Thursday, December 04, 2008

And We Shall be Changed

Motherhood changes you. Motherhood changes you forever in ways you might expect and also in ways you'd never know and could never have anticipated. When a new life is conceived within her, a woman becomes something new-- something she can't fully comprehend in the moment, but that unfolds over time like the petals of a rose in bloom. She becomes a mother. This a beautiful truth and the underlying reality behind a similar, but tragic truth: Abortion changes you.

When my first son was just a few weeks old, I took him to the pediatrician for a routine visit. When the nurse placed him on the scale, we saw that he had gained a considerable amount of weight since his last appointment. He was thriving. "Very good," the nurse said handing my child back to me. He was healthy. It was good. And then suddenly it was something more...

Much to my surprise, I was overcome by a wave of pride that washed through my entire body, this warm and glowing feeling of dizzying accomplishment. I had never before, or since, felt anything like it. I wondered about it on the drive home. Where could such a feeling have come from? What was it about?

The best I could understand it then and even now is that all the concerns of pregnancy and birth and caring for a newborn, the physicality and detail of it all melted away for a moment and I saw for the first time in that tiny medical office how I had changed and who I had become. I had become a source of life and a sustainer of life. A beautiful boy who had not been in the world a few short months before was now here and was thriving. I was a cause of this life, of his growing strength and of his obvious health. Nothing I had ever done up to that point had even come close to being so hugely important, so eternally significant. I had become a mother.

That is why I find stories like these so sad. Mothers who choose abortion are still mothers. Even the pro-choicers talk about the health of the "mother." If she is a mother, then where is her child? Abortion does not take motherhood away. Abortion does not undo motherhood. Women who choose abortion are mothers and they have been changed forever. To their surprise, many come to experience feelings opposite of those feelings of pride and accomplishment that I unexpectedly felt at my young son's doctor's appointment. Many lose a sense of self worth, fall into depression and engage in destructive behaviors. I feel deeply for these women and hope that they find healing this Advent and Christmas season.

As Catholics, and especially during this season of expectation and nativity, we honor the motherhood of Mary. She was the mother not of a "blob of tissue" before His birth and not simply of a human nature after His birth. Mary, the Church affirmed in the early centuries and for the preservation of the true faith, is the mother of a person as all mothers are mothers of persons. Mary is blessed among women and a mother to us all because that person is the second Person of the Divine Trinity, the Word of the Father, the First Born into the resurrection, the God man, Jesus Christ, who saved us all from death and offers us eternal life. And there is the hope. In Him, all can find healing. In Him, all are changed.