An email from my friend and fellow infertility journeyer Jennifer reminded me of an idea that’s been with me for quite a while now.
Jennifer said, what if we are actually the lucky ones? What if it is only the smallness of our perspective that makes us unable to see how blessed we are?
A chill ran through me when I read that.
We’re forced to wait for our children. How can that possibly be a blessing?
For months now there’s been a little voice inside me that chides me when I get too close to despair. If you can accept this cross with love it might be the best thing you ever do.
Sometimes I insist on arguing with the voice. I always thought motherhood would be the best thing I’d ever do. Why haven’t I been given that chance? Why does it have to be this one?
Last spring my father wrote me a letter in which he told me of an image he’d gotten while praying for me: that of Simon of Cyrene. In Gibson’s portrayal in The Passion Simon is drafted into service against his will, but after being with Jesus for a while he does not want to leave Him; he has realized what a blessing it is to help carry that cross.
But, Dad pointed out, if Simon had been forced to carry the cross without knowing it was for his Christ, would he have caught on so easily to the goodness of what he was doing? Almost surely not, and yet the act itself would have been just as valuable.
We see Simon as a chosen one, blessed to have been so close to the Savior at such a time. Yet I’m sure that many of those looking on must have pitied the one who was forced into humiliating labor for the sake of a criminal condemned to death. Perhaps there was a man standing next to Simon in the crowd who drew a breath of relief when the guards passed over him, and went on his way thinking himself lucky. But it was Simon who was given the life-changing chance.
On the fourth Sunday of Advent, which also happened to be Cycle Day 1 for me, the reading at Mass was the story of the Annunciation. The priest talked in his homily about Mary and the amazing fiat of motherhood, and I couldn’t help it. Tears just kept pushing themselves out of my eyes.
That afternoon, my mom pulled me aside. “I was watching you during Mass, and I just wanted to tell you,” she said, “motherhood is a great thing. But wanting to be a mother, and having to wait - yours is the higher calling.”
My first thought was that I can’t really believe that. I’ve been thinking about it since then, though, and about the little voice inside me, and about Simon of Cyrene being pushed to the ground by that bone-crushing cross. I think about the person I might be now if we’d gotten pregnant that first cycle or even that first year, and you know what? I know I am a lucky one.
It sounds ridiculous, especially in light of some of the torturous moments I’ve written about here, but it’s true. It’s true not because I feel it, but in spite of the fact that most of the time I don’t feel it. It’s True with a capital T. It’s a truth of the paradoxical sort the Father of Paradoxes sometimes springs on us to keep us on our toes. And in spite of the fact that mostly I’m too dumb to see it, I want to know it because I want to stay on my toes.
Remind me of this in about a week and a half.