The Gift of Infertility
It was my 27th birthday (in the spring of 2000) and the doctor called with the results. The diagnosis was clear and simple: Amy and I would not be able to have biological children without major medical intervention . . . and even then the chances of conceiving were very slim.
That night we went to dinner and just sat in silence and ate. We were in an emotional fog of sorts. I don’t think we said ten words between the two of us until the very end of the meal.
“So what are we going to do,” I asked, even though we both kind of already knew.
“I suppose we will start learning about adoption,” Amy quietly replied, betraying the loss and pain, not to mention the fear and uncertainty, we both were feeling.
– – –
Fast forward to the spring of 2008. Amy and I got away for dinner where the conversation ranged all over the place – family, school, activities for our four kids, church ministry, vacation plans and so on. Then, changing the subject, I said, “You know, medical technology has come a long way and we never really got a full explanation for our infertility. If there was a really good chance, maybe even 100%, that we could conceive, would you do anything differently then, or even …”
“No,” she quickly replied, “I think we have exactly the family we need . . . and that God wanted us to have. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
I have long clearly seen God’s redemptive love at work in our lives and the lives of my children, as He put together the broken pieces to create something truly beautiful. But it wasn’t until I read Miroslav Volf’s article, The Gift of Infertility, that I fully appreciated that the children I have come to love so deeply were blessings I could not have received without first having received the gift of infertility. I love how Volf describes coming to this realization as he reflected on his own journey:
“During those nine years of infertility I wasn’t waiting for a child who stubbornly refused to come. That’s what I thought at the time. I was waiting for the two boys I now have, Nathanael and Aaron. I love them, and I want them in their unsubstitutable particularity…
Then it dawned on me: Fertility would have robbed me of my boys. From my present vantage point, that would have been a disaster – the disaster of not having what I so passionately love. Infertility was the condition for the possibility of these two indescribable gifts. And understanding that changed my attitude toward infertility. Since it gave me what I now can’t imagine living without, poison was transmuted into a gift, God’s strange gift.
…I have Nathanael and Aaron. It’s them that I love. It’s them that I want. And it’s they who redeem the arduous path that led to having them.”
I neither asked for nor particularly welcomed (at the time) the gift of infertility that I was given. But it is that gift for which I am so deeply grateful because it led me to blessings that have made my life so very full.
I encourage you to read the entirety of Volf’s short article. It has been profoundly encouraging to me, and I hope it will encourage you as well.