The Lord remembered her. ~ 1 Samuel 1:19

In this passage from 1 Samuel, we are reminded of Hannah’s story of waiting and how she vulnerably brought her pain to Our Lord. While many of us may feel as if the waiting will, or has, lasted forever He never forgets us. Let us not look so wistfully at all we are waiting for that we lose sight of what we can do, and are doing, in the here and now. As I reflect on ways I can be fruitful, I am grateful my circumstances allow me to serve those I wouldn’t have otherwise had time to cultivate relationships with in my life. For example, I am able to be radically present to my students, including a student researcher whom I have been blessed to mentor for the last four years. If I had multiple children at home, I likely would not be able to spend as much time with my students. 

Friend, please hear me when I say that I know that waiting can be painful, yet we must also trust that the waiting is never wasted. As I reflect on the years of waiting, I can see now, on the other side of it, that while I had moments of loneliness, despair, and confusion, those moments were building blocks of what was to come –  they lead me to the feminine fruitfulness I’m now able to take part in through service to others.  

For instance, during the years of waiting for my spouse, when I strongly felt a desire to live out the vocation of marriage, I see now that the years of waiting enabled me to grow closer to God. The fruits of the Holy Spirit were shared so abundantly with me in those years of waiting and continue to be spilled out nearly nine years into our marriage. I see the ripple effect of the fruits of waiting –  not only in myself, but also in my husband. The trials we’ve faced in our marriage have transformed both of us. Even though our marriage and plans for our family have unfolded in a different way than we planned, I know my husband and I are exactly where God wants us to be. 

We have been able to live our vocation of marriage in a way that is open and welcoming to others in a variety of ways. From hosting a college student in need of housing, taking part in ministry or teaching a class together, or taking our niece and nephews on adventures when they spend time with us, we are given a multitude of ways to minister to others. Recently we had another opportunity for this other-directed fruitfulness. I received an unexpected check in the mail. Just an hour later, I learned a friend of ours was in need of some new appliances. My husband and I agreed to put this check toward the purchase of a new washing machine and dryer for our friend in need. While I wish we needed the money to take care of a large family of our own, the reality is we are able to be generous with others because of our small family size. Rather than wallow in my sadness, I see the ways we are able to bear fruit through keeping our hearts open to loving others. My husband and I are able to see ways we can be fruitful for those in our community and to those we encounter through our shared vocation of teaching. 

Another way I have been able to share  my feminine fruitfulness is through the love I am able to pour into my students. As a teacher, I have many opportunities to mentor, teach, and spiritually mother those in my care. However, those yeses to serving as the hands and feet of Christ also come with eventual goodbyes and other bittersweet moments. This past weekend was not only Mother’s Day, but also graduation weekend. While I’ve been teaching for the last 25+ years, this particular cohort of graduates was extra special. I struggled to keep the tears from falling, but strove, like Hannah, to allow myself to be vulnerable with God. I tried to remain in the present and keep my guard down – even as my heart was breaking with each goodbye to the students who had become like family. 

Our Heavenly Father desires to make all things new. That includes us, our hearts, our faith, and our relationship with Him. To be fruitful often means to suffer. To be fruitful means showing up and loving even when things are difficult. It means to allow God to show us He is with us every step of the way, taking our offerings and walking alongside us during this journey. Due to our cross of infertility, we may not be fruitful in the ways we imagined on our wedding day, but walking alongside our spouses on the journey of marriage, we can look around and consider other ways we are being called to be fruitful and multiply. As our ninth wedding anniversary approaches, my husband and I plan to celebrate using the traditional anniversary gift of the willow tree. Willow trees are both strong and flexible. We can view our fruitfulness in the same way. Though we’ve had  to be flexible due to circumstances, our marriage is strong and our fruit is beautiful! 

Megan Reister, wife to Adam and mother of one young daughter named Charlotte, loves peanut butter and chocolate combinations, puppies, and her home state of Pennsylvania. Now an Ohio resident, she is a teacher who enjoys working at a Catholic university and helping preservice teachers become advocates for the children they will serve in their vocations. Spiritual motherhood has always had a place in Meg’s heart, and even more so as she and her husband face secondary infertility. You can read more from Meg on her personal blog.