Irreverence and Infertility

According to philosopher Paul Woodruff, reverence is the virtue that keeps people from trying to act like gods. “To forget that you are only human,” he says, “to think you can act like a god – this is the opposite of reverence.”

What does that have to do with infertility?

Most of the people I’ve met teaching the messages of Pregnant with Hope would not say:  ‘Nothing.’ They don’t believe they’re trying to act like gods. Just the opposite. They’re painfully aware of their inability to compel a heartbeat to materialize in an empty womb. The absence of god-like powers is a constant source of frustration for them – as it probably is for you.

But re-read Woodruff’s definition.  “To forget that you are only human, to think you can act like a god….”

Turns out, it’s not so easy to sidestep conviction. When you assume you can will yourself to conceive, you’re forgetting that you’re only human.  When you feel aggravated that you can’t stop crying or arguing or worrying or stressing, you’re forgetting that you’re only human. When you think you should have known this would happen and planned the next move, you’re forgetting that you’re only human.

Okay, but “to think you can act like a god?”

Consider this…  Have you tried to negotiate with God, as if you’re His peer? Or to compel Him to give you what you want, as if you’re His supervisor?  Have you tried to anticipate His next step, as if you’re His intellectual equal? Or to outmaneuver Him, as if you’re smarter than He is?  Have you yelled at Him in anger, as if He owes you an explanation? Or stopped communicating altogether, as if you deserve an apology?

Yes? Well, maybe Woodruff’s comment isn’t so far off the mark.

Truth be told, infertility brings out the worst in many of us. Rather than showing reverence for the only one with the unlimited power to alter our circumstances, change our story’s trajectory, and determine the story’s outcome, we unconsciously attempt to leapfrog Him so that we can be the ones in control.

That is the height of irreverence – both foolish and impossible.  And, it’s the best way to insure this journey will take a very long time.

Which leaves us where? On a fairly predictable journey that leads from pride to humility, and from resentment to gratitude. I believe ensuring that transformation in us is God’s primary purpose in allowing infertility to slow down our journey to parenthood – not to frustrate our hopes, but to make us more the people He wants us to be when He entrusts our children to us.

Do you have a sense for how to make that journey? It can be difficult to step outside your circumstances and gain much-needed perspective.  Pregnant With Hope can help you, reverence will assist you, and this promise from Isaiah should reassure you:

“Although the LORD gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”



Filed under Control, Humility, Perspective

3 responses to “Irreverence and Infertility

  1. Nate Shields

    Most posts I find helpful, but this one I am not a fan of. Specifically this line:

    “That is the height of irreverence – both foolish and impossible. And, it’s the best way to insure this journey will take a very long time.”

    The assertion is that if you remotely question God or take action without direction from above, then He, as punitive punishment, will make the journey longer. I am highly suspect of that kind of Theology. It does not ring true with my sense of who God is and how he wants to interact with us. While I do agree that how we interact with God is mostly like a grocery list of things, and not the best way to engage with the Creator God, it is not wrong to question. It is not wrong to be angry. It is not wrong to want to move the process along.

    • I’m grateful for this comment because it makes clear that this post can be misinterpreted. I did not mean to suggest that God wants us to suppress our emotions or deny our sense of urgency. And I definitely do not think a long infertility journey is punishment! That is inconsistent with scripture and with the God I know. I meant to suggest that a long infertility journey can be a blessing-in-disguise if/when it helps us leave behind the irreverence that is human nature and embrace a reverence that honors the God who loves us deeply.

  2. This is a message that needs to go further! I think it applies to all of us! Thanks for the challenge!

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