Have you ever experienced a moment you want to engrain in your memory forever?
You know, those moments where you ever find yourself searching your surroundings, memorizing every minute detail in hopes that you’ll forever recall, for example, the slightly-askew books on the dusty corner shelf, the yogurt-covered bowl from breakfast perched on the sofa beside you, and the piece of fuzz in the northwest-most corner of the carpeting.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has found herself breathtakingly gazing out the window in hopes of never forgetting the exact ambiance from the cold November air, interrupted faintly by the slight sunshine breaking its way through the thin layer of gray winter clouds.
This is precisely where I am right now. I want to forever remember the exact feeling cozying into this oddly green-colored oversized couch, surrounded by a lopsided pile of homemade pillows, slowly exhaling into the reality that my. life. will. never. be. the. same.
You see, I’ve just learned there is another life inside of me.
I can’t see this life. This life can’t be heard. At this early stage, I’m not feeling any physical reminder of this life, like morning sickness. I haven’t told my family. I haven’t told my friends. There is no baby bump.
Life on this beautifully average, winter day seems business as usual. Except it’s not business as usual. There really is a new life inside me. And. This. Changes. Everything.
From this point on, I can’t deny this child. I can’t move through life as if I’m not a mother. For the next eight or so months, everywhere I go, two souls go. And, although the world is, at present, blissfully unaware of the second soul belonging to this tiny child, this soul, in fact, exists.
As I sit here reflecting, slowly sipping my French vanilla cappuccino and sinking deeper into my plush perch as the reality sinks deeper into my being, my attention is drawn to something else the world is all too often unaware of: God.
God exists or He doesn’t: there is no in-between.
Just like this tiny life inside me either exists or doesn’t, there is no partial existence for God. There is no such thing as a half-baked, on-again-off-again, “press the easy button” when you need Him God, regardless of how aware the rest of the world may be.
St. Anselm talks about God as being that above which nothing else can be imagined: He is being itself. There is no ontological opt-in for God. He’s not there when we think of Him (just because we are) and gone when we don’t (just because we aren’t). If that were the case, He wouldn’t be God — or at least how Catholics understand God to be.
It almost feels like a distant reality, knowing that there is a child inside of me. It is a reality that, as the overflow of joy settles into anticipatory peace, I find myself mentally echoing to myself, repeatedly feeling that I don’t truly believe it yet. It’s as if I need to seize myself by the shoulders and gently shake, waking myself up to this actuality.
It. Seems. Unreal.
And yet, it’s a fact: my child is nestled ever so secretly within me. Despite the ordinary reality of today and the obliviousness of the world, this life is present. And That. Reality Will. Absolutely. Change. My. Life.
And if God is real, regardless of the awareness of the world, That. Reality. Should. Absolutely. Change. Our. Lives.
But what if we’re wrong about God?
Blaise Pascal (perhaps you’ve heard of Pascal’s Triangle?) has somewhat of an argument for the existence of God. It’s called Pascal’s Wager. I say “somewhat” because he’s not trying to convince his readers God exists; rather, he’s trying to compel them that, since, according to Pascal, we can’t know the existence of God beyond our human doubt, we might as well assume He exists in the hope of gaining eternal life.
In short, Pascal’s Wager is articulated as such: either God exists or He doesn’t, and either we believe in Him or we don’t. This leaves us with four options:
- If we believe in Him and He doesn’t exist, we lose only the perceived inconveniences religious observance puts on our lives.
- If we don’t believe in Him and He doesn’t exist, well, we’ve neither gained nor lost anything.
- If we don’t believe in Him and He does exist, we’ve lost absolutely everything, including eternal communion with God.
- And if we believe in Him and He does exist, then We’ve. Gained. Absolutely. Everything.
When it comes to this life inside of me, I don’t have to wager a guess. And, as time moves on, I am going to be reminded repeatedly that I am preparing to welcome this child into the world.
In a couple of months, I’ll begin to feel the baby move. I’ll experience my body shifting and changing as it makes room for this growing gift. And, in what seems now to be the far distant future, at some point I’ll feel my body prepare to welcome this child into the world.
Sometimes it may feel like we live in a world that is seemingly oblivious to God’s existence. Or maybe you can understand that He exists, but aren’t really sure what bearing that has on your life.
Try experiencing Him. The Hebrew word for knowing is יוֹדֵעַ, pronounced “yada,” and it’s a different kind of knowing than knowing that 1+1=2. It’s a knowing that comes from experience.
I know how to make homemade pierogi not because I saw it on television: I know because I’ve done it. I know what it means to be pregnant not because I’ll have confirmed lab work and google “what to expect when pregnant”: I’ll know because I’ll see my baby on an ultrasound and feel his or her movements.
I know God exists not because I’ve had every shadow of rational doubt resolved; I know because I’ve experienced His mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, His presence in the Eucharist, and I’ve experience the reality of God as creator through the beauty of His creation.
Regardless of whether or not I know in my mind, I know these things in my heart.
Being one month pregnant has given me a new perspective on what it means that God exists, regardless of whether or not the world is aware, just as my child exists, despite the fact that the world is not aware.
And. Both. These. Facts. Are. Absolutely. Life-changing.