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Raising The Bar

alec vanderboom

In 19 days (or less) I'll enter into serious Spiritual Combat with my 4th c-section at a Catholic Hospital. This hospital has a gorgeous statue of our Blessed Mother in the front courtyard and 24 hour a day Adoration. The priests are wonderful. The Sisters are wonderful. Everyone who attends Daily Mass is wonderful.

Then there is the maternity ward staff, which somehow are not wonderful. Satan did a fantastic job of terrifying me after the birth of my third child at this same Catholic Hospital in 2007.

It's nuts how many crazy doctors, nurses and pediatricians we ran into during my hospital stay with Baby Maria. I'm talking seriously crazy. The Ped that was looking after my hefty 10 pound baby girl actually told me less than 24 hours after her birth "You will kill your baby if you insist on breastfeeding her exclusively! We've already had 2 deaths from breastfeeding at (insert the name of my HMO) this year!"

I sat in the hospital bed thinking "Are you serious?" Breastfeeding, that's like the gold standard. I've never run across any doctor before that moment who actively discouraged a mother from nursing her newborn.

Because I wasn't a well formed in the art of Spiritual Warfare back then, I did not fight back with prayer. Instead I crumpled up like a used Kleenex and cried my eyes out. I spent 3 days holding a precious newborn and crying after each and every negative encounter.

Needless to say, I haven't looked forward to a repeat experience in this same maternity ward with precious baby number 4.

In the past month, I've finally stopped dreading my hospital stay. Instead, I've started to arm myself for serious Spiritual Combat. I'm packing holy water and blessed salt in my hospital bag. I'm taking my rosary into my operating room. I'm scheduled to receive the Sacrament of the Sick soon. My Carmelite sisters have planned a beautiful prayer session in front of the Blessed Sacrament on the night before I enter the hospital.

Entering into Morning Prayer today, I felt pretty good about my progress. Then Jesus had his heart to heart with me. My Gospel passage for Lecto Divino said "Love Your Enemies, Bless those who persecute you." My whole thirty minute prayer session consisted of me saying to Jesus "Really? Those doctors who were so mean to me, I'm supposed to love them? That nurse who failed to administer any pain medication during her shift and then called me a drug addict because I requested "extra" OxyContin hours after my abdominal surgery--I'm supposed to bless her also?" Jesus kept telling me "Yes! Your job isn't solely to resist evil during your hospital stay, your job is also actively love and bless the very people who are being mean to you."

Jesus is all about --Raising The Bar.

I'm rapidly discovering that the spiritual life is an uphill climb. Just when I become content with my progress, Jesus, my personal trainer, kindly points out that I've got so much more mountain face to rock-climb before I can summit Mount Carmel.