Pain. Anguish. Hurt. Brokenness. Loneliness. Confusion. Suffering.
Do you recognize any of these companions? Maybe you know them all too well.
This week, I've been reflecting on suffering, specifically suffering when it comes to infertility. The cross we carry is a painful one. I would love to be able to write and tell you tips, tricks, and ways to carry your cross pain-free, but you know as well as I do that there is no such thing as a pain-free cross. So, now what?
In my quest for the answer to suffering, I came across Saint John Paul II's Apostolic Letter, Salvifici Doloris, on the Christian meaning of Human Suffering. Linked HERE in it's entirety. The whole letter is beyond beautiful and is filled with so much truth. I highly recommend reading it.
Today I thought we could focus on one piece in the introduction. Saint John Paul II shares,
"What we express by the word 'suffering' seems to be particularly essential to the nature of man. It is as deep as man himself, precisely because it manifests in its own way that depth which is proper to man, and in its own way surpasses it. Suffering seems to belong to man's transcendence: it is one of those points in which man is in a certain sense 'destined' to go beyond himself, and he is called to this in a mysterious way."
Let us reflect on the very last sentence once again... "Suffering seems to belong to man's transcendence: it is one of those points in which man is in a certain sense 'destined' to go beyond himself, and he is called to this in a mysterious way."
Sister in Christ, I ask you to reflect for a moment on the suffering you've encountered while carrying the cross of infertility. At what point was the suffering most unbearable? Would you say that moment brought you "beyond yourself" into something more? What did you lose? Now for the hard question... what did you gain?
Saint John Paul II tells us, "Human suffering evokes compassion; it also evokes respect, and in its own way it intimidates. For in suffering is contained the greatness of a specific mystery..."
I would be willing to bet that many of us have questioned (even if only in our inward thoughts) why we have to carry the cross of infertility. This question can lead one down a path of darkness and self-pity. There is no answer that can satisfy our human mind and that is often a hard realization to face.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways-- oracle of the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, my thoughts are higher than your thoughts." -Isaiah 55: 8-9
No, my sister, we cannot understand why we are called to this mystery, but we can continue carrying our cross down the path to holiness. With each painful step, let us pray for the grace to do HIS WILL. Let us pray for an increase to our compassion. Let us grow in respect and awe for human life. And pray that by HIS strength, we may intimidate the enemy with our steadfast movement forward and our unwavering gaze upon the LORD.