During this month of Our Lady, the May flowers in my garden have me reflecting on my vocation: marriage. When two people join themselves in marriage, they say yes to many things. Yes to the joys, the bliss, and the honeymoon phase of their love; yes to the sorrows, the trials, and tribulations as well. In my garden,the bleeding hearts, side by side, row by row, remind me that we are all faced with hardships and personal crosses to bear.
My husband and I met on a cold December in 2002. We have never been apart since. We married in 2006 and now have four beautiful children. We are very active at our parish within the areas of marriage enrichment, Elizabeth Ministry, Knights of Columbus and assisting engaged couples with preparation of marriage. Those who see us compliment us on how we are raising our young children, how loving we are to each other, how we are always willing to help even during Sunday Mass every week.
My husband and I have a very heavy cross within our marriage.
In 2011 I was pregnant with our third son. It was during this year that Our Lady of Good Help gently guided me and aided me in what was my most difficult year. It was in April of that year. Shane became sick. Very sick. He was diagnosed with GERD in 2008 and we have been on a journey to wellness since then. Things seemed to be looking up until April when he became so sick he physically could not get out of bed for two weeks. During this time he was in and out of the hospital and receiving poor care from a GI surgeon. He started undergoing endoscopies and dilations of his esophagus as it was so narrow even a pediatric endoscope was too big! We were preparing to hear the worst when the time came for biopsies. I was 7 months pregnant and had a four year old and two year old; I was not ready to be a widow!! I was willing to fight for my husband.
After I looked these things over, I stood up and said to the nobles and the officials and the rest of the people, ‘Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your kin, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes. ~Nehemiah 4:14
Praise be to God, I was able to continue on with the pregnancy, and raise the boys with attending daily Mass and Adoration. Jesus was with me every step of the way since my husband couldn’t be the physical or emotional support for me. After his biopsy results came back negative in May, his attitude toward his family changed drastically.
He quickly became Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde while at home. I never knew what type of mood he’d be in when he walked in the door. The boys and I were always walking on eggshells so we did nothing to upset him. Our home no longer felt like a sanctuary, but rather a nerve ending. I couldn’t figure him out. One minute he was so angry and screaming, calling names, being verbally abusive to all of us. The next minute he was crying over something he would not normally get emotional about. I prayed for my husband, I prayed for our marriage, for our family. The one prayer I recited multiple times a day was that I could love him again. I asked Jesus to love and forgive him for me until I was able to. It was a terrible time in our marriage. It was a traumatic time for our young and growing family.
So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. ~2Cor 4:16-18
It was at this time in my life though that I realized how beautiful and amazing Elizabeth Ministry truly is. My Chapter provided my family with meals, spiritual support as well as much bonding as sisters in service. I thank God for my Elizabeth Minister friends at St. Francis of Assisi in Bolingbrook, Illinois! God is good, even amidst trials.
Slowly, I grew to truly love my husband through the eyes of Christ. I fell in love with Jesus in the Eucharist while I was pregnant and taking our 4 and 2 year old sons to daily Mass and Adoration. It was at this point that, although it was the lowest time in my physical life, it was the highest in my spiritual life! God carried me through my third pregnancy through the true presence of the Holy Eucharist. Had I not been going to daily Mass and receiving the Precious Body and Blood daily, I don’t know what would be of our family now.
He was officially diagnosed with Low Testosterone in November 2011. Finally, three years later, we learned that my husband was misdiagnosed with GERD and officially has an autoimmune disease, Eosinophilic Esophagitits. Now we are taking steps that will truly help my husband. We are not through the woods yet, but I feel confident saying that God is casting His graces on us as a married couple who strive to love each other the way we both love Christ. The Holy Family is guiding us. I just know it!
No matter what the crosses that you bear in your life, I’m positive that the Holy Family will guide you too. Do not give up. Always keep the faith and rely on Jesus to lift you through!