The Resurrection of Jesus
Fruit of the Mystery: Faith
God’s Gift to Me: Faith in My Ability to Be a Mother
Even before my third child was one year old, I was cleaning out her clothes. The donation pile grew, despite any reservations or nostalgia I had for the little rompers and newborn pajamas that both she and my other daughter had worn. The boy clothes were gone, too, gifted to a friend who had recently given birth to twins. Three children, I decided, were plenty. No one had more than three these days, and I knew I couldn’t possibly handle any more than that. I loved my children dearly, but most days, between the obligations at work and at home and trying to carve out time for self-care, I was drowning in motherhood.
So, away the clothes went, and I told my husband, my co-workers, my friends and my mother: “Oh, no! No more kids! Three’s more than enough!”
But between the day that I dropped off the final bag of baby clothes to be donated and the day I joyfully discovered I was pregnant with Baby No. 4, everything changed. God had changed me: He’d given me the gift of faith.
Throughout the first four years of motherhood, I dug ever more deeply into a pit of atheism-fueled despair. Life was pain, and the best way to get through it was quickly and with as little feeling as possible. But children are the opposite: They are so many emotions bundled in flesh and bone, encouraging their parents to feel in much bigger ways than they did before parenthood began. Rather than continuing to hole up in my darkness, I found myself tilting my face up toward the light, and one by one, I fell madly in love with each of my children. That love began to slowly light the path for the love that I would discover in Jesus.
But that upward road out of atheism was a long time in the making. While the Holy Spirit still worked to open my heart, I decided I was finished having children, and I calculated how many years I had left and what age I’d be when I finally got my life back. After all, this life was all there was, and I didn’t want to waste the good parts of it relying on babysitters, changing diapers, and managing tantrums.
Somewhere along the way, though, the tough facade that I’d crafted around my heart, a cynicism about everything from patriotism to Christianity, began to crack. With some prodding by the spirit I’ve come to know as the third Divine Person of the Holy Trinity, I decided to give myself a 30-day faith challenge: For one month, I’d put on Christianity and see how it fit. If I couldn’t make it work, then at least I’d have evidence for my atheism. If the opposite came to be… well, I hadn’t quite gotten there yet. But with earnest curiosity and effort, I dug into the Christian faith. Amazingly, miraculously, I didn’t need the full month; it took only a few days to realize I was all in with Jesus. It took just another few months to realize that Catholicism was the truth.
Then, came the time to act. Because if Catholicism were true, which I had firmly come to believe it was, then I had to commit. There could be no partial faith, which meant I had to come to terms with certain uncomfortable truths, like the Church’s teachings on birth control and family planning. Yet while the continuing openness to life was difficult for me to accept at first, it isn’t the whole picture. In having faith that God would give me more children if He willed it, other aspects of faith developed, too: faith in the purpose of life; faith in joy of motherhood; faith in the dignity of the whole human person, even the smallest and most vulnerable; faith in His holy will.
Christ doesn’t ask me to give up everything for nothing or for some small something in return. He asks me to give up the barriers between us, and He gives me an eternity of love. Once I came to understand that it wasn’t so much a painful breaking with what I knew but a reorienting of my whole being to Himself … how could I have wanted anything else?
And so it was with honest excitement and gratitude that I anticipated our fourth child, and even now, past the age I said I ever wanted to be pregnant again, it is with hope and joy that I await any future children God asks me to birth and shepherd.
Through all this conversion and transformation, I have not become a living saint of pregnancy and motherhood. I don’t glow, unless it’s with sweat from the strain of waddling, heavily pregnant in the heat of the summer, or toting a tantruming toddler to her room for quiet time. My hips still ache, and I struggle with teething, clingy babies. It still takes 40 million years to get out the door to go anywhere, and I have to take my bouts of impatience with me into the confessional every time. But through Christ, I have come to know my purpose, and I have faith in myself and the utmost faith in our God that He has given me just what I need. In that faith, there is great rejoicing, and I will hold on to the baby clothes happily, hoping that I will have need of them once more.
About Christine: Christine Mooney-Flynn is a wife and mother of four young children. On fire for the Catholic Faith, Christine podcasts and blogs at TheCatholicMama.com and on Instagram @TheCatholicMama about all things Catholicism to help fellow parents feel more sure in their faith and raise confidently Catholic children.