As she sat across from us, her pain was almost palpable. A family friend sat with my then-fiancé and I as she lamented about her oldest son’s behavior problems. He struggled with nutrition, attention deficit and general disobedience. As she went on, she eventually divulged the real, haunting, deep truth behind her struggle. The root of her pain wasn’t her son’s difficulties, but rather her own guilt. She explained that her son had been conceived out of wedlock and she felt that her sin was the reason for his problems as he grew. This woman felt that her son was being punished for her impurity.
You know, it’s amazing how the devil tricks us into believing sin is no big deal when we are tempted with it only to then convince us that our sin is too big of a deal for God to forgive once we have committed it. My husband didn’t miss a beat as he began to speak truth to her. “Your son isn’t a child of sin; he is a child of mercy. God’s all encompassing plan is so big, that it can cover even our sins. Our God can bring a good out of every evil if only we let Him.”
Years later this same friend pinpointed this day as a pivotal moment in her walk toward healing. She began to see that God didn’t give her punishment for her sin, but a miracle instead. Finally, she was free to help her son carry His cross with Christ’s strength rather than her own.
Flash-forward thirteen years and now I am a parent as well. I can say without a doubt that it is the most wonderful and most difficult thing I will ever do. The reality is that many times it feels like I am letting my heart walk around outside my body. Hands down, my kids are the greatest miracle I have ever witnessed. It wasn’t a coincidence that God set up the family and later declared that “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20).
For our friend and for many facing unplanned pregnancies, the thought of a child is terrifying. Yes, a child changes everything especially when conceived outside of marriage. However, it is the habit of our God to make miracles out of our messes. We only have to look at the image of the cross and the echo of the Resurrection to see that this is how God operates.
January is Right to Life month as we commit to pray for the many women in turmoil as they confront an unplanned pregnancy. In a world that emphasizes hate, let us pray for these children of mercy! Jesus declared that, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me” (Matt 18:5). God doesn’t promise our lives will be easy, but He promises great fruits from those who trust in His ways. Whether you’re broken, impure, struggling with your sexuality, pregnant, addicted or lonely, God wants to hide you in His wounds. Our God is a Father that desires not to work in spite of your weakness but through it. Lord, show us the fruits of your mercy.
Katie Hartfiel is the author of Woman In Love, which chronicles her developing a relationship with the Lord as her First Love allowed Him to mold her for her Second Love (vocation). Katie received her Theology degree from Franciscan University of Steubenville. She served as a youth minister for seven years in Houston, where she now resides with her husband, Mark, and three daughters. For more on Katie and her books, visit www.womaninlove.org.