This is the 9th post in the Women of God series and yet again, God is reminding me of His Love & His immense mercy that He bestows on all of us – if we are willing to accept Him and to be open to His plan for us. Clare is an incredible woman of the Lord and truly seeking to live out His Will for her life on a daily basis. Clare and I met at an event for The Guiding Star Project and after a year of “Hey, we should grab coffee!”, we FINALLY did it! And, it was awesome. It was like I was talking to someone I had known for years and could comfortably sit back and talk about faith, the feminine genius & women’s health issues and realize that we were coming from similar spaces with passions that run deep (the kind that only the Lord can give you). It’s such a beautiful thing when you can get together with someone and immediately begin cultivating a friendship, especially one that is rooted in the Lord (and coffee – lots of coffee)! Clare shares her story about her work as a doula and nurse and how God is continually leading her and guiding her on the path to holiness. She doesn’t sugarcoat it or make it pretty – she’s raw, real & sassy – and that’s what I love about her! I hope you enjoy this next installment in the Women of God series as much as I have found joy in receiving these stories & sharing them on the blog!
Life of Faith and Service
I grew up in a traditional Irish-Catholic home with my parents and two older siblings. Our family of five lived a busy and joy-filled life. My parents guided us through life with their example of a faithful marriage, a love for Christ, and serving others. My father worked in law enforcement for 42 years, with a side job at a mortuary; my mother was a teacher turned homemaker and church wedding coordinator. I saw the example of service from my parents each day. My father giving everything he had to serve others, and my mother as our family’s backbone of faith.
The Catholic Faith was, and still is today, the cornerstone of the home my parents created for my sister, brother, and me. They challenged us to be the face of Christ to others in our daily encounters. I carefully watched as my parents selflessly displayed works of mercy to both friends and strangers. Each morning, my father would read the obituaries; a tradition that my siblings and I have adopted. More often than not, he would find someone that he knew in one way or another and go to the funeral to pray for his or her soul. Didn’t everyone have a funeral per week? Each month, my parents along with other parishioners prepare a meal for homeless families. These instances I found to be, while extraordinary and inspiring, a normal part of everyday life to give time and effort to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Still after years of sacrifice, my father chooses to work for a mortuary and funeral home instead of dedicated retirement. When I still lived at home, there would be nights when I would be called to a birth and my dad would be called to help with a body removal. *cue music for The Circle of Life*
Labor of Love
My love of all things birth started not with birth itself, but with babies. From a young age, I began to inform those who would listen that I was going to be a “baby nurse”. I believe the original plan that I mentioned to people is that I would, “be a nurse when the baby was born, and then take care of the baby and the mama, and then after she took a nap I would make her dessert”. Name one woman who would request a different nurse. All of this to say, I wanted to help women and children.
There isn’t a specific time that I can point to and say, “This is the moment when I knew”. There is one thing I was sure of, and that is that this is the work the Lord wanted me to do. Two months prior to nursing school, I found myself in a hospital basement with 15 other women for the weekend to become a birth doula. The word doula is from an ancient Greek word meaning “woman’s servant” and throughout history, the women who have taken on this role support and assist women through pregnancy and labor.
This role was separate from nursing. As a doula, I became the woman that offers support (along with her partner): emotional, physical, and educational. My focus was on these women and their baby/babies. I found a role that I loved and didn’t know that I needed. I was able to give my care, and my heart as well; something I learned from the example of my parents.
Where He Leads, I Will Follow
I had a specific plan laid out for myself when I graduated high school and headed to small-town-Kansas to pursue my dreams of becoming a nurse. While I saw my plan as flawless, the Lord had other plans for me. Part of that plan included becoming so ill in college that I needed to return home for medical care and put my dream on hold. Shortly after I settled in at Benedictine College, I became so sick that it was a struggle to make it to class most days. That winter I was diagnosed with endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome. My doctors told me that it was pretty advanced and in order to have a chance at a family someday, I needed surgery soon.
I fought against it with every fiber of my being, internally screaming that the road I laid out for myself was perfect. Years of surgeries, tests, and procedures had no place on my timeline. Admittedly, I felt abandoned by God and instead of running towards Him and His goodness, I was the one who was abandoning Him.
How could He call me to do this work, only to put it on hold for reasons that meant I might always be on one side of the delivery room? Is this something I will only see and never experience? It seemed too cruel.
When I look back on the journey to where I am today and how far I have to go, I can’t help but see God picking me up and guiding me along again and again.
God knows exactly where I’m going, not just what I am captivated by in this moment. For some, that brings great consolation; and if I can get out of my own head, I can bask in the peace of knowing that God holds my future in His loving hands.
However, for the girl who must know it all, it’s maddening. He sees how each moment of my life will play out. Can’t He give me a sneak peak?
So here I am: a doula, a nurse, and a student with further dreams of becoming a midwife. Each day on the job brings its own challenges, but also surrounds me with joy, comfort, and peace to know that I am a part of something greater. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve the honor to witness the miracle of these tiny humans. The births that I have attended are some of my most cherished moments. This is a job that I love, and I am eternally grateful that the Lord has called me to do this work.
“You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.” – Saint Ignatius of Loyola
Clare Friis is a sassy Minnesota girl. She works as both a birth doula and an OB nurse in the Twin Cities. When she’s not in babyland, you can find her with a Starbucks in hand and catching up on the latest Bachelor/Bachelorette drama.