It was Holy Thursday, and I was dreading my follow-up appointment with my NaPro doctor that afternoon. Our previous medical protocol had not worked, and I knew our doctor was going to discuss exploratory surgery. To make matters worse, my workday had unraveled, resulting in an unpleasant encounter just before our appointment. Altogether, the day left me sobbing, exhausted, and unable to attend Holy Thursday Mass.
My husband and I planned to discern surgery over the Easter weekend. It was the worst Easter I have experienced. Divine Mercy Sunday weekend granted us an unfortunate encounter in the Confession line; a parishioner ignorantly questioned us about our marriage and lack of child(ren), resulting in my escape to the bathroom for a cry. During a season when hope should abound, hope was devoid. Desolation reigned. When I wanted to feel Christ with me most, He felt gone.
We agreed to surgery, thinking that perhaps this would lead us to a more formal diagnosis with solutions. However, I was utterly terrified of the procedure. I had never undergone surgery before. The word “exploratory” was scary. What if I was putting my body through this for nothing? What if whatever was found couldn’t be helped? Why is my body failing me? What did I do to cause this curse?
The months leading up to the surgery left me bleak and worn out. That is, until I shared my feelings and the next step on this infertility journey with my women’s group. One of the women had also experienced laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis. We had a lovely coffee date, and her testimony eased some of my fears. I reached out to my Creighton practitioner for success stories of healing, and she prayed the most powerful, beautiful prayer over me.
I also confided in two sweet work friends who have had laparoscopy for endometriosis. I shared my fears and struggles with them, and they sympathized with me. They helped me prepare my expectations for the recovery period, and one even gave me her seatbelt pillow from past surgeries so that I could use it for the long-distance ride home post-surgery.
We visited our wonderful priest, who had married us, and shared our struggles with infertility and the nasty spiritual attacks I was encountering. This priest taught us a meditative prayer technique that I have continued since. Afterward, in my prayer ahead of my surgery, I kept hearing the Matthew 11:28-30 passage, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. … For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
A week before my scheduled surgery, I experienced an indescribable “God Moment” during Sunday Mass. To this day, to recall this encounter brings a flood of joy-filled tears to my eyes. After months of loneliness and isolation, Jesus spoke to me in the Eucharist.
While walking back to my pew, having just consumed the Eucharist, I felt Jesus say to me: “Just as you have consumed Me in the Eucharist now, I am in you, and you are in Me. The surgery you are having done is also being done to Me. Each incision of yours, is also Mine. We are in this together. The pain you feel is the pain I feel, and I felt it on the Cross. You are My body now, and I go where you go. I am also in the hands of your surgeon; his hands are My hands of healing.”
The consolation and relief to feel God with me in that moment was an overwhelming and very welcome blessing. And yet, I also was overcome with an emotion of unworthiness that God is within me and experiencing my pain. I didn’t want Him to have to experience my sorrow. But I remembered that God willingly accepted the Passion of the Cross on my behalf, out of deep love for me. God freely shares the burden of my suffering, and in that I can aid in consoling His heart.
About this time, I read The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander. I didn’t realize her words would be just what I needed to hear. In her book, Houselander describes the attributes of Mary that we are called to emulate. But in true Marian fashion, the book reveals more about drawing closer to Jesus. Houselander describes how God goes away from us so that we may seek Him. “The emptiness must be there that He may fill it; and we must be aware of it in order that we may want Him to fill it,” she says. In the chapter titled “Our Seeking,” Houselander describes acting in faith that God is within us, “This act of faith brings peace: It silences the noise of distraction, the loud business of fear. … The only way to God, when we are tired out, is the simplest wordless act of faith.” Truly believing in God’s presence within me and relying on my faith in Him was what I needed to find Him.
Heading into my surgery, I was at peace. My husband also remarked how unconcerned I appeared for someone who can be anxious! I knew Jesus had me in His hands. I had my meditative Jesus prayer in my heart.
Following surgery, I learned I had confirmed endometriosis excised, a bi-lateral ovarian wedge resection for PCOS, and benign (thankfully!) tumors removed. Praise God for a successful procedure and treatment all in one!
I recently heard of someone making a reference to those who help us during times of suffering as being the “Marys” and “Johns” in our lives. Just as Mother Mary and St. John remained with Jesus at the foot of His Cross, my dear husband, priest, friends, and even Caryll Houselander were with me in my time of grief surrounding my surgery and post-operative recovery. While we still await our little miracle and subsequent medical treatments, remembering this “God Moment” and the generosity of my little community help me during times of sorrow along this marathon of a journey.
This post was written by an anonymous Springs in the Desert author.