I am going write a post which I have begun in my head about 50,000 times…yet, I am honestly not sure how this will go. Over breakfast this weekend, during our CCC staff conference in Asheville, a wonderful godly friend challenged me by reminding me that God receives the most glory from our lives the more honest and transparent we are.
Thus, I (along with Joel’s permission and encouragement) am taking a step of faith to vulnerably share a little more about our inner world…you know the stuff that goes deeper than baked potato soup and home renovations…the real stuff.
About 2.5 years ago, Joel sensed the Lord leading us to start a family. He would have been happy if we had walked down the aisle and scooped up a baby, but I, resisted this. Finally, I put my fears and selfishness on the altar and sacrificed them to the Lord. (Like every other day for the next 2.5 years.) I remember God slowly changing my heart. I remember thinking *this* would be the perfect time to get pregnant b/c we would see both our families in the coming weeks and we could do an exciting, creative “we are prego” announcement…yet time past and there was no news to announce.
We were simultaneously experiencing lots of hard circumstances and it seemed that God was really allowing some rain on our parade. Little did I know it would be that rain that would hammer the nails of the Gospel and of God’s character into the core of our souls. It was that rain on our shallow parade that brought deeper sanctification than any sunny sky possibly could. (You can read more about that starting HERE on our blog.)
We continued to experience the cycle of hope and despair.
After a year, we knew we wanted to get some clear answers on why we weren’t conceiving. I’ll spare you the gory details, but after lots of miserable medical tests (some of which were hilarious–i.e. Joel figuring out how to use a machine that I was hooked up to faster than a doctor could– but, most of which left us both in tears), we learned that we would join the 10-15% of couples who have “unexplained infertility”. This is kind of a weird group to be lumped into. On one hand you’re excited that nothing is “wrong” and yet on the other, I’m sure you can imagine being diagnosed with an “unexplained” illness…you wouldn’t rest until a doctor got to the bottom of it! (I have decided that after having a bone tumor which less than 1% of bone tumor patients have…even though doctors think it’s cool…I am very much over being “elite”. Out of the 6 million women who have trouble conceiving, only about 10% are the “elite unexplained”. I’d much rather be an elite gymnast. :))
We began fertility treatments with a Reproductive Endocrinologist and I felt such relief knowing we were finally “doing something” about all this “unexplainedness”. We had prayed and sensed the Lord giving us clear ethical limits, we fell in love with the nurses (who we began to see more regularly than our closest friends or family!) and each week, my sweet, old, quirky doctor would patted me on the knee and said, “It’s going to be alright.”
Life was good and we were hopeful.
Yet as time passed, sadness and frustration continued to fill our happy little home and we wrestled with the God of the universe being ABLE to create life, but perhaps, not willing. It was a hard pill to swallow. And yet, we wanted to believe Him and trust Him in His goodness and sovereignty. Ugh. It was and is so messy and so hard. I don’t do messy and I sure the heck don’t do hard. It was messy to watch our friends experience the elation of new life and not naturally be filled with joy, even though we wanted to be excited for them. It was so hard to hear well-meaning advice and seemingly loving comments about how great our life was without children to chase. It was gut-wrenching to have another “not pregnant” realization in the middle of a friend’s freaking baby shower. Ugh.
Amidst the challenges, we were grateful to have the love and fellowship of several close friends and then our families. It was just too exhausting and painful to share about most of the time. But when people would ask, “When are y’all gonna have babies?” and “Are y’all too cool for kids?” We learned to respond, “Well, we are doing our part.” And that would shut most people up.
Every night before bed, Joel would pray for us to have a little baby to raise to love the Lord and still another year past and we were still getting a “no” from the Lord.
When the tumor in my humerus was discovered and my life was threatened, the Lord really allowed us to see things in perspective. The baby stuff took a major back-burner to something much scarier and more painful. We were experiencing pain compacted with pain, but we were increasingly more aware that our pain was not without purpose.
Of course, the wonderful things God did on our behalf gave us hope to believe that “Oh! God was withholding a baby so that we could get this tumor out! Now we will probably conceive easily!” But, at times, our hopes were too heavily placed in a positive pregnancy test rather than the Person of Christ, and our hopes were continually dashed as more time passed.
We realized we were coming to the end of the treatment options we thought the Lord had for us, as well as our financial ability and so we asked the Lord to show us it was time to be done. In October, our doctor told us he would recommend us ending these procedures. We felt that to be a clear answer from the Lord. So, I baked some chocolate chip pumpkin bread as a “good-bye” gift for the nurses. We all stood in the waiting room and hugged and cried. It was really sweet.
At this point, I was relieved to be done with the poking and prodding. It was physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially draining. I just couldn’t do it anymore. This news brought relief for me, but sadness for Joel. I had to deal with the death of a dream each month, but ending treatment was the the death of the dream for Joel. He felt like we were “giving up”.
These past few months have been mostly sad and yet they have provided lots of sweet times with the Lord. We’ve tried to really rest in the Lord as the only One who can bring peace and comfort to this unmet desire…but sometimes it’s easier to find rest in baked goods and ESPN. There have been lots of really wonderful and happy times for us. But, amidst great things happening in life and ministry we have felt a cloud of personal sadness.
SO, right now, we are choosing to live in the tension of walking by faith (knowing God’s character of being all-mighty/powerful, sovereign, all-knowing, and good) believing that He is capable of creating the universe thus plenty capable of creating a life. Meanwhile, knowing that in His good plan right now (or potentially never), it is not His plan for us. His plan for our lives is a custom fit and we can rest and relax in His sovereign grace.
The faster we grasp the fact that all our hopes and dreams aren’t in this life…the better off we will all be. Suffering is a great tutor. It teaches real lessons and takes away all the illusions of the world. Many of us, when God wants to stretch us are so consumed with the pain that we miss the work of sanctification He’s doing in us!!
We are constantly asking God to show us the bigger picture of what He’s doing. God knows how to grow character, faith & holiness. If we cling to the comfort of an easy life we can become shallow. If we have a shallow walk with God, how can we expect to receive great revelations from God? We are praying that His lessons and His Word will go down deep into the fibers of our being!
As mentioned in Infertility: Finding God’s Peace Amidst the Journey by Louis Flowers (best. book. ever.) in the chapter entitled, “His Ways Are Not Our Ways” & “How to Pray” I was reminded that His will IS being done. Even if we are not pregnant.
“His plan includes all promotions and demotions. His plan can mean adversity and prosperity, tragedy and calamity, ecstasy and joy. It envelops illness as much as health, perilous times as much as comfort, safety, prosperity and ease. His plan is at work when we cannot imagine why, because it is so unpleasant as much as when the reason is clear and pleasant. His sovereignty, though it is inscrutable, has dominion over all handicaps, all heartaches, and all helpless moments. It is at work through all disappointments, broken dreams and lingering difficulties. And even when we cannot fully fathom why, He knows. Even when we cannot explain the reasons, He understands. And when we cannot see the end, He is there, nodding, “Yes, that is My plan.”
Nothing happens to us that is not first filtered through His fingers of love.
Hello! Entirely too much writing for one post…more to come, as the Lord leads! Thank you for listening if you are still reading!