I recently found out that I will be needing surgery soon to remove a cyst on my ovary. This isn’t a very abnormal occurrence, but in my case it could be potentially life-altering. Just over one year ago, I had my other ovary removed due to another cyst — a much larger one that time. I also found out from that surgery that I have endometriosis. For someone in her 30s who is still single yet has always dreamed of having children (with the right man, of course), the last year has been tough, and this upcoming surgery is more than a little threatening to some of those dreams.
I’ve never been one of those people who gets clear, unequivocal messages or directions from God. I always try my best, albeit in my very flawed way, to be open to him and whatever he wants for my life, but a lot of the time it can feel like I’m just leaping without a lot of assurance that any given choice is God’s will. As in anyone’s life, some things I’ve chosen have worked out and some haven’t — but because I’m never quite sure if I’m hearing God right, I tend to blame myself and beat myself up when things don’t go well, and when my life isn’t turning out the way I thought it would.
My situation now, including the upcoming surgery, have helped me see more clearly that God’s been there with me all along. He’s allowing this time of uncertainty, and he’s given me my specific crosses, for very good reasons that can be explained with the word “love.” I realize now that God speaks to me in a quiet, gentle manner — no huge revelations, not a lot of clear, direct instructions that I look for and want, just a great deal of immense love. Earlier this year, I was on a retreat during which I felt that love God has for me to a degree I’d never felt before. Being more of a head knowledge person, I’ve always been able to trust the fact that God loves me without necessarily feeling it much (if at all). On this retreat, however, I felt it and heard it almost as clear as if it were someone standing right in front of me.
That experience opened me up to the revelation — which probably should have been obvious sooner — that my life right now, despite not being what I hoped it would be by this point, isn’t a backup plan that God haphazardly put together for me when I didn’t listen to him earlier in my life. His plan for me and my holiness directly includes this time of singleness, and facing potential permanent infertility. It’s not at all what I would have chosen for myself, but through this time God has brought me so much closer to him. I wouldn’t have been able to have the relationship with him that I have if he had given me a husband right out of college and multiple kids by the time I was 30. His ultimate goal for me, his deepest desire for me, is not for me to be married, but for me to be as close to him as I can possibly be. Our vocations are always meant to bring about our holiness in the best way possible for each of us, and that’s going to look different for everyone. Some people get the lives they want right off the bat, only to find out that it’s not what they thought. Others are asked by God to wait (and wait…and wait…and sometimes wait some more). He knows so much better than we do what will truly make us happy and holy, and sometimes that requires a time of pain.
For far too long, I’ve been listening for God’s voice to sound like a “yes” to whatever prayer I might be praying at the time. I’ve been listening for him, expecting clear instructions from above, like the voice of a pilot on a plane telling the passengers where they are and where they’re going and when they’ll get there. I’ve been listening for God to sound a whole lot like me and the way I think things should go. But God truly is that small, still voice. When he’s talking to me, he’s not my pilot telling me where the plane is headed. He’s a best friend, so close to me that he doesn’t have to speak above a whisper, letting me know that he’s here, guiding me, teaching me, and, most importantly, loving me even in the pain and uncertainty that life can bring.