The Reversal, Part 2: A Change of Heart

Part 1

Part 2:
The winter of early 2000 found us living in a city far from our families, with Jay out of work and both of us depressed.  We had four young children from 2 to 9 years old, were living in a tiny house and trying to homeschool.  We felt alone and overwhelmed.

The tiny house, 900 square feet, two bedrooms and a wet basement.

The tiny house, 900 square feet, two bedrooms and a wet basement.

Our four amazing children, whose smiles and laughter pulled us through a very hard winter. Side note: Our house was so tiny, we put up half of our Christmas tree, so it could be flat against the wall.

Our four amazing children, whose smiles and laughter pulled us through a very hard winter.
Side note: Our house was so tiny, we put up half of our Christmas tree, so it could be flat against the wall.

I began to attend a local protestant mega-church on Wednesdays, just as a way to get out of the house.  Doing that reminded me that what my heart needed most of all was the comfort Jesus could give me.  I began to question why I was Catholic and think about returning to my protestant roots.  During this time, my good friend mentioned that she had received some interesting tapes about different Catholic topics, and felt convicted to pray the rosary more often.  She asked if I would commit to do it with her. I responded that I wasn’t even sure if I believed in praying the rosary any more. She told me the tapes she got were free and maybe those would help me sort out my confusion.

So I ordered the tapes.  They were free, so why not?  The first one I listened to was Scott Hahn’s conversion story.  Suddenly I realized that there were answers out there to all of my unasked questions and nagging nebulous doubts. When I went through the RCIA to convert to Catholicism years earlier, our class was all about being together and supporting each other and was very light on what the Church actually taught.  I had a few specific questions that stood out from my protestant upbringing, but hadn’t bothered to dig far beyond those and find out what being Catholic really meant.  Now I knew that I was faltering because of those unanswered questions.  So I began to ask them, and I began to read.  As I read, Jay began to listen to some of the tapes too, and began to ask some questions.  So we both began to read, to pray, and to talk and to read and pray some more. The two months he was out of work became almost a retreat for us as we puzzled together what our faith really was all about, about who we were and who God is and what a gift He has given us in His church.

Jay asked me one day if I had listened to a specific tape, “The Secret to Happy Families” and I told him I hadn’t gotten to that one yet. He said, “It’s not what you think it’s about. You should listen to it.” With that as a teaser, I popped it in as soon as I had the chance.

It turns out the whole tape – the whole secret – was about contraception and it’s affect on families. I couldn’t believe it! As they talked about it though, I began to understand, how we need to accept each other fully and how contraception works against that, how our children understand that when we close ourselves so decisively to other children we are commenting on them as well.

I looked at my own family, how my attitude had changed toward them over the past year and a half.  I still loved my children with all my heart but there was a slight shifting in how I viewed them.  Raising them was a hard time to be pushed through and no longer a daily celebration.

There came a day when I sat on our tiny living room floor surrounded by paperwork as I readied our taxes.  The kids would run back and forth, stepping on piles or knocking them all over. As I worked I listened to that tape one more time and suddenly I got it.  The concept sunk in, and in spite of the irritation of trying to work in chaos I saw that this was all a gift.  These children were blessings.  BLESSING.  Blessing that I had been treating as if it was my cross to bear, my hardship to live through.  I had caved in to the idea that my life was all about me and what I could get out of it and not about what I could give and now I saw this tremendous opportunity opening up before me.  My life was not on hold until they were old enough for me to “get something done”.  This was my life right there.

I shared all of this with Jay and he had been feeling the same way. He turned to me and said, “Jenni, I want to have more children with you.”  Words that lifted me up in a way I can’t really describe.  I think only someone who has felt like she had to apologize to her husband for being pregnant could really understand the depths of those words and the complete love and acceptance I felt in them. We both went to confession and resolved that we would find some way to have a vasectomy reversal.

Being suddenly on fire for the faith didn’t change our situation, though.  We were still alone and out of work. We made the decision to return to Arizona.  It was a little humiliating to crawl back, just 5 months after moving away, but we knew it was the right thing to do. With help from our families, we were able to move back and get settled again in Arizona.  Over the next few months, we saved pennies, bought a tiny house, kept reading and praying, and made plans to have Jay’s vasectomy reversed.

The Reversal, Part 3: The Trip

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