Saying Yes to Life

My name is Maria Clara Mattos Dourado Bezerra, I am 27 years old, I am married with two children; a two-year old and the other born this past April. I was born and raised in a Catholic family. I had my first experience with God’s love still in my mother’s womb. I know that God loved me and preserved me by giving me the family I have. The fact that I was born in a Catholic environment did not, unfortunately, stop me from making wrong decisions and bad choices in my life.

In my teens, I went away from God and prayer groups that I attended. Like every teenager I had a great need to be accepted, to feel part of a group and to be ‘popular’. I began to live and experience the famous cliché teenage life. Parties, friends, drinks. I never stopped going to Mass, I never lost my faith, never went to extremes, and I believe that somehow this was one of the factors that made me blind for so many years. I lived a life ‘of a normal teenager’. I got lost in the illusion of a dating relationship and friendships that drove me away every day from who I was and what God wanted from me and for me. I put the hope of my happiness and my future into these relationships, until the day that God loved me so much that He took the distractions away. Today I look at that time in my life and thank Him for so much love and mercy. After everything was taken away, I became depressed, lost direction and I struggled to accept that God could still love me and want me back, even after all the contempt I had towards Him. It was a time to recognize my fragility and dependence of God. Realizing that only He can fulfill my life and take care of my happiness and future freed my heart. I had no idea that this was just the beginning.

In 2011, I began my process back. Back to God, back to life in general. I asked God very intensely not to send me anyone; I needed a break to heal my heart and to know what He wanted from me, before I started a relationship with anyone. One day, July 1, 2011, in the midst of a prayer at a wedding mass of a friend, I told God that if He wanted to send me someone that this ‘someone’ had to be my Saint Joseph. The man that He wanted for me would be there to help me to be holy. That He, more than anyone, knew I could not go through another disappointment. That same day I found my “Saint Joseph”. Yes, his name is Joseph, because God knows me so well that He wished I had no doubts. We started a path to date and three months after beginning our relationship, the community he was consecrated in, gave us the permission to date.

In April 2012, I found out I was pregnant. I cannot describe the mixed emotions that I experienced at the time. I was afraid, I was ashamed, I felt disappointment with myself. I felt so much at the same time that it is almost impossible to put into words, but one thing that I had doubts about, was my son. I did not know how I was going to face everything that was to come, and I knew it was a lot, but I would not give up my son. For anything. For love of him and for his life that was within me, I would fight for him. I had several ‘good reasons’, in a selfish and egocentric way of thinking, not to have him. I did not have a structured life, I was afraid of my family and my (now) husband’s family. I was not married, but before all of that, I was responsible for the consequence of my choice. My son was depending on me. I was humiliated, questioned, judged. But none of that mattered, there was a life growing in me. My husband and I got married in June 2012 and Joseph was born in November. In July 2013 we moved to Toronto from Brasil.

After Joseph was born, I decided to start taking contraceptives. In fact, many things influenced me to take it. Fear. Fear that another son would be more accepted than Joseph. I was afraid to go through with another pregnancy, fear, because we did not have a stable financial situation. I was afraid of myself, afraid of the judgment and opinions of others. I was scared to be starting a brand new life in another country. I told myself that taking these contraceptives was a matter of responsibility, because my period was not regular.

In May 2014 in a personal formation, Jesus looked at me and said ‘say yes to life’. My counselor did not know about the birth control, much less that I had two boxes in my bag and was going to start taking them that day. God was speaking through her and inviting me to open myself to life, to let Him love our family with another child and to accept life as a part of God’s plan for us. And all my fears and questions that I was asking in silence, God was replying through her. On the same day I sat down with my husband and told him about the prayer. We prayed and God confirmed once again and invited us to trust and let Him love us.

I stopped the pill and started trying to use the table (Natural Family Planning). I never received guidance and did not know how to use billings’ method, but I think even if I did, it would not take too long for me to get pregnant. In August 2014, I discovered I was pregnant again. Yes, I was married, and theoretically it would be ‘easy’. No. I think I was just as scared as the first time, or maybe more. Our financial situation was not stable and I was doing a post-secondary program that was to end the same week of my due date while living in a foreign country. In Canada, where abortion is legal, I felt like I had numerous things to decide. On my first visit to a clinic to get information on how to get a doctor, the first question they asked me was ‘Do you want to do an abortion?’

With shock, I replied no. However, several times during the interview that question was repeated: ”But you are finishing a post-secondary program, and have a two year old son! It will be a chaos, are you sure you do not want to abort? ” The only thing on my mind was the promises of God for this time and the certainty that He will not abandon us. “I will open a river in the desert” (Is 41:18) and that’s what He did. God granted us daily miracles from the beginning of this pregnancy until now. We definitely suffered and struggled a lot, it was not easy, it has been very difficult. But our son’s life has generated fruits of eternity in our family and in our lives. My husband got a stable job and slowly things are falling into place. I see God’s hand in every detail. We received everything for Isaac. A stroller, clothes, cleaning products, everything — and we have not stopped receiving gifts from God.

My sons, Isaac and Joseph, teach me every day about the mysteries of God’s love. To love and let myself to be loved. To blindly trust in the providence, the promises and the mystery of love which means freely accepting the will of God. It is not easy, it still hurts, we cannot control or predict the future, but the fruits and the happiness that comes from freely answering and joining God are the consolation of the soul.