Monday, May 16, 2011

Guilt and insecurity

If I pray that my daughter does not have any of the various syndromes that the doctors are concerned about, does that mean that I love her less?  Or, conversely, if I do not pray that but instead pray for the courage to take care of my daughter in any of the many worst case scenario possibilities, do I lack faith?

Parents always second guess themselves.  We worry about everything.  Before I was a parent, I did not understand how these intelligent, loving, wonderful people could be so insecure in their decisions.  I worked in childcare, so I was on the receiving end of many questions.  I first noticed when I was seventeen.  I had been working in childcare for a year.  I was a confident, and competent, caregiver.  Parents started asking me questions about their children's development, health or behaviors.  Sometimes I knew the answers, sometimes I did not.  I was never, that year, faced with questions for which I could not find answers.  I was baffled.  Most of the parents were well educated, confident, intelligent people.  Why would they ask me, a teenager, if this behavior was normal, or if they should be worried about that rash, or if their child should know their colors by now?  

When I became a parent myself, ten years and thousands of questions later, I began to experience the same insecurities.  In my case, I worried very little about my daughter's development, but quite a bit about her health.  She was a very healthy baby, but I worried whenever she coughed.  I stayed up all night with her, the first time she had a cold, because I was afraid she might stop breathing.  I could remember thinking that all those questions, worries, and insecurities has seemed very silly and trivial to me.  Was it possible that I was less confident in caring for my own child than I had been in caring for others?  

Every decision felt very important and I probably over-analyzed most of them.  Vaccinations are the easiest example.  I read books and studies.  I consulted other parents.  I consulted a few doctors and nurses.  It was not a trivial decision, but neither did it have to be the source of frustration and worry that it was.  When I finally made a decision, having carefully listened to both sides, I worried whether I had made the right decision.  I knew how many people, whose opinions and expertise I valued, would disagree or even disapprove of my choice.  There are other examples as well.  Ask my poor husband, who had to listen to every side of every question.  

Now, I am facing different insecurities.  I can find answers, as I have before.  I can find the many and varying opinions of those whose many and varying opinions matter to me.

I have been told that difficulties are not from God.  If we tell Satan to leave our baby alone, in the name of Jesus, than he will.  He must.  I don't know how to receive that kind of advice.  Of course I believe that God can heal.  I believe in miracles, I have seen them.  I know people who have been miraculously healed by God's hand.  I also know people who have been healed, just as miraculously, by the hands of excellent doctors.  I also know people who were not healed.  If I do not pray as they tell me to pray, does that mean my faith is weak?

Sometimes I feel guilty, praying for perfect health.  Does the prayer admit that there is something less desirable about a person who has health issues?

I believe that God can heal.  I believe that God wants His people to be happy.  I believe that more than our happiness, He desires our closeness.  I do not believe that suffering has no place in Christian life.  Through suffering, we can come to be more like Christ and come to know Him better.  Suffering can teach empathy.  Suffering can teach humility.  Suffering can bring joy.  No one wants to watch the ones we love suffer, least of all, I expect, does God.  But we do, and sometimes the suffering fruits into wonderful gifts.

If my dear Sarah is born with any of the many complications my doctors are concerned about I will not love her less.  If she is not, I will not love her more.  I would be relieved that she would not have to suffer through that particular pain.  I tell myself it is like any other pain.  I hope my children do not break their bones, but I do not love them less or lose my faith if they do.  I hope that my children do not get sick, but it does not shake my faith when they do.  I hope that Sarah is healthy, and that she stays healthy.

Lord, strengthen me against my many weaknesses.  Let my heart reflect yours.  Give me the courage to face whatever comes, and the faith to place it in your hands.  Bless my tiny daughter, Sarah Catherine.  Thank you for this gift.  Help me to be a mother worthy of this gift of parenthood.


  1. I am praying that through the intersession of Blessed John Paul II, Sarah's body be made perfect in this life as it will be in the next, adding Jesus' prayer from the cross: not my will but your will be done.

  2. Thank you Beth, you have summed up my last six months beautifully.

  3. All of our children are gifts from The Lord: we merely foster them.

    Sara Kate is who the Lord needs her to be. He has chosen parents for her who will love, honor, and accept her. He always chooses wisely and well.

    Do not be afraid.