Tuesday, November 29, 2011

True Surrender

I told you I'd have more thoughts on this.

As I mentioned before, I am anything but a quitter. It always bothered me to hear people say, "When I finally gave up, that's when I got pregnant!" That, to me, is almost as irritating as the advice, "Just relax and it will happen!" - because both imply that there is something harmful I am doing, that I couldn't possibly change, which is preventing me from conceiving. In the first case, it is actually desiring being a mother. (And for me, I would literally have to give up the desire to be a MOTHER, not just the desire to be pregnant, because there is no adoption process available to us at this time.) In the second case, it is stress. The implication is, if you remove stress from your life, you will magically become pregnant. The statement in and of itself is incredibly stressful.

But as more and more time passes, and new crosses reveal themselves around every corner of my life, I am more and more drawn to the idea of just letting go of trying to conceive.

It is the most painful decision I've ever pondered. Every fiber in my being is invested in this decision, whatever the final outcome.

It is a painful decision because to let go, as a human, feels so much like quitting. How could it not? You have a goal in mind: becoming a mother. You set out to achieve that goal, which is a God-given desire, and you put 100 % of your heart, your spirit, your body, and your mind into reaching that goal. You may start down one path, which appears to be blockaded, but instead of giving up, you explore other paths, tredging through thick, muddy swamps, climbing over downed tree limbs and bushes... always pushing forward, always with that goal swelling in your heart.

What does it mean to surrender that journey? Does it mean we stop walking? But that is giving up! How do we surrender the journey without feeling as though we've quit, and given up on our dreams?

I think about the persistant widow of the Gospels. The one who never stops asking the judge for what she wants. I think about St. Therese, not accepting "no" as an answer in entering the convent under the legal age, and going straight to the Bishop for approval. I think about these examples, and I see the end results: the widow receives her wish when the judge finally gives in, and St. Therese becomes the youngest nun, later to die at age 24.

The difference between their lives and mine is that I know the ending of their stories. I can understand why their persistance is now an example to us all.

I don't know the ending of my story. I only know the here and now.

Surrendering to God's will. We hear it a lot as Christians. But what does it mean, exactly?

It would seem that there is a fundamental clash here. We are taught to surrender. We are shown that persistance pays off in the end.

What if we could somehow do both?

Going back into the woods, and looking at the paths I've gone down, which have all seemingly been blockaded with unsurmountable obstacles, I look forward from where I stand to see nothing but darkness and closed paths. But from a bird's eye view... from God's view, what might those woods look like? He can see everything - He can see ALL of the other paths that surround me on all sides, which have been invisible to me due to my tunnel vision. He can see how close or how far I am from getting out of the woods and into the pasture. He can see all of the trials, tribulations, joys and excitements that all of those other paths could bring to me. He can, in short, see the rest of my story as He would want it to be.

Following my will, which seemed to be God's will, has only narrowed my journey. True surrender to God's will can open it to all the other opportunities I have yet to see.

And yet, I do not need to "give up" in my persistance on this journey. I can continue in my desire to be a mother, and I can follow the other open paths with that desire growing and burning strongly in my heart. I can keep praying, and hoping, that someday my desires will be fulfilled - WHILE I WALK DOWN GOD'S OPEN PATHS. I believe this is the way to bring surrender and persistance together so that they no longer clash, but complement each other.

True surrender. It means being strong enough to open yourself to the unknown, and never giving up. Letting go of the narrow vision of "trying to conceive," but allowing myself to let God in and let Him write the rest of my story.

I'm not sure if I'm there yet. But I'm working on it.


A Martha trying to be Mary said...

TCIE. My heart hurts so much from reading this. You have been handed such a heavy cross and I am sure there is little that I can say to make it better for you and your DH. Lifting you in prayer and you will be my special intention for my Inmaculate conception Novena.

imusthaveprayedforpatience said...

I'm struggling with the same thing. It is so hard for me to reconcile surrendering to God's will with doing my part and hoping. Praying that we both hold on and hang in there.

the misfit said...

This raises a question that has long fascinated me - how can an individual woman know for certain whether she is called by God to be a mother? In a sense (and I believe encyclicals and other writings have covered this), all women have a vocation to motherhood; it's inborn. Nevertheless, some women are called to be religious (who will never have biological, or adoptive, children), and for them, this calling is lived out in other ways - "spiritual motherhood," as they say. (I can only imagine how much lovelier it would be to discuss with a group of women, together, how to live spiritual motherhood as a GOOD thing - rather than being the only woman you know who will be called to live in this way, and from the point of view of all the other women around - [former] infertiles included - it is merely privation.)

So for those of us who are called to the married life, how do we know whether we are actually personally called to be mothers (i.e., God wants us to slog through every obstacle between here and there, because that is not only our goal for our lives, but also His), or whether we just want to be (as everyone else does)? I realized for myself early on that I don't have any special sense that God Himself wants me PERSONALLY to be a mother. He might, but if so, I have no clarity about it. If it's what He wants, He can bring it about, and I need to fall in line, but I don't believe I have a mandate to pursue motherhood through all obstacles, because I don't know that that's necessarily supposed to be a part of my life (other than in the objective sense that good reproductive health, and good health generally, SHOULD exist in every human person, in theory). I see other women who clearly have undergone a discernment process regarding motherhood, and are confident this is what God wants for them specifically. And I see women who through their experiences discern that motherhood is NOT intended to be part of their lives. And there's certainly also a category of people who start out ASSUMING motherhood is to be part of their lives and probably never examine the matter vocationally, but push on until they attain a child and don't have to think about it any more. (I think these people are causing a lot of problems, because they universalize their perspective - "Just keep trying!" "It will come true for you!" "Don't give up hope!" [Why is hope FOR A BABY? Shouldn't it be for the fulfillment of our earthly vocation? How do we all know that's for a baby for ourselves - let alone for others?])

Anywy...just my thoughts, which, as usual, are tangential at best :).

Simone said...

I have been struggling with the same thing for awhile. I wanted a sign that I should stop but it never came. I wish it were easy and simple to know when to say when. It is very hard. I have not been able to do it yet, but sadly I know this is coming soon.
I am sorry for your pain. I know this is hard. I pray you find peace.

lavishedwithlemons said...

I've been struggling with this as well. I hit rock-bottom a few weeks ago, and really questioned whether or not God even wanted/called me to be a mother. *I* would like to think so, of course. I am a teacher, so I can also identify with the fact that I do some "mothering" in that capacity, which I find very rewarding. It was still a grieving process to think maybe I'm not meant/supposed to have children, though. I have so much heartache, and sometimes I'm not sure how much more I can take. In my opinion, "giving up" and "surrendering" are NOT the same thing...Surrendering means we are open to God's will, whatever that may mean in our lives (regardless of whether we "like" His decision). Giving up sounds to me like a loss of faith, or a separation from God. It means having a tantrum and refusing to accept what He wants for your life. Surrendering isn't easy, by any means. I think it takes a lot of spiritual growth and maturity to surrender oneself...

Made For Another World said...

oh TCIE. You put into words what is aching in my heart. This really is at the heart of the discernment process- what is God calling us to do? Does he want us to fight or does he want us to accept the circumstances the way they are? The question is tricky and can only be answered after lots of prayer and self-examination. And, like Abigail said recently, prayer is a battle. I would say self-examination is too. God Bless you TCIE on this amazing journey you are on!

Anonymous said...

Il Signore è il mio pastore: non manco di nulla [...] Se dovessi camminare in una valle oscura, non temerei alcun male, perché tu sei con me. Il tuo bastone e il tuo vincastro mi danno sicurezza.

(Salmo 22)

A big hug (today even bigger..)

polkadot said...

For me at least, this battle to surrender to God's will is a daily thing. One day I may feel more at peace about it, and the next I may be back to clinging to "my will be done." Maybe the longer we work at surrendering, the more peaceful days there will be. Maybe it has a lot to do with the day's hormone levels, too. ;)

barbie said...

You manage to beautifull verbalize every thought and struggle I had on my journey but never was able to say.....I see your soul in each post TCIE and it's beautiful. Prayers, as always for you.

E said...

You are walking in His Light. He is leading you and that is surrender. God is calling you to be exactly where you are right now. It is a tough pill to swallow but the one to say yes to. Prayers for you. Remember that His Yoke is easy and burden light.

Anonymous said...

True surrender...I think that's a hard question to ponder. There is no question that there are all ways to approach infertility. I don't know if I could say to a couple who didn't seek out every treatment possible that they didn't want it bad enough, or that they could have tried harder and been more persistent to do God's will. And, big leap here, I don't think God would say that either. The question you seem to be thinking about is that if you stop actively 'trying' through treatment, is that the same as completely giving up entirely on motherhood? I think at one point in your life, those two may have clearly overlapped and for others they do still, but you've written about tremendous gains in health and even ovulation on your own. To give up trying for you would be to literally stop having sex (maybe that's what you're saying?).
I am not trying to minimize the emotional struggle that is really the bigger issue behind these practical questions. And I agree with you...that surrender to God's will isn't necessarily one path we have in mind. Its being open to those random backwoods trails we didn't know existed.

Ania said...

True surrender is so hard, especially when everything around us tells us we're failures if we quit. Holding you close in prayer, I feel the same way a lot.

JellyBelly said...

Wow, this post speaks to me so much! As I start "anew" I know that surrender is going to be a BIG part of this next phase.

I wish I understood, even a fraction, of what God wants from our incredibly long journeys. What I do know is that I am hopeful for the both of us and that I have a feeling that God will eventually answer our prayers!

All in His Perfect Timing said...

It would be so nice to see how our own stories end ... to see things from God's point of view. I'm so guilty of tunnel vision myself, but sometimes its just so hard to see the other options. Infertility is enough to wrap your head around, let alone deciding when enough is enough. I've been struggling with that myself.
I thought about you alot over the Thanksgiving holiday and tried (probably not too successfully) to offer up my hurt and pain the best I could for you. There was a lot of pregnancy talk & visibility from the BIL & SIL, who are due with the first grandbaby in Feb. I don't know how the saints suffered so patiently and perfectly, because that sure wasn't me last weekend, although I sure tried for your sake. I'm praying for you!

Faith makes things possible said...

Beautiful post...truly beautiful!

"True surrender. It means being strong enough to open yourself to the unknown, and never giving up"

What a wonderful reminder! Thank you so much for opening up your heart and sharing these things...so many of which I feel myself

His Essence is Love said...

This is such a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. God will reward your surrender and complete trust in Him. In what way, only He knows right now.
The part that resonated with me most was:
"I can keep praying, and hoping, that someday my desires will be fulfilled - WHILE I WALK DOWN GOD'S OPEN PATHS."
That is very inspirational! God knows well the desire of your heart. He may want you to walk down His open paths before He gives you the desires of your heart. Or maybe not. God's wisdom is so much greater than we are. All we need to do is trust in Him and walk down those open paths, as you said. God bless you!

Amy @ This Cross I Embrace said...

@misfit - your thoughts are ones I've examined over and over again in myself. I think generally it's much easier to decipher if you've been "called" to be a mother if you've received the "call" to adopt. And, to be clear, I don't think everyone who adopts has received the call (though most probably have) - adopting by "default" after failing 14 IVF cycles, for example, may or may not be that couple's calling.

But a bold and clear call to adoption is obviously a call to motherhood. Not to easy to determine if one is called to have biological children, though, because of the nature of conceiving vs. adoption. I do feel personally "called" to be a mother, and maybe it's just because I felt that call to adopt... only He knows. If I hadn't felt that call, I'm not sure how I would feel, but very likely, I'd echo your sentiments about it (biological motherhood, that is).

Hope that made sense.

JellyBelly said...

Hey buddy,

I just awarded you a Liebster Award!

Love you!

D said...

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and bring you peace.