Praise Him Even in Pain

There are so many aspects to spiritual journeys that it’s hard to even put it all together after thinking about it for years.  When someone asks, “How did you end up Catholic?” it’s very hard to give a pin-pointed answer.  However, I can pinpoint when I actually began to study the Catholic faith.  It began with another miscarriage.

By now you all know my history: Lose a baby, have a baby.  John had been born in September 1998 and in the summer of 1999 I was pregnant again.  By now I had learned to be cautiously glad, but not too excited.  I believe in the first appointment the doctor had detected a heartbeat, but at the second one he couldn’t find it.  As a precaution he decided to do a quick ultrasound using the portable one in the office.

As his nurse scanned over my abdomen, she found the baby floating quietly in the fluid.  All was peaceful and quiet.  I’d had enough ultrasounds by now to be able to instantly tell that the heart was not beating any more.  The doctor tried to find something to say, but I smiled at him and said, “It’s okay.  I’ve been here before.  Thanks.”  He and his nurse had tears in their eyes, but looked relieved to not have to say what was obvious.  My baby had died.  We were going through it again.

It was a beautiful, sunny day outside.  I got into the van and drove a little ways out of the parking lot, then pulled over into a dead end at the top of the hill.  I broke down and cried.

“Lord, I know You love this baby more than Nolan and I ever could.  And I knowYou love all of us more than we could ever love each other.  Thank You for the short time I’ve had with this little one.  I love You, God.  Please help me through the rest of this.”

Where did such a grace-filled response come from?  From the painful journey of losing more children than I given birth to.  From realizing that a child is a gift, not a right.  By this time I had also realized that all the worrying in the world would never save one of my babies.  All I could do was pray and ask, trusting God to do what was best for all of us.  I wish I could say that I’ve got that lesson down cold even now, but I don’t.  But the progress that has been made in my life toward absolute trust in God has, in great part, come from the loss of those seven babies.

No one should ever think that a miscarried child had no purpose in the world.  God doesn’t waste any life.

The First Step in a New Direction

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  I still don’t know who said that, but the older I get, the more I realize it’s rare in life that we see the first step until after the fact.  For this journey of ours to the Catholic faith, it came from trying to figure out if John and Chris were really Christians or not.

Both Nolan and I had grown up believing that Catholics needed to be “saved” because they followed a religion based on works.  We thought they believed that if they just did enough good works, Heaven was in the bag for them.  One time I asked my mom if Catholics were Christians and her response was, “Well, some of them are.”  (Most Catholics I’ve mentioned that to have laughed and agreed!  Devout Catholics never presume upon their entrance into Heaven.  Faithfulness until death is required.)

Our concern for John and Chris was that here were these obviously devout people who love God and are careful to follow what they believe to be true, yet they could be totally deceived.  (Y’know, it’s funny, but it was a long time before I ever considered the question of whether or not I was deceived as this incident I’m relating happened before my “rocking chair” experience.)

Over the course of a couple of weeks or so, I had a conversation with John and Chris by e-mail about what they believed. My hope in writing this was that I would be able to reprint those e-mails here, but I cannot find them, so I’ll do my best to explain how the conversation went.

I first asked Chris what she and John believed about salvation–what it is and how it is attained.  The answer back surprised me in that, although it wasn’t my exact belief, it was reasonable and based in Scripture.  Then they asked a few questions of their own about what we believed.  The one that struck me was this, “What do you believe happens to the sins you commit after you accept Christ as your Savior but before you die?”  I responded that all sin is covered under the blood of Christ.  We still confess to God when we have sinned and tell Him we are sorry, but there isn’t any punishment for the sins because they’re already forgiven.  However, even as I typing back my answer, my brain was quickly making connections and conclusions with which I wasn’t comfortable and made my answer seen very full of holes.

If all our sins are covered by the blood of Christ, then why worry about sinning?  Well, sure, St. Paul says in Romans 6:1-2 that we are not to continue to sin so that grace may abound.  He makes a very clear point about not sinning.  However, if one takes the view that once you’ve accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior that you are bound for Heaven no matter what, then it logically follows that you could commit any sin you wish and still go to Heaven.  So why strain?  Because it’s good for you?  We should do so out of love for Jesus Himself, but humans are damaged by Original Sin and we will, if given the chance, do the least possible to get the most benefit.  If I don’t need to avoid sin in order to enter Heaven, then why avoid what is often pleasurable and the easier way to go?

It quickly became obvious to me that this was an untenable answer.  How can we say we shouldn’t sin, but if you do, don’t worry–it’s all covered by the blood of Jesus whether you’re sorry for it or not?  As a parent I know that kind of parenting produces spoiled-rotten kids, so why would God use that kind of parenting with us?

Although there were several e-mails back and forth with Chris, I had my question answered about their salvation and believed that they were really Christians.  That was enough for me at the time because I was still in the midst of my study of conservative churches.  It never occurred to me to consider the Catholic Church.  I still considered it a little “out there” like some other churches I knew of that were nice enough and mostly on track, but just a little strange.  It never entered my mind that it could be what I was looking for.

WOW!!!!

Shoot! I’m sorry! I thought I had posted the article I’ve been working on, so I wasn’t worried about getting back here while my computer is in the shop.

Actually, at present, it’s in California catching some rays–weasel–he just didn’t want to work over Lent. It’s the rare computer issue that Charlie can’t fix, so I KNOW it’s a conspiracy on the part of my computer. I’ll fix him! After using Daniel’s Mac for the last month, I’ve got a new love in my life!!!! As soon as I have the money, Windows is outta here!!!

Okay, so I’ll get this post up here and start some more. Hope those of you who faithfully check here haven’t given up on me!

Tracy 🙂