by Thaddeus Baklinski , Tue Dec 24, 2013
COMBERMERE, December 25, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com)–Amid all the joyful bustle of family preparations in anticipation of the holy day of Christ’s birth, Christmas time always brings to my mind the deep regret that I feel over the one child my wife and I lost due to miscarriage, because it reminds me that at the time I was like the Bethlehem innkeeper who said there was no more room.
I was having a lot of trouble accepting that my wife was pregnant with our ninth child. It’s not that we were against having children–we had eight boys already–but when Theresa told me she was pregnant again, something inside me rebelled against the thought of another baby.
You know: “Oh no, another mouth to feed; our house is too small, and full to the rafters, literally, with kids; we’ll have to build an addition; we can’t afford this; I’m already the brunt of tacky jokes (don’t you folks in the country having anything else to do?); I can’t take this…there’s just no more room!”
You can see where this was going–from a lack of trust in God’s purposeful generosity, to a miserly outburst of selfishness.
Most of Theresa’s pregnancies were planned, some were surprises, and although much to my later shame I once added my name to a “zero population growth” petition while at university (ah, how foolish I was when I was young!), we welcomed each baby as he came along.
And when things got out of hand, as things with piles of children often do, I reminded myself that they were, after all, God’s children first, and given to us to look after the best we could for really only a short while, if you consider the reality of eternity.
But with this pregnancy something in me didn’t rejoice.
I worked myself up to such a state of negativity that I began saying “Why me Lord?” while I brooded over the new life that was growing in Theresa’s womb with misgiving rather than hopeful expectation. “Isn’t eight enough Lord? How could You do this to me?!”
Then without warning–Theresa was always so healthy when she was pregnant–I got a call while at work that Theresa was taken to the hospital, bleeding.
The next days were a blur of frantic prayer, tears, uncertainty and dread, and then the final reality that we had lost him. We named him Stephan.
In the midst of trying to be strong and supportive for Theresa in our grief, I was overwhelmed with guilt. It seemed to me that my lack of acceptance of Stephan was the cause of his death–like God saying, “You don’t want him? Okay, I’ll take him back.”
We buried Stephan’s remains (there wasn’t much, he was in the first trimester) in a garden behind our home where we have a statue of Our Lady, and planted a rose bush over him.
Then God in His mercy let something change in me again.
Through the tears of sorrow and guilt I began to understand the reality of the wondrous, almost unimaginably generous gift from God that every child is.
A gift that is given to parents to love and nurture and enjoy, certainly, but also a gift to all of humanity in that the future is held in the tiny hands and minds and souls of the children that parents, with God’s help, bring into the world.
Of course with such an awesome gift also comes an awesome responsibility, and God never said raising children was supposed to be easy.
I sometimes ponder on God’s judgement of me when I die, and always come round to a scenario where the Lord looks at me with love and compassion, and then says, “Lets talk about how you did with the children I gave you…”
I have come to a deeper understanding that God does in fact give us exactly what we need, just when we need it, to live out the responsibilities that we have. But implicit in this is TRUST.
The reality finally dawned on me that there is always room for one more child, because if we trust in God’s providence, then we trust that He will give us the grace we need to persevere. A wise man once described this as the “grace of state” we are freely given and can freely accept, simply by virtue of being parents, and trying to live out God’s will in our lives.
Every child conceived is loved into existence by God and wanted by God, even if we choose not to want that child.
What changed in me after Stephan’s death was that I felt a grateful joy the next time we were pregnant that was somehow so much more profound than anything I had experienced before. I knew our little Stephan was praying for me in heaven, and I knew that however many children God sent us, we would always have love and room for them.
After Stephan we were blessed with four more wonderful sons, and two absolutely gorgeous daughters. We are also now blessed by 32 grandchildren with one more on the way, so far…
So now when we gather for Christmas at home we are always packed to the rafters, but unlike the inn in Bethlehem, there is always room for one more.
Dear friends of LifeSiteNews, I wish you a very merry and blessed Christmas. May this joyous season of Jesus’ birth be a time of wonder and renewal for all of us.
May I offer you a Christmas gift of a prayer, adapted from “Blessing Prayers: Devotions for Growing in Faith” by Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P., that speaks profoundly of Christ’s coming to us as a baby born in a stable and the Father’s love and care for us all:
may the assurance of your unfailing Presence
be for me the source of unending peace.
May I never fear my weakness, my inadequacy, or my imperfection.
Rather, as I gaze with faith, hope, and love upon your incarnate littleness,
may I love my own littleness, for God is with us.
Endow my life with a holy wonder
that leads me ever more deeply into the Mystery of Redemption and the meaning of my vocation and destiny.
May I make of my life a total gift of self.
May my humble worship of your Nativity
manifest how much I seek the Father’s Kingship
and his way of holiness.
The beauty of your holy face bears the promise
that your Father will provide for us in all things.
This Christmas, I renew my trust
in God’s goodness, compassion, and providence.
Ted Baklinski is a Canadian-based reporter for LifeSiteNews.com.