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.