I have been doing fairly well lately, but tonight infertility is weighing heavy on my heart. In particular, I'm having, once again, a difficult time with the question of why so many families are blessed with many children while so many of the rest of us are left with none. While blog-hopping, I seemed to keep landing on blogs of huge Catholic families. I think sometimes these families are the most difficult for me to see and test me the most when it comes to jealousy.
I know we all have our own crosses to bear. I try to remind myself that these families with their photographs of beautiful, smiling children have problems of their own. Perhaps the parents had difficult childhoods, didn't have the love of parents that I did, or have dealt with serious illness in their lifetime. The truth is that everyone has varying degrees of suffering and some may not be called to suffer much at all. Whatever the case may be, it does me no good to compare my suffering to the sufferings of others. I am trying to stop questioning God and just let things be, but tonight I am failing.
It's just one of those times when I just can't believe this is happening to me. Like always, I'll tell myself that God is with me, even when it doesn't seem like he is. I'll tell myself that there is a plan, and not having children must be part of it. I'll tell myself that there is still hope, and I could be pregnant one day. It's just that I've been telling myself those things for nearly four years now and it's becoming harder to believe them. I need some new lines for my pep talks.
When my husband was in the hospital earlier this week, a brought along the book that came out last year about Mother Theresa - the one that caused the big stir in the media at the time. The headlines were 'Mother Theresa questioned God's existence'. What the media failed to mention (not surprisingly) was that despite feeling like God was no where to be found, she remained confident he was there (I'm much more simple-minded - if I don't get my prayers answered, I don't think he's there). What an amazing faith she must have had, but it wasn't perfect. She did question it and in the book's commentary, it says she was afraid. But...
With the help of her spiritual directors, she progressively came to grasp that her painful inner experience was an essential part of living out her mission. It was sharing in the Passion of Christ on the Cross - with a particular emphasis on the thirst of Jesus as the mystery of His longing for the love and salvation of every human person. Eventually she recognized her mysterious suffering as an imprint of Christ's Passion on her soul. She was living the mystery of Calvary - the Calvary of Jesus and the Calvary of the poor...Although this intense and ongoing spiritual agony could have made her despondent, she instead radiated remarkable love and joy, because she had built the edifice of her life on pure faith.
While I am far from the person Mother Theresa was (the understatement of the year), I can relate to her suffering and feelings of abandonement, and I can look to her example for how she responded. I really like the image of Christ's thirst. I definitely thirst for children (obviously silly compared to Christ's thirst for the salvation of all humans, but you know what I mean), and I know that I, too, shouldn't be despondent. I definitely do not radiate remarkable love and joy.
I kind of seems silly that I could possibly radiate joy in my present state, but Mother Theresa actually did it. She was grateful for the suffering - grateful! - and saw all loneliness and darkness as an opportunity to "drain out of me every drop of self." Here's what she wrote:
...so the darkness is so dark and the pain is so great, but in spite of it all - my retreat resolution was the same
A hearty "Yes" to God
A big "Smile" to all
and it seems to me that these two words are the only thing that keeps me
going...Pray for me Father, that I may just keep the two words "Yes" &
The difference between her and me (well, one of the many differences, of course) is that she set out each day to please God in every breath she took. Let's just say that I do not. I obviously need to try to remember to please God in every thing I do. When I'm inclined to feel jealousy I should ask, "Does it please God?" When I'm spending too much time on the internet and not enough in prayer, I should ask "Does it please God?" When I wake up, I should ask "What can I do today to please God?" Acting that way doesn't bring with it a promise of a lighter load (or, more specifically, a first-class ticket to pregnancy-ville), as it surely didn't for Mother Theresa. And that's clearly not why she did it. But doing so will please God, and that should be all that matters.