Last weekend we had a delightful weekend visit from some very good friends of ours. These dear friends have been married for almost four years and have throughout that time been coming to grips with the cross of their infertility. I can't say how much I admire them and what a witness they are to the beauty of marriage and its fruitfulness, with or without children. The fact that our lives are not exactly on the same path right now has affected our friendship, but not as much as I sometimes feared. We still have an amazing time together and share many common interests and they love Isaac so much that I'm sometimes afraid that they might sneak off with him when we're not looking.
Anyway, this visit my friend shared with me that she is learning to accept, and even embrace the cross of their infertility as a means to holiness, as the particular way that God has chosen to draw her closer to Him (forgive my paraphrasing. I just hope I'm capturing the essence of what she was saying). I was very happy for her and the peace that she is finding, but her words also left me humbled and even a little awed.
Anyone who reads this blog has heard me complain enough to know that I don't think my life is free from suffering. However, how often do I think of that suffering as a cross to be embraced? The truth is I'm more likely to stew in my own discontent, not thinking that my suffering is grand enough to be really sacrificial.
Sometimes when my friend tells me about her life I have little pangs of jealousy. She's taking classes, she's pursuing a career, she can sit down to pray without calculating how many minutes of nap time will be left when she's done. I love my life. I love my husband, my little man, and baby-yet-unnamed and I'm happy to be able to stay home for them, but, of course, there are things I miss about being in school and working.
So what do I have to complain about? Nothing big, just the everyday pains that come from giving yourself away piece by piece to a family that you love. I've often thought how, in a way, martyrdom would be easy. Just die and go to heaven and "bam!" you're a saint forever (yes, I'm sure it's just that easy). We poor pilgrims who have to toil through the muck of daily life are the really unlucky ones. I guess maybe I've been thinking about my friend's infertility in those terms: she has the grand cross that will lead to holiness quickly while I struggle along lucky to fit in two minutes of real prayer between diaper changes and cleaning up spills. I don't really want to trade places with her, but thinking about it is another excuse to sigh over my lot in life.
I don't want to in any way diminish the pain of those suffering from infertility. I know it to be a real, constant grief beyond my imagining. I guess what I'm trying to say is that when it comes to crosses there's no point comparing. My cross is what I must embrace simply because it is the one that God gave me. That's all I need to know. God wants me to become holy through my toddler's 6 am wake-up calls and my pregnancy backache. He wants me to cheerfully offer up my cleaning of a house that becomes messy five minutes later, and my not usually having time to pray when I want to. These crosses are so small and insignificant that I hardly dare call them that; nevertheless, they are what God has given to me, and I suppose He knows best.
I thank my friend for reminding me of the glory of suffering, whatever form it takes.
The cross of the week: I'm pregnant and it's very, very, VERY hot. If the heat actually kills me is that enough of a martyrdom to land me right in heaven?