Thursday, September 20, 2012

Faith without Works

And so it would seem, I'm still in my funk.

I decided to go to confession and talk to my priest about it last Saturday evening. I told him that I was feeling resentful to be working so hard for a cause that (seemingly) continually takes advantage of me. I gave him an anecdote as evidence:

This week, one of our offices has the privilege of hosting a NaPro Medical Consultant in training from Mexico. She wanted specifically to see how we do the oh-so-popular NaPro ultrasound series. The trip has been scheduled for a couple of months, and the patient flow has been fierce and steady. Up until two weeks before the Dr arrived - then, suddenly, nobody was ovulating.

We had planned for her to observe a series in process, but that wasn't looking to pan out anymore. Just as I was getting worried, two weeks before her arrival... my period made its grand entrance, ensuring that none other than yours truly would indeed be growing a follicle during the week in question.

I can't say I was thrilled at the idea of being the token infertile test patient, but my heart was telling me that this was bigger than me. In all honesty, I know my Dr never would have asked or expected me to do this. I didn't want to do it. But I felt like I should.

And THAT is what made me resentful at God. It seems, from the outside looking in, that everyone around me makes decisions based on "Do I want to do this, or do I not want to do this?" and carries out their plans accordingly. But not I. I knew it wouldn't have been sinful or wrong in any way for me to not offer my ovulating services for the sake of science... AND I remembered what happened the last time I had done this.

So I told Father, it was stuff like this that was a source of unease at best and inner turmoil at worst in my life lately. And I asked him, "Can't I just put the cross down every once in a while? Do I always have to live the life of The Infertile NaPro Girl?"

He listened. And without hesitation, told me to listen carefully to the readings that evening, keeping in mind that our identity is defined for us by Jesus. He said to put down the cross for respite every once in a while is ok, but urged me to really think about why and if I needed to put it down at all. He continued, telling me that his response probably wasn't the one I was looking for, and may not make me feel any better... but again, to focus on the readings at tonight's Mass.

So, as I feel after most confessions, I had a sense of peace from reconciliation with God... yet was no closer to any answers. I awaited Mass, and particularly the readings, with much anticipation.

It didn't take long for me to discover why Father wanted me to focus on these readings. Here was the First Reading:

Isaiah 50:4-9
Lord Yahweh has given me a disciple's tongue, for me to know how to give a word of comfort to the weary. Morning by morning he makes my ear alert to listen like a disciple.

Lord Yahweh has opened my ear and I have not resisted, I have not turned away.

I have offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; I have not turned my face away from insult and spitting.

Lord Yahweh comes to my help, this is why insult has not touched me, this is why I have set my face like flint and know that I shall not be put to shame.

He who grants me saving justice is near! Who will bring a case against me? Let us appear in court together! Who has a case against me? Let him approach me!

Look, Lord Yahweh is coming to my help! Who dares condemn me? Look at them, all falling apart like moth-eaten clothes!

And as I was still allowing all of that to sink in, I was hit with an even more powerful Second Reading:

James 2:14-18
How does it help, my brothers, when someone who has never done a single good act claims to have faith? Will that faith bring salvation?

If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on,

and one of you says to them, 'I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty,' without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that?

In the same way faith, if good deeds do not go with it, is quite dead.

But someone may say: So you have faith and I have good deeds? Show me this faith of yours without deeds, then! It is by my deeds that I will show you my faith.

Followed by the Gospel:

Mark 8:27-35
Jesus and his disciples left for the villages round Caesarea Philippi. On the way he put this question to his disciples, 'Who do people say I am?'

And they told him, 'John the Baptist, others Elijah, others again, one of the prophets.'

'But you,' he asked them, 'who do you say I am?' Peter spoke up and said to him, 'You are the Christ.'

And he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about him.

Then he began to teach them that the Son of man was destined to suffer grievously, and to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and to be put to death, and after three days to rise again;

and he said all this quite openly. Then, taking him aside, Peter tried to rebuke him.

But, turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said to him, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are thinking not as God thinks, but as human beings do.'

He called the people and his disciples to him and said, 'If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.

It was especially the Second Reading from James that spoke to me... or rather, yelled into my ear which God has opened and which had refused to previously hear. What good is faith without works? Or in other words, "you can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?" That nagging feeling in my heart suddenly made sense. I had my answer. Doing the works is not always easy... and in fact, may never be easy. But it is what I am here to do.

Now, the argument can be made that God does not expect me to martyr myself. To which the counter-argument can be made, is a series of ultrasounds really martyrdom-worthy, anyway? Purpose. It is all about purpose, and has always been, for me. Infertility left me feeling purposeless. I am nobody's mother. And I'm a crappy wife, most of the time. So, why am I here?

As difficult as it may be to step outside of myself, out of my pain and self-pride, in order to do what will ultimately serve others... I know I should always choose it.

And incidentally, here I am on cycle day 14, ready to ovulate at any moment...

and life goes on.


E said...

Here is praying your cycle is fruitful. you are a strong strong woman (and wife). :)

Unknown said...

praying for you!

Hebrews 11:1 said...

If you aren't the most incredible person in the world, I don't know who is. I hope you know what a huge impact you have on others. You inspire others (myself included) to be better, holier people. You're contributing to the sanctity of souls, TCIE. As always, you are in my prayers!

Blessed said...

Thank you for sharing this TCIE. Just what I needed to hear when life seems so unfruitful. God bless you for being an inspiration!

Kat said...

Amen, thanks for sharing!

Lucky as Sunshine said...

So glad you can openly & honestly share what you are feeling!! Praying for you.

Foster Mom said...

you make me laugh. God bless you for giving your body to science again and a(freaking)gain.

Blessed and Broken said...

from me

[email protected] said...

Just wow. Thank you for teaching me.

mary said...

You really are incredible and inspirational. I always feel better after reading your posts. Thank you for sharing.

mary said...

You really are incredible and inspirational. I always feel better after reading your posts. Thank you for sharing.

St. Rita's Roses said...

Your the best- that's all I wanted to say.

Anonymous said...

I pray for you all the time. I am struggling with infertility too and I found your blog. I check on you often. I beg God for the both of us to help us soon! He will come through, I hope it against all hope. God Bless you girl!

Rebecca said...

I do not think it coincidence that it is James we are reading these last few weeks.

I am praying so hard for you - offerring up every ounce of everything I can for you. Praying that this cycle is "it" and that if it is no, you feel His loving arms around you. (I will never stop praying for your miracle :).)

Your works are a beautiful, amazing testament of your faith - I do not begin to grasp how you are able to do what you do day in and day out. I've seen you rejoice over new life and I am in awe of your ability to do so.

Oh, and ultimately, I do think martyrdom is what is asked of all of us, in some way or another. We are all called to deny ourself - and if denying protecting your heart from more disappointment isn't a form of martyrdom, I truly don't know what is.

Joy Beyond the Cross said...

Thank you for writing this post. It really helped me with some things I have been going through in the last week. You have been on my heart and mind more and more lately - many prayers coming your way.