Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Prayers

This post is going to me more of a question than an answer. So, your thoughts are appreciated!

I just came from a dear friend's blog, DrGianna, whose beautiful baby girl Ivory was born exactly one year to the date of her St Andrew Novena, during which time she prayed fervently for a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. Truly these answers to prayers are beautiful and obvious reminders of God's love for us. I always get goosebumps hearing about things like that! And looking around the Catholic blogs, there are a TON of similar stories...

But then there's the rest of us. Those of us who have literally exhausted all of our prayers, have pulled out every Novena known to man and even some obscure ones that many haven't heard of... and our prayers aren't being answered. Or at least, not yet. What are we doing wrong? Why aren't our prayers heard?

One of the reasons I brought the Prayer Buddy idea to the Blogs was because I firmly believe that when we pray FOR others, those prayers are somehow stronger than the ones they offer for themselves. Likewise, the prayers offered FOR us are stronger than the ones we offer for ourselves. Again, it would seem there's something to that, looking back at last Advent and the outpouring of pregnancy and adoption announcements... and then Lent.

But again, here several of us remain. And I can't understand it. Not only can I not understand it, but I can't STAND it. It unnerves me to see so many faithful, amazing women still not advancing in their adoption plans, still not getting any closer to a pregnancy... I get more upset for you all than I get for myself. This is a new level of suffering that just doesn't seem fair. At least a few years ago the Infertile Blog Community was, well, Infertile! We had a place we could come and vent, pray for each other, and know that what we were going through, everyone else could relate to IN THAT MOMENT. Now, with so many having had their prayers answered (and please don't take this to mean I am not happy for all of you who HAVE had your prayers answered), it's very different here.

It reminds me of those commercials... I think it's for some kind of insurance company... the man says to one kid, "How would you like a pony?!" and she ecstatically answers, "YEAH!!" His assistant brings out a pony, and she is beaming from ear to ear. He turns to the other kid and asks her, "And how would YOU like a pony?" Of course, she gets so excited she can't hide it, and quickly says, "Yes, yes!" And then he reaches in his pocket and takes out a plastic toy pony.

Really. I feel like some of us have been handed the short end of the stick, here. There are women riding their ponies ALL around us, and here we are with our despicable, sad little plastic imitations.

So, how exactly do prayers work? Why do the endless prayers of some go unanswered?

Sometimes I really just want to crawl up in a ball and not wake up for weeks...

And I really need to stop blogging when I'm PMSing...

30 comments:

barbie said...

I've wondered this for years. I told myself God wanted to make me stronger. That was I not yet broken down and rebuilt the way He wanted me. But honestly? I said that to make myself feel better, I have no idea why some wait and wait and some get their prayers answered easier.

I think of you ladies still waiting and my heart aches for you. I pray daily that your miracles come soon.

Little JoAnn said...

I was just at Dr. Gianna's blog, too!

You know what TCIE, I am not the one to ask this question. I sincerely, felt...well...like God would not answer my prayers about IF. So, I really did not pray to God to overcome it. I did not say any Novenas, and did not go to adoration or say any other rosaries.

I ONLY did one thing. I asked, one day out of the blue, for my HUSBAND TO PRAY to GOD for us to have a child.

In my heart of hearts I just thought He would not deny my husband. And, He did not...

I know this doesn't help answer your question.

I might say...that I am reminded of the saying I once heard that God never does NOT answer prayers...just that sometimes His answer is YES, sometimes it is No, and sometimes it is NOT NOW.

And, I hate to always keep saying this...but some of us, are called to (the word call is not right) to WAIT longer than others.

Why??????? Why?????????

Why???????????

I not prepared to answer WHY.

But, reading the lives of the Saints...waiting is often part of God's answer.

So, my belief is...it is not that some of us have our prayers answered and some do not...but some of us are called to WAIT UPON THE LORD longer.

Hebrews 11:1 said...

Amen to this. So often I just feel left behind.

Amazing Life said...

That pony commercial makes me so mad!!! I know exactly how that feels - for over 9 years! I try to be an example that no matter how long you have to wait, God can still come through with answers to all those novenas, prayers, offered sacrifices, etc but it still hurts me so deeply to be moving on when there are so many more women who deserve to be in my shoes right now! I am still having to exercise every single bit of faith that God is holding all my tomorrows, but please know that you and so many other women who are trusting God to make their dreams come true will be in my prayers always, but tomorrow especially! xoxoxo

some how, some way, some day said...

I hear ya sister. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.....and wait some more. I've waited my whole life to become a mother. And, I'm still waiting. No end in sight.

Julie said...

I totally understand you! It is hard when God answers "no" or "not yet" to our prayers, but it the act of praying that brings us closer to Him. I waited over 9 years and everyone I knew had their miracles before me...many years before me...some had manu miracle before me! I was angry and bitter because of this. It hurts and nothing anyone says could make me feel any better.
I am on the other side for the first Christmas as a family if 3, but the pain is still so real to me. There are many traditions that come around each year that would make me even more sad and i have found that these triggers are still there because they became so much of who I am. Childlessness defined me!!! I am in a new role now, and am praying so hard for those who are still childless this Christmas!
And i am praising God for His amazing blessings of my precious miracle daughter, Isabella! I never take a moment for granted!

CM said...

I'm not struggling with infertility, but your words are definitely striking a chord for me. I used to feel that there were reasons, good ones, for me to still be single even while I felt called to marriage and family. And now, all my family and friends are married, having kids, all that. And I'm still... not. I'm really glad you did the Advent prayer buddy. I needed that. I needed to get the focus off me and pray for someone else, and know that someone is praying for me. Because I've got nothing left.

Mrs. Henderson said...

Girl- I couldn't have said it better myself!
You always have such amazing insight. Please know that I pray for you daily. I am standing in the trenches with you- clinging to the hope that God IS faithful.

God Alone Suffices said...

I second Hebrews!

surpriseofunfolding said...

I guess I see prayer as a way to grow in our relationship with God. For awhile I had a hard time praying to him for what I needed, wanted or was longing for - it felt like I was treating him like a bubble gum machine - insert prayer and expect the desired result to pop out! Then, I realized that in any deep and close relationship, you share your thoughts, dreams, hopes, disappointments and desires - so of course we should share these with our Lord, our Father, brother and friend.

I see this world as a place where the battle between good and evil goes on, and often the innocent are casualties. When you see how much pollution there is, and read about plummeting sperm counts or the increase in problems with endometriosis - I see that as harm we have done to the world that indiscriminately has effects upon the innocent. And there may well be good medical interventions and discoveries that can help those situations - but even that "good" can be used for purposes that are not good.

I have a dear friend and her DH that are devout Christians and pursued the tx that they felt was acceptable to the limit of their finances. They have accepted that they will probably live their lives without children. My friend went through a terribly dark and dry period over this. When I asked her how she had the strength and grace to go through it all, and accept not having children of her own (through birth or adoption, as they don't feel comfortable with adoption - at least not at this time - complicated family hisotries on both sides). She said she remembers this time as feeling like being in a desert, day after day. And then one day the rain began to fall.

While they have built a good life and bless others around them every day - why couldn't htey have been blessed with children? (of course I hope and pray that the miracle will still happen for them!)

In the end, I just don’t know. I believe God still works miracles in this world. I believe He usually works through others, and if we are attentive to the Spirit we will be nudged this way or that. I believe He finds ways bless us and to have us bless this world no matter what situation we are in. I believe He loves each one of us passionately and without reservation. But I don’t know what to believe about how / why some prayers are granted and others are not.

JellyBelly said...

I wish that I knew the answers to your questions!

What it boils down to is that this sucks. Waiting is so old.

I want my baby. And NOW!

More Than Anything said...

I can't answer your question. It's infuriating to watch you and others wait and wait and wait some more, all the while knowing you would be fantastic mothers.

I don't know why God leaves some behind. Sometimes it feels like if we say the right prayer, have the right person pray for us, or stand on your left leg with your head cocked to one side with your tongue out, He'll answer your prayer. Its frusterating that there's no magic one prayer or word that can make our deepest desires for us, God's desires for us. Bottom line, it sucks!

I continually pray for you and all the other waiting bloggers out there. You guys are my first though anytime I walk into church.

Second Chances said...

I wish I had a really good answer too. Something profound, some awesome scripture passage of amazing promise...but I don't. I don't know why either.

I think a couple of things. First, even though many prayers have been answered in this small blogosphere, infertility is more widespread now than ever. You know, being a practitioner, that is it almost one in 3 couples will experience IF? Something like that. You know better than I do. It's a MAJOR problem affecting many many couples. So you're not anywhere near alone, even though support on the blogs has decreased, which makes me sad. Well, happy and sad, you know what I mean.

Second, I compare IF to our years and years of novenas for my husband's job to be financially fruitful. He has a great job, great credentials, great insurance, yet we fail time and time again to earn enough for our little family. Why, after all these years of asking the Lord to provide for us, do we not make it? I don't have an answer. But what I do know is that I would not trade these years of suffering for anything. They have given us a whole new set of eyes in seeing the value (invalue really) of material things, and taught us, no INGRAINED in us, that people's souls are the only things that last forever. Without these years of suffering, I don't think we'd be anywhere close to understanding this concept. We've learned much more, but my comment is long enough! We should email more :)

God bless and keeping you in prayer in a special way tonight as I get ready to pray the rosary.

Erin said...

I really really really wish I knew the answer and can't wait for the day it is revieled to me. Until then, I keep praying and particpating in the sacraments.

doctorgianna said...

Oh my aching heart! TCIE, I don't know the answer. If I could transfer my answered prayers onto another, I would. This year my Christmas Novena is for Catholic Infertiles who have yet to hold a child of their own. We have no idea what great blessings lie in store for us in heaven...that's the comforting thing to know when things do not seem fair on Earth.

polkadot said...

You said you get more upset about other people's lack of progress toward having a child than your own...I feel that way, too. I have this mental list of all the IF bloggers I know, and I am itching to check them all off the list!! (once they have a child) As for your question, I wish I had a better answer. I see prayer as a means to holiness, and maybe part of that holiness is learning to detach myself from thing I am requesting in the prayer. It makes sense when I'm praying for me, but less so when I'm praying for someone else. It's so hard when I want to see you and all the other sweet IF/RPL ladies with a baby now!!! Hugs. :)

P.S. At least you did something productive with your PMS. :) I wish I could say the same...but it did get me out of DH's work Christmas party. ;)

Anonymous said...

Because there is no God and no one listens to your prayers at all! We'll say it once, we'll say it again... it's a complete waste of time!

Ann - Building a Nest said...

I wish I could answer this! I do not think it is meant for us to know.

In simple terms – prayer is listening and talking to God. It’s the means to bring us closer to him, not necessarily to get what we want (as we all know since most of us have spent years not getting what we want). It’s always difficult to see people's whose prayers were answered when they are among many whose prayers were not just because it makes us beg the question which you asked. (Think of natural disasters where you see a family saying “God spared us and answered our prayers” standing next to a house where no one survived.) It isn’t untrue, but it makes us divide the world into the haves and the have-nots and wonder why WE are falling into one camp instead of the other.

Personally, I have found certain novenas and prayers meaningful in that they seem to touch me in a special way. They opened my heart at a time when I needed it. That was true, too, when I was participating in PB. However, I’ve never been able to point to one and say “that was the reason” such and such happened, but that is me, personally. A lot of people can. I guess I always felt that prayers were answered in His time. Sometimes that corresponds to something we were doing or taking part in ( a novena, prayer buddies, etc.) It might be after years and years of doing things to improve our situation to obtain that goal (surgery, getting on adoption waiting lists, etc.). Ultimately, it was His time and whatever we were doing in the meantime was our response to a difficult situation. Hopefully, our response was to use that difficulty to grow closer.

Praying for you, A.

Donna said...

You asked "What are we doing wrong? Why aren't our prayers heard?" I think the simple answer is nothing, we are doing nothing wrong. I truely believe God hears our prayers and perhaps gives us an answer we don't want. The "why" still confounds me. Why give me this great desire for something but not let me fulfill it. I guess at that point I pray for clarity and acceptance.

You are in my prayers.

The Comeaus said...

I have been thinking about this so much, and a book I'm reading right now has helped me arrive at a place where I feel comfortable with the only answer many of us will ever get: Providence.

I don't believe God's answer is ever "no." Actually, He hears all prayers but answers them in His own way. That is not equal to a "no." What I think He does deny us, for our own good, is the way in which WE want the prayers to be answered. I think there's a great difference.

My husband and I have struggled with financial problems for years. We have everything we need and then some, yet we also have this tremendous debt hanging over our heads. Prayer and extra work seem not to result in any change. But my husband and I have changed our perspective (and this goes for secondary infertility, too): we now believe that this debt is a blessing in disguise because it helps us practice a spirit of detachment and also helps us be more compassionate toward those who have less. It helps us trust in God for all we need, rather than ourselves or money. We would like total financial freedom, but have accepted--while still doing our best to eliminate our debt--that for now God wishes us to undergo this prolonged period of detachment. We have even been able to thank Him for allowing it.

I am one of those people for whom God has, for whatever reason, answered prayers in striking ways. I don't know why. Maybe this is necessary to my faith, but not to yours? Maybe He gives me these gifts so I can give them to others (because I always do try to share the fruits of these experiences)? If none of us had our prayers answered like that, would anyone really believe in the power of prayer? Why He uses some as an example of the power of prayer is a mystery to me.

But you know, although some of my prayers are answered in beautiful ways, a good many of them are never answered in ways I can see. That is true for everybody. For some things, there is relief and comfort; for other things (especially of a spiritual nature), the "thorn in the flesh" is allowed to remain, to keep us grounded.

His providence is mysterious. I wish we could have answers to these things, but one day when He reveals it all to us, it is going to make so much sense and we will be so glad we remained faithful.

And Anonymous, blurting out, "There is no God, that's why!" is taking the lazy way out, not to mention offering no support whatsoever to TCIE. So many people grow spiritually, and in other ways, through suffering, which points to a great Good, because only Someone greater than pain can bring good out of suffering. Suffering itself can, if you have the insight to see it, point to a loving God. This is a paradox you ought to explore.

The Comeaus said...

When I said that "signs" may be more necessary to one person's faith than another, I hope you know what I meant. I meant that God, in His wisdom, knows whether prolonged suffering or quick relief is best for a person's spiritual growth. Lately I've been thinking a whole lot about how Jesus cured some people right on the spot, while others had to persist in their pleas, and it's all a matter of His wisdom and providence. I hope you understand what I'm trying to say! He may be just calling you to deeper trust, deeper humility. For some, a brilliant answer to prayer may be what they needed for that trust and humility to blossom; for others, suffering does this.

I know it's not much of a comfort, but there can at least be some peace in thinking of these things.

St. Rita's Roses said...

I am new to the blog world and learning alot about IF and such...I am thankful to have such brave, honest and faith-filled women to reach out too!!

I am not sure why some bear this cross and others do not..I have a dear friend that is struggling horribly..it breaks my heart.

the misfit said...

I'm not sure I believe that God sends babies as an answer to prayers. A lot of bloggers with babies will disagree with me. To be grateful to God for the blessing isn't wrong, IMO, but their view stems from a survey of very limited data. What about children who are victims of incestuous molestation and get pregnant? Or are even forced by family members to undergo abortions? Their pregnancies are not the answer to prayer. They are arguably not blessings, even. And what about people using contraception? They're not praying for babies. Or, my perennial favorite, pregnant crack whores. What about people (including some who may be open to life) who are literally praying NOT to get pregnant (right now), and do anyway? Also not the answer to prayer. The babies of atheists, agnostics, pagans, and Satanists - probably not the answer to prayer. What about all the babies in the animal kingdom? Has anyone ever said a novena for kittens? Sex makes babies - not prayer. That's the way that God Himself designed it! He must have had a reason.

My opinion is that infertility, like all forms of defect and disease, is an affirmative evil. God allows it to exist but He does not will it. And He intervenes in the natural world very rarely indeed. While there are a few miraculous conceptions (Mary's, since no human father was involved; Ann's, Elizabeth's, and Sarai's, since they were no longer fertile), the "miraculous" conceptions that we see among infertiles are actually not miracles, but unexpected blessings (i.e., they are not supernatural). Blessings come from God - all good things do, including puppies and kittens, and kindnesses from strangers - but as part of His broader plan, not necessarily as a product of miraculous action.

Graces are different, and I'll certainly acknowledge that I have received some of those in my life. Here I'm treading on ever-murkier territory, but I would say that those are more likely to be changes in the disposition of the heart of a person who is at some level open to God's will. I have not seen a lot of graces that work on the disposition of the uterus.

I don't believe that God withholds children from us to teach us a lesson about trusting Him to provide children. (He knows perfectly well I trusted Him a lot more before He gave me reason to doubt Him in this respect.) If that were so, clearly, He doesn't love all the people who already have babies, because He didn't give some of them practically any opportunity to learn that trust!

OK, actual bottom line (sorry so long): God allows evils, including infertility, and including remaining childless in an environment that's overrun with babies, because of our free will and the effect of original sin (including the deterioration of the physical world, which includes disease). What He promises is that He will not allow evils in our lives without providing us an opportunity to order them to our greater (i.e., eternal) good. I don't have a very clear picture of heaven and wanting a baby is a whole lot simpler and easier for me. But if I were a decent sort of Christian, I would be able to focus on the fact that, even if it is in FACT unfair that I lack blessings other people (no less deserving - in some cases) have received, and even if the very fact of those people receiving them is a source of additional suffering to me, He will provide me with an oppportunity to grow in love and in holiness through whatever miseries I have to suffer in the earthly life.

I don't find it particularly consoling most of the time either.

Julie said...

Misfit...I LOVE your comment! You say it all so well. Thanks for sharing!

This_Cross_I_Embrace said...

Such amazing, thoughtful comments. Thank you so much everyone! You've all written a much better post than my original one, and I think I'll cut and post some of the most helpful comments in a new post soon.

Thanks again. I think everyone of you (with an identity) is right in a way.

LifeHopes said...

I think you got it right when you said those prayers just haven't been answered ... YET.

The Comeaus said...

Can I say a couple more things? I've thought about it all day. I don't think there's just one answer, and everybody talking about it really gives a ton of food for thought.

Some things can't be denied, like when a woman has a child a year after a novena. Providence is at work there, and it's obvious. Such was the case with our son, too. It was remarkable, and it wasn't just one thing or at one time.

But I don't think my prayers *resulted* in my son, not like putting coins in a soda machine to get what you want; I believe that what changed in my life (physically and spiritually) were necessary steps to conceiving and that my prayers obtained for me the grace to prepare for such a gift. To me, that is Providence at work, that is God foreseeing the future and helping me make appropriate choices in the present moment. I think the remarkable signs accompanying that time were just signs of God's presence with me through the ordeal and something to give me extra joy and hope. I wish you could have some of the same; I can't understand why He gives them to some and not to others. All we can do is believe He knows what He's doing.

I truly believe that in God-centered marriages, the laws of nature do not change but God truly is active in a special way. When teens get together and conceive, there is no cooperation with God's will there; it is nature taking its course, as He designed it. But I do believe it is different in a marriage where God is welcome. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's how it is in my own marriage, anyway. I feel that when we invite Him to be active and truly surrender our wills to Him, we are taken on a very special journey, one which teens having fun or couples contracepting just can't comprehend. There is obviously such a difference. It's not just all about nature anymore because prayer truly does transform situations.

Jesus did insist on some people literally begging for a cure before He would give it, and finally He would often say, "Great is your faith!" so He truly was testing them and strengthening their faith at the same time, and I see this as a good thing and not the same thing as "dangling" a gift before them, which I'm afraid I may have implied before. I didn't mean to. I'm just a clumsy goof about it all.

TCIE, I pray for you at adoration and so often during the day. In my case, I'm suffering from adrenal fatigue in addition to other health concerns, so conception seems very unlikely right now. I feel so strongly that God does not at all want these things to happen to me (I agree with Misfit 100% that infertility itself is a great evil, one He certainly never intended), but that while they do last, He is making good use of the pain. I feel that the more I respond to Him, the better prepared I will be to be a mother again, and I hope that this is the case for you as you struggle. We can, at the very least, become better and better people as we wait for the day when our pain will be over so we will be better mothers than we would have been!

Sorry for the long comments, but you know, this is the one and only place I can come to and be real and honest about this. No one else, exept my husband, understands; no one else knows how painful this is and how many questions about faith and Providence come up because of it. "Why her and not me?" Thank you for not only sharing your heart, but also for allowing us all such an outlet. Thank you for encouraging dialogue and sharing the way you do (and putting up with long comments like mine). I am growing so much because of your blog, I really am. Sorry if anything I said came out the wrong way yet again.

Awaiting a Child of God:) said...

I was at mass one day when the Archbishop said "Prayers change our minds, not God's." I took this as God has his mind set on our special plan and that it is the trusting and praying to Him that somehow changes us into being better at accepting our challenges. Just a thought. I am trying to understand all of this with you.

Hugs

My Heart Exults... said...

One day, the veil will be lifted and this will make perfect sense.

Tridentine Wife said...

I wish I knew the answer and I pray for you as often as I can (I'm not always the msot prayerful ashamed to admit that). Just know that most of us have all been in this boat and truly understand what you are going through and I know it is not fair that you feel left behind. I'm still here faithfully hoping and praying that your day will come.