So do not worry and say, 'What are we to eat?' or 'What are we to drink?' or
'What are we to wear?' All these are things the pagans seek. Your heavenly
Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his
righteousness, and all these things will be given to you besides. Do not worry
about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its
own evil. Matthew 6: 31-34
Last week, Jennifer posted a great piece about living a life of "yes." (and if you don't regularly read Conversion Diary, I heartily recommend it. There's always something good over there.)
She talks about her struggle to reconcile her desire to say yes to God in all things and her tendency to become overloaded in her interpretation of how to cultivate a life of yes. In order to say yes to certain things, we need to answer others with a no.
I found that her conclusion resonated with me:
I’ve been pondering this a lot lately, and I think what it comes down to
The spirit of saying yes is ultimately a spirit of making
prayerful decisions without fear.
Although her examples are geared more toward saying yes to volunteer and service activities, the crux of her thought is where I have been living for the past 29 weeks. Trying mightily to live a life of yes, without fear.
I know I haven't written much about this pregnancy, other than my insane cravings and ultrasound pictures, but I think that's because the truth was a little to painful for me to confess. And talking about my feelings surrounding this pregnancy really did feel like a confession.
It may come as no surprise that Rob and I were not trying for baby number six. In fact, we had thought we prayerfully discerned that we were being called not to have a baby right now. Either we are very bad at praying or very bad at discerning because here we are.
Since Mopsy was only 5 months old at the time, I had not fully returned to my regular cycles, which have never really been very regular to begin with. We were still trying to climb back on board the NFP wagon, and when the ovulation tests I bought kept saying I was ovulating for two weeks I knew it was time to buy another kind of test.
It is so tempting to tell you that I did a happy dance and I felt so free and unafraid of God's plan, but it would be a lie. It's so hard for me to admit that because we are a pro-life, non-contracepting family -- this is pretty much what we do, right? RIGHT?!?!
Even now, when I am very happy and excited about this baby, I am still sad about that first moment of reaction. I want to say that my only feeling was one of humble gratitude, followed closely by a deep contentment.
But reading Jennifer's post and reflecting on what I learned during those early weeks, I can honestly say I was overwhelmed by fear: Fear of carrying another baby so soon after Mopsy; fear of being able to handle the close ages of all the little ones; fear for our finances (since a new baby meant a new car), fear for this baby's health and development given Fiver's health history and the fact that I am now considered "advanced maternal age."
And perhaps the fears I am most ashamed of were the ones that were so selfish at their root: fear of gaining all the weight back that I had so diligently lost through exercise, fear of what other people would think of us and "all those kids," fear of more work for myself, fear of upsetting the status quo we had reached with the children already here.
I eventually sought out our wonderful parish priest and I just poured it all out. All that fear. He gently and lovingly reminded me of what happened at the Annunciation.
Luke tells us that "Mary was greatly troubled and pondered what sort of greeting this might be." I often gloss over that. The Blessed Mother, whose life of yes changed the world, was greatly troubled.
And what did Gabriel say to her? "Do not be afraid." Her great trouble was that she was afraid. Father went on to remind me of what Gabriel says further on: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you."
That was it, the key for me. If I could allow the power of the Most High to overshadow me, then my fear would be gone and I could reclaim the joy that living a life of yes always brings.
Without that very human cloud of fear, it is so easy to see how saying yes to God has always been to my benefit. It's also easy to see how all of my worst decisions were based in some kind of fear.
I still have those moments of "But what will happen if . . .!" I really wrestle with them, and I don't think I've met anyone who is immune to that kind of spiritual assault. It may not be about having a large family, but it is there just the same.
But I'm still going for it. I'm going for the life God has planned for me because I only get one shot. No fear. All I need to do is look at my children and see that my yes has been the cause of my joy.