In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through Him, and without Him nothing came to be. What came to be through Him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5
How beautiful it is to celebrate the birth of that Holy Light, our Savior Jesus Christ. Without Him, indeed nothing can come to be. In my struggle with the cross of infertility, Jesus has never left me alone in the darkness. He has never failed to comfort me and be my guiding light.
In my second year of graduate school, I experienced a big life milestone – the “rite of womanhood”. Confused yet? You heard that right – I finally began my menstrual cycle at 23 years old! I could not believe it. I remember calling my mom with such excitement and disbelief – probably a much different scenario than if I had started as a young girl. I was so happy and stunned and grateful all at the same time.
Growing up, I had far too many endocrinologist appointments. While I underwent numerous tests, no doctor could determine what was wrong. I wasn’t developing correctly, and no one could tell me why. As I reached my twenties with no progress in sight, I started to lose hope. Whenever I researched primary amenorrhea (the medical term for not having an initial menstrual cycle), I could find no instances of other women who began their cycles as late as their twenties. This made me very sad because I had always wanted to have a lot of kids. What if I never could? I even took a chromosome test to see if it would provide answers, but everything checked out as normal. While I was relieved, I was disappointed because I wanted closure. I wanted an answer. I like to be in control; in this case, I had no control whatsoever. I didn’t want to wait in the darkness any longer.
At last, just when I had given up, my first cycle made its surprise entrance! God has such beautiful timing because, just a few months later, I began dating my now husband. We met at a pro-life student group in college but were so shy that we didn’t get together until years later. This was a blessing because God let me know that despite my health struggles, children were still possible. With my body finally seeming to cooperate, we were hopeful for the future.
My cycles became more regular for a time; however, this didn’t last. I have polycystic ovary syndrome and rarely ovulate. Two and a half years into our marriage, we are still praying for the gift of a child. A while back, I came into an emotionally challenging period when several younger couples in our families conceived very quickly, all in a row. Of course, we were so happy for them and thankful they did not have to go through the same struggles as us, but it was still hard. It made me feel like less of a woman that I couldn’t give my husband a child like all these other women could. I felt like a failure. I had control over many aspects of my life, but not this one. No matter how healthy I ate or how much I exercised, it was never enough. Yet, in these sad times, God never left me alone.
One day at Mass, I looked around at all the pews filled with adorable babies and small children, and then I gazed up at the front of the church. Facing me was a lovely statue of St. Joseph holding baby Jesus. As I looked at the Holy Infant, words suddenly appeared in the forefront of my mind:
“Am I not enough for you?”
I was startled and taken aback. I will never forget those powerful yet simple words. What I have come to realize with God’s help is that my longing for a child is really a longing for Him. Through God’s grace and guidance, I have developed a devotion to the Infant Jesus, which I have also begun to share with my husband. While I have not yet conceived a biological child in my womb, baby Jesus has allowed Himself to be conceived in my heart.
A prayer that my husband and I pray together is called the Chaplet of the Infant Jesus. The prayer opens with the words: “Divine Infant Jesus, I adore Thy Cross and I accept all the cross Thou wilt be pleased to send me…And the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us.” I also find a lot of comfort in a prayer to the Infant Jesus of Prague: “…I give myself wholly to suffer patiently all for Thee and serve for eternity…O Infant Jesus I implore Thee from this danger set me free; that with Mary and Joseph and the Holy Angels, I may love Thee for eternity.” These words remind me that our suffering should never be wasted. We can offer our suffering to Jesus and unite it with His suffering. This pleases Him and is a powerful means for helping to save souls, such as preborn babies and holy souls in purgatory.
During our season of infertility, these words of devotion to the Infant Jesus have spoken to my heart and helped me to remain joyful despite times of sadness because all things come to be through Him. Jesus is our light that shines in the darkness; truly, no darkness can ever overcome it.
Happy birthday, Jesus.
Annemarie Mysonhimer has been married to her husband, Brian, for 2 and a half years and writes from Illinois. They love spending time playing board games and card games together.