“Receive the gift that you are.”

Upon hearing this message at GIVEN, my mind immediately went to the gifts and talents that God equipped me with. I thought of everything I can offer the world because of these things. However, I needed to take a step back. The fundamental reason that I am a gift is because I was created.

When I ponder creation and how reproduction works, I recognize that there are high chances of me not existing at all. But I am here and I’m me, so obviously that is what was supposed to happen. God created me because of love, and I am held into existence by love. I am a gift because I have life in me.

Two pregnancies and a reflection by Saint John Paul II have helped me to explore this concept of gift deeper in my heart.

My Experience with Miscarriage

Miscarrying my first baby has really colored my view of life.

It challenged me to reexamine my life and the gift of life itself. I began reflecting and wondering why, in our world, we act like children are a commodity that we get with marriage. We plan so stringently our timing for having them as if they are part of OUR life plan. This is how I felt when I was preparing to get married, but God’s plan was different. One month after getting married, I unexpectedly got pregnant for the first time. I cried tears of joy when I saw that positive test. I remember being distinctly aware of how hard it is for some other women to achieve pregnancy and how lucky I felt. This was the first recognition of the gift that a child’s life is, one we cannot earn or take for granted. However, I quickly shifted focus back to my own plans as I thought about having tons of kids, as if having them would be easy, and imagining MY perfect life.

Again, God had other plans. After a few weeks, we lost our baby, and it was difficult to let this gift go so soon. It was difficult to let go of my plans of being a mother and all that I had started to imagine for my life. Immediately, I held that place in my life, still desperately wanting to be a mother instead of continuing at my current job. I didn’t want to let God’s plans reign. Over time, however, I began to recognize and see clearly that the baby was never mine to keep but was a good and gracious gift from God.

Embracing Each Moment of Entrustment

A few months later, as the GIVEN Forum approached, I was provided with a meditation on givenness from Saint John Paul II that really furthered what I was learning in my heart about the gift of life.

“Motherhood is the first form of entrustment of one man to another. The word ‘entrustment’ is especially important here. ‘God wants to give another person to you’ means that God wants to entrust that other person to you. And to entrust means that God believes in you, trusts that you are capable of receiving the gift, that you are capable of embracing it with your heart, that you have the capacity to respond to it with a gift of yourself.” (A Meditation on Givenness, 874-875)

This really struck me. The premise that life is entrusted to us and that we must respond with the gift of ourselves remained on my heart for a while. It really put things into perspective for me as I saw that each day we are given and entrusted with another soul is to be cherished. Every day is not promised or earned but rather a gift that we must respond to with the gift of ourselves. I was struck that entrustment is really a moment-to-moment thing and should not be taken for granted. It has helped me to see the time I had with my child differently.

Thinking more about this call to respond with the gift of ourselves reminded me that I should be open and vulnerable to the gift of life. It is easier to be scared or to avoid giving a new pregnancy the love and joy it deserves, holding it at arm’s length because it has no promised longevity. Being pregnant again for a second time has offered me this choice to respond with the gift of myself. It has helped me to embrace the reality that no one is promised another day. I have chosen to celebrate and embrace each moment I am entrusted with this unique soul dancing around and growing in my womb. My husband and I pray each day for the safety of our baby but recognize that each day with our yet unborn child is a perfect and irreplaceable gift.

Emily Patteson, GIVEN ’21

Emily Patteson is a biochemist by training with a passion for bringing together science and faith topics. She resides in Lansdale, Pennsylvania with her husband, where she recently welcomed her first child and is discerning where the Lord is calling her along with being a stay-at-home mom. In her free time, she enjoys writing her blog, getting involved at her parish, leading Soul Core, and running.