The weekend before Lent began, my monthly visitor came again. Distressed and depressed at yet another cycle resulting in no baby, I stayed home to pray the Rosary while my husband went to Eucharistic Adoration. When he came home, he shared two Bible verses that had touched him. They spoke powerfully to him:

Yes, blessed is she who, childless and undefiled, never knew transgression of the marriage bed; for she shall bear fruit at the judgment of souls. Wisdom 3:13

 Better is childlessness with virtue; for immortal is the memory of virtue, acknowledged both by God and human beings. When it is present people imitate it, and they long for it when it is gone. Wisdom 4:1-2

What are these verses saying? That virtue matters more than having children. Virtue is what bears fruit at the final judgment and in the kingdom to come. Virtue expands as others strive to imitate it.

The Saints’ lives bear witness to this. Many of them were childless yet chose the path of holy perfection. Think of how many people have learned from the saints and tried to imitate them and how much fruit that has brought the world! Indeed, their witness of holy lives have inspired more Saints and acts of holiness!

These verses not only remind me that virtues matter more than children, but also call to mind the Gospel verse in the Passion often recited during Stations of the Cross that has struck me every Lenten season since infertility first plagued my life. During Jesus’ Passion, as He walked the way of the Cross, He specifically spoke to the barren women:

A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’ Luke 23: 27-29

If you’re like me, carrying the cross of infertility for longer than you  wanted and feeling barren, these words can both be a comfort and seem paradoxical. After all, there are verses in the Bible that speak of children as a reward and blessing. How could Jesus say such a thing about being barren? Not to mention, how can one possibly understand  how being barren could be considered a blessing? It doesn’t feel like a blessing, does it?

Before you are tempted to discount these words, remind yourself that so much of what Jesus said was paradoxical. His words caused many, even His own disciples, to scratch their heads. In the Beatitudes, He declared blessed precisely those whom the world does not: the poor in spirit, the meek, the mourning, and the persecuted. He exalted the humble, poor, suffering, and lowly. God’s ways are not our ways. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. Jesus shows us this reality throughout the Gospels.

Sister walking this path, infertility is a cross, a hard cross, and Jesus speaks to you during His most pivotal moment – as He’s being mutilated, humiliated, and is about to die. He looks up to you and speaks these words. He turns to you and comforts you. Sit with that image and those words.

If that still doesn’t convince you, consider the words of Isaiah 54:1 which prophesies similarly with the words: “Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord.

Sing over my childlessness? Gosh Lord, I don’t really feel like singing when I’m sad and longing for children, or when I’m envious of the latest friend who got pregnant after minimal trying, or at a family member’s baby shower, or  when my home feels silent and empty without the family I dreamed of having. Sister, I trust you’re thinking those exact things because I certainly have!

In the same way as Jesus’ words, Isaiah’s words are a paradox. Isaiah is saying that you will be more blessed and have more children as a barren woman. Thinking in human terms, we don’t understand how this can be, yet      these are the words that have been spoken to us by our Lord as a comfort and hope. We have to live into their truth. Someday we  will see why it had to be this way. Fruitfulness and blessing come in unexpected ways, now and in the life to come.

While we may not feel blessed like women who get pregnant and bear children, we are blessed now and will be blessed in the future. Our Lord says so! We can trust His words and promises. Start looking for that blessedness in your life now and you’ll grow into seeing it. Trust that blessedness awaits you in big ways that you can’t see.

Beyond the cross, the whole point of being a Resurrection people is anticipating Heaven to where our brokenness will be healed. Those of us carrying the heavy cross of infertility point to a deeper truth – that we were made for Heaven and union with God. Our earthly experience will always be incomplete in one way or another. That is why we hope in the life to come and build the Kingdom on Earth.

Above all, I hope you hold onto these words of comfort and hope from our Lord in the midst carrying your cross.

Katie Zalany lives in Cleveland, Ohio. She is married, a Third Order Secular Franciscan (OFS), certified spiritual director, benefits/wellness leader, certified health and life coach, published Catholic blogger, and St. Vincent de Paul volunteer. She is the creator of the ministry Women in Waiting | Made for Fruitfulness, inspired by her struggle with 14 years of infertility.