The one thing I know
“Following you, my Lord, I shall never be lost.” - St Ignatius of Loyola*
There are a lot of things I don’t know.
I don’t know why God has asked or allowed us to go through these years of infertility, while others are able to conceive so easily. I don’t know how God is asking us to be fruitful during these early years of infertility: should we be leading a ministry, getting involved with foster care, giving our time in service of some sort? And I definitely don’t know what God is planning for us in our vocation down the road: will He bless us with children in our future at any point; will any particular medical treatments be necessary in bringing those children about; will our children be biological or adopted?
What I do know is that God is calling us to be fruitful now, and that none of those questions need to be answered in order for that to begin happening. John 15:5 spells out the answer quite clearly: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” This verse calls us to remember that our fruitfulness ultimately comes from our relationship with Christ, not from whether or not we have children, or how they end up entering our lives. Sometimes amidst the swirl of appointments, medical decisions, supplements, monthly grieving and piles of paperwork, this primary relationship with Christ - the relationship that is necessary to breathe life into any of our endeavors - can quickly get forgotten.
Friends, God is ALWAYS calling us to a relationship with Him first. Regardless of the reason for our suffering, regardless of which medical investigations or treatment plans we choose to undergo, regardless of whether or not there are children in our future, regardless of which ministry He is calling us to during our season of waiting, Jesus is always calling us to remain in Him. It is that relationship upon which we should be focusing our heart, thoughts and energies. Jesus promises that when we remain in Him, THAT is where our fruitfulness will begin. We are never told exactly what that fruitfulness will look like, but we do know that it will be life-giving and vibrant. When we know nothing else, and we are unsure of our next steps or even of the direction we should be headed in, it is the name of “Jesus” that we should be typing into the GPS of our life.
Over the coming weeks, I challenge you, instead of focusing on discerning fertility related things, to study that verse of John 15:5. Ask yourself, are you abiding in Jesus right now, in this moment, in this season? If not, what is drawing you away from Him? How can you adjust your focus, adjust your day, adjust your week, adjust your priorities so that you are remaining in Our Lord? Instead of your main decisions being about medical or dietary choices for improving fertility, or what your next steps should be for growing your family, focus on your day-to-day decisions and ask yourself, “Is this helping me grow closer to Christ?” Ask yourself and your spouse, “What can I do differently to grow closer to Him?” Take some time to listen to this hymn, grab your journal and sketch out just one new daily, weekly and monthly practice that will assist you in drawing closer to Jesus. This may mean finding a prayer to use for a morning offering, making time to stop by adoration once a week, going to monthly confession, swapping out 10 minutes of Instagram scrolling for some time with your Bible, taking 15 minutes for spiritual reading instead of digesting every new post on the TTC-related Facebook groups, or seeking the comfort and strength of Our Lady before responding to (or venting about) that insensitive comment or pregnancy announcement you had to deal with this morning.
While we can’t guarantee the fruitfulness that will come from any diet, medication or appointment, God’s word assures us that abiding in Jesus will always bear fruit. So while it is good and necessary to dedicate time, thought, prayer and energy to figuring out the next steps on our fertility journey, let us be intentional about not letting it become our only or primary focus. Let us lean into the one relationship that will never fail us, the one use of our time that will never be wasted, the one answer that will always ring true. Abide in Him.
*Quote mentioned in “Surprise Me! Offering our lives to God using S. Ignatius’ Suscipe Prayer” by Word Among Us, July/Aug 2021. Article mentions quotes taken from St Ignatius’ Own Story as told to Luis Gonzalez de Camara, translated by William J Young.