Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Crisis of Faith

(N.B. The events described below happened in December; I have wanted to write about them for some time, but this post has been difficult to write. Though it may not always seem it, I am doing better now.)

For the first time in months, maybe years, I had come up with a fun way to tell my parents I was pregnant. I imagined calling them: "Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad. I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that I have to have blood work done every other day while we're out there. The good news is that... I'm pregnant!" You see this month was different; my chart was not like previous months, and that could only be good, right? After nothing but months after month of failure, a change had to mean something positive. I was having to wake up in the middle of the night to use the washroom every night post-peak (which isn't at all normal for me). I really believed that we had succeeded, that we were going to have our own Christmas miracle. My mom would be able to have a baby shower for us when we were back in Illinois for my grandmother's 90th birthday bash. We would finally see something positive from my surgery, instead of just months of heavier and more painful periods. 

My post-peak phase wasn't even particularly long, but it was long enough for me to get my hopes up. Then, on December 12, P+something became CD1. And my faith broke. It wasn't just our situation; it was the suffering of so many of you, of Christians in the Middle East and Africa. It was the unfairness of it all - how some have their dreams come easily, while others struggle and suffer. I could believe in a God who was all-powerful and all-knowing. But One who loves all of His people equally? How could I believe that? If you saw a parent who showered one child with love and care and attention but abused his other child, would you say that parent loved his children equally? 

"Ah, but though God permits evil, He can bring good out of even the worst of things." you might say. "And His will is only for what is best for us." It all sounded like a bunch of cow pucky to me. Even worse that cow pucky, it sounded like Panglossian optimism*.What interfering, do-gooder, busybody doesn't say that they know better than you? What they think you should want or do is so much better for you. And nowhere are we promised that God's plans will grant us anything in this life. Even in the parables that Jesus himself told we hear of playing favorites, the lost coin, lost sheep, Prodigal Son, etc. If He is so much more joyful on the return of one who is lost, then why bother trying so hard to listen for His will and do as He wishes? Why not live your life and repent later? No, we don't know when our time will come, but rarely is death instantaneous. 

I stopped praying. In truth, I couldn't pray. I struggled to do the things that needed to be done, finishing the shopping, wrapping, Christmas cards, cookies. Writing Christmas cards was the hardest thing because I felt like the only one writing letters about how bad things were and how close we were to being done TTC. Other people wrote about their children's accomplishments, or vacations, or new babies. All I had to write about was the coming end of our dream. I dreaded going to my parents' place in Arizona; this would be the first time that we were all there since my sister-in-law, I, was pregnant. And of course Posey, the only grandchild, would be the center of attention, with this being the first Christmas she would be old enough to really be aware of. 

The first thing that began to pierce the darkness, depression, and anger swallowing me up was a line from Constantine**: "Evil wins when we let it destroy our faith in the power of good." It took watching the scene several times to get it written down just right, but it was a line I wanted to remember though hearing it made me cry all the harder. 

Husbandido and I had been planning to go to the penance service at a nearby parish on December 17. I wasn't sure I saw the point in going; what was I supposed to do, go to confession and say that I wasn't sure I believed anymore, that I wasn't sure I could believe anymore? But that was more or less exactly what I ended up doing; I sat down and told the priest about our nearly 4 years of TTC, of the constant heartbreak, of not just my own suffering but seeing that of my friends. I told him that I wasn't sure I could believe anymore; I don't think I got into the IF stuff until after he assigned my penance, including some Hail Marys and re-consecrating myself to the Blessed Mother. I think I blurted out something to the effect that her being the mother of Christ was part of the problem, since I couldn't conceive. I don't remember what he said then, only that I left confession feeling lighter than I had in what seemed like a very long time. I could start to pray again, not necessarily well, not with the confidence I had before, but I could start. 

Writing this now, in February, I am shocked that it was only 5 or 6 days where I was swallowed whole by darkness, anger, and depression. At the time it felt like weeks, like it would never end. I can't claim that the past two months have been filled with hope and peace; it's been the same roller-coaster, only now knowing that the end is near. I am still struggling with the thought that the last four years could all be for naught, and I hate thinking that it will end almost the same as it began, only with us older, more tired, and broken. Now when I pray, though I ask to succeed, mostly I pray for peace and for guidance. 

* Voltaire's Candide, where Professor Pangloss teaches his students that they live in "the best of all possible worlds" and "all is for the best."

**For those who aren't watching, it is a show about John Constantine, a freelance exorcist and master of the occult as he and his compatriots battle evil; it's based on the Hellblazer series of comics. While being dark and gruesome (and occasionally featuring dodgy theology), it is a great show about the war between good and evil.


  1. I'm so sorry, Stephanie. I'm glad you're in a better place now, but UGH, those cycles where you hope the most always hurt the most. And it's so hard to find a good balance between being hopeful and being pessimistic with each cycle. Actually, I'd say it's pretty impossible. Prayers for you as your TTC journey comes to a close. <3

  2. Great quote from Constantine. Confession has been so healing for me too, even when i fight going. This suffering is just so hard.

  3. I love that you went to confession, even though you weren't sure that you could. The holidays are so hard anyway, and to have that on top of it... I'm glad that things are going better now, but I'm with you. I don't even know how to pray anymore most days. I'm not sure that's all bad, but it is a little hard to know what to do with it sometimes.