Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Worth it

This pregnancy has been one of my sickest yet, second only to when I was carrying my first child nine years ago.  Think complete exhaustion and around-the-clock nausea, which is only intensified by the intense Denver heat.  I have more or less been hanging around the house for the past several weeks, sitting ever so still, and eating pickles and taking naps.  And when I do leave the house, I find myself contemplating strategies for what to do if my nausea takes a sudden turn for the worse.

I honestly feel a little bit like my summer has vanished into a pathetic, sickly haze.  Weeks have passed with relatively zero productivity on my part, writing plans have been put on the back burner, and any vestiges of a social life are on hold.  Just getting to Mass on Sunday mornings--our one and only have-to-be-there commitment--feels like a huge effort. 

And I'd be lying if I said I don't occasionally feel the slightest twinge of self-pity from time to time.  It is hard mothering seven children when I scarcely feel well  enough to take a shower.  It is hard preparing meals that I know I won't eat.

And yet here I am, nearly at the end of my first trimester, my pregnancy still going strong.  For this I feel unbelievably grateful!  I have lost two babies over the course of my marriage, and so I do not take my fertility or ability to bring forth a child for granted.  I refuse.  It is a gift, and a profound one at that.

So I try to remind myself of this when I feel somewhat defeated, and disappointed in how my summer has materialized.  There is a soul--a soul!--growing in my womb.  No moment--no matter how sedentary--is wasted, because I am somehow caught up with God in this mystery of the creation of life.

And, God loves life.  And souls.  And love. 

Just yesterday I was reminded of this when some friends and I ventured out to IKEA with our children (fifteen total, but who's counting?).  And a woman at the store took us by surprise when she demonstrated that, well, she didn't like our children.  Not because they were misbehaving or yelling or crying, but simply because they existed.  The very idea that these needy creatures lived and breathed was too much for her, so she angrily (and loudly) informed my friend that we were "nuts", amidst much scoffing and indignation--and all  in spite of my friend's big smile and gentle assurance that we were actually having a nice time. 

It is a terrifying thought to me that someone could be so offended by the mere existence of a soul, and yet isn't that where much of society has positioned themselves?  Disdain, disgust, and fear encapsulate a post-modern view on the fruitfulness of marriage, the natural and beautiful end of intimacy between spouses, the generosity that compels a couple to bring forth new life or to raise a child desperately in need of life.  This deeply-held view that souls are worth less than vacations and pensions and, ultimately, autonomy, is diametrically opposed to the life-giving paradigm we find in God's vision and heart for humanity.   

I find it highly ironic that what so many champion and herald and hope for can be found in the very place they despise and cast off: the heart of the family.  Acceptance.  Love.  Authenticity.  Fulfillment. 

But people want these things without the sacrifice, without the ultimate submission to a higher view of life which is sometimes more difficult, but always more real, and more beautiful.  Saying yes to Jesus is humbling and hard, but it is good.

There are some instances where the hatred of immortality and life is on display in clear and obvious ways.  (Abortion, for example, is a distorted and hideous perversion.)  But far more often, a more subtle suppression of life goes unnoticed.  Until a person is confronted with the preciousness of life, and is repulsed, and lashes out in anger at strangers in a store.

So as sick as I am, and as frustrating as it is to spend the end of one's summer sitting very still on the couch, I know that I am doing something worthwhile.  I am nourishing life, simply by existing and by sharing my body with a helpless little one.  In this I am loving my baby, and his or her seven siblings too, and we may not be taking many hikes, but my goodness we're living.  Together.  Saying yes to Jesus and making sacrifices in small and big ways.  We may seem like we're nuts to the rest of the world, but somehow, in a really miraculous and astounding way, we're doing some pretty important things that have eternal significance.     

Not a bad way to spend the summer, actually.

Because life is always worth it.


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