Sunday, October 31, 2010

I Would Wish Infertility on My Worst Enemy... and My Best Friend

First, let me say that my lack of posting lately has not been for lack of thoughts and updates, but rather, I have been working non-stop, 7 days a week. The influx of new clients has been insane, and this upcoming week I am working 8 hour days every day Mon-Fri. I haven't had a moment to take a deep breath, let alone write a blog post.

But today I don't want to waste my time on updates about work, Creighton clients, my Drs appointment, or the house (though there is a lot of drama surrounding our mortgage recently, and I'm trusting that if we don't get approved for the mortgage, it will all be part of God's great plan). Instead, I want to focus on a topic that this blog has seen a lot of in the past: suffering.

Yesterday I went to see Father John Corapi in Newark, NJ. The all-day event was a part of his series on Spiritual Warfare, and it was unbelievable. As tired as I was, he managed to not only keep me awake but also riveted throughout the day. One part of what he spoke about was suffering, and why God allows it. God's plan does not INCLUDE suffering for anyone - there is no pain or evil involved in God's creation, and instead these things came to be due to pride. The belief that WE know what is best for us, and WE should have the RIGHT to do whatever and however we want to get what we want... in essence, placing ourselves above God (creature above Creator), is such a vain belief. But pride is also thinking that anything good that does come to be in our lives was our own doing. And this last part is something I have been working on for a while.

As some of you may know about me, before I experienced infertility, there was not much in my life that I couldn't achieve if I set out to achieve it. God was certainly a part of my life, and I enjoyed praying and going to Mass. I felt His presence in my life, for sure. But it was so different than it is now. His presence in my life then was almost like my mother's presence in my life while I was in college. Just a phone call away, there when I needed something, but I rarely needed anything except the occasional check-in. That's how my relationship with God used to be. To me, not knowing any different, it was wonderful. I knew I could count on Him, and that He would always be there.

Now my relationship with God has gone to a whole new level. And it took SUFFERING, in many different forms, to get me there. The first big trial I was faced with came before I was married. Then came infertility. In the midst of infertility came financial suffering along with living environment/relationship with in-laws/DH's job stress and suffering. Then came adoption denial suffering. These sufferings continue to the present day- I call them my "chronic" sufferings at this point. But punctuating these chronic sufferings were many intense acute sufferings, like being fired from my job, the death of my best friend and dog Uzi (still undoubtedly the worst day of my life), having to go into surgery all alone, my husband missing our vacation to Cancun, the medical diagnoses which implicated I would not be able to conceive without x, y, z, and so on and so forth.

While all of these sufferings were/are going on, there have also been some notably good things that have developed:

I became a Creighton Model Practitioner
I started a blog
I became an Ultrasonographer
I got not one, but two paying ultrasound jobs

and most notably, but not as tangible,

I found peace and joy in suffering.

I believe that the key to this last part was in surrendering to the pain of the suffering. I recently re-watched "The Business of Being Born" (highly recommend it to those of you who are pregnant, but do NOT recommend it to those of you still waiting unless you are in a really good place at the time), and Ricki Lake described her own birthing experience with those words. She said that at a certain point, she just "gave up" and surrendered to the pain, and it was only then that everything happened quickly and almost effortlessly. Well, after everything I had been through in the past 6+ years (when the suffering began), I knew just what she meant. The labor of my suffering had been all about ME up until recently. It was about all of the pain and sorrow and hurt and anguish happening TO ME, and like any other living creature on this planet, I was trying my best to survive by avoiding the pain, drowning the sorrow, lashing out against the hurt and stomping out the anguish. That was my battleplan and I was sticking to it.

But as Father Corapi said yesterday, my arms were too short to box with God.

As much as I fought back against the suffering, the worse it seemed to get. It wasn't that one day it suddenly dawned on me to surrender... but at a certain point it just became absolutely necessary, because I was all out of ammo.

And so I surrendered. And I lived in it, and I EXPERIENCED it as if for the first time. I won't sugarcoat it - it was NOT fun and it was NOT pretty. But it WAS glorious. Because there, in the midst of the suffering was the joy and peace, these awesome gifts from God, just waiting for me to find them through my surrender. And all at once the presence of God in my life was so much more intimate than I could have imagined. If before my relationship with Him was like that of a college child with their mother, now my relationship with Him was like that of a child in its mother's womb. Totally dependent, totally safe, totally carried, totally one.

Listening to Father Corapi talk about the gifts that can come out of suffering yesterday reminded me of just how lucky I feel to have been given this very specific suffering of infertility. God has already brought such good out of my infertility, and He continues to do it, all the while teaching me to be more humble. Probably the first thing that I suffered in discovering that I had fertility problems was a blow to my pride. The reaction was one of disbelief and denial - ME? Infertile? But I've never had difficulty doing anything! And I deserve a child! How could this be that what I want and deserve doesn't come to me immediately?

Over the years I have grown to truly understand the gift of life, and the gift of children. And this is why I have considered myself so lucky to have the suffering of infertility over other types of suffering - I think this is a crucial understanding to have, and I wish that most people could also understand it. Through it, I was also able to achieve what I REALLY most wanted (but didn't know it): peace and joy.

I wish there could be a tutorial for how to suffer well, and how to find peace and joy in suffering efficiently and quickly. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?), I think this is something that each and every child of God has to discover for themselves. Surrendering to the suffering helped me immensely - but I don't want anyone out there who is suffering to think I mean to imply that this is a quick fix for everybody. When it comes to suffering, quick fixes really don't serve you well in the end. When a piece of steel is being tempered to remove its impurities, it may be easier for it to be quickly placed in cold water to stop the suffering of the blazing heat. In the end, it will still have the memory of its brief suffering, but it will not have changed and become a "better" piece of steel. God wants to temper each and every one of us. We all need to find within ourselves the source of His graces to get us through the suffering - NOT JUST what will help us to survive it until it's over, but what will in the end make us better people.

And that's my deep thought for today.


barbie said...

Wonderful post! I totally agree, I had the same journey (spiritually speaking) in my post I called likened it to the seven stages of death. But when you get to the end of those stage, you have peace. Do you still get sad from time to time, yes! But in it, you have peace. You are also right that there is no blueprint for it, everyone has to walk through the journey themselves. I have friends that I want to understand this put it's not possible unless lived, individually.

I also agree about everyone experiencing infertility, I've said that for years, on one had the desire with out any power over it demands you fall to your knees and the desire makes you so much more grateful when you DO get that desired thing.

I love you TICE, you are a truly wonderful person and I'm so glad you have reached the point of peace. I pray though that you also get the blessing of motherhood one day, that will always be my prayer for you.

God Bless my friend.

Awaiting a Child of God:) said...

You speak so eloquently. I am enamored by your faith. I'm going to pray for a faith like yours. I feel as if I have a deep faith but I feel as if it could get deeper. And after reading this, it makes me realize even more how much I just need to accept this suffering of IF as a beautiful plan from God. I need to accept the best out of it and realize even more so that the Lord did not give me a passion to have children in order not to have them myself. Hugs dear blogger friend. It is blogs like yours that strengthen me. Thank you:)

Awaiting a Child of God:) said...

I called my mom in from the other room to read your blog. She, too, was so moved by what you said. I just thought I would share this with you. She loved the part about your arms being too short to box with God! love that:)

Beth R said...

I could have written so much of your post, especially that about never really failing until trying to have a child. Thank you for sharing what you share, I hope you realize how much others in this position need to know we aren't alone here.

Now for me to learn how to really let go and let God.

Kaitlin @ More Like Mary said...

"If before my relationship with Him was like that of a college child with their mother, now my relationship with Him was like that of a child in its mother's womb." Wow-that was profound! Such a beautiful post!

the misfit said...

For some the journey of infertility ends with a baby. For you it has ended with joy in suffering (and maybe will ultimately include a baby too). Getting the baby changes what you have; winding up where you are changes what you are. And I, novice that I am, know the spiritual life is about what you are. I have no notion that I could follow you on your path if I wanted to (and I am still not sure that I do), but reading your words, it's clear beyond doubt that your way is the right one.

Rachel said...

TCIE, Thank You for sharing. I am nowhere near realizing the joy in suffering but I have come a long way from where I was a year ago. I have gone through the stages of disbelief, despair, depression and being upset at God. I am slowly working towards acceptance with God’s help but far from it.
You said it well “The labor of my suffering had been all about ME up until recently”. This is where I am and just realizing it.
You give me hope that there is light at the end of this even if we may not be able to have the desired out come.

A Martha trying to be Mary said...

As always your posts inspire me so much.

May Our Lady of Guadalupe continue to be at your side. She is holding you in her mantle.

Another of the many fruits of your pain....
A person becoming a practitioner by your inspiration and advice even against all odds =)

JellyBelly said...

What a beautiful post! I, too, wish that there was a tutorial on how to suffer gracefully. Like you, before IF, I was able to achieve everything goal that I set my mind to. It has been quite the blow to my ego that I can't get my body to comply with my will.

I'm searching for that peace in suffering. I no longer feel like I rally against the disappointment, but I definitely don't feel peace.

Perhaps this is the lesson that I need to learn?

Sew said...

"now my relationship with Him was like that of a child in its mother's womb"

I don't have any words for this post, but it's beautiful, amazing, inspiring...Your best post ever!

Prayers have worked for you my dear!

We love you so much!

God Alone Suffices said...

Wow, this post is so beautiful! I was getting a little teary at some parts. I know I need to embrace this suffering, but I'm not really sure how. Thank you so much for writing this.

Sarah Johnson said...

I totally agree. Best post, ever! So incredibly beautifully written. You continue to amaze me.

Lauren @ Magnify the Lord with Me said...

This is your best post yet- and you've written some amazing ones!!! The title alone had me. I completely agree with you that the Lord does not plan suffering. He allows it if it can be redemptive in nature, but He would never ordain it as part of His perfect plan. I'm in awe of your beautiful, teachable spirit and your ability to see the good work He has begun in you. I'm pondering the meaning of surrendering to your suffering and what that means for each person.

I'm so thankful you embraced this cross and you are sharing your journey! Blessings, friend!

My Heart Exults said...

That was awesome! You are such a beautiful writer and I thank you for sharing.

[email protected] said...

I swear, your posts are so meaty and rich and deep and amazing and I always comment on them in my head and later realize that I forgot to actually write a comment. Can I just say, you are inspiring???

LifeHopes said...

This post is so beautiful. I LOVED the quote about being the womb, carried along by God, totally safe and secure.

God is doing (has done) a BEAUTIFUL work in you. I love how you point out that we have to "give in" or just "surrender" at some point. Totally true.

Kerry said...

thank you for this post..

E said...

This is beautiful!! You are proof that there is grace in suffering. I totally get that blow to the pride, I thought the same thing. "No one in my family ever had an issue with having a baby..."

I have learned that surrender is a daily thing...

Angela said...

Yes, yes yes! Deep thoughts for today, but this is soooo true! The suffering can bring you into a very intimate relationship with God, and my next comment will not be understood by everyone, but sometimes I miss the suffering because I miss that certain intimacy with Him that only comes through suffering. After you work through the grief and anger and confusion, there can be this peace and even joy in suffering. I have been there, and I know it to be true. What an awesome post. We had friends who went to one of Fr. Corapi's spiritual warfare talks and brought home the dvds and I got to listen to them; really, really good! I'm totally jealous you got to see him in person! *hugs*

Beth said...

This is an awesome post. And pretty much happened to me too in the midst of my surgeries etc. It was a turning point in my IF journey.

Danya @ He Adopted Me First said...

TCIE, I agree entirely. Excellent post! The WISDOM you have now is certainly also a result of this suffering that you have so beautifully endured. I also believe that once you have suffered so greatly, you are able to help others that suffer as well. I for one am much more sympathetic to those around me that live in pain and am also much more likely to offer assistance when I can. Suffering is so much a part of the human experience and the sooner we learn how to submit to it, to allow it for the greater good as God does, the better off we are! I've always felt that I am a BETTER person for having experienced IF and I'm pretty sure you would admit the same! Blessings hon!