Last night at Mass the priest preached about one line in Luke’s gospel. We read it when freshly pregnant Mary visits very pregnant Elizabeth. Elizabeth says to her, “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (Luke 1:45)
And I couldn’t help but think of the times people have said that to me about this pregnancy.
We’ve been very public about our previous losses in the hopes that others won’t feel so alone, and I don’t regret that. But it’s also put our journey to parenthood on display and it can be perceived that after two losses, a third healthy pregnancy is a sign of God’s goodness, His blessing, and His promises to us being fulfilled!
Which are all lovely sentiments. I don’t deny that.
But they have always rubbed me the wrong way. Because it follows logically that if this baby boy makes his grand, healthy entrance in May and that is a sign of God’s blessing and goodness upon me after I carried my miscarriage cross… then what about my friends who can’t have children? What does it mean for them… logically?
If we attach God’s blessing to our fertility and our families it would mean I am more favored by God than the woman next to me who can’t have children. And we know God’s love doesn’t work that way. What about the couple dealing with secondary infertility? Doesn’t he love and favor them? Or the couple who are hyper-fertile and each month is filled with stress and anxiety? Doesn’t God love them?
Our jewish ancestors thought that God’s favor and blessing was directly correlated to be able to have children and God proved them wrong over and over again. It was like… a big lesson and we shouldn’t forget it. Some of the holiest, most faithful couples (Abraham/Sarah, Hannah/Elkanah, Zecariah/Elizabeth) struggled to have children. Their communities pointed a finger and said it was because they weren’t God-fearing and law-abiding. But that wasn’t it. And God taught us that lesson many times.
And so that line in the Gospel of Luke that Elizabeth says to Mary… it’s not about the child in her womb. Elizabeth isn’t saying, “blessed are you because you’re pregnant.” She’s saying “blessed are you because of your faith; because you believed in the Lord.”
This is supposed to stand in stark contrast to Elizabeth’s husband who did not believe in the Lord when given his golden ticket moment — angel in front of him, proclaiming what God would do (give him and Elizabeth a son). Zecariah failed the faith test. He didn’t believe. So he was struck mute.
Mary believed. Mary had faith. She had openness to God’s unusual, miraculous ways. She was ready to welcome Him and His work in her life. Because of her faith.
And that is why she was proclaimed “blessed.”
What a lesson for us, isn’t it? I feel so sharply the pain of women going through any cross associated with their fertility and family life, something tied so closely to our hearts. I’ve written before about how God’s goodness isn’t tied to children. But sitting here 20 weeks pregnant, I can’t help but say it again. I’m not blessed because I’m pregnant. You aren’t blessed because of where you are in your struggle with or without children.
We are blessed and favored and beloved because we are children of God.
Because we believe that life is more than having what we want, it’s about carrying the cross and following Christ on the rocky road to heaven.
Because we have been saved by the humility of a God who laid in a manger.
Because we have faith that His promises are constantly being fulfilled. His promise to be here with us. His promise to never abandon us. His promise to be the comfort in our sorrow, the joy in our pain, and the shelter in the storm. His promise to lead us ever closer to His heart.
Blessed is she who believes those promises are being fulfilled.
You Are Enough
Don’t ever forget that okay? You are beautiful and precious and deserve good things — and I can’t tell you that enough! Look I even dedicated a side-bar-box-thing to it. God has a plan and a purpose for your life and He died and rose again because He wants to spend forever with you! Okay, read on. Important reminder over.
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God & Spirituality
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” Psalm 23:1-3
And the salt in the wound of my tender millennial christian heart was when the “things” meant more to people than people. When the rosary and the praying of it was more important than looking and seeing your neighbor’s need wasn’t a holy card but a smile and a hug.
So yeah, I’m not the perfect Christian. Not always the loving, well-behaved daughter of God. But He is big enough to handle my big, complicated emotions. He is understanding enough to listen to my angry ranting and raving.
It’s okay to stop suffering. There is no need to drag on your suffering when God is inviting you to step into the new person your suffering can enable you to become.