As I prepare to head to Washington DC for the annual March for Life, I can’t help but feel reflective. It’s hard to believe almost nine years ago to this day, I sat on the edge of the bed I shared with my husband in the big house we were building ourselves. It’s hard to picture the four, carefree little boys who ran and sang and laughed with friends at our home birthday parties, backyard whiffle ball games, and late night campfires. It’s hard to imagine the dreams we’d had for someday, dreams of family barbecues with our boys’ future families, of sleepovers with sweet and snuggly grandchildren, and of the good life that was somehow our “due.”
Those distant dreams still haunt me at times, but life marches on. Old dreams have been replaced with new, exciting plans while I’ve simultaneously come to learn the old may never be forgotten. I’ve formed new dreams and have met new people, but I know better now that people, even those of times long gone, can never be replaced and are seldom left completely in the past.
Remembrances of that day sitting fearfully on the edge of my bed are experienced clearly, as if they were happening even now over and over again and again if I allow them. I don’t often allow this escape however. Good seldom comes of reliving the past.
But as I head towards the March for Life, I allow myself to again feel the fear, sickness, humiliation, shame, and confusion of a pregnancy I had not planned.
When I put myself back trembling on the edge of the bed, I still see myself afraid but unable to keep the secret I’d hidden from the world, and the husband I’d loved, much longer. I see myself fearing the secret revealed by two thin lines on a little white stick. I see myself sickened by the secret exposed to me by the violent retching I’d done, not just in the morning, but almost continuously day in and day out since conception. I see myself humiliated by the secret the world would know and judge soon enough. I see myself bearing shame for doing what my body was created to do but what society had labeled abnormal and often unacceptable. I see myself confused by the secret I was afraid to tell anyone, even the one who had helped plant such a gift so close to my heart.
I was pregnant and alone.
What happens next is history. Some of that history is crystal clear, some a blur, some completely erased: events, discussions, and time lost to the gift of the human mind’s ability to protect itself from trauma – or its cursed inability to do so. I am never sure which.
Nine years is an eternity in some regards, a blink of an eye in others.
I sit here typing this when I should be preparing for the long march ahead. I’m instead reflecting on what nine years means, how life has changed, how I have changed. And how little stays the same except our free will to choose how we handle change.
Material goods left behind and bought anew, financial assets lost and gained, educational accomplishments forfeited and achieved…these are easy to measure, concrete to point to. There is evidence, proof that these things once existed or still do…if not for me.
I still drive by the big, beautiful house we once had. I smile at the improvements the new family has made, the swing set in the backyard, the pool on the side, things we had once planned on doing too. All this confirms I am not crazy. This life I thought we’d have, existed. Still does. For someone. Maybe not for those in the home we lost, but somewhere, for someone.
As easily as I drive past the house, our house, I realize I also reflect on more important things, things that cannot be touched or tasted, smelled, seen, or heard, things that cannot be given or taken, intangible things I didn’t know as I sat in the edge of the bed nine years ago.
In the nine years since sitting on that bed and saying what scared me to the man I swore to love, honor, and cherish, I’ve come to realize many things of far more importance than what I thought I knew nine years ago.
You see, it’s not the material losses, financial devastation, or desperate attempts to better our positions that I’ll take with me in my March. It’s those intangibles I couldn’t have known before.
It’s the understanding that I am stronger than I ever imagined, smarter than I ever thought I could be, and far more capable than I ever believed possible. I learned that I am amazing and that none of the amazingness of me is because of anything so special about me. I am still a nobody.
Any amazingness in me is not about me. It’s about the people around me. It’s about the men I didn’t know when this all began who quietly stepped up and wordlessly showed me what it meant to be a real Man: men from varied backgrounds, abilities, personalities, and more who sacrificed and gave of themselves without asking for returns.
Funny how I’d never done the work required to discover what makes a man a Man before. Funny that I’d never felt I was worthy of attention nevermind affection of a real Man before. Funny…
And not funny at all.
How much heartache could have been spared? Not just in me, but in those around me? I’ll carry that heartache into my March.
My amazingness is about the women who commiserated and cried with me, who I called all hours of day and night, who took my children and covered my mistakes, who stayed with me when I wouldn’t have stayed with myself.
It’s about boundaries I learned to set and people I learned to let go, the gossips, traitors, and those enraptured by the very things that are so easily measured and easily replaced, things that are wrongly valued and mistakenly thought to determine the person we are.
Amazingness is about learning that when crisis hits, those you count on aren’t always there for you. Those you depend on aren’t honor bound to be dependable. Those you love and trust aren’t always loving and trustworthy.
And that makes loving them, as we are called to do, reliant on Divine intervention.
Because I also know that any amazingness in me is not me, but the true Amazingness of the One God who pulled me through myself to place me here.
There are some who question my faith and some who question the very existence of God Himself. After all, how can a loving God allow such a thing? How can a trustworthy God watch without raising a hand in prevention?
Nine Years Post Crisis Pregnancy:
Nine years after sitting on the edge of my bed, life still isn’t easy, yet I freely and joyfully say, it is because of the hardships we’ve faced that I know there is a God and can promise He is all Loving, all Trustworthy, and all Good.
I have learned in nine years no one is capable of carrying the burden I placed on my spouse. He was no god. He was faulty and wrong and self-centered.
As was I. As I still am. As each of us is to varying degrees. We are not called to judge but to love through faults, wrongdoings, self-centeredness, and sin.
I look back at the person I was on the edge of the bed and all the yuck of not knowing, even then at almost 40 years old, who I was, who I was created to be, what my purpose was, or that I had a Love Story to share.
My starting point nine years ago was a point of chaos, a me comprised of what other people had told me I was. I was a melting pot of stuff I’d allowed people to throw in me and simmer over time.
The day on the edge of the bed turned up the boiling point, but like a frog placed in a pot with gradually increasing water temperature, I didn’t realize it until it was too late.
I wonder how many do. I wonder how many continue lives without realizing how close to being boiled alive they already are. I wonder how many sit in the water not realizing they have options and power and God’s Grace.
I wonder, as I head to the March for Life, how many men, women, and children are sitting on the edge of the bed today, unsure of what to do, afraid of making a wrong move, not knowing who they are created to be. I wonder how many will jump and run from the pot, not realizing they can control the heat and make it a nice place to swim. I wonder how many will sit and wait, helpless or oblivious, while those waters heat up.
I wonder in this month where more divorce is filed than in any other month, how many will realize the hardships are part what we are created for, that pain is not always something to run from, or that it is in coming to the Cross is often where we find God and Peace, Hope, and Love!
In this world where we try to eliminate every discomfort and twist reality, biology, and theology to fit our definition of what is good, we see more pain, suffering, depression, mental illness, addiction, and suicide than in years past. We have feel good programs and bring in dynamic speakers, all leading away from the Cross.
We don’t tell each other to go to the Cross. We don’t tell each other to pick up our crosses and plod onward. We don’t tell each other to find Joy in suffering. We don’t tell each other we don’t need all the easily measurable stuff that consumes us.
We promote self esteem because we don’t believe we have the power to change what lies deeper within us. We don’t believe in our true power because we don’t believe in the Divinity that lies within us in the Holy Spirit.
We don’t tell each other we need to get to the Cross. We need to swim through suffering to find Peace in suffering.
March for Life
Nine years later, I head to Washington DC for the March for Life. I march for the lives of those precious babies, which no sane person would call a clump of cells.
I march for the men who don’t know how to be Men. I march for men who desperately want respect, admiration, and love but don’t understand that is given by putting other lives ahead of their own and especially by protecting the lives of their very own children.
I march for the doctors, nurses, and politicians who trade the Cross of dignity and human decency for the profit and feminist likability.
I march for the women who sit on the edge of their beds and tremble not knowing the power they possess. This womanly power is greater than that of the life or death battle they don’t realize they are pawns of. I march for women who have an eternal soul with the power to change the world, to bring another smile to a hurting people, to come to the gift of the Cross rather than reject it.
I March for Life because I now have Life beyond what is easily measured and tangibly pointed out. I march because nine years ago I wasn’t so sure. I march because the result of two thin lines isn’t the result of two thin lines at all, but the result of a loving God who humbly, graciously, mercifully says, “I know you are a sinner. I know you are scared and confused. Come to me. Come to me all who are weary and burdened. Take up your Cross. Sin no more. I have a better way. This is your gift if you will accept it from me.”
I march because I head to DC in the still dark night with Light in my heart. I march because this Light could not have shone in me had I not followed God’s call and because I could not have followed God’s call without Embracing my small cross and Jesus’ Saving Cross. I march because I know darkness is needed to really see the brilliance and brilliance is what we are called to.
Today I march with direction and certainty, confidence and faith. Marching is not a wishy washy hope for landing in an uncertain destination. Marching is an intentional moving forward.
Where once I trembled on the edge, I now march unafraid.
Today I March for Life and this life I march for is also my own.
Today, whether you are struggling in a broken Marriage, facing a regrettable divorce, or afraid of two lines on a pregnancy stick, I pray you choose to March to the Cross. I hope you choose to March for Life, the life that is your own and the lives of those who cannot yet March for themselves.