All humans want to be loved. It’s a desire that flows through our veins; a yearning that rests in the most vulnerable place in our hearts. As infants, we require love to literally survive. As we grow up, life teaches us, wrongly, what love is—earned, traded, situational, tragic. Instinctively, we know love is good, but in reality, we paint our own pictures of what good looks like and what it doesn’t, colored by our relative understanding, life experiences, and even politics. We humans have embarked on a futile crusade to define love, to somehow measure it with our circumstances as the gauge. Yet in our attempts to characterize it, we’ve actually inverted it. Love has become something we fear. We fear we won’t have enough or we won’t know how or we don’t deserve it. We make critical decisions based on fear – not love. Decisions based on our desire to avoid pain and fulfill our own self-interest, though we’re quick to cite love as our motivation. We make decisions based on short-sighted circumstances, current pressures, and an unknown future.
Decisions with life-altering consequences that strip love of its transformational power.
Rony and Sonia Morales know intimately the transformational power of love because they allow it into their family. They permit its beautiful, sacrificial, selfless simplicity to flood their lives and thus, pour into the lives of everyone they encounter. This is the nature of love when it’s unhindered by human failings and definitions; when it’s just allowed to flow through, change hearts, and bring hope. The Morales’ youngest daughter, Angela, was diagnosed at 16 weeks in utero with three rare brain malformations: anencephaly, microcephaly, and encephalocele. “We were heartbroken,” remembers Sonia. “We were told there would be much suffering for us in delivering a baby that will die. The doctors said that most people choose termination because there’s just no hope.” But she recalls wondering how a medical diagnosis could possibly change her love for her daughter or a mother’s duty to protect and care for her child, no matter what. “My husband and I knew we would never give up on our daughter if she got sick after being born, so why would we before?” No matter the circumstance; no matter the fear of the unknown; no matter how much time they would have with Angela alive, if any, the Morales family held fast to the truth: “Every minute is a gift,” says Sonia. “And love is greater than pain.”
“We prayed for a miracle,” says Sonia. “We prayed for Angela to be born alive so we could love her however many minutes or hours she was here.” Miraculously, the Morales family is now preparing to celebrate Angela’s second birthday. “All that emotional suffering we were told we would endure, we did. But any suffering we go through is nothing compared to the joy we receive from having Angela in our lives.” When speaking of Angela, Sonia describes the very love people spend their entire lives longing for, chasing after, trying to create on their own terms. The love that surpasses human understanding. The love that has no limits or conditions. The love that is quietly present in a baby girl who the world defines by her diagnoses.
Imagine for a moment a different world—a world where all doctors and nurses provide hope and encouragement for fetal anomaly, instead of fear and confusion. With so much pressure to abort, both before and after the diagnoses were definitive, Sonia recalls such a heavy hopelessness. Simply giving love was never presented as an option. Instead, death and despair were the offers on the table. “There is a great need for prenatal palliative care in the medical community. For doctors and nurses to come alongside women and families to offer support and counseling, to prevent the terrible trauma of abortion, and to encourage the beauty of life and love.” Through Angela’s Facebook community, Sonia has heard so many stories of pain and suffering from mothers who aborted babies with a fetal anomaly. “They tell me ‘I just wish I would have known there was hope. I would have pictures of us together. I would have been able to hold her,’” Sonia recalls. “They’re sad because they missed a chance to experience real love.”
What a tragedy to cut off the very thing the whole world is so desperately searching for.
When we choose fear and doubt, instead of revering the power of love, we forfeit our chance to win over suffering. We hinder emotional and physical healing, and most consequentially, we destroy purpose. Angela’s purpose is powerful and clear. It is one of transformation. And that’s love’s purpose as well. “We are watching love transform the medical community. Angela is educating doctors and nurses. She is helping them understand that her medical diagnosis doesn’t define her as a human being and that it didn’t change our love or want for her as her parents.” Sonia speaks of a noticeable change in the level of compassion expressed to their family since Angela’s birth. “We have doctors that are now talking about grace, about strength and hope, describing Angela as a gift. Describing life as a gift.”
Because love seeks opportunities to reveal truth to those who are willing to humble themselves.
Sonia also recognizes Angela’s powerful purpose in her own family. “It fills my heart with pure joy to experience the bond between Angela and her sister, Elizabeth. Angela’s eyes just shine when Elizabeth is with her,” boasts Sonia. “She vocalizes. Her face changes. She communicates with her sister.” Sonia describes how six-year-old Elizabeth has learned so early about compassion. She expresses awe in how Elizabeth always puts Angela first, how she prays over her and holds her little hand. The bond between them is profound and has already altered the course of Elizabeth’s life. She wishes to be a missionary doctor. “To take care of little children like my sister,” she says.
Because love plants seeds in the hearts of those who are open to sowing them.
Angela’s purpose also shines through in the opportunities Sonia has to speak with other mothers facing a devastating diagnosis. “I tell them to carry love,” explains Sonia. “I tell them they will never regret loving their child. They ask me, ‘How can you do this?’ I say, ‘Because of love.’ Because God is carrying us, we are able to carry all of this.”
“People always say, ‘God isn’t going to give you more than you can handle.’ That’s actually not true when it comes to life. He does give us more than we can handle, or He allows it, so that He can carry us; so we can learn to trust him and find love, peace, and joy.”
Because love, like peace and joy, is a gift that we must not only receive, but open.
So as we humans continue our attempts to relegate love to our limited understanding and assign value to human life relative to our circumstance, there is one question that rises to the surface. As a desperate, divided, down-spiraling society, it is a question that we must answer.
Why would turning away from love ever be good for anyone?
Sarah Quale, Educe president
Angela’s story is a profound example of the unconditional love given to us only by our Creator. Please share this story with your friends and followers to help this little girl’s story touch the lives of many. For accurate and compassionate information on anencephaly, the Morales family recommends you visit anencephaly.info. Follow Angela’s story in their Facebook community and on Sonia’s blog.