Made For Heaven But Dwelling Here
“Congratulations!” I choked out, a little too quickly in a shaky voice, hoping that my smile was genuine enough and masked by the comments of others. Because while I was happy for this friend that I loved, I was also discouraged. Experiencing hopelessness. And if I was honest with myself, a little bit angry at God and the unfairness of the situation. You see, she had just shared that they were expecting another baby. And I, though I wanted desperately to be, was not. I waited a couple minutes and excused myself to the bathroom where you could hear stifled sobs if your ear was to the door. Infertility. Such a mean and ugly word.
At 30 years old I married the man of my dreams. It was worth the wait for the right guy and I was eager to raise a family with him. Growing up the oldest of seven children, I was excited to have my own large family and couldn't imagine it going any differently. The first few years were good, but rough. It was wonderful to grow in our relationship and support each other in our faith life. But there was that longing... Due to being diagnosed with a variety of infertility issues, I had surgery and ongoing hormonal therapy to try and increase our chances of conception. Every time I heard news of a friend or family member being pregnant there was a twinge of pain inside. It wasn't that I wished they weren't expecting, but rather a bitter reminder that we were told our chances were less than slim.
One of the scripture readings chosen for our wedding ceremony was from Psalm 37:3-4."Trust in the Lord and do good and you will dwell in the land and enjoy security, take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." I felt like it had been a theme in my life. Trusting... Waiting things out. Repeatedly surrendering my wants and desires to the Lord.
Time passed, I had a very early miscarriage that was disheartening and sad, but for me also brought a sense of hope that we could conceive. Soon after, I was pregnant again. I was very sick during that time but all reports showed that the baby within was growing healthy and strong. Two weeks after I gave birth to my son I was rushed back to the hospital with severe blood clots in my right lung. Really God?! What kind of plan is this? For years I have waited for this family only to have you take me away just days later!? I silently cried. The baby whimpered as if knowingly. My husband rocked the car seat on the floor beside his chair as we waiting for potentially devastating test results. My head was spinning and every breath was a gasp that brought forth tremendous pain upon the effort. I sent my little family home to rest while I waited for the results, a sense of dread making me wonder if this would be the last time I ever saw them. But to my surprise, I woke up the next day with less pain. Further tests over the next few months revealed that I had two blood disorders that would mean blood thinners and complications in any future pregnancies. I was so grateful to be alive and well despite the hard news. I settled into a routine with my new little one, fairly certain that he would be our only one. And I started bottling up this strange cocktail of gratefulness and sadness inside.
That’s the thing about this whole area of fertility struggles - it highlights just how little control I have over my life. It forces me to choose everyday whether I’m going to despair or trust. Psalm 37 kept coming back to mind: “Trust in the Lord and do good and you will dwell in the Land and enjoy security, take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” But how do you dwell, really dwell in a land that is so full of brokenness and imperfection? A land that makes you long for heaven? How do you delight and take joy in a God who doesn’t seem to be listening to the desperate cries of your heart? Psalm 37 is not a guarantee that God is going to give you what you want. Rather it is a promise that if you cling to the truth of the Gospel, trusting and delighting in the Lord, that your heart will start to look a little more like His. And this can sometimes be a painful process.
So, there we were with our little miracle baby boy, knowing he might be our only one. Being a mother was a bigger blessing than I could have ever imagined and my husband seemed to be made for fatherhood. We tried for more children, and had two more miscarriages. I felt like my heart was being torn out each time. I was already so in love with these babies! Why Lord? Why? Why not just cut me some slack? Was is something I’d done? Was there any way that I could have better cared for myself during pregnancy? What about the desires of my heart? I halted myself before the spiraling emotions once again got out of control.
Trust in the Lord. Take Delight in the Lord. Count the blessings. It was a practice that helped me survive the hard days. It was a choice to trust, delight and give thanks not based on emotions but on the unchangeable nature of God. He IS good. The few that heard of our loss offered their condolences and prayers. Yes, please! Please pray for me, I can’t do it on my own. A friend of mine spoke comfort to me reminding me that our job as parents is to raise our children for Heaven and so in their cases, my job was already accomplished. My heart started longing for Heaven in a way that I hadn't before; I had little saints to meet.
Since that time I've given birth to a healthy baby girl and struggled through two more miscarriages. I love that God gave us two healthy children and we openly talk to them about their heavenly siblings who continue to be grieved and will always be missed. Together, my husband and I have made it our mission to pray for couples that struggle with infertility or loss just as we have. My desire to have a larger family is still there but through my journey of pain and growth, my heart's disposition has changed. Things aren't easier but rather experienced through a filter of faith. I am learning how to dwell here while longing for a day when every tear will be wiped away. I am forever grateful to be a Mamma and know that regardless of what the future holds, I'll have that large family that I've always wanted when I reach Heaven...our true home.
By Mary Lynne Dinolfo
Mary Lynne is the mother of two beautiful young children. She lives with her husband Dan in the Lansing area and attends both Riverview and IHM Catholic Church. Mary has a history of caregiving, teaching primary school and working as a Christian youth minister for both high school and college age young adults. Mary is currently a stay-at-home mom who runs an Etsy business called DiamondsOutOfDust which provides accessories for mothers, children and those with special needs. Mary loves going on adventures with her family, writing, singing, watching old movies, crocheting and baking.
Title photo credit: Nico Angleys