This month we are focusing on finding gratitude for our infertility. As Jenny and I tell our stories of how God led us through our struggles with infertility, mine through fertility treatments and IVF and Jenny's through adoption, I'm sure some of you are thinking "well, of course they can say they are grateful now; they have babies." Of course we're eternally grateful for our children that God blessed us with. But the real challenge is finding that genuine grateful heart in the midst of the struggle. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Could you still be grateful in your infertility if you weren't blessed with a child, through some means, at the end of the journey? Is it possible to find peace and sufficient grace to sustain you even if that longing for a child is still in your heart?
We were just blessed to become friends with an amazing woman who can tell you it is possible. Through her struggle with barrenness, she is learning to embody the full spirit that Paul wrote about when he said:
Today, November 6, 2014, marks her thirteenth year since being diagnosed with infertility. Please join me in welcoming our new dear friend Jen to ONSEL as she tells us why she is able to find gratitude in her infertility.
November 6, 2001 was just another day.
Except for the doctor's appointment that changed my life. The one where the doctor gently told me that I would never have biological children.
The things I thought I knew about life and love and God were shattered in an instant, with the delivery of a few simple words in a doctor's office.
I was 24 years old.
I grew up believing in God. I was a good girl who tried to do good things and stay out of trouble. I believed that good people received blessings in life and then got to go to Heaven when they died.
I failed to understand what it meant to be in a relationship with Jesus.
These wrong beliefs about God took me to a very dark place when I learned I would never bear children of my own. My view of the world was radically transformed that day. I no longer had a sense of who this God was that I believed in. I no longer believed that He was good or wanted to give good things to me. Otherwise, why would He take this beautiful gift from me?
I internalized my wrong beliefs:
- I was a bad person.
- I did not deserve good things.
- I was a failure as a woman.
- God had forsaken me.
I sunk into a clinical depression, suffered panic attacks and anxiety, and had crazy mood swings. Severe anxiety gripped me with every visit to the OBGYN - a benign lump in my breast, bone scans that revealed osteopenia, multiple medication changes, but most of all... seeing the pregnant women and babies. Suddenly they were everywhere. I could not leave my house without seeing a baby. Walking by the baby clothes in a store would reduce me to tears.
Why did God hate me so much to take this dream from me? What did I do that was so terrible?
I stumbled through this dark period of my life for eight long years. In December 2009, God put a book in my hands that changed the course of my life forever. The book told the story of an infertile woman whose hope was in Jesus Christ. It told of a God who loved and had a plan for our lives.
I remember closing that book, tears streaming down my face with the thought, "God really does love me." It was the first time I felt a sense of hope, a midst my darkness. I truly believed then, for the first time, that God did have a plan for my life, but it just did not include children.
The next morning I woke up and looked outside. I started shaking. So many emotions flooded my senses in that moment. I was confused, dumbfounded, and completely overwhelmed with emotion. Laid before me was the following scene.
God became so real to me at that moment. He was no longer this mean tyrant who was waiting for me to mess up so He could punish me. I felt an overwhelming sense of His presence and love.
Eight months later, God placed me in a loving church home with people who helped me navigate through my beliefs and discover the truth of who God is versus what I made up in my head. He gave me peace in my infertility journey that I never thought I would experience. He blessed my life with my three-year-old nephew whom I love dearly.
With all of that said, can I truly say that I am grateful for my infertility? I walked through some very dark times, so it is such a difficult question to answer. It is a heartrending, painful, tear-filled, and mind-numbing journey that I would not wish on anyone. However, I have accepted that this is God's chosen path for my life. He entrusted me to walk this road. He knows what He is doing. There is a reason and a purpose in everything God does. Nothing is by accident or without reason.
I am grateful for every single day of my infertility because it brings me closer to my Savior. He sustains me. The days where the pain overwhelms me, my God is there. He has shown His love to me in ways that I cannot fathom nor comprehend. He has revealed His realness to me countless times.
I truly believe I would not have my relationship with Jesus today had I not walked through that dark valley. He rescued me from the pit and planted me on a firm foundation. He showed me that no matter what my trial, He will be with me and give me peace. It took me a long time to find Him, but now that I have, I wouldn't change a day of my journey for anything.
Jennifer Mlecynski is an educational grant writer by day and a faith blogger by night. She lives with her husband of eight years and their three rambunctious dogs in upstate NY. She loves to read, watch movies and play board games. She is also obsessed with Dallas Cowboys football. You can find her blogging at http://www.jenwrites.net.
A series for people who are grateful for infertility? Sounds crazy right! But it's not... what was once a phase of life marked by heartache and longing, has now become the scars that make us beautiful. Some of you reading this are right in the middle of your wait, are facing an unclear future or have been scarred by infertility. You may be struggling with how you could possibly be grateful for infertility. It took us a long time to get there ourselves. This is one of those areas where sometimes our faith has to guide us while our hearts and heads catch up. We have to practice thankfulness, even when it makes little sense, while God does His divine work on our souls.