“Waiting for Gabriel: Learning to Pray through Infertility”

“Waiting for Gabriel: Learning to Pray through Infertility” May 30, 2012

…The aftermath of our diagnosis was extraordinarily painful for both of us.  The diagnosis affected not simply our friendships, our own relationship, but particularly our spiritual lives.  If you speak to an infertile couple, committed to the Christian life, you’ll notice a pattern:  the sexual infertility gradually seeps into the life of prayer.  Each morning, I rise and ask God that Kara and I might finally have a child.  Seemingly, I encounter only the chilly silence of a seemingly absent God.  Early in the process, I found particular consolation in the language of the psalms:  “My God, my God why have you abandoned me?  Why so far from my call for help, from my cries of anguish?  My God, I call by day, but you do not answer; by night, but I have no relief” (Ps. 22:2-3).  Like the psalmist, I had my enemies.  The well-intentioned barber who stated that the future grandparents must be anxious to get a grandchild out of us.  The friendly priest, who upon learning that my wife and I in fact do not have children, made it a point to say each time he saw me, “No children, right?”  The Facebook feed filled with announcements of pregnancies and births, a constant sign of our own empty nest.  God himself became my nemesis:  why have you duped me O Lord?  Why Kara and I?  We have bestowed some aspect of our lives to you, more than many in the world, and our only reward is pain and suffering.

Such self-pity, while pleasant enough for a time, is both exhausting and a sure way to end up not only infertile but a narcissist.  You begin to imagine that yours is the only life full of disappointmentYours the only existence defined by sorrow.  You close off from relationships with other people, particularly those with children, as a way of protecting yourself from debilitating sorrow.  You cease praying, because the words you utter grow vapid, insipid, uninspiring.  In this way, I entered into Sheol, hell itself, cut off from the land of the living.  Something had to change.

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