Hope or Despair, and the Gift of Choice

Here it comes. The first of many moments to choose. How am I going to handle this?

I have been suspecting something was off for a while. Month after month, the day of hoping and holding my breath, comes and goes, leaving a long trail of disappointment and questions. I have started researching everything I can in hopes that internet based research will make things right.  Surely my WebMD/Google issued medical degree will make me an "expert" in the field of baby making. (You laugh, but you know you've done it too. Just take a quick look at your search history and see what comes up.) Basically, I have managed to accomplish little other than utter confusion, thoroughly mixed emotions, and read enough to know that I know essentially nothing and need some professional help from my doctor. So I make the appointment.  You know the one.  The one where I hang my head in shame and embarrassment and admit, out loud, to someone other than my husband... "We've been trying to get pregnant for over a year now and something's wrong. Can you help us figure out how to have a baby?"

Of course for me for me that first step was the first of a long path of a ridiculous number of tests, a diagnosis of infertility, and all the subsequent fertility treatments that we underwent to finally be blessed with our precious little girl. (If you haven't read our IVF story and want to, you can click here.) It was more than that. It was the first of many choices we would make. I'm not talking about the choice to do tests or see this doctor, use this practice or have this procedure done. I'm talking about the first choice of how we were going to spiritually and emotionally walk this road.  And that leads me to something else I became aware of in our infertility.

The gift of choice. We are faced with an awful lot of trials of varying sizes during our life. But we are also given the choice on how we are going to go through them. It's so easy for us to do what the world tells us to do and feel sorry for ourselves. To justify a pity party because were disappointed again and we're being dealt an unfair amount of bad luck. I love throwing parties of any kind, so when I throw myself a pity party, I go all out for those too, as if it were the annual Christmas shindig. Though that is a valid choice that we can make when we are thrown another hand of bad cards to play with, is it the best choice? 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.
— Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

So if the pity party isn't the best road to choose, what is? I just finished reading an amazing book, God is Just Not Fair, by Jennifer Rothschild and she sums this up well.

Every difficult, confusing season in life offers a choice. You can either surrender your questions and sorrow to God so he can use them, or you can surrender to bitterness and the enemy of your soul, who will use them against you. Don’t give him the weapons to hurt you. Trust God, be patient, and even forgive him if you need to. Humble yourself and wrap yourself in your blanket of faith. In doing so, you will turn your sorrow into a tool that refines you and makes you beautiful. In doing so, you will find meaning in your sorrow.
— Jennifer Rothschild, God is Just Not Fair

I absolutely didn't get that right all the time. I still don't. There were times along our struggle that I chose bitterness and pity parties and to dwell in my sorrow. But I quickly realized that my problems soon seemed bigger than ever before and were consuming me. I would have to backtrack on my path, back to the moment of choice (another failed pregnancy test, a failed cycle, a miscarriage, etc) and choose again. I had to consciously choose to let God walk through this journey with me, to trust Him with my pain, to give Him a chance to give my sorrow meaning. And He did.

None of that would mean as much if we weren't blessed with the gift of choice. If I hadn't taken a few wrong turns and had to fight back through the darkness that was closing in, I wouldn't have the full appreciation for the times I walked through the struggle with God by my side, carrying the burden for me and giving me hope.

Hope is the anchor of the soul. But it's our choice to anchor ourselves in God's promises or to drift afloat in our despair. I am eternally grateful for the choice and for what is always waiting for me when I throw my anchor out.

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.