Letters of Encouragement: loneliness in carrying your cross
It’s a heavy cross, isn’t it? I know it has been hard. I know the mental load you are enduring. I know your pain. I know your frustration. I know your anger. I know your shame. I know you are ready to abandon that cross. But I am here to tell you not to put it down and not to walk away. I am here to encourage you to keep carrying your cross but I want to do more. Let me help you carry it while you rest a bit. Let me remind you that you are not alone. The longing for a child is a deep-rooted desire that plants itself in our hearts. Once it settles into our being, it is difficult – nearly impossible – to remove. We can fool ourselves by denying it but the desire remains because of the way God designed our bodies to carry children.
My desire to be a mother sprouted in my heart when I was 16. It grew as I started dating, searching for my husband. It exploded when I married my true love. It withered when I lost our first child to miscarriage. Finally, it limped along through a sad and lonely place when I could no longer get pregnant.
As a wife, I enjoyed cooking for my husband, getting all dolled up for him, making sure the house looked inviting when he came home, and anything that showed him how much I loved and appreciated him. But the one thing I looked forward to most was telling him we were pregnant. I dreamed up so many scenarios and had such high expectations. Alas, a cloud so dark swallowed up my dreams, no light could enter. Year after year, the pressure mounted. It was getting to me. I felt inadequate, unworthy and a failure. Here he was, working hard to provide for me and I could not even do the one thing I so desperately desired to do: give him a child.
Pangs of guilt and shame came in surges. On some days, I was hopeful. On others, I wanted to hide from the world in some murky corner where my brokenness would be less exposed. The pressure took a tremendous emotional toll on me. It was a pain I lived alone. I never told my family. It was this hidden and yet obvious thing we never spoke of. I lived with this pain while being surrounded by women who could get pregnant and had to be joyful for them.
In my gloomiest days, I directed my eyes to the cross. As I gazed at it with tears flowing down my cheeks, I kept thinking, “How did He find the strength to carry His cross after having been scourged? Why am I not capable of doing the same with my own cross?” Some scholars have estimated that the cross weighed around 200 pounds and measured approximately 12 feet long and 6 wide. Now, that’s pretty heavy! The distance walked by Jesus was between 600m and 2km. It is not that long of a walk, but let us not forget He had to accomplish this final task while bleeding from every pore of His body. He performed all this after having been brutally scourged, betrayed and abandoned by His friends. He would not have slept or eaten anything. And yet, He picked up His cross, planted it over his shoulder and went forward.
As I pondered His endurance, despite falling three times, I was in awe at how He carried it, knowing death was the result. There was no prospect of an 11th-hour clemency or of even rescuing Himself. He chose to die this way. He suffered greatly and that suffering had a purpose. He chose this suffering for me. And he chose it for you, my dearest sister in Christ. Reflecting on how He carried His cross, it became less painful to carry mine. His cross was a source of strength. If Jesus carried His cross because of His love for me, I could do the same because of my love for Him.
The courage I was gaining kept me going through each and every negative pregnancy test and every disappointing beginning of a menstrual cycle. It made me endure the pain of every blood draw, when my veins popped, and my arms looked bruised and battered. It made me brave through my surgery and gave me peace when I realized my fertility was no more. Carrying my cross paved the road I had refused to walk down, but one I needed to take. It led me towards acceptance and healing. As painful as it was, I had to accept my infertility if I ever wanted to achieve healing. The suffering was hard to navigate. Yet, it helped grow my relationship with Jesus. Suffering has purpose. Suffering has meaning. My dear sister in Christ, your suffering should not be taken in vain. I know this is hard to accept, believe me. But suffering will give you strength and it will bring fruit.
Suffering also gave me permission to ask for help in carrying my cross, as well as the mental load that came with it. When faced with infertility, it is far more comfortable to remain in our bubble of pain, shame and anger. But, in asking for help, I found myself surrounded by people who cared for my pain, my suffering and me. Putting my pain out there also opened my eyes to the pain of others.
As you read this letter, you may be experiencing a day where your cross is crushing you. You may be ready to toss it aside. My dearest sister in Christ, I encourage you to keep going. I know it is a lot to ask, but you know this suffering has a purpose. Suffering is part of the journey. We must all face it if we want to find acceptance, peace and joy in our hearts. You are not alone. You are not forgotten. You ARE stronger than you think. I challenge you to keep carrying your cross while keeping in mind we are all carrying it with you. We all carry the cross of Christ to our personal Calvary. Do not do this alone. Do not feel shame in asking for help and prayers. Do not think that asking for help is a sign of weakness. To the contrary, vulnerability is a sign of great strength. Allow close family or friends to show how much they care for you by sharing your pain with them. Most of them probably have no clue what you are going through.
Keep moving forward confident in your faith and never lose hope. And when you lose either one, ask God for their return. Keep your pain open to the help and love that those closest to you can provide. Look to the Cross and see His love for you in His pain. All of us at The Fruitful Hollow are with you. We see your pain, but we also see your courage. We see your faith. We see you through God’s eyes and His love for you. Let me end this letter with a prayer from the heart.
I feel like I am failing at carrying this cross.
This burden has become too much for me.
Heal my fears and anxieties and guide me forward.
Grant me the courage and strength I have lost along the way.
Show me my purpose and worth in Your plan.
Direct my eyes towards Your suffering.
Lift me up on days when I keep falling.
Help me seek You always.