Karoline Heldt, CFCP
Lent, suffering, and fertility
We're well into Lent now, and I don't know if anyone else feels this way, but it seems to me that life always feels a little extra "hard" during Lent. Maybe it's because we have our extra little voluntary sacrifices - no sweets or coffee or tv - and it makes doing ordinary life feel more challenging with less padding of creature comforts. Maybe it's the seasonal weather. March in Michigan tends to feel drab and long. Or maybe it's just the way the liturgical rhythms are so intertwined with our human experience. Whatever the reason, Lent always feels like a good time to ponder the issue of human suffering. and the reality is our fertility experiences are rarely without some level of suffering.
In your fertility journey, as with Lent, some crosses are chosen, and others are imposed by the reality of our fallen humanity. Some crosses you may choose are the suffering of abstaining from sex during times of fertility, the cross (albeit a joyful one) of having more children, the choice to not have more children, and pursuing answers and treatments for fertility problems or not doing so. Most of the time however, we don't get to choose our crosses. I sure wish we did. Don't I know what I'm capable of or would be best at?! Miscarriage, infertility, hyper-fertility or prolonged periods of fertility, postpartum struggles, marriage difficulties...so many heavy crosses.
And yet, there is so much goodness in the struggle and in the suffering. Why do we embrace suffering as Christians? Our ultimate goal in the Christian life is to constantly be transformed more and more into the image of Christ. Suffering has a unique way of bringing us into greater intimacy with the One who suffered everything and paid the ultimate price.
If you're in a season of great suffering when it comes to your fertility, I want to challenge you on two things:
First, if you're not already working with a FertilityCare Practitioner, please reach out. There are so many burdens that can be made lighter. Perhaps there is an answer to your infertility. Let's look at a few cycles of charting. Maybe you don't have as many fertile days as you thought, and that would relieve some tension in your marriage. With the Creighton Model and the guidance of a practitioner, there very well may be some answers for your heavy crosses.
Secondly, regardless of where you're at in your journey, I want to challenge you to pray this prayer regularly for the rest of Lent. Allow your sufferings to transform you. You may not ever be able to set down your crosses on this side of heaven, but your suffering has already been redeemed by the One who gave everything for you. Let Him walk with you in this.
"Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
The Litany of Trust
(Sisters of Life, Suffern, NY)
From the belief that I have to earn your love... deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that I am unlovable... deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that trusting You will leave me more destitute... deliver me, Jesus.
From all suspicion of Your words and promises... deliver me, Jesus.
From the rebellion against childlike dependency on You... deliver me, Jesus.
From refusals and reluctances in accepting Your will... deliver me, Jesus.
From anxiety about the future... deliver me, Jesus.
From resentment or excessive preoccupation with the past... deliver me, Jesus.
From restless self-seeking in the present moment... deliver me, Jesus.
From disbelieve in Your love and presence...deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being asked to give more than I have... deliver me, Jesus.
From the belief that my life has no meaning or worth... deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of what love demands... deliver me, Jesus.
From discouragement... deliver me, Jesus.
That You are continually holding me, sustaining me, loving me... Jesus, I trust in You.
That Your love goes deeper than my sins and failings and transforms me... Jesus, I trust in You.
That not knowing what tomorrow bring is an invitation to lean on You... Jesus, I trust in You.
That You are with me in my suffering... Jesus, I trust in You.
That my suffering, united to Your own, will bear fruit in this life and the next... Jesus, I trust in You.
That You will not leave me orphan, that You are present in Your Church... Jesus, I trust in You.
That Your plan is better than anything else... Jesus, I trust in You.
That You always hear me and in Your goodness always respond to me... Jesus, I trust in You.
That You give me the grace to accept forgiveness and to forgive others... Jesus, I trust in You.
That You give me all the strength I need for what is asked... Jesus, I trust in You.
That my life is a gift... Jesus, I trust in You.
That You will teach me to trust You... Jesus, I trust in You.