Here is a quote I think of often, from one of my favorite authors. It gives me hope along my fertility journey. I’d like to share it with you:

“It’s easy to think of God more as the giver than the gift, like a kind of divine Santa in the sense that we want more from him than of him. When our arms clutch many things, even good things, we can have limited space for God. When our arms are emptied, we mostly begin by pleading for restoration, perhaps even demanding it. But if we can move past the outrage and quiet ourselves, gradually, in the absence of distraction, we find ourselves being wooed by God, and find him to be a greater treasure than any we lost.” -Jonathan Renshaw

I had a thought about infertility the other day. It seems that when it comes to sufferings, God asks us both to accept them, and to offer them up to Him. He gives us two hands, to receive with the one, and to give with the other. This is what love is: divine communication, offering and receiving gifts, especially the painful ones. They become sweet when transformed by His grace and His mercy (Lord, please – make them sweet to me!). Just as the bread and wine, offered to God in the sacrifice of Mass, become transformed into His very self and are gifted to us – so, too, our infertility sufferings, accepted and offered to God, are transformed in an amazing way, and will adorn us. We do not yet know what our offerings will become, but through faith we know that it will be to our benefit and ultimate joy.

The hallmark of God’s love for us is that He desires to receive gifts from us, to transform them and give them back, refined and multiplied! He seeks to shower love on us, rewarding our faithfulness with fruitfulness.

It is good to know that God longs to receive gifts from us. It means we have value – we matter. You, individually, in your very infertility, matter. Hold on to this truth, especially when the forces of evil try to sway you with cynical lies. Hold on to this.

It can be hard to be joyful this Mother’s Day, as we seemingly celebrate those who have what we lack and desire. Yet we are called to live lives full of joy, empowered by God. How, then? Through sacrifice. This sacrifice of fertility, however temporary it may be, has awe-inspiring redemptive value.

In a way, infertility can be likened to a calling. In order to give us something great, God asks us to give Him something precious. We see examples of this throughout the Church: priests and religious give up marriage and physical parenthood to form bonds of fraternal love. Is the same not true, in a sense, of us? We are called to drop our nets – our expectations of fertility and fecundity – and follow Jesus. Where He is going, we do not know; we must just follow, trusting Him to lead the way.

Of course, we could counter that at least the disciples chose to follow Jesus; those in the religious life chose to give up earthly marriage. We, however, did not have that choice; it was foisted on us. We entered marriage open to life, and instead the door seems to have been shut on us. We did not choose to have fertility issues. What we do have agency over is how we react, and how we receive – and offer – this gift, this sacrifice.

It is not easy (What an understatement!). Even after six and a half years of marriage, the pain is still fresh when I encounter it, unexpectedly, on the way. I wish very much to be “past” whatever/ wherever this is, and in a different place spiritually, where the uncertainty no longer unsettles, and I can know what God wants of me.

Yet here I am. Here you are. Here we are, in this, together. Let the fact that we are not alone, that there is someone on the other side of this screen suffering in solidarity, bring us solace and comfort. We know through faith that this, too, shall pass. Until it does, let us toil faithfully, in hope, believing that we are bearing overloaded baskets and bushels and barnyards full of fruit.

Happy Mothers’ Day, my fellow spiritual mothers! May God be with you, and us, and bless our sacrifices! We will embrace on the other side of this, and marvel at the wonders God accomplished through our times of trial.

Until then I remain,
Your sister,
Teresa

Teresa and her husband live in “suburban DC” aka Maryland. She enjoys bossing him around and he tolerates this with good grace. In their spare time, they enjoy reading, ziplining, and having random adventures by getting lost.