Have you ever been caught in “an impossible situation”, where you feel like you don’t like any of the options before you?
In my own life my impossible situation looked like this: It was January, 1973. I was newly pregnant and wasn’t married. I had no intention of marrying the baby’s father and Roe v Wade had just told me that I could have an abortion. What would I do?
First Choice. Have an abortion or have a baby. “No way!” I thought to the option of abortion. Kill a child? No. Never. Absolutely not. So that meant I would have a baby. Second Choice. Support myself and a child or surrender the child for adoption. Raising a child as a single mother in the ’70s would have raised eyebrows. Raising a biracial child would have raised even more eyebrows as well as questions that I wouldn’t have wanted to answer. I felt being a part-time mother and a part-time wage-earner would have meant being less of a parent than a child needs and deserves. So I decided I would have the child and give him or her up for adoption though I wasn’t sure I could do that.
My more immediate need, however, was where to find work during my pregnancy, considering that the baby would be born in late August. My background was in elementary education where being a good role model is a prerequisite. Obvious appearances would label me certainly NOT a good role model. Or, I could lie a lot, but no, I was already far enough ‘in trouble.’ Finally, where would I even get hired in my field. Teachers generally sign a contract in the early summer. Who would hire a pregnant single woman? No one.
How did it come to this, I thought. I was 25. I had spent six worthwhile and rewarding years becoming a Sister in a Benedictine convent. I had gained a good education and teaching experience, but had discerned, before taking final vows, that God had a different plan for me. When I started over (in 1969) as “Miss Smith,” I was given a teaching position in a Catholic school in a large city near my home area.
One summer evening, I went out with friends. With an eye for sophistication, I had a glass of wine, then a bottle of beer, and soon after a Manhattan. Obviously inebriated, I trusted my newly-found “boyfriend” to give me a ride home. He didn’t. Instead he took me to a motel. Later he dropped me off at the bar where we had been, and left me there to walk back to my dorm. At 2 AM.
I felt ugly, dirty, and useless, like a piece of trash, incapable of anything good. Having lost all sense of self-worth, I made a number of bad choices. Eventually I started living a double life. On one side of the city where I lived, I tried to be “Miss Smith”, but on the other side of town, I became anybody’s girlfriend. I dropped the teaching job. It took a year or two of irresponsible, stupid, and wrong behavior–and guilt–before God’s presence and love called me to change. First, I knew I needed to go to confession. I found a Catholic church where the priest couldn’t have known me, but Jesus met me there, and He knew me. For my penance, I was told to attend three Charismatic prayer meetings on Friday nights there at the parish. (I was tempted to ask for a second choice in penances!) In the next few weeks, however, I did attend the three prayer meetings, and eventually far more than three. I met a group of people there who presumed me to be living a godly life, to have chosen Jesus and His way of life, which I did, and to trust Him to change my life. For many weeks, these true friend, whom I began to trust, gave me the courage and wisdom to break off bad relationships, to move away and to start my life again. I found a job the following fall in a parish upstate, where no one knew me or knew the person I had been. Unfortunately, over Thanksgiving vacation, 1972, I visited a male former coworker back home, and experienced an unruly dose of hormones that resulted in an even more significant change in my life’s direction.
I got pregnant. I needed to start over. This time I took the Lord seriously, because I had no one else to turn to and no where else to go…
More of my story comes next month. During those following months, I learned that Jesus does meet us personally where we are, and He does give us the grace and opportunities–amazing opportunities–to change, no matter who we are or where we have been, or whatever evil, sorrow or despair we might have experienced. I’ve learned personally the meaning of the simple song that starts, “JESUS LOVES ME, THIS I KNOW…!”
Someone was clearly praying for me during those months and years. Since that time, I have grown to appreciate the opportunity of praying for others who are in seedy, needy or difficult situations, and to know that their lives CAN be changed for the better, just as mine was, through Jesus’ infinite and personal love.
Many of us pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Its focus is on the passion–the crucifixion–of Jesus Christ. We know that crucifixion was a horrific experience, and we believe that jesus accepted the cross for our sake, in reparation for our sins and the sins of the whole world. As we speak to God, the Father of Jesus, and our Father, in the Chaplet, we repeat the phrase “For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” Certainly we refer to Jesus’ “Sorrowful passion” as the crucifixion. however, one could also consider His “sorrowful passion” as His overwhelming love and compassion for us as human beings, and His personal concern for our pain and well-being. Jesus spent much of His public life in caring for the individual needs of others. Certainly He taught, but He also ministered and healed. he wept over Jerusalem and grieved for His nation’s apathy and its unwillingness to accept His passionate love.
Jesus certainly weeps and grieves when He looks at our world today. let us join Him in His sorrowful passion as we consider the needs that we see today:
- Jesus, free those who are shackled by sexual sin and pornography, especially the students coming to the RECLAiM Sexual Health program. [Lord, have mercy!]
- Jesus, touch and change the hearts of those who produce or support a pornography culture. [Lord, have mercy!]
- Lord, show your love and mercy to victims of sexual abuse or human trafficking. [Lord, have mercy!]
- Jesus, touch and set free those whose lives are controlled by fear. [Lord, have mercy!]
- Jesus, protect and free those who live in situations of violence and hatred. [Lord, have mercy!]
- Jesus, free those who are shackled by any kind of unhealthy addictions. [Lord, have mercy!]
- Jesus, restore those who live under the pain of depression and mental illness. [Lord, have mercy!]
- Jesus, restore those who have lost hope. [Lord, have mercy!]
- Jesus, send us as your servants to visit and free those who live in cold, hunger, loneliness or alienation. [Lord, have mercy!]
- Jesus, visit those who are physically and terminally ill. [Lord, have mercy!]
- Jesus, help parents who are considering abortion, that they would choose life for their child. [Lord, have mercy!]
- Jesus, speak to those who advocate abortion, that their hearts would be changed. [Lord, have mercy!]
- Jesus, calm the fears and give comfort to those who are experiencing new or difficult pregnancies. [Lord, have mercy!]
- Jesus, help new parents, especially in their fear and frustration. [Lord, have mercy!]
- Jesus, help single parents, especially in their loneliness and confusion. [Lord, have mercy!]
- Jesus, comfort those who mourn the death of their unborn or newborn child. [Lord, have mercy!]
- Jesus, guide our governmental officials, especially those newly elected and all judges. [Lord, have mercy!]
- Jesus, guide our world leaders, that all people would live in safety and peace. [Lord, have mercy!]
- Lord, guide our church leaders, that Your people would grow in faith, love, and holiness. [Lord, have mercy!
- Jesus, help us to pray for all who are in need, that they may be comforted. [Lord, have mercy!]
- Jesus, help all Elizabeth Ministers and the staff at Elizabeth Ministry International, especially in their travels. [Lord, have mercy!]
- Jesus, help our families, that we may give witness to your love and faithfulness. [Lord, have mercy!]
- Jesus, reward all those who pray for your Kingdom to come. [Lord, have mercy!]
Lord Jesus, we place our needs and concerns into your loving hands. Continue to live in our world, and let us share Your sorrowful passion through our prayer and outreach to those in need today. Use our eyes and our hands to bring healing to all who are in need.
As we begin this new Season of Advent, may we all be renewed in our desire to fall more deeply in love with Jesus, The Kind of kings and Lord of lords, Who has come into our world to enable us to enter His!