This Advent has been tough, in lots of ways. There is the usual sadness and dread that has accompanied all major (and minor) holidays for the last 3 years, for sure. Yet, this year there has been the ultrasound series and blood work coupled with a busier work schedule than I anticipated. There is also this: Christmas Day will be P+15 of an unmedicated cycle. I have a very strict "no testing" rule. I've only broken it once and that served as a good reminder why I don't test.
To sneak downstairs to start the water for The Man's coffee and on my way past the mantel slip a test with two lines on it into The Man's stocking that hangs there. That, my friends, would be the best way I could possibly imagine to spend Christmas morning.
To take that test and see only one line? To truly put to test my Advent prayer of "God is the same no matter what" on Christmas morning. Do I even dare risk it?
I will have to make a decision before Christmas morning as there are no tests in our house.
When I was at Mass last weekend, you know, Gaudete Sunday? The one I've had a love/hate relationship with over the last couple of years? Yep, that one. Well, I thought I was safe because it was a small Mass for couples preparing for marriage and I trusted the priest would do a homily on, well, marriage. He did not disappoint, only he also stirred something in me that I have been reflecting on ever since.
So often we talk about Advent as a season of waiting. Those of us who are infertile often feel that this is the only part of the seasons of Advent and Christmas we can relate to, this waiting for a baby (both a physical baby for us and for the Baby Jesus). Father, in speaking to the engaged couples, focused instead on preparing. Of course this made perfect sense as engaged couples are certainly preparing for their wedding days and their marriages. But something stirred within me, a question that was almost like my soul whispering to itself: Have I been waiting or preparing over these past years?
On a practical sense, I have been doing both. Preparing for pregnancy and motherhood both prayerfully and physically. Waiting for my prayer to be answered in the way that *I* want. Each cycle my body prepares to ovulate and then I wait to see if conception occurred.
And spiritually, I have done both as well. There are times when I have actively prepared by seeking out spiritual direction or increasing my prayer life. But there have been times when I have waited. When I have sat back and said "I'm here, God. I'm waiting for You." I've been waiting for Him to let me know He does indeed see this pain I'm in; waiting for Him to work His miracle and allow us to conceive; waiting for Him to explain why we must all go through this.
And then, I started to think about that big question of "What if God Says No?" So many of you commented so kindly on my post about how this question is so much bigger than just related to infertility. That there are so many things in our lives that we ask this question about. And I started to wonder if during this time that has felt mostly like waiting, waiting for a child, waiting for motherhood, if maybe He hasn't been preparing me, and all of us, for something more?
I realized of course He has been. We are all created for something more than this life. We are created for God, for heaven. This whole life is preparation for that life. We have a choice to only sit back and wait or to only step forward and prepare, but we also have a choice to do both. To take our time where we sit back, we reflect, we mourn, we wait for Him to move in our lives but to also do our part, to step out in faith and to prepare for Him.
Infertility can teach us how to do this. How to both prepare and wait all at the same time. I've often lamented this piece of the journey, about how difficult it is to plan for one life while trying to live another. It is not for the faint of heart, of that I am sure. And yet, as I've heard the word "prepare" echo in my heart and mind over the past few days, the whisper of "wait" has been there too. Isn't this what we are all doing with this whole existence? Are we not preparing for heaven, preparing to meet God, preparing for that which we are created while waiting for it to happen?
The key, I think, to doing this is being open to this two-fold process of preparation and waiting. Of activity and passivity all rolled into one. I am struck again at how our Catholic faith so beautifully teaches us to embrace both/and over either/or.
So, what will I do on Christmas morning?
Well, if I am to take my own reflection seriously, I must first prepare, so I will make sure there are tests in the house.
I will then wait.
I can't promise I will test, that will be a decision I suspect I can only make when I wake up on Christmas morning.
Yes, this Advent has been tough in a lot of ways, but I am learning to trust and believe that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Regardless of my Christmas morning, He has come. We are redeemed. We have Hope. He will come again.
Infertility is teaching me how to prepare and to wait in that Hope, despite the sorrows of this life.