Confidence and Fertility…and how I lack both

So I tried not to mention fertility when I wrote that last post on humility and self-confidence, but you all had to know that it was lurking back there somewhere.  Its always lurking back there somewhere.

I had some really good suggestions and comments from people but the one that struck me was the one from Leila.  She said:

I think that TRUE humility (as opposed to false humility) goes hand-in-hand with self-confidence. If one is truly humble (meaning, one knows his place in the world and his place with God), then there is great confidence going forward. There is little chance that the truly humble would think that their talents and gifts, etc. came from anyone but God. So, they can be confident, because they can take credit for nothing. It’s all God’s doing, and God’s gifts.

I think there-in lies the problem.  I often wonder if I’m alone in this, but I’ve realized that my fertility (or lack thereof) has really taken a toll on my confidence more recently.  When I converted to Catholicism, I finally gained that confidence that I had previously been lacking through my faith.  I understood the greater plan for life, our purpose for being here, what happens when we die, and had an incredible peace about life.  However, trials in life test your faith and this is a big trial.  If faith is tested, confidence will shake too.

Going first to the obvious, to put it bluntly, I can’t perform a seemingly normal function that is the basis for the continuation of life.  For whatever reason, its become apparent that I’m “not good” at having children.  This makes me feel like less of woman.  Less female. To someone who already had body image insecurities (who doesn’t?), that maybe I didn’t look as “feminine” as others to begin with, the fact that my body isn’t cooperating in the reproductive realm seems to really seal the deal that somehow I’m less female.  That really messes with your confidence.

Of course, one could argue that it doesn’t take one female to make a baby but that three are involved.  So then together, my husband, God, and I are not good at creating children, so I shouldn’t take it so personally, but I’ve found that coming to that conclusion is only possible after first pondering my own lack of femininity.  In other words, this still has an effect on my confidence and who I am, whether I want it to or not.  Kind of like a automatic reflex.

If one is truly humble (meaning, one knows his place in the world and his place with God), then there is great confidence going forward.

I think that’s where the dichotomy lies. In realizing my sub-fertility over this past year, I’ve truly questioned my “place in this world” and with God.  Who will I be if not a mother?  Its not something I had considered.  It was something I had taken for granted would just happen.  Even though I thought I had no plans for my life, the semblance of what was there has been replaced with a giant question mark.  Of course I can have no humility OR confidence because I have had the foundation for who I will be severely shaken.  I do not know my place in this world.  Also, part of me doesn’t want to accept that God gave this to me, after all, why would He?  That would be too cruel.  What if its something I’m doing.  If I could just eat healthier, do more yoga, pray more, love my husband more, stop being so resentful, then maybe I would get pregnant.

The key to having confidence in my current situation (and hand-in-hand, humility) is to truly accept that God gave me this trial of sub-fertility purposefully, even if I don’t understand why.

15 thoughts on “Confidence and Fertility…and how I lack both

  1. What a heartfelt reflection! Here’s some random thoughts I had while reading.

    — We Christians must remember that “nothing happens accidentally, but everything is gifted providentially”. That is a key to everything.

    — Knowing our place means knowing that we are dust. From dust He made us and to dust we shall return. We technically deserve nothing, so everything we do have is pure gift. That’s where the true humility comes from. That’s our place in this world. The recognition that we are “nothing” and our lives are completely in His hands.

    — And, you may not be “good” at having children right now, but you may be very good at it later. We just don’t know. Some are “good” at having children at some points and not at others. It is a great mystery. But that can’t be a static statement, since you just don’t know yet what is to be….

    — I think your last statement is very true! It’s about total abandonment to God. When we realize we are not in control of anything, even our next breath, then peace and joy come. (At least, that is what the saints knew! I’m still working on that one!!)

    • Recognizing that we are “nothing” is optimal, but obviously we are still here for a reason, to praise and serve the Lord. Discovering how or how best to do it per each person is vital, I believe, to having confidence. Some are religious and serve, some are mothers and fathers and serve their children, and me, what will I be? That’s the struggle.

      • Yes, I see what you mean. Your vocation now is as a wife, and you serve your dear husband. And you serve all those who are in your life. In that way, you serve the Lord. But I know those are just words, and that it doesn’t help make your struggle easier, even if it’s objectively true. Maybe you could try to look at yourself from the eyes of Heaven. It’s a very different perspective up there. God sees things so differently than we do. He, no doubt, is looking on you with such love, and sees how you love and serve your husband. That is what He’s asking now, and you are doing it. You are doing what God is asking you to do.

  2. I have a boss with a degenerative nerve disease. HE had a thriving ministry in Albania until his body began to fall apart, and now he is in the US, walks with a walker, lives with constant pain, and appears years older than he actually is.

    He talks about God’ prerogative on his life. If his life is fully submitted to God, it is available to be used for His glory, as God sees fit. Jesus said in John that a man was born blind that God might be glorified. It just so happened that the glorification happened through his miraculous healing, but sometimes God is glorified in brokenness, in things that do not APPEAR good. If this is how He chooses to use our lives, how can we argue with the prerogative a divine and loving Father?

    It’s a hard thing to wrestle with, I think.

  3. Hi Alison. I don’t have any words of wisdom, I just wanted to say that I know how you feel . . . I have been struggling with many of these exact issues. I feel so unwomanly for being unable to reproduce. I even feel like an idiot for not being able to do something that *everyone* else can do. (Obviously not *everyone* can . . . but it sure feels like it some days).

    I appreciate your reflections . . . your posts always lift my spirits. I’m so grateful that I’m not completely alone.

  4. I wonder about God’s purpose a lot. I believe it is there, at least in His permissive will, if not His intentional will. But somedays I find myself wondering if He still has a purpose or if He just forgot about me. But thank you for your forceful last statement, because you are right.

    • Thanks Leila, I read it and this quote stuck out to me:
      “Humility is not thinking of self at all, whether good or bad. Humility is thinking of others and seeking their advancement. ”

      This is precisely the struggle that the sub/infertile has, because our attempts to think outside of ourselves is literally being denied! We’re trying to serve others, trying not to be selfish, trying to grow our family and expand our role of responsibility (when the world around us shouts, “oh don’t have kids, they’ll ruin all your fun!”), trying to think of little ones other than ourselves, and it just. isn’t. happening. So how can we serve? Its a process we each have to discern. Our path to humility deviates from the normal mold, the “less traveled” road, with little signage and examples, if not due to raw percentages.

      This doesn’t mean we won’t ever get to a place of peace, but I’m just trying to describe the struggle since this is what we’re having to go through and often others don’t understand.

      • I understand what you’re saying here. In our minds, we have this idea that to think outside ourselves and serve others is best suited for us by having children. We will glorify God (in one way) by putting our little ones first and raising children to glorify Him. Yet, we are denied that.

        However, I’ve been reflecting recently of how much I think about myself. For me, everyday I am consumed with thoughts of my infertility, thoughts of how my failure is affecting my husband and our families, how I’m not receiving what I always wanted, how abandoned I feel that I am. There’s an awful lot of “I”s in there.

        If humility is not thinking of self at all (and I think that’s a bit too simplistic of a definition, but we’ll go with it) then I’m not humble at all. God has willed me to be where I am and I am called to humility right here and right now. Even though I want to be humble in an ideal I-have-so-many-children-that-I-never-think-of-myself situation, that is not my reality. How am I to be humble where God has me right now? That is the question I have to ask myself.

      • I think you are right that yours is a struggle that is more painful than most. Being a devout Catholic and wanting so badly to witness our faith to the world by having many children, and then not being able to witness to the world with that (and having the world NOT understand why that pains you), and on top of it feeling like you have failed your husband…. it’s such a silent, isolating, misunderstood kind of suffering. I am so sorry that you have to suffer this way. I am praying for the day your joy and peace will come. You may not see the inspiration you bring to others, but you are doing great work for the Lord without even being aware of it.

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