(disclaimer: this post does not end with a pregnancy or miraculous healing)
I was diagnosed with endometriosis back in 2013 after a laparotomy surgery. The doctor found that it was Stage 3 (out of 4). He was able to remove it all, thankfully. This helped me a lot to feel less pain each month. I charted my health with Natural Family Planning and was able to help diagnose it. I was so grateful for that! This happened the year before I met my husband and we got married, so I assumed there would be some difficulty getting pregnant.
We met and got married in 2014 and started trying right away. However, after about 6 months, nothing was happening. The doctor met with us and we tried several healthy options including a seman analysis, ovulation inducers: Clomid and Letrizole, HCG shots, hormone supplements, ultrasounds, etc. Nothing seemed to be working.
After 4 years of all of the poking, prodding, scheduling intimacy, charting and stress of this battle began to weigh on the both of us. Maybe God didn’t want or need us to have children…could this actually be true? How far do we get in this journey until we stop testing? Do we make that call? Do we seek help?
For those who have dealt or are dealing with struggles in fertility know that this can be such a burdensome cross. It takes a toll on your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. It’s exhausting. It’s trying on yourself and your spouse, your trust in God, and relationships with others.
Oh, did I mention that my husband also suffers from chronic health issues himself?
So, here we were as newlyweds in our young 30s and trying to manage these massive health issues. Thanks, God! I wasn’t sure how to deal with the reality that we may never have biological children of our own. He was just trying to get through each day without getting a migraine. It’s been four years of wrestling with God in these issues.
Where are you while we are suffering with these issues? There was definitely a sense of abandonment and hopelessness that was present.
We did have support from our local Catholic community and our families as well. What typically were private issues, are now forced to be made public and were inquired about a lot from those that care for us. Not to mention the comparison devil, which was especially strong in Catholic circles of healthy people having a lot of children, a lot.
This did take a toll on our marriage as we both were trying to deal with the reality of our lives. I was trying to wrap my mind around being newly married, being a caregiver, and that my marriage was not living up to my expectations. I felt like God didn’t think I was worth a good marriage, healthy husband and children. My husband was operating at about 40% most days with his health and trying to stay above water, while holding down a job and trying to love me the best he could.
Somewhere during my life, I started to believe the lie that “I am in control of my life.” I believe that the Lord knew that I needed a good “interruption” in my soul. When we believe that we are in control, we only trust in ourselves and it becomes a breeding ground for pride.
I realized that I stopped looking up and only looked at myself.
And I ran with it, I fought so hard to stay in control because I did not think that the sufferings He was offering me with the right ones. I wanted different crosses. This is where the anger began. My heart was so angry at this perceived injustice that was being given to me. I felt as those I was a beggar on the street and all the Lord thought I was worthy of were scraps and leftovers. I felt like I was no longer His daughter.
These crosses began to consume me and BECOME me. I was trying so hard to keep my life and marriage in the tiny expectation box that I had prepared my whole life. To be honest, I was not open to “Your will be done,” that I prayed each week. I found too much comfort in my idealism and expectation. I had stopped finding comfort in Him.
How do we find support for these challenges if there are no foreseeable solutions? How do we ease our hearts from grieving a life that is not what we want? How do I know He loves me when the circumstances of my life do not reflect that?
I am sure there are sufferings in your lives that can also relate to the above questions. I believe that God allows us to experience certain crosses specific to ourselves for a reason. We may never know that reason, but there are some consistent themes that He intertwines within them.
He was asking me to release control.
He was asking me to find my identity only in Him.
I spent years in prayer begging Him for explanations, begging Him for help, begging Him for healing.
He wanted me to shift my perspective.
I became so exhausted from these crosses and realized that something needed to change because I was in a deep desolation. By the grace of God, I decided to take a day to sit in prayer and listen to Him. I decided to spend time with Him even when I struggled to trust Him. Why?
Because this is what we are called to, sisters. We are called to a commitment. Believe me, I am as emotional as they come and there are days where my feelings are the only truth I believe in and it is very tough to pull myself out of them to be more logical. I knew that even though I didn’t feel as though God was loving me did not mean that He wasn’t.
So I decided to talk to Him about that in prayer.
He was very patient with me. He showed me that with many things in life, there is a different perspective that was not just mine. He asked me to try to view these crosses as He would see them – from His heavenly perspective.
I learned that day that the Lord does love me. He loves me to the point that He wants my soul to grow into a deeper relationship and reliance on Him alone. I received this image of Him looking at me in the eyes, tilting my chin up to His, as He whispered –
“My love for you is greater than you will ever know. I want you to keep your eyes fixed on Me. I want to carry these crosses for you. I am here. I gave you these specific crosses so that you can share them with others.”
What He was saying was two-fold: I can share these crosses with others 1) to make my load lighter and 2) to help others to feel less alone in their suffering.
This was the redemption to my suffering.
“But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength,
so that through me the proclamation might be completed.” – 2 Timothy 4:17
I was being asked to share my experiences with others so that they may come to the Lord. This was precisely why He was allowing me to experience suffering: to deepen my trust in Him, to be vulnerable and to lead others to Him.
Is this also what Isaiah was speaking about in his prophecy about Jesus?
“…by his wounds we were healed.” – Is. 53:5
Maybe He uses my woundedness to heal other souls. If the Lord can make my suffering redemptive for just one other person, I will gladly cooperate and consent.
That day, the Lord was revealing to me His reasoning for my suffering, not because He needed to, but because He had to invite me to actively participate in it. I spent so much time resisting instead of participating. Now was my chance to respond to this invitation in becoming a spiritual director and practicing spiritual motherhood with women.
How is He redeeming your suffering today?
I pray that you can trust Him when He says He loves you and He has good plans for you. Sometimes your perspective is not the only one. Ask Him today how He sees you, see your situation and what the promise He has for you in that situation.
Messenger by Mary Oliver
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird-
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, still not half-perfect? Let me keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.
How is He astonishing you today?