Gospel Jn 8:51-59 - “So they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.”
After we lost MaryJoe in our first miscarriage, I dealt with a LOT of anger. I directed it towards the people around me, but it was really anger with God that I was feeling. I felt HE took my daughter from me. After losing Henry in our second miscarriage, I had difficulty in trusting God’s plan. When Eric and Adam were stillborn so close to their due dates, I felt that Jesus just wasn’t listening to me at all anymore.
I felt more isolated and alone than I had ever felt. It felt like everywhere I turned for help, the doors were slammed shut in my face, and that Jesus was the one slamming the door. I couldn’t understand WHY the people that I was looking to for help were all taken of the equation (by various circumstances out of anyone’s control). It seemed like if He WAS listening to my prayers, He obviously didn’t like them. My appreciation for and devotion to the Blessed Mother grew immensely during that time. I felt that only she knew the suffering I was experiencing. Only she could understand me. My faith in God never waivered, but my TRUST in His plan for me did.
After we lost Ella in 2016, I was completely lost. I began to feel like something - other than my baby - was missing. I couldn’t, for the life of me, understand what was causing such a horrible, cold, empty feeling in me. But it always felt like something big was ‘just around the corner’, like something life-changing was going to be revealed to me and soon. You know that feeling when you’re watching a movie and you KNOW that something is about to jump out at you, so you brace yourself for the ‘jump scare’ you’re positive is about to come? I had that feeling 24/7 for a long time.
I was always looking for ‘the thing’ that would fill the holes in my heart. Deep down, I think I knew what it was, but I didn’t want to go there. I wasn’t ready to turn to the One that I felt caused my misery by taking 5 of my babies away from me. So, I figured this was just part of the ‘new normal’ people (myself included) talked about after child loss. I began to accept it as some kind of perpetual anxiety level that I would just have to learn to live with. I began to ACCEPT MYSELF for who and where and what I was.
And thats when the doors that had been slammed shut ….. began to open.
I began getting comfortable with the heaviness in my heart. For the first time since I got my ugly shoes 17 years ago, I shook hands with the darkness and made friends with the sadness. This was actually where my first really meaningful healing began. For all those 17 years, I avoided being sad. I was afraid to feel it. It thought that allowing myself to feel such an intense and intimate level of sadness would be like opening up Pandora’s box and I was afraid that once I let myself start crying, I wouldn’t be able to stop. I hadn’t felt strong enough to let that genie out of the bottle before, but now, as I began to accept the sadness as part of my life and of who I was, as I let it sink slowly into my bones, it actually began to have the opposite effect on me. Instead of swallowing me whole (and it almost did), IT MADE ME STRONGER.
Its taken a lot of long years for me to get where I am. To really not give a $h!+ what other people think of how I handle MY grief for OUR children. To be able to understand that I don’t have to like a person to love them and that some people are best loved at distance. To be able to finally turn around and see and understand WHY those doors were slammed shut in my face. It was because the roads they lead to were still under construction.
Just like the people in John 8: 51-59, I wasn’t ready to hear Jesus’s word. They were not ready to hear his words because their worldly pride, their shame at the knowledge of their own sinfulness, their indignation at the memory of their own pain and suffering as well that of their ancestors’ oppression and persecution had BLINDED them, had HARDENED their hearts. For a very long time, I wasn’t ready either. I was too preoccupied, wrapped up in and blinded by my pain to understand it. All those years, I felt Jesus had left me to the winds, but He had simply gone to a place that I couldn’t go yet. He was waiting for me to be ready, all the while loving ME from a distance, exactly as I was. Just waiting till I was ready to admit my brokenness to myself so that I could turn to him, with all the pieces of my broken heart in my hands, giving them over to him to put them back together. To put me back together. And when I finally went to Him this past Advent, on my knees asking him to make me whole again, and I heard a voice in my head say, “Its ok. I’ll be here when you’re ready….” I knew who was talking to me. And when I untied my heart and gave over all the millions of shattered pieces…. I felt Him SMILE over me.
That was almost four months ago. I’m currently still ‘under construction’. I’ll likely be under construction for the rest of my life. But you know what? Thats ok. Its ok to NOT be ok. It took 17 years of slammed doors and detours for me to learn that, but thats ok too! It doesn’t matter how long it took me to get here. What matters is that once I got here, I was ready to turn around and see where I’d been. Mind you, I wouldn’t ever choose to go through any of it again, but I wouldn’t change it either.
I don’t know what the end result of this construction will be. I’ve seen what happens, though, when an inferior engineer like me tries to do the job of THE professionals - The Father, Son and Holy Ghost. It wasn’t pretty and it definitely wasn’t sturdy. But even out of the shattered pieces of my heart, THEY drew something good. Out of all of the pain and hurt, they brought about good.
Ok, Lord. No more stones. I’m ready, Jesus. I TRUST in You.