A few months ago, I was struggling with the disappointments and shattered dreams that infertility can bring. All of the discouragement I was feeling caused me to wonder whether Heavenly Father really cared about my husband, Rob, and me, and whether He really answers prayers. I had received promises from Him about having children in my home, but with the passage of time I was beginning to doubt them.
As I thought about those unfulfilled promises, doubts regarding other gospel principles crept into my mind. I didn’t want to doubt, but it was difficult to avoid doing so. If I couldn’t trust God to keep His promises regarding my bearing children, I wasn’t sure I could believe in other principles and the promises they contained. I felt like my world and my beliefs were crumbling. I had truly reached a crisis of faith.
When the result of our last cycle of in vitro fertilization was negative, I was devastated. As time went on, I struggled to maintain my faith. I felt bitter and frustrated. My faith in prayer waned. I cringed inwardly at church when people told how even their small prayers were answered by a loving God. I tolerated announcements of others’ pregnancies in Relief Society. Each day got harder, each week at church more difficult. I was not doing well, and I was struggling to know how to change my course.
One scripture that buoyed me up during this dark time in my life was Alma 37:17: “For he will fulfil all his promises which he shall make unto you, for he has fulfilled his promises which he has made unto our fathers.”
At times this scripture gave me hope—hope that God would remember the promises He had made to me. It helped me find patience to hold on with faith long enough to see His promises fulfilled. Other times, when I was feeling bitter, this scripture filled me with doubt and questions. Why was He still withholding His promises from me? When would He fulfill them? Didn’t He know how fragile my faith was? Didn’t He know how much I longed for a child?
As I pondered the promises Heavenly Father had made to me, I realized that I had also made promises to Him. I asked myself, would I stay true to my promises? When difficulties and trials arose, would I turn my back on God? How loyal would I be to Him? If I felt He was not keeping His end of the bargain would I simply give up, walk away, and blame Him for my trials?
No, I would not. I determined that I would stay true to my word and exercise hope and faith that He would stay true to His.
Another scripture that became dear to me was one revealed to the prophet Joseph Smith while he was in Liberty Jail. “And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7).
At this point in my life I felt as though the “very jaws of hell” were gaping open after me trying to tear me away from God. I decided that if Heavenly Father felt I was capable of enduring the trial of infertility, I would do my best to endure it well. This gave me an added measure of confidence that this trial would give me experience and be for my good.
Even with this resolve, finding motivation to attend church was difficult. One Sunday was especially difficult, but I am grateful I went. As I listened to the testimonies and lessons shared that day, I felt that Heavenly Father was aware of me. I felt His love, and that day I felt the hole in my heart begin to heal.
The Relief Society lesson was based on a talk given by Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Elder Holland taught that Christ says to us, “‘Trust me, learn of me, do what I do. Then, when you walk where I am going, . . . we can talk about where you are going, and the problems you face and the troubles you have. If you will follow me, I will lead you out of darkness. . . . I will give you answers to your prayers. I will give you rest to your souls.’”1
I wanted to be led out of the darkness and despair I was in. The Savior was asking me to come unto Him and to follow Him. My mind reflected on one of the Beatitudes that Christ shared with the Nephites: “Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (3 Nephi 12:3).
If anyone was poor in spirit, I was. Only now instead of just feeling poor in spirit, I felt hope. Being poor in spirit wasn’t something to despair about; it was an invitation to come unto Christ and receive the kingdom of heaven.
Elder Holland went on, “I testify that the Savior’s Atonement lifts from us not only the burden of our sins but also the burden of our disappointments and sorrows, our heartaches and our despair. . . . There can and will be plenty of difficulties in life. Nevertheless, the soul that comes unto Christ, who knows His voice and strives to do as He did, finds a strength, as the hymn says, ‘beyond [his] own.’ The Savior reminds us that He has ‘graven [us] upon the palms of [His] hands.’ Considering the incomprehensible cost of the Crucifixion and Atonement, I promise you He is not going to turn His back on us now. When He says to the poor in spirit, ‘Come unto me,’ He means He knows the way out and He knows the way up. He knows it because He has walked it. He knows the way because He is the way.
“Brothers and sisters, whatever your distress, please don’t give up and please don’t yield to fear.”2
Elder Holland’s words gave me courage and hope. I had been yielding to despair, but through the Atonement, my burden could be lifted.
These experiences, scriptures, and talks gave me the push I needed to refocus on the Savior and find joy in life. I had a renewed hope in the Savior and the ability of His Atonement to give me “strength beyond my own.”3 My testimony in His ability to save me from the “jaws of Hell” was renewed. I knew if I came unto Him He would show me the way. I began a conscious effort to write down on a daily basis when I felt, through the Spirit, the love of Heavenly Father and the Savior in my life. I immediately felt a change in my life. My broken heart began to heal. I had hope, peace, and joy again.
I do not know what the future will bring, but I am confident that if I can keep my focus on my Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and listen for promptings through the Holy Ghost, I will be able to withstand the storms of life and feel Their love for me.