A wise man once told me that infertility is one of the most difficult crosses a married couple can bear. It gets right at the core of what it means to be married. Married love is meant to be life-giving. Husbands and wives are supposed to make love, and then they are supposed to give that love a name and a home. But infertility gets in the way of that. It keeps married love from doing what it’s supposed to. Infertility is a cross that sometimes just seems too heavy to bear.
But that wise man also told me that the heavier your cross, the more graces can come from it. Just look at the cross, and think about the sheer amount of graces that flowed from that cross. Even that cross was so heavy that Christ fell beneath its weight. It was so heavy that He needed help carrying it. Christ’s cross was heavy, but the graces that flowed from it were overflowing. The cross of infertility is heavy, unbearably so at times, but when we unite it to the cross of Christ, the graces can flow freely and wonderful things can happen.
I have carried that cross for some time now, but recently I have focused on embracing it. You can begrudgingly bear a cross, or you can embrace it, uniting it with the cross of Christ and turning it into a fountain of grace. Infertility has been my cross to bear. I have been given no choice but to carry it since the births of my son and daughter. I have tried fighting it; I have tried making deals with God. I have tried to put it down, to leave it behind. I have begged Him to take it away from me. But despite all my efforts, I am still carrying it. So I have a choice- I can carry it begrudgingly, or I can carry it willingly. I can moan and complain about it, or I can embrace it. I have to carry it either way, so I have chosen to embrace it.
Having a small family can suck, if you let it. If you focus on empty bedrooms you planned to fill with your own children, it will suck. If you spend all your time dreaming about life with a big family, it will suck. But it doesn’t have to suck. Having a small family can be beautiful. There are actually good things that can come from having a small family.
Our little family allows us to serve our community. When a mom gives birth, we always cook at least one dinner for the family. When a mom has a doctor appointment and needs someone to watch their kids, we volunteer if our schedule allows for it. When a mom has a sick kid at home, we pick up groceries or medicine for them. Now that we are deep into homeschooling, I’ve taken the reigns for coordinating field trips for my kids and the other homeschoolers in our community. I enjoy organizing and planning, and I have the time needed to coordinate everything.
Serving our community has brought me a lot of healing. It keeps me from dwelling on what might have been. There is always the temptation to mourn the loss of my dreams for a big family. It would be easy to dwell on the suffering I’ve endured, the pain that comes every month when I realize that I’m still not pregnant. But dwelling on these things will not bring healing. Focusing on myself will not help me or change anything. Constantly looking inward is not helpful, and it’s not Christian either. So I choose to look outward.
I choose to love my little family just as it is. I choose to focus on the beauty of our life, the advantages of having only two children, the opportunities to use our circumstances to serve the world. I choose to look outward rather than focusing inward. I choose to help our community in whatever ways I can. I choose to celebrate the manifold graces in my life. I choose to embrace the cross of infertility.