2014 was a tough, hard year for my family. It was so difficult, that my husband and I decided to write it off. We knew that no matter how hard our year was, that our life could only get better. As my husband says, "you can't fall out of a basement."
A few mere days before our daughters 1st birthday, my father-in-law succumbed to the trials of ALS. May eternal rest be granted onto him. Only a couple of hours after Jim passed from this life into the next, I underwent my second sinus surgery. The trials for my husband on that day were great. He lost his father and watched his wife get wheeled back to the operating room. I married a strong man.
A few months after that fateful day, my young children and I flew to Colorado for what was supposed to be a fun family vacation with grandparents and extended family while my husband worked hard on a campaign in Montana. It was supposed to be our Rocky Mountain adventure. Instead, it was an adventure of fighting for my life.
I fell ill with such bad stomach pain that I could not stand up and was repeatedly blacking out. I was in the Emergency Room a few times before they finally admitted me. They discovered that my gallbladder had failed, so they removed it. But this wasn't the only problem. After many days in the hospital and many tests, they diagnosed me with acute gastritis and Gastroparesis. Literally translated, Gastroparesis means that my stomach is paralyzed. I spent the summer of 2014 in and out of hospitals and was even admitted to the Mayo Clinic hospital. Throughout everything, I wanted God to use my sufferings and offered them for the forgiveness of sins and the conversion of sinners. I selfishly offered these prayers because I wanted the pain and suffering to have a purpose. I remember the doctors standing over my hospital bed using the word, "deadly" over and over again because they were trying to keep my stomach from becoming perforated from my illness. My strong, amazing uncle unexpectedly died from a similar situation almost a year after my diagnosis in 2014.
Writing about my suffering is a challenge for me. I don't like to admit my weaknesses. However, I share my story with you only so that you can see the redemption that came from our horrific 2014. Today is Good Friday. My family's suffering and the pain that I have endured (and still endure) is minuscule compared to the scourging at the pillar that my Lord suffered through for my sake. When I behold the wounds and the stigmata of Christ, none of my suffering can ever compare to what our beloved Lord suffered.
While my body was fighting to survive, I discovered that my inner self was only just beginning a new adventure. During my time of recovery, I noticed that when I was sick, that I had a closer relationship with Christ. As I got better, I missed the closeness that I felt to Christ during my moments of brokenness and weakness. When we are empty and broken, we find our God. When we are removed from distractions of the world, we find our time with Christ as more fulfilling than anything that our worldly efforts can give us. This is redemption.
My redemption was that I became more devout. Through the grace of God, I have found other ways to remain close to God as opposed to excruciating pain. These ways include frequent visits to the confessional, daily Rosary prayers, praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and instructing young children about the love of Christ. I would not be where I am today, nor would I be as peaceful and happy if I had not suffered first. That is redemption.
As for my family, we found that 2014 made us stronger. We can endure anything so long as we have each other and so long as we unite our sufferings with Christ's sufferings. As we bring this Lenten season to a close and await our risen Savior, may we never forget the sufferings that Christ offered out of love for us in order to open the gates of Heaven. There is no greater love than this.
"Fear nothing. On the contrary, consider yourself very fortunate to have been made worthy to participate in the sufferings of the Man-God." -St. Padre Pio