>Trust, Letters and Life


Well, it’s another Catholic post I guess. But it’s a family post, it’s an adoption post, it’s an “us” (ok, me) post too.

Read on if you dare. It’s long, you know that by now.

It’s been 40 years since the publication of Humanae Vitae“, “Human Life.” That’s the encyclical, the letter from Pope Paul VI on the dignity of human life; the letter that started a cultural firestorm due to it’s stance on contraception. Talk about an unpopular topic and stance – one of the biggies (not the only one, but one of them). This post is not a big gloss on this encyclical, for that go to Darwin Catholic and/or The Deacon’s Bench for a good run down on it. This is about how it impacted me.

St. Peter’s Square, where the action is.

Now, this letter was huge – the ramifications huge. Basically it said that ALL human life is precious and that the act of creating life is God’s alone and the means to that action is also God’s alone – not ours to blockade or strip through scientific/medical intervention. I know, I can hear you all squalling, it’s my body, my life, my/our decision, who is some old Pope to tell us what to do? I get it. I was there. For years, and years, and years. I TOTALLY get it. I felt the same way, exactly.

Then I came back to the Church, which begged the question, what do I do about this? I was so happy to find and deepen my faith again, it was so good. But. How was I supposed to reconcile my natural individualism and STRONG independent streak, a modern educated woman…with this teaching that felt intrusive and old fashioned, almost medieval, at the very least simply outdated and really, behind the curve?

Many modern catholics just kind of flick it off their radar or decide to disagree. But you know, I finally came to the difficult realization that just ignoring Catholic teaching if it wasn’t to my immediate agreement was kind of hypocritical. It was an authority issue for sure. No surprise there. But what did I do with this? Fish or cut bait, if you will. Was I gonna live a true Catholic life or muddle along, kind of …not? So, I had to come to terms with this.

Buddybug, that first baby boy.

I already had three kids, for pete’s sake. I was full up, right? I mean, busy! Heck, three kids meant I was already an over-acheiver by the current cultural norms on the kid front, right? And the third, well she had colic and was a drama queen! My husband was a doc who had to work insane hours, gone so much, we were still in deep debt from all that med school. We were supposed to be good stewards of our life, funds, plan. C’mon anyone would have been justified to continue to use the pill. By anyone’s standards I could check “done that” on my life list and move on (well, almost anyone’s). More, I had cysts, the pill was supposed to help. See, medical necessity! Hmmmm.

I prayed about it, irritated that I was being nudged along this path, totally resistant. I prayed some more, I consulted with our priest, who I loved and respected (and is now our Bishop). He is a tactful man, utterly kind. But he discussed things clearly as well, with all kindness. He gently pointed out that some things are a grave medical need. And some things are control issues. And trust issues.

Booboo, the largest baby, second boy.


Well, dang.

You know, I have found that God can be a terrible nag.

Bananas: first daughter, baby number three.

And this pegged it. Bishop (Fr. C) was right. Dang. This was a trust issue. This was a control issue and authority issue which brings it back to a trust issue.

Because I didn’t.
Didn’t trust.
Not really.

I could make the big pitch for it, say the words, follow the prayers. But my heart was really stony on this one, because you know, I was a control freak. I didn’t trust God to be in charge of my family, not really. I was in charge of my family. I knew how many kids I/we could handle. I knew where my breaking point was.

Now the question became what did I do with that? How do I learn to trust more? Remember, I was/am stubborn and a slow learner, slow to change.

So I prayed. Or tried to. Prayed for grace to give up on this, this grip of fear. Because a lack of trust is really, well, fear. It is. For me, at least. It is the fear of not being in control.

I was afraid of having more kids and not being able to handle it on so many levels. My last pregnancy was high risk (due to my huge second baby boy 9lbs 9oz) and they warned me of rupture and the grave dangers of having more kids. More worry.

Just as I was needing to let go, I found myself running across more reading (I am a reader) on the depth of God’s love for us; on His desire for our perfect good. I read and it finally soaked in that God doesn’t want anything for us that will break us, but instead what He sends us, even when it’s scary and nerve-wracking or very hard, is for our greater good and our truest happiness.

Like a Father.

Like I do for my kids when I say no to that next piece of cake that will make them sick and give them carrots (ok bad analogy, but you get the idea), when I teach them something hard that they are then grateful {eventually} to know. Oh.

Now I had to decide if I really believed that God knew best? Did I know more than God Himself? (did I hang the stars…?) Ok, no.

SBird, fourth baby home, tiniest.

So, I stepped onto a pitch-black stepping stone, one step forward in faith, and agreed to accept the teaching of Humanae Vitae. No, I didn’t have to sign anything, but I gave over. Inside. God could be in control of our family. Of me.


Oh, man it was kind of nervous making.
But then, kind of liberating.

And, with it, came (as drippy as it sounds) a lifting….I was happier. Somehow, that diving in deeper, the acceptance of this teaching helped bring me closer. And that brought a deeper joy. Go figure.

The Divine Miss M

And no I did not have any more biological children. I was/am open to it. My cysts went away, totally. But I was happier. Our marriage, surprisingly to me, moved into a better place. And, yes, you know the next thing.

God started nudging us to have more children. Another way: adoption. And, as we had decided to accept any children God brought to us, we talked and wondered and prayed and then, kind of nervously, stepped forward. But that story is one for other posts. You know how it ends up though…..

Little Man, third boy, happy boy!
And as it happens, while I thought I knew my breaking point and what we could handle or do…well, God knew better. I know, you all could figure that one out, but I was/am dense. And now, I know, really DO know, that we WILL take as many children as God sends us, any way they come. Beyond my comprehension, God never fails our trust. Ever.

Oh how beautiful is the lesson of Humanae Vitae, Human Life.

Is it easy to have seven kids? Not always, no. It can be crazed and has taken me places I never dreamt, not all of them easy.
Is it easy to trust and let go, still? No.

However, it is glorious. It is beautiful.

I am so thankful for the grace to bend my will, set down my fear, and step one stop forward into the dark. Our seventh, Gabriel Tariku, a gift from Ethiopia.

7 thoughts on “>Trust, Letters and Life

  1. >Love it, love it…LOVE IT!(did I mention that I LOVE this post?)Thanks for sharing your story. May it be a witness to many.God Bless,Jane(who will finally find out on Thursday just how hard it is to have SEVEN kids!)

  2. >Michele, thank you so much for this post! It is so good to be reminded that it is God’s love that draws us to Him and allows us to relax, let go of the need for control, and trust that He will always hold us, guide us, teach us, love us, and keep us safe. We are His children, and if my human, inperfect love can cause me to go to great lenghts for my child, how much more so will the Love of God surround us and protect us.Trust is so difficult, but with God, it is the key that lets us come to Him as father- when we learn to trust Him (and it’s a process!), we can approach him with the confidence that we approach our own parents- knowing that He will always greet us with the warmest, biggest, longest hug of our life.Thanks for this reminder.

  3. >Becca, I know your heart. Not in person but through your blog…and I know that your heart is not hard, it is beautiful. Again, God is a terrible nudge….thank Goodness! Your journey will fun to watch! Love M

  4. >You are a beautiful writer and an even better teacher. I am Catholic and I saw some of our journey in your words. I wish that I had a wise friend like you near me. If I did, I have a feeling that I would not be as slow of a learner as I am; you are the “hare” compared to me, the “turtle”. Another posting that I will have to print and share.

  5. >Thanks for the great advice on Diapers. I will trust you and go in that direction as you seem to have a great amount of experience. My brother lives in England and said FuzzyBunz is his favorite too. Your kids are so cute!

  6. >I love your post…We too have poured over Humanae Vitae (and shed many tears) in our journey to grow our family, trying desperately to follow the teachings of the church and somehow try to have more biological children…Trying to explain a Catholic teaching in this area to a fertility doc definitely requires that you be steadfast in your faith…As you said, we must trust in Him to know the way..He has led us to adoption and I am confident (and trust) that he is right. Thanks again!Amy


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