"...suffering is one of the universal conditions of being alive. We all suffer. We have become terribly vulnerable, not because we suffer, but because we have separated ourselves from each other." -- Rachel Naoimi Remen

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Our Family Story

Probably the most sentimental thing my OB ever said to me was after our first miscarriage.  I was upset but trying to be tough and probably a little embarrassed about crying in front of him and he consoled me saying, "this will always be part of your family story." 

It meant so much to me then and still does today.  I use those words when talking to other friends amidst loss or other changes; the ever so common feeling of 'this is not how I thought things would turn out'. 

Although I do consider myself an optimist, I'm definitely not a romantic.  I think television and the movies have damaged young people's expectations for generations to come; reality will never live up to that which we see there.  I like to say I'm a realistic optimist, which yes I know, is an oxymoron.  But, I do think it's all in your perspective. 

When you're in the middle of a crisis... one of the most trying times of your life....
When you've done "everything right" and things still seem to go wrong...
I think it's then that it's most important for us to embrace 'our story.'  We should be mindful of the moment.  Thoughtful of the big picture.  And yet also give ourselves time to grieve. 

In college the most interesting course I took throughout my four years was entitled "Suffering and the Problem of Evil".  Back then, I hadn't seen the worst of the world; things usually worked out like I'd hoped they would, and only a few people had ever really disappointed me.  And yet, I still felt the class was fabulous.  I took it at the Seminary on the Mount Saint Mary's College campus with several seminarians and a few lay people.  Taught by a prominent theologian who's name I can't remember, I sometimes day-dream about the topics we discussed that semester and wish I could go back. 

I learned that suffering in this life bring us in communion, yes common-union, with Christ.  He was perfect and yet he suffered.  Somehow we've gotten ourselves some very unrealistic expectations in this life.  Even after the Last Supper in Luke 22, Jesus "knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."  I guess, when my babies have died, that I have shared in Christ's suffering.  In the moment, I have never thought of it that way.  But, from this vantage point now, it does help. 

I think it's important to remember that the Bible does not promise us that which the movies do.  He doesn't say it will be easy, He says "I am with you always" (Matthew 28:20)

I also think it's ok to be sad.  Jesus begged God to take his suffering away; so certainly it's ok if we do that too.  However, He didn't expect it to be easy, and we shouldn't either.  I don't know how this idea became instilled in me, but I definitely thought when I was younger that if one bad thing happened (like I didn't win a race one week) then that was my due and certainly next time would be better.  Like it was some law of averages or something.  But, in adulthood I've learned it's not so easy.  It doesn't feel fair.  And we know, from the example we have in Christ, that life is not fair.  He also teaches us, that it's ok to lament that... for a moment.  We don't have to always "keep calm and carry on" when we're in the midst of a major loss.  It's ok to break down. 

And then we have to build ourselves back up.  We should embrace our 'family story.' 
It is not so bad. 
I've blogged before about the freedom in having an only child that's almost three.  Like the sign I recently stole off Pinterest says, "Count your many blessings, name them one by one."  We have many.  More than we can count. 

Mindful of the moment, I'm grateful I have time to blog while my one toddler naps.  God willing, this time next year my younger child will be fussing and won't afford me this time. 

This is not what I ever expected.  When I got married and imagined my family, it did look different than this.  And that is ok.

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