I’ve had pain and suffering on my mind a lot lately. Don’t worry, it isn’t S.A.D.-induced depression; it’s the birth classes Charles and I have been attending. The first half of each class generally involves learning a new relaxation technique, which usually translates into Charles (aka- my birth coach!) giving me a massage for a half hour or so. That part’s great. But the second half of class–that’s the frightening part. That’s when we watch birth videos. Natural birth videos. Videos of naked, sweaty, primal, pregnant women moaning in agony as they progress through labor. It’s like something out of National Geographic.
Ironically, watching these terrifying videos is supposed to help us prepare for and confidently approach our own natural childbirth. The verdict is still out on that front. However, I’m growing more and more attached to the idea of being able to offer up my sufferings for the intentions of others.
The teaching of “redemptive suffering” is one of my favorite parts of Catholicism. It basically says that we who suffer are able to offer up our sufferings in union with Christ’s passion and death, and that our suffering can bring about grace for whomever we’re offering our sufferings for. It is a way of imitating Christ, because he himself offered up his suffering to the Father, for the sake of humanity.
It is carrying the cross.
It is love and suffering intertwined.
So, the next time you find yourself in the midst of suffering, whether it be a migraine headache, a frustrating day at work, or a colicky baby at home, remember that your suffering is a gift. It is a chance to become more like Christ, and to seek the good of those around you. I pray that I might be able to deny myself a little more and to unite my sufferings to Christ.