If you have ever had to endure through any struggle, you know that the wait for an answer can be the most painful, stressful part of the whole process. While Jenny and I have poured our hearts out about the things we learned about ourselves, our faith and our gracious God during our seasons of waiting, hindsight sometimes makes it much easier to see. We are so honored today to bring you the perspective of a beautiful friend of ours who is still right in the middle of her wait. She and her husband have been facing infertility for three years and don't know yet what their outcome will be. She has been gracious enough to provide us with a beautiful, vulnerable, raw glimpse into her journey and how, even in the midst of the struggle and longing, she has found a blessing greater than she could have imagined. Please join me today as we welcome a dear friend to ONSEL.
What an honor to be asked to share a little bit of my heart on the blog of my two dear friends. Like Jenny and Courtney, I too have a success story of infertility, waiting, and the outcome. But my outcome isn't a great adoption story or a successful IVF procedure. Rather, the gift God has given me in this season is contentment. I would like to start by sharing with you an excerpt from my brutally honest and broken-hearted journal entry dated February 20, 2013. I have changed the names* of the women mentioned in it:
I have been struggling, Lord, with jealousy and discontentment. I repent of my sin and I apologize, God. I felt a pang of disappointment for myself when I heard Allison* was pregnant again, even though I was so happy for her. Then, when Janie* posted on Facebook that she was pregnant, I resented that it wasn't me. Then, when Karen* started posting about her pregnancy, I thought, “No fair! I would be a better mom!” Then, when Christy* posted her cute little shoes and dates to announce her pregnancy last night, I started feeling bitter. I couldn't shake the negativity and depression even though I knew it was wrong. I awoke to a post from Megan* – “What a hard secret this has been to keep! Baby Smith* coming October 2013!” I seriously started letting Satan creep in and say, “Everyone but you is getting pregnant!” Lord, forgive me. One sin I see in my own journaling is constant comparison by way of… social media.
Well, it's embarrassing. But it’s true. I am happy to share with you all that I am no longer on Facebook, as the Lord made it so very clear to me that it was a vehicle for comparison, and if I view myself as inferior or superior to others in any way, I can’t love them the way Christ calls me to. That’s hard enough to do without a newsfeed, right? I am also happy to share with you that after being totally self-absorbed for two years and in a constant pity party for myself over how all my friends had children, and I couldn't get pregnant, I now truly feel that I can empathize with Paul’s words in Philippians.
I have been reminded through my experiences over the past three years how big and amazing my God is, and how whiny I am to pitch a fit to my Heavenly father because I am not getting what I want. I have learned that I praise God – not because life is going good – but because HE. IS. GOOD. I can truly now say the words of the old hymn: “Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, it is well… it is well with my soul,” and mean them.
What a journey it has been to come to a place of contentment. Our feelings of peace so often follow actions of obedience. We don’t obey God because it feels right. Rather, scripture tells us that “the heart is deceptive above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9). Early in our wait, I started saying that this infertility we were facing was an opportunity to prove to ourselves and others (and to God) that we do indeed believe what we say we believe. If we are never tested, how do we really know? For a long time I said it, but I didn't feel it. I claimed it, but I didn't live it. My kind Father has asked me over and over, “Do you trust me?” “Do you really trust me?” “What if it takes longer than you want… Then will you trust me?” “What if you never have children… Will you trust me then?” I used to be scared to even acknowledge that last one. Because I couldn't bare the thought, and I knew what my answer was.
But in his gentleness, God led me through a season of fear, doubt, and anxiety over the question, “What if I can’t ever have children?” For a while, I grasped for what little control I had and tried to calculate just how long I could leave it in His hands before I took matters into my own hands with further treatment and medication. My husband and I prayed together daily (still do!) for wisdom. He gave it. You know He promises to.
Every situation is different. I am in no position to judge anyone who makes a different decision based on God’s leading… But for me - for us - my husband and I knew that God was calling us to depend solely on him. To yield completely. Not to pursue any medication, any shots, any treatments, any procedures… Not to try to build our own family through adoption at this time. I felt so strongly that God said to me that if I force the issue myself, I would miss His blessing. Oh, how I want HIS blessings in my life... And I know that forcing my own agenda could cause me to miss out on His best for me. Throughout scripture, we see God calling his people to be still and wait patiently. To depend solely on Him:
We have a very real enemy who wants to take advantage of us when we are vulnerable, to convince us to take matters into our own hands, cause us to become impatient and frustrated with God, to doubt His sovereign plan… But it is so important to recognize that God has a divine purpose in seasons of waiting. Some of them are obvious, but some we may truly never know on this side of life. I know He has used and is using this time for deepening me. He is teaching me that instead of seeking a gift, I need to seek the Giver. He is teaching me to count it as a blessing to suffer for the sake of righteousness, and he is reminding me that my purpose in this life is not to get the things I want, but rather to glorify the One who is worthy.
Another obvious purpose for me during this “delay” is how he plans to use me during this season. Since I don’t have children now, I have time to spend on others that I wouldn't if I was a mom. I have an opportunity to invest in the youth girls at my church by teaching Sunday school, and I have freedom to spend loads of time in Scripture and prayer, working on my relationship with the King.
Yet another obvious purpose in my season of waiting is the beauty of this phase of life – cherishing my amazing husband and giving him all of myself – my attention and devotion, all day every day! We have had so much fun taking little getaways together over the past couple of years that we might not have had the opportunity to take if we had a little one. We also love to relax on the couch together at night and talk about our days. Our dinner times are calm and quiet, and our house stays relatively clean. I’ll love it when and if those things change, but I am going to enjoy them while I can!
One vital component to my recently found contentment is keeping an eternal perspective, like James reminds us.
My (hopefully) 70-80 years in this world does not even begin to compare to the millions upon millions of years I will spend with Jesus in eternity. Remembering that God has set eternity in my heart(Ecclesiastes 3:11) and that my citizenship is in Heaven - not in this world (Philippians 3:20) - I can view my “problems” from a different perspective. Even if God requires of me to give up something so huge as my lifelong dream of children, then is he asking too much?
So I am content wherever He wants me to be, whether I have children or not… But still I believe… Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.”
As a child of God, I know he delights in giving me good things (Matthew 7:11). So I pray with intensity and persistence, following the example of the widow seeking justice in Luke 18. I am claiming the promise in Isaiah 60:4-5 that stays "Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar and your daughters are carried on the hip. Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy…"
And I ask, believing, because I know He is able. Nothing is too hard for Him. And regardless of whether I am a mom someday, I will praise him because HE. IS. GOOD.