Childbirth, Tupac and "offering it up"

As the birthday of baby #4 gets closer it occurred to me that, other than offering this Vicodin-inspired quiz, I never talked much about the birth of baby #3. The salient part of the birth story involves an experience that’s hard to put into words, so I’ve avoided writing about it for 18 months. But today I think I’ll try…

Not surprisingly, I find that labor is a great opportunity to think about the topic of suffering. With my first child I was still basically an atheist, so my thoughts on suffering during the difficult 18-hour labor all basically fell in the category of “how to avoid it.” But my second and third children were born after my conversion, leaving me thinking a lot about the topic from a religious perspective.

In the early stages of labor with this last baby, I thought a lot about the idea of “offering it up, ” uniting our own sufferings with Christ’s for the good of someone else. For a while I considered what intention I might want to offer this labor for, but got sidetracked trying to figure out how this redemptive suffering thing works. It’s something I’d puzzled about a lot in the past. I tend to get so overly analytical, I didn’t understand how, specifically, you go from “just suffering” to “offering your suffering to God by uniting it with Christ’s.” I mean, is there some form we fill out where we describe the time and place of the suffering involved, check the “offer it up” box, and submit it to God with our signature? It didn’t seem like simply saying the words that you’re offering your suffering to God would really change anything.

In typical fashion, I always got so caught up in analyzing it that I’d never actually tried it. And in this case too, I just kind of forgot about the idea of offering up my labor because I couldn’t get a full intellectual understanding of how exactly to do it.

Instead I put on my iPod headphones and began my pain management technique of listening to rap. Yes, rap. It’s always been one of my favorite genres of music, and for some reason I find that blasting a good rap song is far better than anything I ever learned in Bradley Method class in terms of labor pain management. I’ve found that Tupac’s songs in particular — the infectious beats mixed with rhythmic laments about the human experience — somehow put me in the right state of mind for coping with great pain.

And, with baby number three, there was plenty of pain to cope with.

Ever since the diagnosis of the blood clotting disorder, all my labors have to be induced and I have to be hooked up to an IV, a few different monitors, and my legs placed in pneumatic boots to prevent blood clots. In other words, I can’t move. Between the machines and wires and boots I can’t even turn on my side. To manage the notoriously painful Pictosin-induced contractions while almost completely immobile is no easy thing, as I was reminded a few hours into my labor that day. Because I’m no fan of needles near my spinal cord, I waited until the pain was shatteringly unmanageable to ask for an epidural.

Unfortunately, there was a problem.

The anesthesiologist had reviewed my charts and wasn’t sure whether or not my medical issues would cause bleeding in the spinal cord if he gave me the epidural, so he needed some make some calls and pull some other charts — after he helped a couple other patients. In other words, the epidural was not coming any time soon. I felt a tinge of panic so severe that I thought I might lose my mind if I gave in to it. I had mentally checked out of dealing with the pain since I thought it was only minutes until it all went away. In the midst of such profound, all-consuming suffering, I didn’t know how to mentally check back in and get back to managing it. I felt myself begin to spiral out of control. I knew that the only way out of this mess was to go through the pain, but it seemed impossible that I could take one more second of it.

Flat on my back, devoured by the gnawing of seemingly unbearable suffering, I did the first thing that came to mind: I turned up the volume on my iPod and tried to lose myself as much as possible in the song that was playing, Tupac’s posthumously released track Changes. I instantly connected with the pain that informed so many of his lyrics, though his pain came from a life growing up amidst violence and gangs, never knowing another way, understanding that this lifestyle he felt so drawn to would mean that his time on this earth would be short. I thought of the old pictures in the video where he grinned freely as a young child [at 2:07 and 3:41 here (explicit lyrics warning)] and felt angry when I contrasted that innocent child’s face to the face of the hardened notorious rapper who became involved in just about every bad thing a person could be involved in, wishing that I could somehow go back in time and shield that young boy from the tumultuous, sinful world he was born into. I thought of Tupac’s painful death in a hospital bed after he’d been hunted down by enemies and shot multiple times, and the fact that he suffered the final ignominy of some of his equally misguided friends mixing his cremated remains with marijuana and smoking them in a joint. I thought of his life, his death, and the lives and deaths of others like him, and worried about their souls.

As a new surge of pain hit me, I decided that I would offer up my suffering for his soul, and for the souls of anyone else who was ever born into a life where the deck was stacked against them from day one.

And there in the midst of suffering so overwhelming that it left me with no mental resources for analysis, I finally got a glimpse of the power of “offering it up.”

When I turned my mind to God in the midst of my agony to offer up my suffering for all the Tupacs of the world, a distinct, almost palpable shift occurred. I realized that instead of just doing everything in my power to get as far away from this pain as possible, I was now saying, “I accept it. If it helps these souls for whom I’m praying, I accept it.” And what did that do? What’s the big difference between trying to escape pain and accepting it for the benefit of someone else? The answer was something I could not have put into words but that I understood on a primal level:

It generates love.

I’m no theologian and don’t know how to defend that statement with high doctrinal analysis, but it’s something I knew with complete certainty in my suffering there in the hospital. That feeling I sensed the moment I turned to Christ crucified and asked him to accept my suffering along with his own for those for whom I prayed was the feeling of an explosion of love. Through suffering, love had been generated where there were only impotent well wishes and kind words before. And though it’s still not something I can put into words, I could feel how God could use such love for the benefit of us all. To put more of that real, meaty love into the world — that kind of love that can only spring from self-sacrifice on behalf of another — is to put more of God himself into the world.

I ended up getting the epidural (that didn’t fully work) only 10 minutes before the baby was born, and my suffering finally passed. But ever since that experience I’ve felt like I finally understand the mystery redemptive suffering a little better, even if I struggle to articulate it. I offer this story not as some thorough explanation of the subject, but more as food for thought in case anyone else finds it interesting. All I know is that, there on the hospital bed, pain and a desire to help a lost soul and the Cross the only things on my mind, I sensed some intimate — possibly inextricable? — connection between love and willingness to suffer, and understood the power of this kind of love to save the world.

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Comments

  1. Susan Thompson says

    Thank you for this beautiful post. Although I had less understanding than you do, I always felt instinctively with the birth of all my children that the pain was not to be refused, that somehow helping to co-create another human being with God is a privilege so great that it is worth some pain. (Full disclosure: I had some Demerol with the first two due to back labor with the first long labors with both of them.)

    I am also thinking about suffering lately. My husband passed away this past Wednesday night after a long, long illness. I walked into the room a couple days after, empty now because they took the hospital bed away, and felt that it was a holy place because someone had suffered there, and because his family had sacrificed to care for him there.

  2. Scarlett says

    I’m always amazed at how you come to such deep understanding of such difficult things. When I don’t understand things like redemptive suffering, or prayer, I just go on not understanding – generally until I come across a relevant explanatory blog post. You seem to have these deep revelations on important issues in the course of daily (well, maybe childbirth’s not exactly a daily occurrence) life – I’m a little jealous!

  3. Rachel Gray says

    Thanks so much for this post. What an amazing thought! I’ve never really felt intense pain so I don’t know the first thing about it, but I think about the many people who suffer in this world, physically and otherwise, and I’m very glad to read your experience and how you could feel that your suffering was putting more love into the world.

  4. Monnie says

    That is profound, Jennifer. As a “cradle Catholic,” I’ve been familiar with “offering it up” for many years…

    But I think it does take an instance like the one you describe to palpably understand the translation of suffering into love. That is one of the mysteries of our Faith: that suffering, which can become love, can become joy.

    I was in a grand church in Spain, one time, and overheard a couple of Americans come across a beautiful (to me), poignant depiction of Our Lady of Sorrows, complete with the seven swords in her heart. One of them remarked to the other something to the effect that that was “gross” and “disgusting.” They couldn’t understand that that is Love.

    As for myself, I’m afraid I understand it all too poorly… if I really understand it at all. But it’s a truth I most certainly accept and embrace. It gives a lot more meaning to life.

    One other thing that comes to mind is a conversation I had with the ARNP with whom I work – she’s also Catholic… She commented one day that, in doing her nursing home rounds, she can always tell which of the patients understand and accept suffering from the Catholic point of view and which do not. She said the former always seem at peace and more-or-less joyful, regardless of their circumstances… and the latter can never be satisfied, are never content.

    Thanks for yet another great post!
    God bless!
    Monica

  5. Monnie says

    Oh! And I meant to say that the timing of this post on offering suffering in union with Our Lord could not have come at a better time, as we approach Lent!

  6. Shauna says

    Hi Jennifer,

    I just discovered your blog about a month ago and I love it. I am new to the Catholic Church so reading your blog has been very helpful.
    I just had my fourth baby in Nov. and it was a different experience for me offering up my pain. I don’t use hospitals and epidurals are not an option so when the contractions got intense I just kept on repeating “thank you Jesus” to myself. It really made me feel good to think my suffering could be offered up.
    I also have vein problems and have to wear medical grade tights my whole pregnancy so I kind of can empathize with you.
    I wish you the best with your next birth.

    God Bless,
    Shauna

    PS I use to love listening to Tupac especially during my first pregnancy. I had to pack those cds away when my kids got older ๐Ÿ™

  7. Lana says

    What a story. I have tried and tried to learn this, but I just can’t seem to. I just want to escape pain NOW. I hide away and wish it would just go away. Even though I want to learn about redemptive suffering and this kind of love, no effort of my intellect has yet allowed me to.
    When it happens, it will be a grace, just as it is clear it was for you.
    I found this post very profound, so thank you.

  8. MamaTod says

    I really struggled with Baby #5’s labor and delivery. After a miscarriage, the loss of a nephew just hours after birth, and the stillbirth of a close friend’s daughter, it had been an emotionally draining pregnancy and I just didn’t feel ready for the birth. It was hard for me, although nothing at all like yours and certainly the staff would have classified it as being normal, but I felt it much harder. Later that night I lay in my hospital room, tired, sore, uncomfortable and had a conversation with God that went something like this: “God, I know I said you could plan my family. I meant that. But it’s my body and I’m pretty beat up and I hurt all over and I don’t want to do this anymore.” He let me talk, for awhile and then, in the depths of my heart He said to me “I died to give you eternal life, can you not endure a few hours of pain to give someone else life?”

    End of conversation, except for my tears of repentance.

    Nineteen years…2 more births, 2 adoptions later, He’s still planning my family. He takes our pain and uses it for a much bigger picture, one with eternal value, one which brings glory to Him, if only we will surrender. It is worth it.

  9. Jasmine says

    Thanks for the post, Jennifer. It's particularly appropriate with Lent approaching. This is a topic I've run into a lot in the past couple of days (is God trying to tell me something?).

    If you're interested:
    A short blog entry actually called "Offer It Up" – http://courageman.blogspot.com/

    An answer by Fr. Vincent Serpa from Catholic Answers on this question – http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=5115&

    A short essay by a priest on the topic – http://www.pacifier.com/~rosarweb/ll49n2.htm

    My prayers for a healthy baby and mom.

  10. Roxane B. Salonen says

    Jennifer, I’ve come to you through Mary at “Not Strictly Spiritual” and so far am enjoying your posts immensely. Thank you so much for sharing your “before” and “after” stories with us cradle Catholics, who need these infusions of what it might be like without our faith to help us appreciate it all the more. Even as a born Catholic, I have not completely understood the “offering it up,” either. In fact, this has been a topic of discussion on our Catholic writers list in the past. I think I will share this link with them.
    Blessings! Roxane (www.roxanesalonen.blogspot.com)
    P.S. I left some info on your “intros” link…

  11. Charlotte says

    i love this:
    “blasting a good rap song is far better than anything I ever learned in Bradly Method class in terms of labor pain management.”

    i’m fascinated by music’s effect on us… music really is a gift.

    it’s hard for me to understand what you mean about offering up your suffering for other souls because I see that as only something Jesus can do/has done. but i’m interested to read more in the link you provided. and, i see the love of God for us that which enables us to suffer for the good of others instead of our suffering producing love. you’ve given me a lot to think about…

  12. Laura says

    Wow, what an incredibly insightful post. I had a similar experience with my third child. It was still early in my conversion when she was due and so I thought I would offer up the pain of delivery. I learned very quickly that once you do that, you are doing it on God’s terms and not your own. My idea of offering up my pain was to get my epidural and then offering up any residual pain that came after that. WRONG. I got the epidural but it never worked (except during the 20 minutes I needed to pray the rosary). Boy was I shocked. Unlike you, however, it took me years to figure out how it really works!

    Thanks for sharing this!

    God Bless!

  13. Sara says

    I wrote recently about people wrestling with “the problem of pain.” Why does God let us suffer? I think you’ve hit upon another part of the answer . . . if God shielded us from all the truly painful things while we’re still trapped in our sinfulness, would we be able to love him and love each other the way we’re supposed to? Maybe, in all of the pain-numbing coping mechanisms that we let Satan talk us into we fall again for the lie of the garden–“God doesn’t really know best. You shouldn’t have to deal with this.”

  14. Nicole says

    This is really beautiful. I have struggled with how to deal with the pain of labor and delivery myself. Thank you for this, it gives me a lot to think about.
    God Bless,
    Nicole

  15. Anonymous says

    Thanks for the post, Jennifer!

    Unlike you, I’m not fond of rap, but I can listen to Tupac. So many of his songs deal with real issues he faced, and I can hear the pain behind his words. It’s heart-breaking, to me.

    I also have had trouble understanding what offering up and uniting your suffering with Christ’s means. I haven’t analyzed it much, because the concept is so foreign I didn’t have any ground from which to analyze it from. But I suppose this might be one of those things I can’t think my way into understanding.

    Reading your post has made me feel an inkling of a beginning of understanding. I reckon that offering it up to Christ gives a bit of meaning to the pain. I’ll try and remember to think about it the next time I get a migraine.

    I don’t suppose you’re too excited about going through that again next month, though. I’ll keep you in my prayers!

    Marissa

  16. Anonymous says

    Wow, I am coming out of the lurking shadows to say you have hit it out of the ballpark once again!!
    I too have procrastinated about offering up my prayers and uniting them to Christ’s suffering. I can say the words, but I didn’t understand how it works. And I wanted to understand it before I did it. It is a concept impossible for us mere mortals to grasp, yet it is so beautiful and so needed in the world today.
    Your words have given me alot to think about. My prayers are with you as you prepare for the birth of your fourth child.

    A fellow traveler

  17. Anonymous says

    Suffering is something so difficult to understand and embrace. Thank you for writing about your experience, which I found insightful and helpful.

    In a related vein, I often read and re-read these thoughts written by St. Edith Stein:

    “To suffer and to be happy although suffering….

    “To have one’s feet on earth — to walk on the dirty and rough paths of this earth and yet to be enthroned with Christ at the Father’s right hand…

    “To laugh and to cry with the children of this world and caseslessly to sing the praises of God with the choirs of angels…

    “This is the life of the Christian until the morning of eternity breaks forth.”

    ~ Nona

  18. Aubrey says

    What a neat post! I have to have cesareans to deliver my kids (all four) and it is hard for me sometimes, emotionally and definitely physically. I decided to offer up any emotional or physical difficulty for those women who were unable to conceive their own children–that is, women whose hearts must be hurting so much more than mine.

    Your suffering has found a worthy cause, a good intention!

    Thank you for sharing this post! ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Mary Poppins NOT says

    I have had similar experiences with birth pain, and how it taps into the eternal pool of love. It is truly a moment of coming to the edge of the abyss, and all eternity is right there. It seems to me that suffering with Christ for the sake of others turns pain into power. The feeling of being victimized by the pain fades, and the power of love takes its place. I am approaching birth about the same time you are. You will be in my prayers!

  20. Jen says

    Thank you for this beautiful post. I’ve never experienced childbirth but I get migraines terribly. This has given me things to think and pray about….instead of praying that I die because of the pain (they’re that bad!) I can pray through them for an intention and “offer up” the pain.

  21. Tara Sz. says

    Wow, chills – and what timing. I am pregnant myself with #1 and have already been agonizing over the decision of what to do for pain during labor, even though the actual day is still nearly six months away. Suddenly, though, I am at peace. No matter what happens, I can offer it up. And this dovetails nicely into some insights you’ve given us from your spiritual director, about infusing love into every situation. Thank you, Jen (for this post, your blog, and introducing me to the Bella Band).

    And lots of prayers for Susan. Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.

  22. Christine the Soccer Mom says

    Great post, and timely, too. I’m sitting my friends’ children while she has baby #3 – by induction! She is at the hospital now, and I’ve been praying my Rosary a little at a time for her today.

    If only I’d known about offering it up when I was pregnant with my girls. I know I can do so after the fact, but it helps alleviate the pain and suffering in ways that you can only “get” if you experience it when you do it at the time. I suppose it’s a mystery that I can accept and just offer it up now. I don’t get the benefits of the knowledge in that moment, but it can still benefit the souls I offer it for.

    God bless, and email me when you’re closer – I’ve got you on my intentions list!

  23. Lovesgarlic says

    Your post on suffering makes me think of these verses from 2 Corinthians 1. “For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.” and continuing “We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.”

    God’s comfort is something that I have been giving a lot of thought.
    I used to think that this comfort was something that would take away the sting of suffering, much like a friend coming alongside to cheer you up, make you feel better or something like that. And maybe sometimes the comfort of God is like that. But other times, it is not like that at all. It is something much more mysterious and hard to pin down. Perhaps it is the appearance of love and true compassion for those around us where there had only been kind thoughts? Or perhaps it is a deferred glory that is brought to Him? That our faithfulness to Him, even when suffering is not ended, when no comfort is given, produces a greater glory and offering to be laid at his feet.

    Thanks for your thoughts on this. Like I said, I have been and am continuing to give this one a lot of thought.

    Heather

  24. Sarah says

    Jenn —

    From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for this post. Like you, I am a convert to the Catholic church and I feel in many ways I am still trying to sort out a lot of aspects of our faith. “Offering up” suffering is one big thing I am still trying to understand, and your post is helping me so much. You really do have a gift for explaining things in easy ways that other people can understand, particularly those who are still grappling with these really confusing theological issues!

    As I write this, I am recovering from passing kidney stones, while living thousands of miles away from my family. Although I could have it a MILLION times worse, suffering is on the forefront of my mind, and I am so thankful I have some direction in how to offer it up to Jesus for His kingdom. Thank you!!!

  25. Elizabeth says

    Now I’ll never have to feel guilty about listening to rap again! Yeeeess!

    ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope I didn’t belittle the point you were trying to make.

    But it’s one of the reasons I like rap: because nothing expresses the magnitude of urban suffering like a good rap song.

    Thanks for this post. It rocked.

  26. Marian says

    Great connection and post. Wish I had more time to think of a concise comment because, as a Christian {former?} birth doula, I have a lot of thoughts on the subject!
    Personally, “Let go” was always a key iternal phrase in my labors. My experience and that of so many women I’ve been with shows that there is power in complete SURRENDER to the process, followed by an embrace of the love and co-creative power of bringing forth life. Physiologically, of course, that’s backed up as the deleterious effects of catecholamines are avoided and the positive effects of natural oxytocin and endorphins kick in.

    May you be blessed in this birth.

    One of my clients gave birth to the Beastie Boys, by the way!

  27. Anne Marie says

    Thanks for this post on a topic I canโ€™t quite wrap my mind around. Redemptive suffering is such a mystery to me, Iโ€™m willing, not eager mind you but willing to suffer for the salvation of souls, but the whole concept is so foreign to everything Iโ€™m accustomed to it just feels odd.

  28. funtohavefun says

    Jen, my labor experiences are not as difficult as the one you related, but I too have found profound meaning in giving birth. My last two births have been at home, to 10 and 11 lb infants at that, and finding the strength to move past the point where you think you can’t do anymore… it very much impacted my outlook on life and death, and how I mother my children.

    What I found in looking through the lens of work was what it really meant to give all for love, without limits. I also had the privilege of relying on my husband’s love and encouragement as together we brought the child we conceived into the world beyond my womb. The experience of giving birth offers so many lessons about God, others and ourselves if we can listen.

    Thank you for such a wonderful post, and blessings on your next birth! ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. Elena says

    I have come to realise with the birth of baby 3 and 4 that we are pretty blessed to have something as potent as labour to offer up. Don’t get me wrong – I would still trade in labour for something less intense. However, the experience is powerful in its redemptive potential. A woman once told me that a friend offered up half of her labour so that the first woman’s lesbian daughter would leave her gay lifestyle. Amazingly, that afternoon (during the labour) the lesbian daughter left her partner with the intention of starting over. Imagine if she had offered up the whole ordeal!! I had already had two children by this point but this woman’s story stayed in my heart and I promised myself that when the next labour came it would definitely be “offered up”. I still need to apply this to morning sickness…
    p.s. love your blog and have been following for a few months from here in canada.

  30. Michelle says

    That was an amazing post. It’s definitely something I am thinking about as I have only a couple of weeks until #2 arrives. I had a fairly good experience with #1. I labored with him for about 12 hours and then had to have a c- section because his head was too big. I don’t actually remember much about pain until afterwards. I was very lucky in that regard. The challenge I’m having now is that we would like a VBAC. I would definitely take a painful delivery if it meant being able to have one. Either way I will be taking your words with me to the delivery room. Hopefully I can offer up my suffering to Christ as well. I am a cradle Catholic and had never looked at it like that before. Very profound. Good luck with your delivery. My prayers are with you.

  31. Cathy says

    Thank you for touching on the depth and power of LOVE. It is so difficult to grasp, but you captured an essence of its power in this post. Thank you. And I will ask the Lord to remind me of “offering it up” the next time I have a kidney stone (which, for me, is a pain worse than my labors or c-sections :).

  32. CS says

    Jen, thank you for your post. I haven’t had a child, but I feel that the way you describe the transfer of pain and suffering can be applicable to other painful situations. Has anyone ever had to say let go of someone that they loved, knowing that it was for the best?
    I can relate in the way that I was in love with a man who was Jewish, and what made it difficult is that the one thing I relied on for my strength – Christ – was, at the same time, what would keep us apart. And in those last moments, when I had to say goodbye to him, I asked for the Holy Spirit to give me the strength to let go gracefully. Instantly, almost tangibly, I felt the strength (or Grace!) of the Holy Spirit in me. It lifted me up, and I could feel the transfer of pure love between me and this man and it was as thought I was lifted away from him by angels.
    So yes, I can relate to what you say about pain and asking God for help. Non-physical pain also be needs to be offered up to God, not that it is eliminated, but we do it for Him.
    ๐Ÿ™‚ I love reading everyone’s comments, just had to share mine. God bless you all.

  33. Melanie B says

    Jen,

    This post is so timely. Strangely, I was just talking with my sister yesterday about the first time I heard the phrase offer it up and how silly and meaningless it sounded. And how I still don’t exactly get it. I mean I get it intellectually; but I don’t understand the mechanics of how exactly I am supposed to do it hear and now. If I have a headache, say. DO I just say, I offer this up? It seems rote and doesn’t seem to make any difference and I always wonder if I’m doing it wrong. I must be missing something in the how to offer things up. I’m starting to get glimpses of how it works, specifically how it can work in my life.

    I know I have had moments of living redemptive suffering. Sort of like you I had a very powerful experience during childbirth. In my case with my firstborn, which actually was a c-section, I had a very strong feeling laying there immobile and in pain with my arms stretched straight out in a cruciform position that I was united in love with Christ on the cross. But I completely lost that with my second c-section and just felt pain. Tried to pray but was overwhelmed by panic and a feeling of I can’t do this. I’m not sure what the difference was. But in any case it wasn’t for me so clearly linked with love for a specific person and I think that element of your story, the connection with Tupac, really spoke to me. I’ve got to think about this some more. I’m still not sure I completely get it; but you’ve given me a slightly different direction to explore.

  34. Andrea Frazer - Pass the Zoloft says

    Beautiful. My biggest suffering sometimes is emotional, not physical, but the idea is the same.

    I’d also like to throw in that for your fourth birth you listen to Country! It’s not easy for some of those men to look all sexy in their hats, boots and tight jeans, but they manage. If Tupac fails, I say birth one for the cowboys!

  35. Jenny says

    Not to get off topic, but would you still have had the epidural if you knew birth was so imminent? It would have bummed me out to get an epidural for just 10 minutes.

  36. foursure says

    I was so fortunate to read Matthew Lickona’s description of offering up the pain of labor (by his wife) right before my 4th child. I offered my natural childbirth experience for my agnostic mother and another non-believing friend. It was transformative. Soon after, I heard my mother say a prayer for the first time in my 38 years. She’s not had a conversion, but I believe those prayers were answered.

  37. SuzyQ says

    Thank you for this amazing post!
    Just a beautiful way of explaining something so profound.
    You have deepened my understanding.
    God Bless :0)

  38. Rebecca says

    What a great post! I am a cradle catholic, and I really think I’ve learned more from reading your blog in the last few weeks than in 29 years of church going. I strongly believe that “The teacher will appear when the student is ready.” I thank-you for being one of the teachers, as I was very ready. One of my New Years’ Resolutions was to become a more educated believer…I often felt like my faith was blind. I thank-you again for helping me on this journey.
    Best wishes with Baby #4!

  39. Beth says

    Jen, what a great post. I have a 23 month old daughter and when I was about to have her, I decided that I would compile a list of friends intentions and offer up individual contractions. I sent out an email and posted on my blog and within an hour we had 3 pages single spaced of intentions. When the time came, offering up contractions for specific intention was AMAZING! It was such a great experience. I am going to do it again in a few months with this kid. I mean, how often do we get this kind of opportunity?? I hope you don’t mind if I link to this post!

  40. Monnie says

    I was reading some of the words of St. Therese (of Lisieux) this evening and came across this quote, which seemed perfectly apropos to this topic:
    “Let us embrace suffering, otherwise Jesus will not be able to say ‘now it is my turn to give you something.’ “

  41. Anonymous says

    Wow, thanks! I think this is the first time I’ve ever felt compassion towards rappers and the people who relate to rap music and lyrics.

  42. Karie, the Regular Guy's Extraordinary Wife says

    Dear Jen,

    I had a similar experience with #4. Although I was having a c-section, the anesthesia did not completely take effect. My level of anxiety increased and so did the pain. I was crying and scared until I realized that I should “get up on the cross” with Jesus. I opened my heart and said, “Jesus, I am with you”. I remember still feeling the pain, but just riding wave after wave of love while united by suffering. It was exhausting, but one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I am joyful that you also were able to participate in “offering it up”. God bless you.

  43. Pam H. says

    The best explanation for redemptive suffering I’ve ever read is in the book The Inner Search by Dom Hubert von Zeller. I think it’s out of print, but I found a used copy online. I think it’s in the chapter on Sanctity and Suffering. Basically, as long as we are in a state of grace, and don’t rebel against the suffering, the suffering can be united with Christ’s. Even if there is bodily rebellion out of weakness, but not willful consent to the rebellion. It’s because, as Christians, we ARE the mystical Body of Christ (St. Paul). Therefore, our sufferings ARE Christ’s sufferings. No other explanation needed.

  44. a reader says

    I don’t know if you will see this, but Pam H., does “rebelling” against the suffering include taking measures to limit it, such as seeking medication? Or is it a matter of having a complaining attitude toward unavoidable suffering, even if it is a short wait until medication is available or takes effect?

  45. heartafire says

    WHOA….
    As a former L&D nurse, I really really can relate to this experience.
    There are some people who just have a stronger inner life than others, and are able to channel this pain. No one escapes it, but wow, what a great description.

    What a beautiful beautiful concept—that what was intended for evil, God was able to turn into good. Pain into Love. Wow.

    I like rap, too, and I think part of it has to do with the use of pain/trouble/suffering and how that is played out and turned into something artistic.

    Love your blog.

  46. Anna says

    I’m curious… will you seek to get an epidural (earlier) with this upcoming birth, or will you refuse an epidural in order to offer it up instead?

  47. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary says

    I’m curious… will you seek to get an epidural (earlier) with this upcoming birth, or will you refuse an epidural in order to offer it up instead?

    Good question! I’ve been thinking about that. I think I’ve decided to just wait and see what feels right at the time.

  48. Anna says

    Jen,

    You might also try asking God if he wants you to have the epidural or not – maybe bring it up at adoration (if you go before you give birth!) ๐Ÿ™‚ Good luck, either way.

  49. Lenetta @ Nettacow says

    Thank you for linking back to this – I didn't have a blog then and I linked to it on this week's roundup. Happy Thanksgiving!

Trackbacks

  1. […] which are clear on my first day postpartum). I specifically remembered Jennifer’s post about offering it up. I wanted to sob as I prayed that Jesus would be glorified through my pain. I can only hope that He […]