Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The Fear Factor vs. The Life of Yes

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
is this:

The spirit of saying yes is ultimately a spirit of making
prayerful decisions without fear.

No 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.


  1. Your honesty is a true witness to FAITH.

    I sought the LORD, who answered me, delivered me from all my fears. Psalms 24:4

  2. What you wrote is good and beautiful.

    I felt much the same way when we found out we were pregnant the first time.

    Forgive yourself. You love your baby and your baby loves you. The circumstances at the beginning have passed. You can't do anything about them. Let them go. Forgive yourself.

  3. Such a beautiful post. It brought tears to my eyes and I'm not even sure why - I guess I could feel your fear. Praying for joy and no fear during the rest of your pregnancy.

  4. I just love you, Aimee :)

    Our fourth pregnancy occurred when the third baby was only 5 months old...and I felt EXACTLY the same way. I was sad, scared, in denial, mad, and then embarrassed. How could I proclaim to love being pro-life and was so upset that I was carrying new life?

    I think in times like these, God gave us great husbands to lean on, and my husband just let me experience all those feelings for a couple days before I started to get on board with the idea. Just as Our Father would have acted, I believe.

    It is a great calling to be a mother of many, and I learn each day just how much I need to rely on God to get through. And guess what? He provides, He always has provided, and He always will provide.

    That reading you quoted was one of our wedding readings, because we knew we were going into our marriage with hearts full of love and pockets full of nothing. We trusted, and it's all turned out better than I could have imagined. I'm sure you could say the same.

    This little baby of yours is going to bring you and your family so much joy. We always think of the big picture (Phil and I in our rocking chairs, tons of kids and grandkids surrounding us) and smile. We also think that of all the crosses to be dealt in life, if ours is having a lot of children and too little financially, that is one great cross to be dealt! (((HUGS))) to you, well as much as our prego bellies would allow ;)

  5. I completely and 100% understand what you are saying. We were there with CeCe so it's recent in my heart. I can honestly say that I don't feel guilty though for fearing - it's all part of the process, part of the relationship that we have with Him. I had all the "selfish" thoughts that you had and I don't think they are really selfish either - they are legitimate concerns for your health and wellbeing, physically and emotionally. These are REAL fears that are based in reality. And even though I also totally 100% agree with your positive conclusion I think that there is real loss when you have babes so close together. There is also real loss when you have them spaced far apart - or "perfect" spacing. There is always loss when one door is shut to us and it's OK to mourn that loss, even while rejoicing (or trying to) at another door opening. You have nothing whatsoever to feel guilty about. Just keep turning to Him - in your fear and in your rejoicing 'yes'.

  6. Aimee--you and I have shared some of these same feelings and I'm so glad I've had you there to hear and understand my fears. This post is beautiful--honest and convicting and ultimately full of hope. Thanks for sharing!

    Also, I love Colleen's comment--we feel the same way!

  7. Anonymous3:23 PM

    I appreciate your honesty. It is very refreshing and encouraging to me. I follow several pro life mom blogs including yours and Jennifers and often feel so alone in my lack of "happy dances" in the four years that we have been blessed with four children. Each 12 to 17 months apart. Two of which were conceived during what we thought were both educated and disciplined practices of NFP. So feeling embarrassed and anxious became all too familiar and at times still is. I often get resentful of people that seem to toot their NFP holiness around when NFP seems to be "working" for them and their interpretation of Gods will for them. What if it didn't "work" not once or twice but THREE times or more, newborn atop toddler atop slightly older toddler atop pregnancy and eventually extreme periods of abstinence within the marriage. Its a lonely and difficult place to be. And all the more when everyone else seems to love their NFP because its only like 10 days of abstinence that makes them all holy and united...ugh...this is not reality for us at least and I'm relieved that maybe there are more people like you and I that are truly open to life and have to walk the walk rather than just the talk. I apologize for the length and I know my tone is a bit bitter, I am working on my heart daily through prayer and the patience mothering requires of me. My baby is six months now so I'm more worried than ever I'll repeat the pattern for yet a 5th year in a row. I love my children and look forward to the possibility of more, just not right now. Thank you for posting this encouragement.

  8. Great post - just wanted to give you an online ((((hug)))

  9. This is so honest and real. And I'm glad you wrote it here! Michael and Liam were born a year and 10 days apart, so I had those same fears when we found out about Liam (and we were only on the 2nd child!). Working through and letting go of those fears is part of the process-a very human process, right? I love this post and hope you are feeling good :)

  10. Great post Aimee and very well put. I agree with Amy G. Forgive yourself. You've not only accepted this pregnancy but you've moved to a place of "yes". We aren't perfect but you are working on being the best you can. I admire you for that.
    And I can relate on a smaller level. As a fellow NFP'er. I do give a little sign of relief every month my ovulation test isn't positive for 2 weeks. That is definitely not a place of "yes". I'll be working on that...

  11. Sometimes it's hard to give up complete control no matter how much you want do, because you don't know what the outcome will be. DH and I currently have eight children yet have experienced eight losses. We are open to life and would love more, if blessed, but with this comes the knowledge that we may have to emotionally deal with more losses. It's a tough one but we have to let go and trust.


Go ahead and say it. You know you want to.