Monday, April 12, 2010

Reflections on Lent - "In the Waiting"

As I mentioned yesterday, I was much more looking forward to Lent than I had been to Advent. And as I said, I think this was because I could more easily identify with Lent. Whereas Advent is to a time of joy and hope, Lent is a time of being the desert for 40 days, conquering despair and enduring affliction….now THIS was something familiar to me. I think it’s a common experience for most of us IF folks right? Not to be “oh poor me-ish”, but sometimes on this journey it has seemed that Good Friday might as well be my Feast Day (to reference Fr. Corapi’s “The Passion of Christ Applied to Your Life”…AWESOME talk by the way, available for cheap download at I was actually really looking forward to Lent because it reflected what my experience of life has been for the past several years. As much at it pains me to admit this, I was excited that the rest of the Christian world would, for 40 days, be experiencing what I go through on a daily basis year round…a lot of sacrifice, denial of pleasures, suffering, barreness, dryness, longing, etc. Now, I completely realize that there are others out there who have it far worse off than I do and I’m again, not saying I was justified in thinking this way, I’m merely being honest about where I was at at the beginning of Lent. I was overjoyed that the rest of the Christian world would be unified with me in sacrificial living. That they too would have to do without something that was special to them and be forced to live without comforts for a time. Oh man, I can’t believe I’m admitting this.

My own experience of Lent was ridiculously fruitful. My sacrifice to drink nothing but water was one of the most radical and yet fruitful sacrifices I have ever chosen. I had absolutely no idea how much I had come to depend on the comforts of the world in the midst of my suffering, but I was aware that this water-only gig was going to be difficult. Let’s put it this way…on Fat Tuesday, I had something like 5 cups of coffee and 6 Cokes, as well as a sleeve of Girl Scout Cookies, 2 bowls of popcorn and a deep-dish Meat Lover’s with extra cheese pizza. Now there’s a way to enter Lent with a bang. Good grief. Needless to say, my first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday, was a LOUD wake-up call to how dependant I had become upon the pleasures of the world. Caffeine-withdrawal-headache aside, I was miserable. At every spiritual pain, every emotional ache from infertility, I would instinctively turn to food/drink. Each time I would find myself tempted to despair…I headed for food/drink. When the PMS got bad….I just wanted my food/drink. This Lenten sacrifice got right to the core of one of my biggest spiritual issues. Instead of heading to the arms of my Abba Father when things got rough…I sent to the kitchen or the Sonic Drive Thru. Pathetic. But I was resolute to stay strong, and with God’s grace I did. No excuses. Deal with the headache. Fight the urge to give in to temptation. Stay strong, repent and turn to God. This was one of the most fruitful Lents of my life. Praise God! Not only did I lose 8 POUNDS in just the FIRST WEEK of Lent, but I became more spiritually fit and was able to fend of the Evil One with prayer instead of dulling my senses and pain through food/drink. Wow. What a difference.

Simultaneously, Dave and I were using Lent to determine where we were being called to go on our journey through infertility. Did we feel called to continue NaPro treatment? Did we feel called to take a break? Did we feel called to adopt? To foster care? These were the topics we were discerning throughout Lent. A meeting with my OBGYN and review of our charts in late February showed us enough signs of progress that we knew we wanted to continue NaPro treatment, but we also knew that we needed a reprieve…a break from the hard core “trying to conceive” (TTC). We would still do everything that the doctor was recommending, but simultaneously we would work on enjoying our marriage more and would work to make the TTC less of the focus of our life. This decision was affirmed by my OBGYN who gave us a beautiful mini-homily on the meaning of Lent and simplification and ridding life of the excess, de-stressing and returning to the heart of Christ. Wow. I love NaPro docs!

In the middle of March, I headed to Steubenville and West Virginia for the weekend. Every time I head to Franciscan University I make it sort of a mini-pilgrimage and I take a certain intention with me in my heart. This trip it was the question, “where do we go from here? What is the next step on our journey?” I attended a FertilityCare Conference in West Virginia and got to hear Dr. Hilgers speak a few times and speak to this incredible man. It was a mileston for me. Seriously, I felt like the hemorrhaging woman from the scriptures..”if I could only touch the hem of his suit jacket, I shall be healed!! (I know, I’m crazy). Additionally, I got to hear awesome speakers such as Sr. Renee (Ethicist from Pope Paul VI Institute) who told me that she sensed the Lord was calling me to become a FertilityCare practitioner, Dr. Greg Popcak (author of “Holy Sex!: A Catholic-Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving”) who really challenged me to focus on my marriage and not our infertility, and a couple who shared their journey to adoption which reminded me that sometimes the wait is long, but anything can happen.

The couple that spoke about adoption really struck me. Normally I get annoyed by the adoption talk at infertility gatherings. As if the implication is that somehow adopting will make everything better. I don’t think so. And after all, adoption is not for everyone (contrary to public opinion and the confidence of prognosticators who think adoption will get you pregnant, “cause it always happens that way.”). But this time, I was surprised to find that the woman giving the adoption talk was the one I had spotted as a VERY pregnant conference attendee earlier in the day. So of course when I saw her I assumed that this was the “adopt and then you’ll get pregnant” talk. How judgmental of me. It’s amazing how we can look at someone and quickly determine that we know their story. I should know better by now. Anyway, imagine my surprise when this couple shares from their heart about their 5 year struggle with infertility, surgeries with Dr. Hilgers, etc. Then they talk about adopting their daughter, getting pregnant, miscarrying and having another two years of infertility before this pregnancy (which is almost full-term). Wow. What a story. Seven years of infertility. In some ways, this story was very hard for me to hear. Trying to imagine another FIVE YEARS more of this in our lives…I don’t know if I have the strength to do it. Yet, in other ways, I found it encouraging because it showed me that anything is possible. God doesn’t always work on our time (actually does He ever?), and sometimes we are tempted to give up, but then along comes a miracle. Seven years…SEVEN years…are you getting this? SEVEN entire years…that’s 2,555 days…that’s 3,679,200 minutes that this couple wondered if their time would ever come….and then POW! In the blink of an eye, when all seemed lost…a little one. This really made me ponder what I’m doing “in the waiting.” Am I making good use of the time that God has given me? Or am I just treading water until I get what I want? If I never got it would I be upset at the way I’ve spent my time? I think this is part of the reason I was reflecting on Karey’s post “from the other side” recently. I’m doing a lot of soul searching on how I’m living “in the waiting.” It’s far to easy to define ourselves by the struggle, to orient our lives around our Creighton charts and desires. But what about orienting our lives around what God desires from us? (and not pouting about it?) That is where I am really getting convicted lately. So Lent was a wonderful time to consider all of this. What am I doing “in the waiting”? Because “the waiting” might just be here awhile longer….in fact, what I’ve seen as “the waiting” might actually be the real thing…the gift of my life here on earth. I sure don’t want to waste it. Perhaps instead of being “in the waiting” for a baby, I need to start thinking in terms of the here and now and what I will be doing “in the waiting” for heaven. Something to ponder.
In honor of my musings on “the waiting”, I wanted to share with you another song that has profoundly affected my spiritual journey through infertility and the many daily crosses of life. It’s John Waller’s “While I’m Waiting”. I hope it blesses you too!

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting I will serve You
While I'm waiting I will worship
While I'm waiting I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord

Tomorrow I’ll share a few more reflections from Lent and then start to catch you up on what’ we’ve been up to lately.


  1. omg, what an amazing post! I have so much to say. First of all, a Steubenville conference literally changed my life and is why I am here today and why I have my son-lead me to everything good in my life. Seriously. It's in my blog under "God bat". #2-sorry if you already said this, but what amazing conference was this?! I am so jealous! #3 it sounds like you had an amazing Lent-just as it was meant to be! #4 I hope you know how amazing it is that your ob/gyn is nfp. here we only have primary care, and though I am grateful for them, I use them at primary care and have a mainstream (but Catholic) ob/gyn that consults with Hilgers. Praying for him that he will do the training. He already doesn't script contraception! #5 I could agree more with what you are saying about adoption. So true! I just have to say that I loved this post (if you can't already tell). Sign me up for your fan club!

  2. Loved your post!! sounds like an amazing Lent!!!! It is great that you were able to gain so much spiritual development during Lent!! Praise God for the mercy and love He pours out upon us!!!

    Jesus I trust in you!!