I wrote a post for my stroke blog last night, What About Me?, concerning illness, physical healing, and miracles. I've thought a ton since then about how I want to expand on these principles specifically for my infertility audience. This post is intended to supplement that one, not to stand alone, so you will want to read that first. This is bonus content specifically concerning the topic of barrenness.
Perhaps I'm not the obvious choice to address this topic? I have THREE living children now! Shouldn't an "empty arms" post be authored by someone with empty arms?
I did spend a decade where you are, my friend. I write today both as hope that my story may encourage you to know that God does still work miracles and may yet have plans to bring you to the other side of barrenness, and to offer perspective on what those miracles may look like.
First, let me acknowledge what a treacherous, double-edged thing hope can be! I get it. Not allowing your heart to hope, is a self defense mechanism against being hurt. AGAIN! Being tender-hearted hurts when hopes are dashed time after time. Week after week. Month after month. Year after year. Decade after decade. Why set myself up to be shredded another time or ten? Once was brutal enough. We are talking thousands of fatal blows to the heart by now.
No. Thank. You!
Psalm 126 has been a theme passage in my life. (In fact, it is the key verse for my next book.) I can totally relate to weeping, planting in tears!
The part that intrigues me is the harvest of those tears, joy and singing. God doesn't say IF, but talks in absolutes.
So where does this leave me when there is no hope of a baby? I mean NO CHANCE. Like I've had a hysterectomy or my ovaries shut down at 24 and I'm 57 now - N.O. C.H.A.N.C.E. lady!
I could take the "easy" answers (that actually end up being true in many cases, but would likely offer you more discouragement than hope today), like reminding you that Sara (later Sarah, mother of Israel, wife of Abram/Abraham) was 90 years old when she conceived, long "dried up," outright laughed when her husband was told she would have a baby within the next year. Or Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist) was also past expectation of motherhood when God allowed her to conceive. Or Mary, mother of Jesus, who got pregnant WHILE STILL A VIRGIN! Yeah, miracles really do happen, as I know with each and every one of my living children who each has their own amazing miracle story of why they should medically not exist, including the last who was God-sent three years after the latest I was to have had my hysterectomy!
The reason I won't default to those pat answers is because you would give me the same arguments I've given others countless times. All those miracle conceptions in the Bible were leading up to the one Child of Promise, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. My Messiah has already come. I can't expect a miracle like that because He has already been born! I get that, and while miracle births still happen sometimes, why set my hopes on an obscure improbability???
I could tell you to "just adopt" (like it is that simple anyway?) and promise you that as long as you have a child to fill you arms, the ache in your heart will end. I'm sure my suggestion would be a totally new concept to you today, right? Because, dear infertile sister, you have NEVER considered, nor had adoption suggested to you, ever before, have you? (OK, sarcasm over now!) Adoption is WONDERFUL, and honestly should be prayerfully considered by anyone and everyone capable of parenting a child, fertile or not, but it is not the "cure" for infertility. Yes, it can transform a childless person into a parent, but adoption is a costly (emotionally, and often financially) process in and of itself and should not be entered into lightly or with the idea that it will put an end to infertility emotions. It might. For many it will bring much healing. Adoption is about both the child and the parent(s). It may or may not be the direction God leads you.
The same goes for foster-parenting, or step-parenting. God actually may have one of these avenues in your future. If He does, the rewards and comfort may be profound. The challenges and grief may also be beyond measure. I would encourage you neither to discount the possibilities, or to set your hopes too firmly on a plan God has not yet revealed. If that is the path He has for you, He will provide every resource you need to walk that path when He calls you to it.
What I would like to look at today is the idea that God's plans, while very possibly unfolding in the end to be one of those more common answers already mentioned, sometimes turn out very different, yet even more amazing, than anything we could ever dream up for ourselves.
Please consider two of my dear friends, beautiful women of God, to whom God answered "no" concerning children in the tradition sense, and yet their stories continue to wow me! Each story is different and yours might not be the same as these, but I wanted to share them just to remind you today that God's not done writing your story.
Joy DeKok. What an awesome example to me! Her Letter From My Heart To Women Like Me - Infertility HURTS, is powerful and profound. Some of my favorite lines read:
...We longed to fill our arms and home with red-headed and blond children. I had a secret dream of 13 children and at least as many animals. We’d live in a huge restored home, or barn, or a mill house. We’d need a big yard, an orchard, lots of bedrooms, a huge kitchen, and a big table with lots of chairs...
Months became years. We begged God for babies, and He said no. His voice was quiet, firm, and love-filled. We had to trust Him because rebelling only made the pain worse.
Accepting His will for us meant facing the death of our dream.
As if that wasn’t enough, we endured cruel comments. These weren’t the ignorant kind spoken in an attempt to comfort us. They were mean and cut us deep. We didn’t know how to fight back and didn’t have the energy.
For years I carried those words on my heart as if they’d been branded there...
... I did my best to remember every sin I could and re-confessed. All the way back to the day when I was four and sassed my dad. It was a really long prayer, over and over I begged Him to remove the guilt and shame from me. Even as I prayed I knew I was asking Him to forgive things He already had. But I had to be sure...
...For reasons you and I cannot fathom this side of heaven, infertility is part of God’s plan for us. For many of you, He will say yes and children will be born from your bodies. He will lead some of you to parent a child or children He birthed through another woman or other women. For a few of us, His will is clear: we’re to love the children in our lives already – nieces, nephews, and the kids of our friends. With God as your guide, you get to decide...
...Still, you may be tired of baby showers, pregnancy/birth war stories, and although you love your friends dearly, their complaints about being moms scratch at your soul. And when they announce pregnancies, you’re happy for them, but their news stabs. Not because you’re jealous, you don’t want their babies – you want yours, and it’s not happening. You’re also exhausted when every month your hope is destroyed. And afraid of more disappointment when you pick your heart back up and in spite of the pain, you start hoping for next month. Your grief is deep and constant and most of the time solitary.
In all of these things and more. . .you are normal. And God understands...
...Please don’t believe that I’m “over” my infertility. Nah. . .in fact, it’s the circumstance that keeps nagging at my soul even now. Because we were led by God to love the kids already in our lives, and those still to come, we are not parents and we are not grandparents. I celebrate each grand baby announcement, let it sting, and take more children born to others into my arms, and fall in love again. . .and again. . .and again.
Because that is part of His plan for me too. And He understands. And that is more than enough. If we let it be...
In God Write the Best Love Stories, Holley Gerth Shares:
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