I'm excited to share with you my first "guest post" ever, written by my husband. =) He was just all of a sudden hit with an inspiration and wanted to share the following on my blog. "I wrote it for you!" he told me. I really love hearing his thoughts on this subject, and I hope you do too! Okay, other people's husbands' turn now...maybe this will start a trend? =)
Today, we do not just have a culture that is anti-child, but a culture that is post-child, or what I like to call it, “post-fertility”. More and more people say that they just don't see the point of having children. So many people don't see children as a gift, and they don't see fertility as a gift but as something to control and suppress. Many people seem to have moved “beyond” fertility – it simply doesn't matter to them. The so-called child-free life touting its narcissism in Time this August is a case in point (see “The Childfree Life: When Having It All Means Not Having Children”). The current stat, according to one author, is that 20 % of women now opt out of motherhood! What I want to address here is not how horrible this whole idea is (which it is), but rather how someone like me, who is struggling with infertility, should deal with all of these gushing, sickingly happy post-fertility comments floating in our society. Honestly, some of the greatest personal suffering comes when I hear people flounce the idea of not having children as the next big and great thing. No, it is not so great. Let me count the reasons to you why you are wrong and get really defensive and angry here about how horrible you and your ideas are as I turn your little Time article into a paper airplane sent into a big black hole known as my garbage can.
Okay, no this won't do. What is a better response then? Well, I turn to the gospel here for some guidance. This past weekend we were given a beautiful gospel about one way we can deal with all of these situations. It was the reading about the pharisee who in righteous judgment denounces the tax-collector for being a tax-collector and violating the law. Similarly, I realized that I am being that pharisee when I denounce someone because they are child-free and I, good Catholic that I am, and struggling with infertility, stand in righteous judgment, happy to know that I am being open to life. No, this just won't do. Being open to life is the morally right thing to do, but I am not better than the child-free person the moment I start comparing myself to them. That is ironically their whole problem that I just stepped into myself! That is, they are comparing themselves to the infamous “Joneses”.
The Gospel has a better idea for us – we need to stop comparing ourselves to others, like the Pharisee. In the end, I won't be judged by how well I did vis-a-vis my child-free friend or even my holy friends who are parents, but rather how much I imitated Christ. So in those moments we want to get upset at our post fertility, “child-free” world, let's not waste our time comparing them to ourselves (however valid those comparisons may or may not be), but instead like the tax collector compare ourselves to God and then beat our breasts in recognition of how far we fall short of being like Him. This must be our first response when we become aware of evil in the world or in ourselves. We must respond to sin by being more holy ourselves: “Don't be overcome by evil, but rather overcome evil by doing good” (Romans 12:21). Blessed are we that we don't just have the ability to compare ourselves to God or rest on our own capacity to accomplish this, but we can also become one with God through the mysterious grace of Christ.
But there is a second thing we can do: embrace this cross of suffering at the hands of our world who just doesn't get that children are a gift. As St. Teresa of Avila taught: “Once you embrace a cross, it’s no longer a cross.” At the moment of embrace, it becomes a joyful affirmation of a love and a hope beyond all suffering and pain. Again this is straight from the scriptures. St. Padre Pio commenting upon the scripture's presentation of the crucifixion says, “We all have a cross in life. It’s just what we do with it that matters. Be like the good thief.” It is worth pondering this line again and again.
Finally, we need to be thankful even for the suffering. Out of suffering comes life, comes love. Maybe it is for this reason that Jesus says to St. Faustina in a vision that “it is not for the success of a work, but for the suffering that I give reward.” In this, I take great hope. But what we always have to remember is that it is true that out of suffering comes life, fertility. We may not want to admit it, but the great saints were made out of the crucible of suffering. Christ Himself had to suffer. Perhaps this great horrible suffering of infertility has somewhere a bow wrapped around it? I'm still searching for that bow, but in the meantime I will thank God in advance despite all my feelings otherwise.
So my prayer for you both my dear fellow infertility companions and my post-fertility culture is that we look to no one but God and His will and pray with the hope and trust of a little child to be more like Him through His grace, embrace the cross of suffering we have been given, and find a way to be thankful for it. I know this is not easy, I struggle with it everyday so please pray for us as I pray for all of you, especially my brothers and sisters who don't see the real gift of their fertility and of children.
+Ecce Fiat's Hubby+