Suffering & Joy


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A beautiful reflection from a mum who chose life for her child with spina bifida in relation to Easter.  A little out of season but still beautiful.  That’s what life is. Beautiful.

Adele and Paul with their son Eli

Just over a year ago I went for a twenty week scan for my first child, my husband and I were told he had spina bifida.  Approximately a week later we were posed the question; ‘did we want to continue with the pregnancy?’ My husband and I are Catholic, so abortion was never going to be an option we would choose.

More than our strong beliefs around abortion, our love for our son Eli was so strong that no doctor could put a price or worth on him. Eli is God’s gift to us; our gift to share with the world.

For us Catholics, now is the season of Lent, a time for reflection and prayer. In my very short time of being a mother I have realised that all of us at some stage have been afraid of struggle. What my son has taught me in his nearly 11 months with us is that struggle never has to be an obstacle to love, in fact sometimes it can be the greatest sign of love.

This year, for the first time, I will experience Holy week as a mother. It now has new meaning for me.

When I was pregnant with Eli, I knew he would suffer and I knew that Paul and I would suffer with him, what I did not prepare myself for was the love that is poured out in suffering and the profound joy that can be found in the little moments and achievements.

I think of Jesus in the agony of the garden, asking his Father if it was His will to let this cup pass Him by.  I remember the moment I found out about Eli’s spina bifida, knowing my son would endure pain and suffering I had never faced, and never wanted any child of mine to face.

I think of Jesus on the cross, I remember Eli going in for his second surgery and my heart feeling like it was going to break with the lack of control over my son’s pain.

I also think of the love and mercy Jesus poured out for those He loved on that cross, and the fact that despite his struggle and agony in the garden he still healed a soldier’s ear severed off by violence. Jesus’ struggle and pain was never an obstacle to love.

My son has touched so many people with each smile and laugh, why does his smile and laugh touch others so deeply? – Because he has struggled, because he knows pain and he still loves.

My son teaches me every day that you have a choice – you can choose to focus on the struggle or see the opportunity to be Jesus, and show how deep your love and mercy runs, to share your love with the world despite your struggle and pain.

Some struggles are given to us for no explainable reason, I have found myself crying out why me?, why Eli?

However the answer is simple, it is not about the why or even the answer but about how much love we as a family can give no matter the pain or hardship we face. How can we live the Passion and resurrection as a family? This year I have struggled and hurt more deeply than I ever imagined but I have also loved more deeply than I ever knew was possible.

Whatever your cross is, please don’t give up, but take hope in the fact that Jesus has walked this path first and can give you the strength this Easter to love more deeply than before, through whatever struggle and pain you may be facing.


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