Entering the Desert

The song "Bring the Rain," by Mercy Me has become a favorite of mine over these last couple of years.

In recent months though, it keeps popping into my prayers and reflections about our infertility. One line has started to stick out more than the others these days. One line that when I sing along truly becomes a prayer rather than just lyrics someone else wrote:

Bring me anything that brings You glory.

And what the Lord keeps bringing me, time and time again is infertility. (I suppose we should be careful what we pray for...)

I have been trying to wrap my mind around this notion of God's will and our infertility. Knowing that the "whys" I so desperately seek will most likely never be answered this side of heaven is a tough one for me. I like to know "why."

But the idea that our infertility is somehow part of God's Perfect Will is just something I have a hard time grasping. But perhaps He knew me so well that He knew infertility was the only thing that could bring me close to Him, and therefore for me, in this fallen world, it is part of His Perfect Will.

And then my spiritual director gave me a new term: God's Permissive Will.

While His Perfect Will for our lives never included any suffering for any of us, He also did not force us to choose Him. Because of our free will the depths of sin that have entered the world over generations have brought us to a place of cancers, illness, infertility, childhood death, and more (I want to be clear: I am not saying these are punishments. Not even close.).

I am struggling with this idea of His Permissive Will. Just as with so much of this, there are two sides, the pain and the growth that has happened. Has He allowed IF to be a part of my life because He knew the growth I would experience? Or is this about more than me?

Is infertility the answer to my prayer?

Bring me anything that brings You glory.

And woah! If it is, am I like the women who hid their lamps? Sure, I talk about our infertility here and with close friends, but to the rest of the world, it is a hidden cross.

And yet, to make it public, to place myself truly in His hands and risk the ridicule, the judgement of others is scary. Big time scary.

And then there is the piece of me that whispers, from a place of a little girl whose parents got divorced and who desperately wants to be noticed and to make herself understood, that to shine my lamp would be self-serving. That it would not be to bring Him glory, but to bring attention to myself.

And so, I am left straddling yet another fence, really two, along this road. One is the fence between how to bring Him glory through our story while keeping ourselves in the background, letting the light shine only on Him. The other is the fence between His Perfect and Permissive Wills.

These questions are swirling in my mind and heart. The answers feel so close, so near sometimes, and so far away at others. And there is this nudging, or rather dragging (and because it requires dragging, I believe it is the right thing), that I must step back if I am to find peace with these questions. I must, as I did at my retreat last summer, present myself to the Lord to allow Him to work within me. At my retreat, it was by attending all optional prayer sessions, times of adoration, and seeking out moments alone during breaks.

As Lent draws near, in order to present myself to the Lord within my daily life the way I did on my retreat, I am stepping back from those things that take up my time. From those things that have become, or try to become, idols in my life.


All of it.

For forty days, I will place myself in the desert. In the quiet. And I will ask the Lord to work within me.

I will begin my days with morning prayer.
I will end my days with night prayer.
I will continue to attend daily mass regularly.
I will spend time reading and doing puzzles. Things that allow my brain to work actively rather than passively.
I will journal. On paper.
I will allow myself only 60 minutes of TV time per day.

And I will pray. I will be praying for all of you. For those of you with sweet children in your arms, for those with saints interceding for you in heaven, and for those of you who still wait.

At the end of Lent, I will come back to this place. It is very much a sort of "home" to me. A place I feel comfortable and am grateful to come to regularly. I am sure I will also return to the others as well, but hopefully with more of a sense of balance and perspective.

For now, I must enter the desert. 


  1. Rebecca - I hope you have a blessed and fruitful Lent!!! I love that song as well and will think of you when I hear it next. I will miss your postings, but look forward to hearing how the Lord works in your life during this upcoming time of prayer and fasting. St. Anne, pray for us!

  2. You are a brave brave soul! Facebook, blogger and TV?!?!

    I wish I had half that ambition. :)

    God bless!!

  3. I'm there with you...but I can't give up talking on the phone! Call me if you need to chat!! Praying for you, too.
    And...I think the bridge is humility. A hard one, but a good one.

  4. Not exactly advent related, but I came across a well written piece about the hardships of holidays that I thought you might appreciate: http://thebiblicalworld.blogspot.com/2011/12/when-manger-is-empty-childless-at.html

  5. Quiet. That's exactly what I'm looking for this Lent. I'm not going as drastic as you are, but I've already canceled my Netflix account for the next 6 weeks, and I'm going to be spending less time on the computer, less time listening to music, and hopefully more time in Adoration. Have a blessed and fruitful Lent!

  6. Whoa! That is quite the list of Lenten sacrifices! I'm giving up the social networking, but blogging (although I'm more sporadic than I was) helps keep me sane.

    I am sure this Lenten season will be a fruitful one for you!

  7. I will miss you Rebecca! But, can't wait to see you on the other side and hear about the fruits of your quiet! God Bless you this Lenten season.

  8. I will miss you too! Thank you in advance for your prayers, which I know will be very powerful from the "desert." I will pray for you too.

  9. I understand your struggles with God's permissive will. I have been struggling with that as well, especially if we know that all life is a gift from God that He does not bestow that gift on us. Perhaps the gift of life is not just in the form of children? Hmmm much to ponder this Lent. I will be praying for you Rebecca!

  10. Sounds like you have a smart spiritual director. At the risk of sounding like I'm downplaying things, sometimes I think things are what they are, they're God's permissive will. He allows them to happen but it doesn't mean He can't use it for good. As someone who too needs to know why, this is my conclusion. I see IF that way in my life. The blessing in it has been to be more sensitive to others' crosses and to appreciate every bit of pregnancy no matter how rough.

    I gave up FB last year, it was wonderful!

  11. I will miss you! I hope you have a joyful and fruitful Lent.

  12. Thinking about God's permissive will can be a stumbling block. Sometimes I think that if this is my path to heaven (the cross of IF or any cross), who am I to question that? The temptation to ask why is strong though. Unfortunately we don't ever get an answer and even if we did, we might not like it or understand it... Praying that your Lent is fruitful.

  13. I keep thinking about your question regarding how to bring Him glory through sharing your cross, and at the same time, not allowing it to be something self-serving. I wonder if the best way to do that is through service to others who are in your shoes?

    I will miss you during Lent, but I hope it is fruitful and brings His Peace to you. My prayers will be with you this Lent! HUGS!

  14. Hi Rebecca--I agree, it is so necessary sometimes to retreat from our loud distractions (getting away from Facebook alone was a huge refreshment for me at one point!). I hope that you are really blessed and that God has lots of love-whispers for you during this time of quiet Lent and purposeful retreat. Prayers for you!

  15. Beautiful post. I hope you have a very fruitful Lent. You'll be missed!!

  16. Love this post. I too like to know why, but I always get myself into trouble when I try to "figure God out" HA! Oh, just typing that sounds silly. I am looking to scale down my distractions as well, just not sure yet how "drastic" I want to go this year. Obviously I need to decide soon! I haven't heard that song but I am looking it up! That one line is awesome! You will be missed, but will remain in my prayers!!

  17. My dh is giving up tv too...ugh...I don't know if I could do that. I just love watching certain shows to relax...even the news. Crazy. I don't know how I could give that up. I do love to read though..I just don't know if reading could replace my couch time.

  18. I'm giving up FB too, but can't bring myself to give up blogging! :) I am going to limit myself on the computer each day though. God will give you so many graces in your time in the "desert", I know it! I will miss your posts though. Have a blessed Lent, dear friend!!

  19. God bless you, my love, and prayers and awakenings on your path! <3 Thank you for sharing who you are, and therefore, who Christ is!

  20. Blessings to you Rebecca! I hope you gain some spiritual insight and respite during Lent. You are brave for all you are giving up. As always, I will keep you in prayer.

  21. You will be missed! See you on the flip side dear, sweet Rebecca. You are in my prayers...

  22. I will miss your posts! Have a fruitful Lent!
    When you wrote, "He knew infertility was the only thing that could bring me close to Him", that is EXACTLY how I feel about infertility and God. That was exactly how it worked, too. I have never been closer to Him.
    Know that I continue to pray for you daily!