I grew up in a big family. And we had lots of friends with big families. So many religions and cultures believe that big families are the way to go. The scriptures even say that “Children are an heritage of the Lord,” (Psalms 127:3) so obviously God agrees. But what happens when you aren’t blessed with children?
I never thought that infertility would be something I struggled with. After suffering a devastating miscarriage, I spent a lot of time angry with the Lord. I’m not proud of it, but my close relationship with Him often led to ranting, long, tantrum-like prayers that would make any petulant child proud. I was hurt, and worried that God didn’t trust me to be a mother. I worried that I would never have children. I was bitter because I wanted to provide a loving home for a child when so many were born into uncertain circumstances. And it seemed that every drug addict, and unfit mother in 20 miles was getting pregnant, when I had done everything I was supposed to do and still remained childless. I had remained chaste before marriage, gotten married in God’s house, and sincerely tried to live a godly life. So why wasn’t God blessing me like I had been promised for so many years?
And then I had an experience that opened my eyes.
I was blessed to teach a Sunday School class full of two dozen teenagers. Some would run screaming down the hall if given that assignment, but I was really excited. Maybe it’s the perpetual teenager in me that smiled thinking of spending time with that group. They sure were interesting. And there was always something happening to keep me on my toes. But it was so rewarding! And I had a lot of fun. I got to guide and nurture that group. I learned more from them than they learned from me. And I looked forward to every Sunday.
There was one young lady who became a lifelong friend. She lived not far from me and I often found myself giving her a ride to church. Her parents were divorced, and although they both tried their very best, she felt the pain of constant separation from one or the other of her parents. Her school was full of bad influences and her self-esteem sometimes suffered. I was blessed to bond with her and be there during key times in her life when she needed a friend. She has since gotten her degree, gotten married to a very good man, and begun a life of her own. She influences lives and blesses many in both her career choice and her personal life. And I feel blessed to have been able to watch her grow. Many of those in that Sunday School class have gone on to similar success.
I never thought much would come of my little teaching assignment. But God used it to heal my soul. I learned that God wasn’t mad at me. Instead He trusted me, and needed His children to get support from all sides, that bringing a child into the world was only a single step in that child’s eternal journey. The faithful adults that help guide that child on their journey are just as vital. My unique set of circumstances left me with the time and the energy to help nurture those growing souls. Their mothers and fathers raised them to be good people, but they also needed examples. They needed to know that they were valuable; and not just because their parents said so. I was doing something that a parent couldn’t do- I was being a mentor.
There are many people with a gift for relating to young people. You may be one of them. I know my husband is. And the Lord needs all of us- in all our varied circumstances- to help Him in this great work. We are helping shape the next generation to be the godly men and women He would have them be. And what a wonderful honor, and a huge responsibility. My path may not be what I expected, but I’m so glad the Lord isn’t done with me. In my grief I had missed that there were other ways I could serve God. And as I did so, He blessed me with healing and joy.
Patty thrives on all things creative. You’ll often find her in the garden pretending she is a suburban farmer. She loves meeting new people, and is devoted to her friends and family. In her heart she is a Midwesterner even though life has moved her all over the country. She believes in “blooming where you’re planted” and has found purpose in every place she has been. She has a deep and abiding love for the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And she loves editing LDS Blogs because it is a constant spiritual uplift. Not many people can say their job builds their witness of the Savior.