I spent my childhood as a holidays-only Catholic. Every Christmas Eve my mother’s giant family and I would trudge through the Wisconsin snow to St. Joe’s for midnight mass. If we were lucky the snow would’ve melted by the following Easter when we next returned. Other family members were much more devout - my grandmother doing regular readings, my cousins with their first communions - but after years of Catholic schooling at the hands of bitter nuns my mom’s faith was less sturdy, crumbling. (My dad, on the other hand, is a dedicated Scientologist ::insert Tom Cruise jokes here:: so church with him has never been exactly typical.)
One Easter I escaped mass early with a near fainting spell. It was hot, I was tired and impatient for the Peeps fueled sugar buzz I knew lay ahead, and as we’d arrived late (*always* late) our entire family of 20+ was standing. I had complained in church many times before and was never given more than a stern glance, so to be relieved of my holiday duties that morning felt like a very special treat. My favorite uncle and I went out to “get some air” and played tag on the brown church lawn.
(Regardless of my poor attendance, I’ve always been respectful of church traditions. I have never, to this day, taken communion. At every wedding and holiday I sit in the pew as people excuse themselves around me. I recognize that I haven’t earned that right – the bread and wine would mean nothing more to me than food and drink. (And boy, I can use a drink!) So I sit, quietly and alone, and wait for the devout to return to their seats.)
I have had brief periods in my life where I felt some divine presence, but I’ve never clung to any one church, book, strict set of beliefs. In more recent years my thread-thin connection with “god” has virtually disappeared. I don’t want to imply that our struggles (both infertility and otherwise) have caused me to “lose my faith”. I’m not angry with any deity and I haven’t stopped believing in retribution for the difficulties we’ve had. I guess I just never really believed in the first place and as the calendar turns I have less desire to convince myself to believe.
In some ways I envy the infertiles who rely so heavily on god to support them. I can only imagine the burden of loss and longing is easier to bear when their faith tells them “it’s all in His hands”. It must be a relief to know that “everything happens for a reason”. But I could never give up responsibility for my situation and I don’t think there’s a reason. Great good might come out of great struggle, but that doesn’t mean it was fated to happen that way. Sometimes life sucks because it sucks. Plain and simple.
I know there must be other infertiles out there who don’t Believe, but I so rarely hear about them. Maybe because proclaiming a lack of religion is less common than verbalizing your faith? I do wonder, though, how other “reproductively challenged” women handle their situation without their faith to comfort them…