The Finding of Jesus in the Temple
Fruit of the Mystery: Joy
Heaven is Worth It
by Hannah Marks
I was sitting in the waiting room of my OB-GYN’s office, waiting to be called back for my yearly checkup. That office brings back so many emotions every time I enter it, but at this particular visit I was feeling fairly well. No big emotions were coming up, no past memories threatening to come to the surface and cause problems for me. And then all of a sudden, all the feelings were overflowing.
A beautiful, very pregnant mom came into the office, and when it was her turn for her visit, as she walked through the swinging door to the exam rooms, from outside of the waiting room came her husband wrangling two excited, wiggly, squirmy little girls. They followed their momma to the ultrasound room, to see their new brother or sister, and the excitement on their little faces was so obvious.
Sometimes the gravity and the weight of infertility isn’t invading my thoughts, but when it is, its weight is crushing. Sitting in that office, watching that beautiful family, I realized that more than likely I will never experience that. My two precious babies, welcomed into our family through adoption, will probably never excitedly follow my husband and me into an ultrasound room to see their new sibling on a screen. And the magnitude of that realization hit me all at once, and it made it hard to even breathe.
Four years ago, after two years of infertility, my husband and I found out we were expecting. Our first baby was an answer to so many prayers, and so many tears. And then I miscarried and my heart was shattered. For months I couldn’t feel God anywhere near me; I felt abandoned by Him, because, in my mind, what else could possibly explain why we were given a child only to have her ripped away from us, from the one place in the whole world she should have been the most safe?
It didn’t add up to me. How could God love me, how could He be a good Father, if He allowed us that pain and suffering and loss? So I shut Him out. If He didn’t want to love me, I didn’t want to spend too much time loving Him, either. I still went to Mass and did all the things I was supposed to do to be a good Catholic, but my heart wasn’t in it.
I couldn’t bring myself to look at the crucifix above the altar at Mass, because seeing Jesus there just made it worse. I think somewhere in my heart, deep in my heart, I knew that God still loved me and still desired a relationship with me, but I was much too deep in suffering and heartbreak to understand that at the time.
After a few months, around the time I should have been giving birth to our baby, I felt a nudge to pray the Rosary. It felt very inconvenient and very difficult, but I did it. I would pray while I was outside running, which was often because running became a way for me to cope with the emotional pain of my miscarriage.
I would run, and I would pray, and even though my heart felt heavy and broken, Our Lady was working on me. She was drawing me out of my suffering and into her Son’s light. The Joyful Mysteries were my go-to; I’m still not sure why. Maybe it was because I felt like Mary was given a baby in a miraculous way, so I thought that maybe we could receive a new baby in a miraculous way too. Or maybe it was just because those were the mysteries God knew I would need to heal. Whatever the case, I kept praying them, and one day I realized why.
On the day following our baby’s due date, I had a panic attack, the first and only one I’ve ever had. All the pain and heartbreak from the previous months came spilling out and I lost it. And when I lost control of all my emotions, I finally turned to God.
It was a complete relief and a deep, deep peace, all of a sudden, when I understood that God had never left me. He had been waiting for me for months, patiently loving me through my broken heart and waiting for me to turn to Him and ask Him for the peace and consolation and understanding I’d been searching for.
I finally understood that all the time I had felt abandoned, I just couldn’t see Him. All the darkness I felt wasn’t because I was far from Him, it was because He was so close to me.
I realized something else during that time, also: I had been so heartbroken over the loss of my baby, I thought there was no way I could ever experience any kind of joy again. Not real joy. But letting God love me again, and inviting Him back into my life, brought a joy so deep and so intense, it was like nothing I had ever experienced before.
I realized that the joy I had been trying to find didn’t come from what was going on in my outward life, but what was going on in my heart and in my internal disposition. I experienced joy even in the midst of continuing to mourn my baby. I later found out that the fruit of the Fifth Joyful Mystery is Joy. God had been working on my heart, and so had Our Lady, even though I couldn’t feel it or understand it at first.
Infertility is still a very large part of my life, and even when I feel overwhelmed by the weight of that cross, it’s a cross I choose to carry joyfully now. I’ve come to learn that I can be in pain, and still recognize the fact that God loves me, and that simple, profound fact is the cause of my joy. God would never expect us to carry our crosses without His grace; after all, His own Son carried a Cross, too. On the contrary, He deeply desires to walk with us on our journey to Heaven and He longs for us to let Him help us carry the weight of our sinfulness and sufferings in this fallen world.
He wants us to experience the joy that comes from recognizing that no matter what we have to suffer in this life, eternity with Him in Heaven is worth it. The joy of Christ can only be found in recognizing that we are not alone here, and that we are deeply, deeply loved by God Himself. How can we not be joyful with that knowledge? God loves you!
About Hannah: Hannah is a wife, mother through adoption and a lover of all things coffee and literature related. She is a cradle Catholic who is constantly learning more about the Church. In her spare time she loves to read everything she can get her hands on, but mostly re-reads The Lord of the Rings. Hannah lives in South Louisiana with her husband and two small children. For more from Hannah follow her on Instagram at @littlewayofjoy