I have felt truly alone at other times - well, one other time that I can remember. My heart hurt so much I thought I might be dying. But I didn't believe I had been abandoned by God. I could never "run to the cross," as some of the saints have said. But I could collapse on it and beg God to take my suffering away. I don't know how to make that prayer now.
Sometimes it helps, a little, to step back far enough (it's very hard to get that far back) to realize that I'm not actually crazy. I rail and rail about how tough infertility is, but it isn't just good rhetoric - it's true. We're all being put through the furnace, and no amount of toughness would enable any person, no matter how saintly, to walk this way and not stumble and fall under the weight. I may fall more because I am weak; but I am not crushed under the burden because I am worthless, but because it is heavy.
And I am married to an untreated (indeed, undiagnosed) PTSD sufferer. And probably manic depressive. And definitely recovering alcoholic. No one, no matter how long they have known me or my husband (not even if they've known him much longer than I have - although I am sure his old friends would dispute this) knows what our marriage looks like from the inside. I could tell a thousand stories and still no one who has not had a similar cross to carry could understand what it is like to be here.
I'm not crazy. I sometimes think, when I feel like I'm living in hell, and entirely abandoned, I must be losing my mind. But I'm not losing my mind. The suffering I imagine is actually here; and if I get up the next morning, if I keep fighting, it's proof not that I've been delusional, but that I'm a survivor.
I can't claim to have had a close, or even a non-schizophrenic, relationship with God of late. Some things resonate with me and some don't. But this seemed appropriate, I thought, and perhaps it will resonate with some of you as well, familiar though it may be.
One night I dreamed a dream that I was walking along the beach with my Lord. Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life. Through the scenes, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to me and one to the Lord.
When the last scene of my life passed before me I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints. This bothered me and I questioned the Lord about my dilemma.
"Lord, You told me when I decided to follow You, You would walk with me all the way. But during the most troublesome times of my life there is only one set of footprints. I just don't understand why, when I needed You most, You left me."
He whispered, "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you. During your trials and testings, when you saw only one set of footprints, It was then that I carried you."