I think it wise to begin with music, which has soothed my soul and taken me through to the end of this post. It’s a heavy one. You have my permission to leave at any point.
I wrote it for the Creative Buzz Hop, which sent round the pretty prompt of ‘Serenity’ this week. And I thought “Oh goody – something I can get on board with – I could do with more serenity in my life, especially right now”. But my mind had other plans…
I’d warrant that most of us know the beginning lines of the famous Serenity prayer, right? It gets printed out onto so many items of tat, and placed into the frame with enough ‘awe inspiring’ images to be well engrained into our collective Western consciousness.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…”
And BOOM! We’re inspired. We’re comforted. We feel better because we know that serenity’s not something we can expect to achieve without a bit of striving – that it doesn’t come naturally.
But wait a while – read the rest…
Living one day at a time. Okay, I’m down with that. It’s quite necessary sometimes. Living one hour at a time is also a ‘thing’. Or an action at the time.
Enjoying one moment at a time? Well yes, when they happen.
Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace…wait, what?
We had a sermon today in church, not on this, but in the Advent vein of ‘Mary, when told by the angel that she was to bear the Christ child, didn’t argue, and in spite of questioning, submitted willingly to the change of plans, and enjoyed the wonder and pain which came out of it’. All well and good. And probably why she got picked for the job.
But the idea that we as Christians should submit to this Will, which is supposedly From Love, in spite of being so bloody hard to determine half the time, and which gets lost in translation as a result of this broken world the other half the time, is hugely, massively difficult.
So our speaker wittered on (I’m being mean – he was actually very good, very compelling, but too challenging for me) about making God the centre, the everything, not even the ‘top priority’, but above that, and that Good Things would come from doing so. And that we get too caught up in wanting our own way, and that it’s a real problem, as it often clashes with God’s way, which is ‘perfect’.
As he spoke, my face grew hard and stony.
Each time he suggested that God’s plans for our lives are right and worthy, it felt like a burning ember pressed into my heart and held there until the pain broke out through my body and I started shaking with trying to hold it all in and not run away (again).
Because in spite of the brokeness of the world, and God’s promise not to interfere with free will (and the oh-so-much that this entails letting slide in terms of consequences and unrescued situations, with the caveat that ‘In the end, everything will be alright…’) we all believe in miracles and His ultimate power to Make Things Happen.
No, He’s not a vending machine. And no, He doesn’t answer every request, otherwise chaos would ensue. Nonetheless, the general consensus is that He has the power to make amazing things happen when He wants to.
But here’s the rub (and you’ll excuse me if I just bang out a few statements connected with my beliefs as if you know what I’m talking about, which I accept you may or may not know, and may or may not accept. Bear with me…)
God is love.
Loving God wants people to be happy, and (apparently) promises them the desires of their hearts.
God wants people to desire His will, which is from love.
Ergo…we should all desire His will (from love) and because that’s the desire of our hearts, and then we’re happy?
Enter the conundrum
If the desire of my heart is to be a mother to a live child, and I don’t get that…am I just desiring wrong? And if I don’t get that miracle, does that mean it’s not His will? Which would mean that His ‘perfect will’ lands me with what is the most profound and excruciating pain I’ve ever experienced, which just keeps deepening and widening and hasn’t remotely given up its intensity yet…and I’m meant to somehow accept this.
Are you fucking KIDDING ME?
I sat with my flinty face and my heart in pieces and the tears flowed, hot and raging down my cheeks and fell into the abyss I felt I was standing next to.
This can’t be right…
So the speaker rounded off with a song I can’t even remember, but he exhorted us to only join in with it if we truly meant it. It was about allowing that submission to happen – that joyful surrender of our small dreams for ones much bigger and eternal than our own.
I pressed my lips tight together, teeth clamped down on the sobs trying to escape me.
We’re called to go forth and bear offspring, right? It’s a fundamental part of nature, and infertility’s an aberration. I recognise that. I also know that the sermon wasn’t aimed at me, and that there’s no way for one speaker to appropriately address every single person, in their situation, when faced with a large crowd. And my situation is particularly complex. But still.
The challenge was too much. I cannot begin to conceive of a God who would expect a person with such deep-seated desires for a child to even attempt to give them up. We’re designed to have babies – our nature is to nurture offspring – it’s what we do, and as a species have been doing for thousands of years. Yet I also have to believe that life is On Purpose, and that God helps guide it…
…so what the hell? Talk about your polar opposites. I can’t even begin to reconcile it all, and at that point it starts to feel personal, which rapidly dips back into panic and faith stupidity.
NO. Praying more won’t get me that miracle.
NO. Being a ‘better Christian’ won’t get me that miracle.
NO. Reading the Bible more won’t get me that miracle.
NO. Improving my relationship with Husby won’t get me that miracle.
NO. Getting better perspective on this infertility gig won’t get me that miracle.
I know all that really, but these are the bargains which flash through my mind when I grapple with this.
And in the end I have to believe that Husby’s illness and the loss of our two Neverborns and our rapidly closing window of time to get pregnant again are NOT personal, and NOT punishment, NOT ideal…they just are.
And far worse things happen to far better people, too, so there’s that.
At the end of the service I intended to make use of the prayer ministry which was on offer. If I’m going to even begin to understand what this conundrum is, and how it all fits together, I need back-up. I’m a crap pray-er, and if anyone’s willing to get in there on my behalf, I’m all for that. And as I sat there, tears still falling insistently down, a lady came over who’s been supporting me so well.
She Knows. She had a number of losses between her two children. And she truly knows the pain I’m in.
She held me and prayed with me and talked about what I can do RightNow, practically, to help make best use of these last three months. She rubbed my back and she understood about how I can’t even begin to face Christmas, and how it would turn too bitter and too drunk and too full of tears and agony if I try to spend it at home in our new flat, where no new babies are, but should be. She put her head on my shoulder and she didn’t judge me for swearing in church or for expressing such vehement hatred of what it seemed God’s plan for me is. She smiled her sad smile and was okay with it, though she said wished that neither of us had these things in our life to face.
But I asked her why. Why are these things allowed to happen? She didn’t know that.
I asked my Mum later, because she’s very faith-full, and knows SO many things, and can always explain them well.
But she didn’t know that.
And I’ve asked God why – why did my babies have to die? Why is Husby ill? Why did he have to get depression too, so that we can’t adopt? Why will they only allow us one shot at ICSI? Why does the medication have to change in three months? Why can’t I please, please just have a baby, oh please God, because my heart is just racked with pain at the desolate idea of facing the rest of life with such a desperate, never-to-be-fulfilled desire. And why Lord, if each of these hundreds of tears is so saddening to you, won’t you stop them with that miracle? Why is your timing so incredibly painful to wait for? And what will happen if I don’t…if I never…oh God, what then??
And I just don’t know if He knows that…