During a consultation, a woman, whom I will refer to as Jane, told me that she was pursuing therapy because she was “desperate for a child”. Jane revealed that after being unable to become pregnant for years her doctor recommended IVF because it was the best way for her to have a baby. Jane was very excited at the prospect and sincerely believed that it was the answer to her problems. She was able to get pregnant, twice. Sadly, she miscarried both pregnancies. Jane was heartbroken, dejected, and baffled at the outcomes of the IVF procedures. She cried out to me: “What’s wrong with me? Why does this keep happening to me? I was so sure IVF would work. I would do anything to have a baby!”
My heart went out to Jane, her pain was palpable. She was tired of fighting the grief and pain of these miscarriages on her own. She was confused about why her body was not doing what she wanted it to do. According to her, she had done all that she was asked to do, and if she had not yielded the result she was hoping for, it meant that something was wrong with her.
As I observed Jane, she looked like a battle-weary soldier disillusioned and fatigued after engaging in too many fights. She questioned her purpose for being a woman, a wife. She viewed her struggle as a fight against her own body, her biological clock, and the unwavering belief that she must have and deserve a baby. She was unsure if she could keep fighting this war.
Many women feel that sense of desperation after multiple miscarriages or years of infertility. That mood towards despondency is further compounded after they had trusted that IVF would relieve that sentiment. It was unfair and painful that Jane was experiencing so much suffering. I grieved with her that she bore spiritual, physical, and psychological scars after her multiple miscarriages.
As I am listening to Jane’s story, I wondered about three perspectives that could have been helpful to Jane:
As a person: what it would be like for Jane, had she taken the time to ask herself about her purpose for her womanhood? Was Jane limiting her personhood to her capacity of birthing a child? Surely that perspective would undermine the breadth and creativity of God’s plan for women! As Edith Stein mentioned in Essays on Woman: “Each woman who lives in the light of eternity can fulfill her vocation, no matter if it is in marriage, in a religious order, or in a worldly profession.” (Spirituality of the Christian Woman)
As a mother: what does that mean to be a mother? According to Benedicta of the Cross: “Woman naturally seeks to embrace that which is living, personal, and whole. To cherish, guard, protect, nourish, and advance growth is her natural, maternal yearning” (The Ethos of Women’s Professions). Jane was desperate because she was longing for that which God has put in her heart as a woman, that is to care for another. After her failed attempts to pursue her desires in the only way she knew how to do it, she was feeling confused because she could not reconcile her barrenness with her motherhood heart. I wanted to share with her the promises of God who “gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children” (Psalm 113:9). She was not ready to hear that possibility because she needed to believe in the sovereignty of God’s plan in her life.
As partakers in God’s kingdom: The real battle that Jane was engaging was perhaps one of her will versus God’s will. There was an inner struggle regarding what Jane desired right now at once, no matter the cost and whatever it takes, and between what God wanted to achieve in her life that will yield far more than she could ever hope or imagine. Following the example from Mary’s fiat, we learn that real joy and fullness of life come when we willingly surrender to the will of God.
My heart cried for Jane and for all the mothers whose hearts are broken each time they see a baby, and who long to see that beloved face of a child but that they may never see on this earth. Even more so, I realized that in her desperation Jane left no room for God to introduce Jane to herself, to the woman He created her to be, to the one he calls by name. The medical providers offered her a quick fix, a band aid, to solve a deeper issue that only God can remedy.
I would love for Jane to come into the full knowledge of her identity in Christ, and to see that her life belongs first to God. From the infinite love and mercy of the Savior, will she truly find her joy and peace? That will require of her a willingness to lay it all at the foot of Jesus, in total surrender to do as God wills. As Christian women, we are called to be radical, which means to live in a way that denotes accepting and embracing our identity in Christ, to believe that miscarriages, infertility, and all the suffering that stand in the way of birthing a child are precisely the opportunity to say: “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will”. Those moments could be a holy ground experience where we can wrestle with God like Jacob and cry out to him until He shows us how he is calling us to be mothers. (Gen: 32:22-32).
And so, I will conclude with another Edith Stein quote as she has helped me and so many others to embrace the beauty and calling of surrendering to God’s will:
“…that my entire life, even in the minute detail, was pre-designed in the plans of divine providence and is thus for the all-seeing eyes of God a perfect coherence of meaning. Once I realize this, my light rejoices in anticipation of the light of glory in whose sheen this coherence of meaning will be fully unveiled to me.” (Essays on Woman, St Benedicta Teresa of the Cross also known as Edith Stein.)
© All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace® http://www.womenofgrace.com