Sheol, a barren womb,
land that never gets its fill of water,
and fire, which never says, “Enough!”
Yesterday I was at the Doctor’s office. I’m now a mature woman in my EARLY 40’s, but when I was a young girl I was diagnosed with endometriosis. It was the aggressive stuff that less than 2% of woman with endometriosis experience. I was stubborn and despite 3 nerve blocks and weekly visits to the pain management clinic, I would not have a hysterectomy. Over the course of the next 11 years I would have 13 surgeries. In my 20’s & early 30’s I just refused to accept that I would not give birth to my own children. It was not until I was 36 that I realized I was out of options and consented to a total abdominal hysterectomy. Uterus, ovaries and cervix are all gone. Immediately post operative, my physical pain was relieved and I was able to stop all pain management. In the years since my hysterectomy, I have been diagnosed with a general autoimmune disorder resulting in multiple bouts of pleurisy and other inappropriate immune responses. My Doctor’s believe that my autoimmune issues may have been what caused my endometriosis to be so aggressive; conversely, my endometriosis treatments (such has chemotherapy) may be what have angered my immune system. It’s a ‘what came first’ scenario.
Anyhoo, back to my Doctor’s appointment yesterday. I was meeting with an endocrinologist regarding my thyroid. He asked the same question as my internist and gynecologist before him, “Do you work?” I responded with the same answer I gave the other doctors and told him that I do work. He then gave me a familiar response, “Can you work less?” And there it was. The question my husband and I have been pondering for the past four years.
There were two predominant issues that kept me working full-time. One was my desire to adopt a child. Prior to my hysterectomy I was obsessed with preserving my fertility. Post hysterectomy I became obsessed with adoption. The second issue was that my step-sons were in chaos. I feel the need to define their chaos: their mother had a child with a married man, this man and his two-year old son were often spending overnights in their home, threats to be moved out-of-state, a cousin who is transitioning gender from female to male, depressive episodes, and everything else that comes with disorder in the home. I don’t have to tell any reader with children that when they are in chaos, it can be a financial strain that you will gladly carry to remove them from a state of disorder and place them back into a state of order. Both of these issues have since resolved (though not in the way I desired).
I was happy and horrified to report to my Doctor that I have in fact just made the move from full-time work to part-time work. This was a decision that Eric and I made together. You see, after many years of trying to fix the two largest issues in our lives (infertility and the chaos in my step-son’s lives); we have come to realize that we really have no control. We have met with and/or investigated every doctor, treatment, attorney, psychologist and agency. We have thrown money at it. We have literally tried everything humanly possible. Sure we have prayed endlessly about these two issues, but we have never fully turned them over to God; that is the process we are in today. I’m finding that turning pain and suffering over to our Lord is not as easy as the common phrase “let go and let God.” As a Catholic, I understand that God allows suffering. Christ did not die to prevent the suffering of humans until the end of days. Christ died on the cross so that we would not be alienated from God; to prevent heaven from being lost to us forever. When we suffer we are vulnerable because we realize that we are not always in control of that which causes us pain. It is through these moments of weakness that the Lord gives us opportunities to become strong. We can even make this suffering redemptive through our response to it by uniting our suffering to Christ’s on the cross. It’s not easy, but worship is work.
So, it has been exactly one month since I tackled my biggest fear and moved to part-time work. I was not fearful of this change due to finances. My fears stemmed from the reality of knowing that by making this change I was closing the door on my will and desired outcome with regards to the two predominant issues in my life: infertility and the chaos in my step-sons lives. It’s terrifying.
To my Doctors point, making this move has certainly helped me from a health perspective. I’m sleeping more, eating better, exercising a bit and reaping the benefits of less professional stress. I have also gained some psychological benefits. I’m no longer anxious about the last-minute requests from my step-children’s mother; I’m finding them easier to accommodate. I find myself joyfully spending much-needed time with my family. Lastly, and most importantly I have experienced spiritual benefits. I’m able to make it to some weekday masses and partake of the Eucharist. I have created the blog I’ve been talking about for the past two years. I’m now able to look at more volunteer opportunities. A majority of my time is now spent on my vocation (marriage). I have been blessed with the rare prospect of spending my time on that which is most important.
I am working my way through a large shift in my controlling disposition and relentless pursuit of my desires. Due to my fallen nature, I have spent most of my time, money and energy trying to force outcomes of which I had no control; this is not sustainable. It’s time to try something more organic; Christ. I want to honor Him through my vocation of marriage. I want to honor Him by being a good step-mother. I want to ask for our Lady’s intercession daily. I want to spend time in Eucharistic adoration meditating on our Lord’s Passion. I ask for your prayers that I can quiet my will in order to hear and respond to God’s will; please pray that when I fail, I will repent and joyfully try again.