Infertility and the Prodigal Son

One thing I will say about this fertility journey is that it has really tested my faith. And I have no doubt that my faith will continue to be tested. For all I know, raising children is an even bigger test of faith. It is certainly a test of faith to even decide to bring children into this crazy world.

As faith relates to my particular place in the journey though, before Heavenly Father gives me a yes or no answer to my plea for a miracle, I need to decide how much faith I actually have. The most obvious question is whether or not I have faith that He can perform miracles. Yes, I think I do.

The other more difficult question to answer is whether I have enough faith if He does not give me a miracle. Can I still have faith that He listens to prayers? Will I still have faith that He is at the helm?

As I was pondering these thoughts about faith on Sunday at church, my mind got off on a tangent and I wrote this journal entry about the parable of the Prodigal Son.

I think one of my spiritual gifts is that I know the scriptures are true. For me it’s not even a matter of faith. In my mind they are absolute truth. When there is something else that seems true but contradicts the scriptures, I recognize instantly that this other thing must be wrong or that my understanding of the scriptures is inferior.

A great example is the story of the prodigal son. Since the first time I heard it as a child, probably in summer bible school or maybe in Sunday School at church, that story has bothered me. In my college singles wards it seemed to come up at least once a year in Sunday School. Every time I would listen and hope somebody else in class could please explain to me why this son who has spent his half of the inheritance on all the wrong things should be given anything! For years the lesson I would always come away with was that I needed to be better at forgiving others if I’m this upset about the story.

If I put myself in the shoes of the father of the wayward son, I can totally understand. He loves his son and is thrilled he’s come back. It still seems like he’s not entitled to much, if anything.

I’ve been a good faithful member of the church my whole life. I went over 2,000 miles away to college at age 16. I had plenty of opportunities to mess up, but for the most part I didn’t. I stayed faithful even if I haven’t always been active at church. So, generally I put myself in the shoes of the good son, not the father. The good son: the one who’s been faithful and done everything right. I’m thinking, what are the chances now that dad isn’t going to take MY inheritance which is intact because of MY good behavior and give part of it to my evil brother who has supposedly repented.

So this is why I would always shake my head at this story, confused about the lesson the Lord was trying to teach me, and just concluding that I needed to work on forgiving others.

For years this went on, leaving church a little confused about the meaning of this story every time it was discussed. Fortunately my spiritual gift helped me realize for years that it wasn’t the scriptures that were wrong, but that it was ME who wasn’t getting it. I needed to keep pondering and eventually I would understand it. I would eventually understand why it was good that the prodigal son was given so much and why the good brother was somewhat chastised for being angry.

One day when I was about 30 (so keep in mind that this has been a mystery in my mind for about 20 years) and for some reason the story came to my mind again. I don’t recall the details of why I thought about it or if I re-read the story at that time. What I do remember while pondering it is the distinct voice of the Spirit that came to my mind and said, “What makes you think you’re the good son?”

Suddenly tears flowed and my understanding was complete. As good as I might have tried to be my whole life, I am not perfect. In the story of the prodigal son, I am not the good son, I am the prodigal son. I have no right to be angry if someone else is forgiven for their mistakes because I have surely made so many of my own.

Forgiveness from the Lord can be likened to a lighthouse that gives light, guidance and protection to all within its vicinity. The lighthouse’s ability to guide me does not decrease simply because others can also see it. Like a lighthouse our eternal inheritance is not diminished because more people receive it. How grateful I am now to know that Heavenly Father is willing to allow me back into the fold with welcome arms and that my eternal inheritance will be intact.

So, in a nutshell, the Prodigal Son and infertility are not directly related to each other. But, for me, reflecting on this experience reminds me how important the scriptures are to strengthening our relationship with Heavenly Father. Going to the scriptures in our times of need will bring us peace and comfort, and they will give us light and understanding that is not available from any other source.

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