Give up… your fears of giving God full control of your fertility
I could hardly bring myself to look at the test when the 3 minutes were up. The box said the test needed time before the result would be readable, but as soon as I had peed on the stick, that second line was blazing pink. “Maybe in 3 minutes it will go away.” It didn’t. I was pregnant again. I collapsed on the bathroom floor in tears and panic.
Sorrow, fear, anger, guilt and shame – all came crashing on me at once, emotions I shouldn’t have had as a happily married woman and faithful Catholic upon finding out a new life was forming within me. That this baby existed at the will of God was indisputable, but that fact only increased my anger and confusion. Having this baby when we did meant an automatic repeat C section, which dramatically increases risks for future pregnancies. It was prudent for us to wait until my doctor had told us it was safe. But apparently God didn’t care. Our faithfulness in using only NFP was “rewarded” with this.
The rest of the pregnancy was a spiritual desert. The darkness was overwhelming, and I felt completely abandoned by God. He knew what the timing of this child meant, and yet, he gave us this child anyway. Shortly after I found out I was pregnant, I discovered that two friends had miscarried and another was infertile. It seemed to me that a God who was that cruel and senseless could not be good. One Sunday at mass, I looked at the image of Divine Mercy displayed prominently at the front of our church and with all the fervor I could muster said, “Jesus, I don’t trust you.”
It took quite a while after the birth of our son for me to even think of trusting God again. It was going to take time for me to rebuild, so I began very small – literally by asking him for a parking space close to our apartment door one night. Baby steps. He obliged.
Months later, I found myself in prayer telling Jesus how hard it was for me to trust him again. By that point, he had brought so much good out of the darkness and pain that I felt silly for continuing to hold out on him. The pain had turned to incomprehensible joy, and I was still unable to let go.
“Why is this still so hard? How do I move past all this, Jesus?” I asked.
“Just start trusting me,” he replied.
My eye roll could have been felt across the cosmos: “And this is how I know you’re a man.” I retorted. Only a man could simplify something so complex.
He was right though. It wasn’t complex. There was nothing for him to do to make me trust him again. It was only for me to make the decision if I wanted.
Fertility is a terrifying thing because it affects absolutely every aspect of our lives. Our children affect everything, from our health, to where we live, what we eat, and even who our friends are. As we use fertility awareness to space and plan our families, we accept that human error or divine intervention can still happen, and that those children we either didn’t plan, or longed for but never came, are still gifts. The fact is NFP doesn’t always give us the outcome we want, and when that happens, it is a heavy cross.
But crosses are the condition of following Jesus, first to Calvary, then to the empty tomb. What we fear in giving God everything is not the pain so much as the unknown. How far will he push us? How hard will he test us? What will it cost us? We won’t know the answers till we’re already in the middle of it or completely through it. There’s a reason faith is called a leap.
Recently, I was able to make an act of trust and Jesus absolutely bent over backwards to answer my request in the most beautiful and perfect way. We can never forget that when we give God everything, he refuses to be outdone in generosity. God wants our fears and our anger just as much as our joys and thanksgiving. When we give God everything – including our fertility, and the fears and joys that surround it – we are given in turn an inner joy and peace that no circumstance can touch. We are given God himself.
Week 4 Challenge Question:
Is it hard for you to give God control of your fertility? What exactly do you fear in doing so? How can you begin to hand those fears over to God and grow in trust of his unwavering love for you? Consider writing this down in a journal in prayer, or in having an open and honest conversation with God where you lay it all at his feet.
Scripture and Prayer
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4: 6-7
Merciful God, both the Scriptures and the lives of the saints are full of the evidence of your goodness and your faithfulness to us even in the very worst of times. Yet we still struggle to believe that our crosses exist for our good. Help me to trust you with my fertility, whether you want to give us new life in the most difficult of circumstances, or take new life from us for reasons we do not understand. Father, I am afraid even as I say these words, for I don’t know what your will is for me. But through the passion, death and resurrection of your Son, I know that any pain granted to me will be a witness and lead me to a deeper love of you, and truly, there can be no greater reward than that.
From the fear that trusting you will leave me more destitute,
Deliver me, Jesus!*
*Taken from the Litany of Trust composed by Sr. Faustina Maria Pia, SV of the Sisters of Life
Read this week’s Challenge Accepted from Val
I was nursing my baby who was a few months old. My doctor had told me all the risks that could happen if I had another baby via c-section (I’ve had 4 c-sections total and 1 miscarriage). I was fearful of NFP, I was fearful in my own lack of confidence using the method, and I was fearful of becoming pregnant sooner than I should. My doc said I needed to wait at least 2 years if ever again before conceiving in order to support good healing. I couldn’t imagine something happening to me and leaving my husband and kiddo’s behind.
I needed an instructor to walk me through this postpartum period more than ever as we faced these serious medical reasons to avoid. Sarah was recommended to me as an instructor by a member in a Facebook group. I was scheduled to take the breastfeeding protocol class with her live online. My internet of course wasn’t letting me log in; Sarah sent me her phone number and put me on speaker phone so I could hear the class.
Long story short, the crosses that lead me to Sarah and prevented me from logging in that night ended up being a complete blessing in disguise. Sarah and I ended up continuing to chat on the phone after the class was done.
I was able to open up to her so easily because she was so vulnerable in class. In tears, I shared with her my anxieties about becoming pregnant and my worries about the complications that it could cause my family and me. She very boldly but calmly spoke these words to me; God was speaking right through her. “Remember, God is the Author of Life”. She went on to say something along the lines of, “If God allows it, it’s His will, and His will is the best”.
A weight was lifted off my shoulder and instantly I had peace remembering God has everything in His hands .
From that point forward, my husband and I still carefully discern another child and do take my health into account, but I have learned to give God my fears and the control of my fertility. I pray if He ever calls us to have another child, we will trust in Him and go for it. I pray that we will trust that He has the greatest plans as the author of ALL life, both the souls he creates in us as co creators as well as our very own souls.
May we continue to echo in our own lives the example our Blessed mother gave us: “May it be done unto me according to your word”.
Jesus we trust in you! ~Val
P.S. Our youngest is almost 4, a testament on how well the Marquette Method of NFP has worked to help us avoid. Also, this was just the start of Sarah and my sisterhood (forever blessed)!