Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Peace With the Cross

I wrote this several days ago and decided not to share it in this space. Our (as in the Catholic community) fertility is such a hot topic, with assumptions made and feelings hurt. I wasn't sure if this was something that I wanted to share here. I talked to my friend about it, and she encouraged me to share it. I had allowed my heart to grow hard in this area, and I longed for some sense of control where there is none. But control is not really what I want. I want to be close to God, and that requires an abandonment of will that I fight daily. It is a struggle for all of us on the journey to sanctity, I think. We want to follow Christ, but we want to dictate the way the path takes us sometimes. That is why I decided to share this post after all. These words describe my thoughts and feelings, but maybe they describe you a little bit, too. 

I had been feeling restless. The other night, I couldn't sleep. The house was quiet, and all I could think about was how the next ten years of my life were going to take me from being the mom of younger kids to the mom of adult children. The thought made me sad and excited at the same time. In my head, I battled with thoughts of wanting to slow down time, to keep these boys smallish, and to continue to hope for one more baby. But I also thought of speeding up time, feeling sure that our family is complete, and making decisions about what I am going to be doing with the rest of my life. You know, I won't be quite 50, I will need some employment. The idea of doing something other than homeschooling and housework sounded fun.

I decided that I was finished with the roller-coaster of fertility. I had spent enough time on it, and it would be okay to hop off of the ride a little early. I needed to be done, to move on. It would be okay because I had suffered long enough. Deciding to switch from trying to conceive to trying not to conceive seemed like a great idea at the time. It made me feel like I had some control over my fertility. After all combining charting to avoid conception with my age and low fertility meant that I would be sure not to conceive. Finally, I looked to the future and felt that I could be certain of something. My life would move forward, and there would be no babies (real or hoped for) in it! My struggles with infertility and women's health issues had left me weak and weary, and I wanted no more of any of it.

As I entered into Holy Week, I was focused on the cross, my cross. I thought only of my suffering. I wanted it taken from me.

Then I read this quote from Fulton J. Sheen in my Lenten devotional,

Even those who have some degree of sanctity find it hard, sometimes, to remain on the cross until the end; the world is full of half-crucified souls who have come down from the cross at the challenge of the world after an hour, or two hours, or even after two hours and fifty-nine minutes. Few are like the Savior, who will stay until the end that they, like him, might utter the cry of triumph: "It is finished." 

I sat there, frozen, unable to move. Do I want to be a half-crucified soul? Is that why Jesus took up His cross so that I in my weakness, could drop mine? He humbled himself and obediently suffered death on a cross (Philippians 6:8) so that I could have salvation. That is how great the Lord's love is. He transformed the cruel death of the cross into victory when He rose again, giving the gift of new life.

How very selfish and unworthy I am of His love. And yet He does love me. It is the love, redemptive love, which I had lost sight of in the suffering. 

I have written about the cross of infertility before. There are days, weeks, and sometimes months when it is easier to carry than other times. But it is never easy. It is always a struggle. I have never embraced it, never been thankful for it. 

I read about St. John Vianney recently, and in it there was a beautiful quote about the cross. I don't remember the exact quote, but the idea was that we are miserable because we don't love the cross. If we loved the cross, our hearts would have peace. 

Love the cross and have peace. I need peace. 

I don't know what the future holds for my family size, but I do know the cross of subpar fertility and miscarriage will be taken from me soon enough. I am not sure how my final years of fertility will play out, but I know I will continue to discuss it with Chris. We will continue to seek God's will and pray for peace in this area of our life. 

I want to meet the end with a triumphant cry. I know that I can continue to carry my cross because I will be clinging to Jesus the entire way. I will focus on love and hopefully find peace. 

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