Date: February 25, 2021
By: Sara F.
“You’re intense.” That’s what people, including my own mother, have said about me. And it’s true! I can be intense. So much so I am often more serious than silly. This is something I want to work on. I want to take the mission of sharing my faith and growing in holiness seriously, but I want to learn to take myself lightly. And I believe becoming light-hearted is a grace that I can receive, if I continue to ask God to help me get out of my own way.
I attended an Opus Dei recollection two years ago. And the priest said humility is the foundational virtue while charity is the summit of virtues. He said in order to grow in humility you need to experience humiliation. In fact, he said you need to welcome humiliation into your life, even pray for opportunities to be humiliated. What?! I could hardly believe what I was hearing. I thought I was intense, but praying to be humiliated, now that was intense!
My focus was laser sharp as he spoke, and ugly cry tears began streaming down my face. I felt like he was talking directly to me. Deep within my subconscious buried under layers of rock and stone, a volcano of emotions began erupting and spewing lava all over my burning hot face.
If you had looked over right then, you probably would have just seen me slunk back into my pew, quietly wiping my eyes and runny nose into my hand trying to look inconspicuous. But inside raw material was being extracted – in what felt like plain sight.
I was feeling slightly humiliated.
Three months earlier I had suffered a humiliating miscarriage. Sitting curled up on my bed with a numb hollowness in my chest, I questioned the significance of my child’s short life. I felt insignificant and worthless. The image I had of myself as a good mother, expert in –- carrying, birthing and sustaining life was suddenly shattered. I knew miscarriage happened –– to other women.
Somehow God’s voice emerged through the radio static in my head, speaking softly to my heart: Sara, you are a good daughter. Sara, you are beloved. Sara, you are worthy not because of what you do, or the titles that you wear, but simply because you exist. And your child’s life has significance simply because he existed –– no matter the length of time.
I thought miscarriage meant failure, and failure meant weakness, and weakness meant shame, and shame meant hiding, and hiding meant insignificance. But I knew in my heart that my child’s life mattered more than the shame I felt for what I perceived as my own personal failure.
I knew deep down I was being called to love my child more than the castle of perfection I’d spent years building around myself to protect and prove my worth as a competent and capable mother.
Mysteriously, I was being called to a radical interior transformation to increase my capacity for charity.
Just as we’d done for our born children, we named our heaven-bound child Jude: patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes. And slowly began to introduce him to our friends and family.
And so as I sat on the hard church pew, three months after my loss, my walled-off heart, now wounded and worn, had softened. As I wept listening to Father speak about humility being a cornerstone virtue of all the great saints, I took comfort knowing I had recently embarked on the path toward cultivating a humble heart. I pray a fruit of the humility I desire will be light-heartedness, more laughter, and genuine joy along the royal road.
“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
(You can follow Sara F. on Instagram @sara.lyndsey.francis)