Today, I am thanking God for my infertility. I am not always good at doing this. Well, to be honest, frequently I can let the pain of infertility weigh heavily on my heart. It is easy to do this because the reminders of my barrenness are everywhere. However, I know that I can and I should make efforts to offer gratitude to God. How can I possibly thank God for something that is sometimes so painful.
In the past few years, I have become more familiar with Blessed Father Solanus Casey. He was a Capuchin friar that lived for at least a decade at the once friary, now retreat center near my home that I frequent. It was not until recently that I came across this quote from Blessed Father Solanus, which has meant so much to me: “Thank God ahead of time.”
Blessed Father Solanus always felt called to the priesthood, but was never able to have the full faculties of a priest. Because of his struggles with education, he was ordained a simplex priest, meaning that he could not hear Confessions or preach doctrinal sermons. He was eventually assigned the lowly task of being a doorkeeper. This would probably be pretty disappointing to most, but Fr. Solanus accepted this role with grace; he never showed the slightest disappointment or resentment. Through this lowly role at the friary accepted with humility, he allowed God to do amazing works through him. He had a deep spiritual life, and many sought him out for advice. He prayed for everyone he met, and physical and spiritual healings came about because of his holiness.
In the same way that Fr. Solanus may have been tempted with the disappointment of not having full priestly faculties, I am faced with the disappointment of infertility. I can only imagine how Fr. Solanus’ heart would have longed to counsel souls in Confession and preach doctrinal sermons that would relate well to the people that he served. Given the number of people that sought him out for advice, he would have succeeded if he had been granted the full priestly faculties, but he was never permitted to do this. God had other amazing plans in store for him. Fr. Solanus knew this in his heart and he chose to be gracious for everything.
In my life, I must remember that God is not short-changing me of my motherhood. The longing in my heart to be a mother is a good longing. God will grant that desire in the way and timing that he sees fit. My infertility is not a result of God punishing me, or because I don’t have what it takes to be a mother. These are lies that Satan wants me to believe.
…in spite of my brokenness… God will do amazing works through me if I let him.
God has a plan for me and my life in spite of my brokeness. Fr. Solanus’ life reveals that even when personal desires are not met, I can still trust that God will provide. It is so beautiful and humbling to think that in spite of my brokenness, and just as he did with Fr. Solanus, God will do amazing works through me if I let him. Everything is a gift from God, even infertility. What I choose to do with this gift can make me a Saint.
The last time that I was in the chapel at Fr. Solanus’ friary, someone pointed to a spot near the foot of the altar and told me that Fr. Solanus used to lay there and pray for hours. He would rest and remain there with Jesus. Jesus is asking me to seek him out in my moments of bitter and deep isolation. He wants me to sit and surrender my suffering at the foot of the cross and remain with him in each painful moment. As infertility causes me to long for a child, he wants me to experience the pangs of thirst that he feels for all souls as he desires them to be drawn to his heart. How beautiful this suffering is that it may unite me more deeply to our Lord!
Through the pain of infertility, I can still thank God for the work that he is doing through me. I thank him for the radical freedom to serve others in need. I thank him for the time to grow more closely in relationship with my husband. I thank him for the moments of pain and isolation that I may be more deeply united to the sufferings of the crucifixion. I thank him for the desire in my heart for a child that it may help me to understand just how deeply Jesus desires for souls. I thank God for my future, whether it involves having my own biological children or cultivating life in a different way. God has it all worked out. I thank God for his amazing plan.
Blessed Father Solanus Casey, pray for us!
Stacey Huneck lives in Indiana with her husband, Phil. She is pursuing her Master of Arts in Theology from the University of Notre Dame while serving as a high school Youth Minister.