I mentioned in my last post that I really connected with the song Be Not Afraid for the first time ever at Mass on Father's Day. I've always loved the song, but I never felt like it applied to me.
"You shall cross the barren desert, but you shall not die of thirst."
Barren desert? Yep, that is exactly where I am. In a desert of barrenness. Now, I will admit that I have become hypersensitive to fertility-related language over the last year. But words are important. We use particular words for particular reasons. It's not just any old desert, a mostly dry kinda place; it's a barren desert. The song which I've sung so many times got my full attention because of that one little word: barren. I was tuned in. Good thing too, because the second half of that sentence is a promise.
You shall not die of thirst. He isn't going to let that happen. I am making my way through the desert, and it is everything horrible about being a desert, but I shall not die of thirst. This isn't going to kill me. Being infertile, being barren is not going to kill me. I will thirst powerfully, but God promises that this thirst won't kill me. He will bring me through, not matter what happens, no matter whether we leave the desert in this lifetime.
I hope you find that thought comforting, because it has in fact been comforting me. I have a discomfitting story to share, but then I'll come back to this metaphor, ok? Ok.
Just as my pregdar tells me when someone might be expecting, apparently it also helps me figure out who is experiencing fertility issues around me. An acquaintance of mine from a long time ago had some posts on facebook that made me suspicious that she was having some trouble having a baby. So, I wrote her a message and asked if everything was ok. She confirmed my suspicion that she has infertility, but told me something so shocking. Her husband left her after three years of marriage, because she can't have children.
Not cool, dude, not cool.
Now, I am not close with this woman, and who knows what the other factors might have been, but wow, I had never really considered before what it would be like if Husband were so anxious to have children that he'd leave me in order to do it. He has assured me that he married me because he loved me, and that he won't leave me even if my baby-making potential remains very low. Whew! I would just ask that you say a quick prayer for this young woman, as she is preparing to marry someone new and see if they can figure out the fertility puzzles in their lives.
How does this circle back around to the song?
Well, at Mass this past Sunday, the psalm we sang was simple and lovely: I will praise you Lord for I am wonderfully made.
How hard it is to remember that sometimes on this journey through the barren desert! I am wonderfully made. I'm not a mistake. My health issues do not define me in God's eyes. I may be IN a barren desert, but I myself am NOT a barren desert. I am wonderfully made. That applies to all of us, no matter what we have "wrong" with us physically or mentally or emotionally. People on earth may not recognize it, spouses who have promised to care for us in sickness and in health may not keep their promises, but we are WONDERFULLY made.
P.S. You have probably noticed that I can quote church music like crazy, but the Bible or Catechism, not so much. What can I say? I'm a vocalist! And those who sing pray twice, right? Right?!