12 Cheshvan 5782 / Monday, October 18, 2021 | Torah Reading: Vayeira
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Emuna and Infertility    

Emuna and Infertility

Reading the Garden of Emuna was the point at which I began to heal. The test was not over, and it still is ongoing, but the soothing words saved me from sinking…


Infertility is a hard test.


It challenges you physically, emotionally and spiritually. It demands attention, monthly. It keeps you waiting and questioning and hoping and giving up…. Only to repeat the cycle again and again.


Without emuna, infertility nearly destroyed me. In some regards, I completely lost myself to it and, all these years after learning of emuna, Hashem is still rebuilding and repairing me. I felt insane for hoping month after month, year after year after year and yet equally determined to never let go of hope.


My life has a clearly defined line – pre emuna and post emuna. I hold the memory of who I was pre emuna gently. That woman was so very fragile that even the memory seems delicate. I doubt anyone in my life at that time knew how desperately damaged I was because of infertility. All outward signs would point to someone who had it all together. I never shared how pained I was over the infertility – to admit it seemed as if it would be the final straw that would break me. No matter what, I was determined to appear as unfazed as possible over the situation. The struggle of infertility combined with the effort of appearing “fine” for years left me as a shell of a person. After, at that time, about 14 years of infertility it was only Hashem’s infinite mercy that sustained me… even if I didn’t know it at the time.


Reading the Garden of Emuna was the point at which I began to heal. The test was not over, and it still is ongoing, but through the soothing words I read about emuna and the balm of hitbodedut (personal prayer) Hashem pulled me from the depths and taught me how to endure the test of infertility.


Enduring was, for long time, the most I could achieve. I was enduring – I was maintaining my emuna, I was keeping a positive attitude, and I was no longer diving into dangerous waters close to depression. But I was not learning the lesson of the test. Without going that additional step, there was no way to pass the test.


To pass the tests of life you have to be willing to learn the lessons.


I sat on the floor, leaned over my son’s toddler bed, hand on his side trying to coax him to sleep. “Snuggle up. Go to sleep” I whispered for the umpteenth time. Bed times are a tough parenting test for me. This night I was pretty satisfied with how I’d conducted myself. Always room for improvement but I had kept my patience and we’d had fun as he had gone about his falling asleep routine – an hour on average.


Shifting into a more comfortable position I was suddenly overcome with gratitude to Hashem for the years He had given me to contemplate and work on the kind of parent I should be. For the first time in 20 years to the month of dealing with infertility, I realized what a gift this test could be…. If only I could be willing to learn the lessons. I was pained at the knowledge that I could be a better parent today if I had used those years for growth instead of wasting them being depressed and disgruntled!


From an emuna perspective, I know that everything I went through was for the very best. Hashem, in His infinite wisdom, allowed me those years of struggle and brought me to emuna at the right time and for a purpose. As I gently examine the memory of my pre-emuna self, I realize there is a lesson here as well. Emuna is meant to be shared.


My introvert self is quite satisfied to say “Thank you Hashem! Thank you for emuna! Thank you for healing me and teaching me!” and go on about my life. But when I think about the lifeline I was given with the Garden of Emuna I realize it’s not enough to find emuna for oneself. This is something that must be shared throughout the world for there are millions of people, all facing their own tests, and the gift of emuna is what is going to help them pass them.


My thanks to Hashem for giving me an opportunity to share emuna in the world. I encourage you, whenever you have the chance, wherever you are, share emuna. You never know when that gift will be the lifeline someone desperately needs.



* * *

Jennifer invites you to participate in a regularly held Noahide on-line study group that reviews the garden series books of Rabbi Arush. You can contact her at jenniferjwoodward@gmail.com for dates and times.

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