Yesterday I received an amazing email. It was not unsolicited, but I had forgotten that I was waiting for a reply, and the reply was unbelievable.
Let me explain. I was talking to a woman in December who runs the Perpetual Adoration chapel where I used to live, and I told her about my upcoming surgery. She immediately insisted I email a religious community (which happens to be located in Omaha, NE, which is why I think she thought of it for me in the first place, since that was where my surgery would be) called Intercessors of the Lamb. I'm not sure exactly what they are, but I know they are a group of contemplative hermits whose mission (I think) is intercession. My friend has some connection to them, and said to use her name in the email. So I logged onto their website and clicked on prayer request. I sent them a short version of my story and asked for their prayers. I told my friend I had sent it and she said they'd get back to me after they'd discerned for me. I wasn't sure what that meant in this context, but when I asked my mother she said she was pretty sure they'd pray about my situation and then tell me what came to them in prayer, any advice they may have, what I should focus on. So it's safe to say I was excited to hear their response.
I didn't receive a response before my surgery and then I kind of forgot about it in the flurry of post-surgery recovery. But yesterday I received the response and it was very enlightening. Here is a sample of what they said came to them while in prayer for me:
· An image of Jesus dressed as a surgeon and Our Lady dressed as a nurse and the room was filled with light
· An image of you recovering from surgery, angels were surrounding you and Our Lady came and handed Baby Jesus to you and there was joy
· Jeremiah 29:11 – spoke of hope
Here is the verse they mentioned:
11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
I was so excited! That verse has comforted me before, and now it has taken on new meaning.. like God wants me to specifically pray about it. I know our own personal prayer can be just as good as that of the Intercessors, but somehow hearing it from them really helps it to hit home. Overall, the theme was (big surprise) trusting the Lord and following Him. I think we all know that is the answer to being delivered from our infertility grief.. but getting to that point sometimes seems impossible. I think we often just hope we'll get pregnant before we really have to give in to His will, but realistically I know that perhaps true happiness (with or without children) won't come until I follow Him. And if that's the lesson He wants me to learn, maybe giving in will only help pregnancy (or joy without pregnancy - I can't assume pregnancy is His will!) happen sooner.
I also just want to say that the image the Intercessors spoke of in the operating room and during recovery is really what I feel happened during surgery and after. When I went to Mass on Saturday evening before I left for Omaha, I was alone because my husband was at work. Upon returning from communion, I really prayed hard for God to help me with my anxiety about surgery, with the surgery itself, with recovery and with my overall infertility. I asked Him specifically to carry me. I've always heard that spoken about - Christ carrying you when you can't go any further on your own - but hadn't really experienced it myself. So I prayed, hard, that Christ would carry me. Before I knew it I was crying, which I didn't realize until my tears hit the pew in front of my which I was leaning over! Anyways, my prayer was answered. There is no other way to describe my experience before, during and after surgery. It's like my pain was muted; I felt some bad pain but it was easy to deal with. I was very happy, perhaps in the best mood I've been in for a while (I'm sure the pain medication had something to do with that!) and the whole experience just seemed easy, not to mention the wonderful success of the surgery itself. Christ definitely carried me, I'm sure of it, and the email from the Intercessors just reiterated this.
(I also just have to add one thing - I would really like to think of the image of the Blessed Mother handing baby Jesus to me as symbolizing a pregnancy, but what if it has deeper meaning? I'm going to pray about it, but right now I really like that a baby was included in their discernment!)
On another subject, let me just say that after four months of having virtually no chances of conceiving, I'm nervous to re-enter the world of monthly hopes and (possible) let-downs. My constant question (and that of many others, I'm sure) is whether to have hope or not have hope. Will not having hope make it hurt less? I've decided to, for now, have hope. Why? Simply because that's what I believe God wants for us. It may be hard, and it may hurt more initially, but ultimately I can't honestly say that God would want me to be hopeless. There's no way. So I can either be with God or on a path separate from God. So I may not always be full of hope, but I'm going to try. Plus, when I was recovering in Omaha and was pretty confident I'd be able to get pregnant (those darn pain meds again), I began to contemplate what I (once pregnant) would think about when I looked back on my infertility. Right now, it's safe to say I'd be ashamed of myself. I have resisted spiritual growth, I've fought carrying the cross, and I've been angry with God more often than not. If I do become pregnant, I want to be able to look back on my infertility as a time of great spiritual growth, a time when I was close to God and gave into His will. And I know deep down that's what God wants for me too.