Over the last 5 1/2 years of my struggle with infertility, I have learned a lot about myself, including things that have helped me become who I am today. I wrote them all in my journal the other night, and I haven't even written on this blog for over a year, but I felt the need to publicly share my thoughts on what I have learned.
1. Never ask someone when they are going to start their family (or have more kids, or get married, etc.) I can't assume that just because a married couple travels a lot, is in a great career, etc., it's because they don't want to have any kids right now. Maybe it's true, but it's not up to me to judge. The decision to start a family is between a couple and the Lord. That's it.
2. Humility. When Jared and I decided to start our family 5 1/2 years ago we thought, " Ok, we will have 4 kids, each two years apart...." Ha, talk about being humbled! Sometimes we all need to go through the "refiner's fire" at one or more times in our life to be broken down and strengthened. I feel that my trial of infertility has done just that, broken me down to where I felt weak and helpless, to strengthening me beyond what I thought I was capable of. I have truly been humbled through this experience (but trust me, there is much more room for improvement!).
3. Everyone on earth has trials, no one is exempt. Sometimes these trials end in this life and sometimes they don't end until one's mortal life is finished. Whether we experience one or both of these, we can never compare our trials to someone else's. Heavenly Father knows each and every one of us and our unique qualities that make us who we are. But our trials are not punishment for something we've done. Sometimes crappy things just happen because of the imperfect world we live in, and sometimes there is a deeper reason for us to go through certain trials that only Heavenly Father knows will help us become stronger. But we are not alone in our trials. Not ever. Christ suffered every physical and emotional pain so that we can always have someone who understands what we are going through. Even the feeling of childlessness.
4. Service truly does mend broken hearts. As I watched seemingly every friend and family member around me get pregnant (some multiple times) I couldn't help but be angry or jealous that it was "so easy" for them. I had one particular experience when I just couldn't get past this jealousy and didn't want to hang out with one friend that I used to be close to before she got pregnant. But one day I did something to help her out; it wasn't anything spectacular but it was something that I could tell meant a lot to her. As she humbly thanked me, I honestly felt those feelings of anger and jealousy be replaced with nothing but love and happiness for her. I was no longer focused on me and feeling sorry for myself. I know that as we struggle with our trials, service is key.
5. All women, whether or not they have a chance in this life, will have the opportunity to be mothers in the life hereafter. We were created by Heavenly Father to be eternal mothers. One of my favorite talks that really helped me realize this is by Sheri Dew, called "Are We Not All Mothers?". She says,
"When we understand the magnitude of motherhood, it becomes clear why prophets have been so protective of woman’s most sacred role. While tend to equate motherhood solely with maternity, in the Lord’s language, the word has layers of meaning. Of all the words they could have chosen to define her role and her essence, both God the Father and Adam called Eve “the mother of all living”—and they did so she ever bore a child. Like Eve, our motherhood began before we were born. Just as worthy men were foreordained to hold the priesthood in mortality,righteous women were endowed premortally with the privilege of motherhood.Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our very identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gave us."
I truly believe this is true with all my heart.
6. The Lord's timeline is sometimes much different than our own. It is insanely hard to realize this when you are in the midst of a heavy trial, but sometimes we just have to have complete trust and faith that He knows what He is doing. "His ways are higher than our ways" (Isaiah 55: 8-9) One of my favorite scriptures that has also helped me through this trial is Proverbs 3: 5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
7. I have a testimony of my Savior Jesus Christ, that He lives and has gone through every feeling of physical and emotional pain that any of us have ever experienced. And He did it all for us, so that we can have eternal happiness, if we can but endure our earthly trials and keep the commandments we have been given. I know without a doubt that Heavenly Father loves me so much. I know that He loves and has a plan for each of us, each one so special and unique to our own personal qualities. I know that I am not even close to being perfect, but through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can all become perfect one day. I know that I will continue to have trials throughout this life, but if I can continue to have faith and have an eternal perspective, it will all be ok in the end.