scheduled my next appointment with Fr. D for later that week. And on May 13, Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, and my baptismal anniversary, I was able to return to the Sacrament of Confession. And on Sunday, May 15, Pentecost, the Sacrament of Eucharist.

The longing that I had felt, the constant calling me home, despite my sin, and the confidence that my journey in my own spiritual life to where instead of feeling punished by the cross placed upon me, to where I was able to embrace it and accept it made coming home, once again, the Father welcoming home His prodigal daughter, all helped to prepare me to be able to accept the mercy being offered to me. I was able to accept my new cross, of living in continence and not pursuing a sibling for Sugarbeat, with tears of gratitude for His mercy as I received Eucharist.

10 comments:

  1. So many prayers for you on this difficult road. I pray you find much consolation in the Eucharist.

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  2. Thank you for sharing your heart and being so open. Such a difficult cross you are carrying ...praise God for the gift of the sacraments to get us through.

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  3. It is a hard way but it is so beautiful that you could reconcile with your dad and also be able to receive again our Lord in the Eucharist. You have a very loving heart. A big hug and prayers for you. May God bless you and your family.

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  4. I know we only know a small fraction of all that has happened in the last 2 years so we are not really even qualified to share here... but as seminary students who have devoted our life to know the bible and serve as missionaries I will say this. God is a God who forgives so we do not have to live in shame and guilt. Us humans like to put levels of severity of types of sins, but in the bible in the book of Romans is talks about that all sin leads to death and we all sin. Life does not have to end at sin... and thinking that way would mean we would never deserve anything at all since we all sin... but what is more important to put the whole Bible into perspective. In reading the Bible back to front the more important theme was forgivness and doing what was right after the fact. While God intented marriage for one man and one woman, many kings took it upon themeselves to take on more than one wife. God called King David a man after his own heart, but David's decisions were terrible so many times... Once he took on more wives he became responsible for them and for the consequences... But God also forgave him and allowed him the chance to make right again his life. That did not mean he had to banish and kill his extra wives and kids... Now they were his responsibility to care for as long as he lived! As you read through the holy book you see example after example of people God choose to use and there were far from perfect. We are to learn from there mistakes and we also see how to move forward from them. Paul hated christians and then later after faith wrote most of the new testament... Moses was a murderer, Matthew was a tax collector, Rehab was a prostitute, almost all the kings "did as the other nations did" in taking on more than one wife, Jacob was a liar and a thief... Yet God used all of them to make a difference and point people back to Him. The bible stories go on and on. One verse I like to think about as I try to process hard things is what was said towards the end of Genesis, that was in reference to Joseph and his brothers in how they sold Jospeh into slavery and lied to their dad that he was killed... It basically says that they intended to harm him (Joseph) But God used it for good. So while we all make mistakes and miss what God orginally wanted for us in certian things, it does not mean that He cannot redeem them or use them for His good. There was forgiveness for the brothers and a chance to do there life again from God and from Joseph too.

    I guess what I am trying to say is I am a concerned friend who wants you to not not live with extra guilt and self-punishment. Step one is being repentent. I see that, I read that and if you have prayed to God with that in your heart, then you can leave those burdens as the cross. Life does not have to end at sin or future sins. It could... and for some it does... but you are still breathing and you now have a beautiful child. The theme here should be forgiveness, accepting that God forgives, forgiving yourself and moving forward without any extra guilt and opinions of others... (including ourseves and other religious people). But seek God directly in what to really think before you say no more kids etc. God came to Moses in a bush, to Isaiah in a soft voice, He spoke to Moses face to face, sent an angels to others and so much more. Maybe God has a word for you too and a powerful testimony to share with others what you have learned from Him on this journey.

    Please forgive me if I have spoke out too much or insulted you in any way. That was not my intention. It is easy to read more beyond the words when you cannot see the face and hear the tone... It just sounds like there is still extra sadness or guilt that maybe it is not your job to carry anymore...

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    1. Thank you for this comment. You have not insulted me in anyway. There is still sadness, it's a ripple effect and lots of people were hurt. I'm learning to let go of it and the guilt, and most days doing pretty well. There is a lot of good that has surfaced and I hope to write more about that as well :).
      Anyway, much to brief a reply for now, but I wanted to be sure to say that you did not insult me at all. I do think God is not done with my story yet and I'm hopeful that it will help others somehow in the future.

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  5. i'll be honest, i'm confused by this post, but its nice to see and update nonetheless. remember, God even gives crackheads babies :) the silliest thing we can do is assume fertility is granted to only the blessed ones. mercy and grace, right?

    regardless, if i'm reading what i think you're saying, it seems like this is a sacrifice not just for sugarbeet but for everyone involved. i'm always praying for you guys and for a peaceful, expedited resolution for everyone involved. if God is speaking to you it will be confirmed through the church as well. god bless you guys.

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    1. Oh yes, I knew it was silly to believe the lies of that I was being punished, but in the midst of postpartum hormones, coupled with hormones of AF, and lack of sleep - well, I was a mess. Rationally, I knew silly, but the rest of me was having a hard time grasping that.

      And yes, it is a sacrifice for all of us. One day at a time as we wait with reasonable hope.

      Your prayers are appreciated, so much :).

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  6. So glad you were able to be courageous. I feel certain that the Lord was very happy to "enter under your roof" on Pentecost and consume you again as you consumed Him. Blessings to you all!

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  7. So happy to hear that you are finding the answers that you are looking for... And the grace that comes from the willingness to keep looking for those answers! Praying for you!

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  8. I used to read your blog regularly but I stopped in 2014 when I began studying to be a primary school teacher. My degree is coming to an end and it just occurred to me to take a look and see if you did finally become pregnant. Wow! Two hours later and I’ve just finished reading. I cried when I read that your Dad passed away, but I’m so pleased you were with him.

    I hope your diocesan tribunal reaches a quick and favourable decision. God bless you, your family, and especially little Sugarbeet.

    Tonia x

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