Sunday, November 22, 2009

Spiritual Sunday: I Yearned for a Baby

Janet Nelson Christensen, “I Yearned for a Baby,” Ensign, Aug 1996, 52

All through my growing-up years, I dreamed of my future family. When I married the man of my dreams, we both had great hope and expectations for our family. He wanted a dozen children; I thought five or six would be fine. As time went on and no children came, we began a roller-coaster ride of hope and disappointment. After years of no success, the emotional pain became intense, and I focused almost exclusively on the elusive baby, which I thought would heal all my heartache.

This absorption brought about a downward cycle in my life. Not knowing how to deal with my disappointment and despair, I built an emotional wall around myself, trying to shut out the pain. The wall provided a buffer that protected me, for a time, from anyone or anything that reminded me that I had no children.

However, the more I closed others out and focused on myself, the more the pain became magnified. It was a sad and lonely life, and as the wall grew higher and thicker, I grew even more discouraged and depressed. Worst of all, I began to lose hope and to shut out the comforting influence of the Spirit. I felt the Lord did not care about me because this hurt had happened and had continued for so long.

Finally, nine years after we were married, a beautiful baby boy joined our family through adoption. His arrival satisfied a great need and brought much joy to our lives, but to my surprise it did not take away the pain of my infertility. Feeling overwhelmed by my new responsibilities as a mother, I did not deal with the problem, nor did I take the time to improve my relationship with the Savior. So even with the joy of our son’s arrival, my heart was not healed.

Two years later, pain again flooded my heart when I learned that a dear friend was expecting her sixth child. I cried in anguish, prayed for help, and finally determined that I would not allow my sorrow to shut my friend out and damage our friendship. Up to that time in my life, I had been waiting for outside sources to make everything better. The healing process finally began in earnest when I realized that only I, with the Lord’s help, could break down the wall and heal the pain.

What great healing power I felt as I humbled myself and sought the Lord through prayer and sincere, diligent scripture study. Those efforts not only healed my heart and gave me a deeper understanding of our Savior and the purpose of life, but to my delight, there also came great joy in feeling his love for me.

In the New Testament, the Lord tells us some of the reasons he was sent to the earth: “to heal the brokenhearted, … to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18). He also taught:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matt. 11:28–29).

My soul had indeed been heavy laden and in desperate need of rest. I began to pray for help to alleviate the pain. Seeking guidance, I attended a scripture journal class at a Relief Society homemaking meeting. Taking the time to really ponder and write down my thoughts regarding a few verses of scripture, I began to realize that I was prideful. I felt that I needed to humble myself.

To my prayers I added pleas for humility, and the search to see my weaknesses that they might become strengths was under way (see Ether 12:27). A challenging introspective process started as the Spirit guided me line upon line to greater and greater light. My prayers and scripture study became more earnest.

It was hard to give up my selfish notions, pride, and expectations and to act and move in order to tear down the wall that had “protected” me for so many years. The path along the way, however, came with blessings and support from Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. The hurt began to ease, and I learned that I could feel happiness and joy despite life’s challenges. I had been waiting for the healing to come without taking the time and effort to help make it happen.

The most difficult aspect of infertility to overcome was the effect that it had on my feelings of self-worth. During those pain-filled years, I mistakenly felt that because I could not have children, I must be of no worth. The resulting depression and despair only made my feelings of worthlessness worse.

Through prayer and scripture study, I learned that the source of my depression was Satan and that his influence can be overcome by going to the Lord for help and then acting upon the impressions received. One of the scripture study topics I felt to focus on was that of charity, the pure love of Christ. Learning about charity brought new insight, for I recognized a source of true and lasting self-worth—the love of our Heavenly Father and our Savior for us all. The more I studied about charity, the greater my desire to feel the pure love of Christ in my life, to know that he loves me even with all my imperfections and problems.

What a glorious day it was when I knelt and asked if I was loved by my Heavenly Father and his Son. The joy that filled my soul as a result was indescribable. I understand now, to a greater degree, why Mormon tells us: “Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are the true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ” (Moro. 7:48).

What great motivation that divine love has been in my life to bring about change and improvement!

I will be forever grateful for the healing of my heart that came as I humbled myself and sought the Lord through prayer and scripture study. As life goes on and my joy is mingled with new sorrows, rather than hide from the pain and focus on myself, I have learned to rely on our Savior to find healing balm. My life, with all its challenges and unmet expectations, is much richer and deeper now than I ever dreamed possible as a young bride so full of hope.

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