My name is Tresa Baldas, though most people at St. Clare know me as Tresa Elrick, or Mrs. Elrick. My daughters Emily & Sophie went to school at St. Clare, from preschool through eighth grade. We love this place.
Now allow me to share my Resurrection story.
First, I’ll tell you a little bit about myself. I was raised in a Greek family. Both my parents are Greek, and I grew up in the Greek Orthodox Church, which is very similar to the Roman Catholic Church.
Faith was a big part of my growing up. My parents took me to church every Sunday. And I grew up learning the importance of faith. We talked about it at home as it was a regular conversation topic in the house. But like most people, there were many times in my life when I had doubts. When bad things would happen, and I would question my belief in God. This would happen periodically, during high school, college. I believed, but questioned.
Then came an incident in my life that would make me question my faith more than ever before. I was an adult, married, and had just given birth to my second daughter Sophie when I got a phone call from my sister.
Mom has cancer.
I was devastated. Heartbroken. It was ovarian cancer. A bad one. My faith was shattered. ‘Why would you do this?’ I would ask God. My mother was at the point in her life when she finally had everything she wanted. She was regularly nagged by my Greek relatives “When are your daughters going to get married? When are they going to have children?” Well, she got her son in laws, and she got her grandchildren. I couldn’t understand, “Why God? Why are you going to take it all away now?”
So I packed up my infant daughter and my other daughter Emily, who was 18 months old, and drove to my mother’s house in Muskegon. My husband Mike stayed home as he had to work. And I went home to see what I could do to help.
I remember this distinctly. It was Holy Week. I was scared. My sister was scared, yet my mother’s faith was strong. There was one day she compared her ordeal to what Jesus went through. It was Holy Thursday, and we were giving my mom this horrible drink she had to have to prepare for her operation the next day. She said to me, “Look. It’s Holy Thursday. Remember what Jesus went through on this day. They were forcing him to drink vinegar when he asked for water, kind of like you’re forcing me to drink this terrible liquid that the doctors say I have to have.”
Hmmm, interesting I thought. Where is she going with this? Then she said, “And tomorrow’s Good Friday. Remember what happened on Good Friday? They crucified Jesus and I’m getting my surgery. They’re going to cut me open.”
Interesting comparison I thought. Then she looked me square in the eye and said something I’ll never forget: “REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED ON THE THIRD DAY.”
I was blown away. I saw the Holy Spirit in her eyes at the moment, revealing to me her deep, deep faith. And then she said: “God has never abandoned me. He’s not going to now.”
Well, it’s been 16 years. And on Sunday, I get to celebrate yet another Mother’s Day with my mom.
Please know I struggle with this. My mom struggles with this. In sharing this story, I’m not suggesting at all that God has favorites. That he loves my mom more than your son, or daughter, or spouse or friend. I’m sure many of you have lost loved ones to cancer, as have I. But I cannot walk away from this experience without believing that God intervened, that he had a role in my mom’s healing, that he was there during the weakest point in our lives. I saw and felt the Holy Spirit during that ordeal, and I believe with all my heart that God helped heal my mom.
Why I don’t know. I can’t pretend to understand why bad things happen to good people, or what God’s plans are for each of us. Perhaps we have different lessons in life that we have to learn. I don’t know. But I wanted to share this Resurrection story with all of you because it exemplifies what I believe the Resurrection is about. It’s about bringing something back to life. Think about it. What does the word ‘resurrect ‘mean? It means to bring someone back to life, to revive something that had ended so that it can be used again.
This is the story of my faith.
I share my mom’s story with my daughters all the time. When they’re facing a trouble, whether it be about homework, a boy, or anything, I tell them, “Girls, Yia Yia beat cancer! You can overcome this.” God is always there. He never abandons us.
So I share this with you in the hopes that if you have any trouble you are going through, whether it’s about your health, your job, a relationship, your finances, whatever the trouble, consider my mom’s words: “REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED ON THE THIRD DAY.”
This is my Resurrection story.