I used to think that having “trials” as a Christian meant that I had to mourn, suffer and be in pain. I used to think that when I was told that I would have hardships as a Christian, that it meant there would be no joy, no peace, no happiness, and only darkness in them. That when I suffered anguish, I would feel alone.
Now I believe that not to be true.
Don’t get me wrong, over the last year I have had every combination of things mentioned. Many times when I felt no joy, no peace, no happiness and only darkness. Times when I felt alone. Times that I mourned, suffered, and felt much pain. The difference now, is now I know it doesn’t HAVE TO be that way, that amidst a trial you CAN have peace, joy and happiness. That you may suffer anguish, but you are not alone. And the anguish you feel may simply be there because it is what is keeping you from destruction you otherwise might have had (Isaiah 38:17). There can be peace during even the greatest of storms.
I know it now with all my heart. This is how I know, the story of my past year. This is my story.
People who know me well, know that I like control. It sounds strange and even uncomfortable as I type it out now, but it is true. I am the worst kind of perfectionist and that is why I so love control. Over E.VERY.THING. I don’t think of myself as a controlling person, because I think of those ‘type’ of people as bossy and often mean. But when given total control of something I LOVE it. I get excited. When told I don’t have control over something, I will hold even tighter onto something I do have control over as so to feel I can let go of the things I don’t. And yes, I have even spent a many years in the line of work as a “boss”. So you get the point.
This past year has been a lesson in control. To put it plainly, that I don’t have it as much as I would like to believe I do. That when it comes to me having control over anything, it is like those linoleum tiles in your bathroom. Sure, if you squint and blur your vision they may look like tile, but we all know that the floor is not a tile floor, and frankly, unless you pay to have it ripped out and redone, it never will be tile. Yep, that is like me and control. Like a good old SAT style analogy: Me to control is as linoleum floor is to tile. My control was fake, an illusion, and needing to be ripped out.
The good news is, even though it was against my will, my linoleum floor got ripped out this year, and I am having it redone, and I am loving this new tile floor.
One year and 6 months ago. I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. The talk about “trying” to have another baby. I always said I hated the word “trying” because it gave me a mental picture, and well, makes me blush. But now I think I have probably hated that word for a totally different reason. Because it is the truth….we do “try” to have children. I hate that reality. I am not a “trier”, I am a doer”. A perfectionist, remember? When I do something, I want to get it done, and get it done right. When we were talking a year ago about growing our family, I didn’t want to just TRY to have another baby, I wanted one. But not in the month of August again. Too hot. Okay, let’s just stay out of the summer months. And NO, I do not want a December baby, cause I am a December baby and never really liked it. Maybe let’s just stay away from having a baby in all the months that have holidays. “So when can we have a baby?” Daniel asked. “I don’t know ” I responded ” May?”
Daily I thank God for my husband. He is not weak, or a pushover. He is a leader. He is an optimist. And he knows when not to argue with a person who is clearly crazy. This was definitely one of those moments. Truly, he is a saint when it comes to dealing with me.
So that is how the story went. We had a plan. I had the control. I was happy.
We set out on the journey with two other couples who were also excited to expand their family. Dayla was born in the same month as 4 other babies, and only a few months apart from 3 others, and we LOVE it; it is truly a blessing. So it seemed perfect to try to make this happen again, right? I mean, how hard could it be to get 3 women all pregnant within the same month again. Piece of cake.
The months came and went. Each month, as the signal that I was not pregnant greeted me, a new emotion came with it. At first it was frustration. Then anger. Then burning anger. Rage. I mean, didn’t every video in sex education always talk about how EASY it is to get pregnant? Every condom commercial totes the same flag. Each birth control advertisement reminds us to take control of our fertility. The message pounded into our brains again and again, “it is easy to get pregnant”. I felt lied to. I felt inadequate. I felt like I was letting my husband and my family down. I mean, it always seemed clear to me that my fertility, my ability to get pregnant was in MY control.
Somewhere in the middle of the anger I got the email that one of the girls I was on my mission with WAS pregnant. I was so excited! Overjoyed! This reaction should surprise you I think. I mean, I am not sure that is normal. But I had SO convinced myself that I had control, this could be nothing but a good sign. Since she was pregnant, that meant I was next. I mean, that was the plan I had formulated.
As the next month passed and I wasn’t pregnant, yet again, my anger resurfaced. This time my anger turned from blaming the devils of commercialism to indignation for the Lord, my Savior: God. I think we have all had a moment when we cried out to God with, “It isn’t fair!” For me the questions of “why?” were unceasing. The insecurity hit me like a tsunami. Every question you could imagine was one that plagued me. Is something wrong with me? Was I being punished? Was I not loved? Was I not doing a good enough job with the child I already have? How was I failing and what could I do?
All his days he eats in darkness, with great frustration, affliction and anger
My illusion of control was like a bulging wall holding a raging river. Finally one day, for no particular reason that I remember, the illusion wall came down. It smashed to dust and crumbled before my eyes. As the waters washed around me, and as I was drowning in my sorrow I called out. “Where is MY control?” I couldn’t find it. I had no way to save myself. I felt scared. I had nothing to hold onto but dust and the waters were rising over me, my breath short.
Have you ever cried so long and so hard that you are certain you could actually drown in your tears? So much that at some point the tears actually stop coming and the sobs just become dry empty convulsions of the body, but even that can’t make you stop, and sometimes even makes you cry more knowing that you have nothing left to cry? That is where the anger led me. Then just at the climax of that month, I got the news. “I am pregnant!” she shared with glee. Two pregnant. And not me.
Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.
I took a deep breath and managed a smile, a “Congratulations!” Acting classes in high school had at last paid off. I so badly wanted to be excited. And part of me was. The part of me that knew that she had been trying and failing like I had. The part of me that knew that if the shoe was on the other foot I would want her to be excited for me. But is was bad timing. The day she told me was the same day that I had the unwelcome reminder that I wasn’t pregnant. So I wept dry tears. Again. That night as I went to the mirror to clean my tear stained face, I saw something I had never seen before. It IS my favorite color, but the green of envy revealed it’s blinding glare, and it didn’t look good.
Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
I saw it and it was ugly, and I knew I had to get rid of it quick. Try as I might, I had no luck. I mean I tried. I sought every kind of “fix it” method you could think if. Just like with the anger, the rage. Each day I woke up thinking that it would be the day that I would wake up happy, filled with joy and peace. Each day was empty. Each day was clouded with darkness. Each day the cloud just got bigger and bigger. I had no idea what to do, no tricks in the bag. I had read, talked, cried, prayed. I even had gone to God. But there I was. No change. And I nothing left.
When Satan has you at your lowest, I think he smiles.
Be self controlled and alert. You enemy the devil prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
1 Peter 5:8-9
And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.
2 Thes. 3:3
Submit yourselves then to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
I remember waking up one morning and feeling different. The jealousy was gone, just like that. “Yes!” I said to myself, as if seeing a big pile of gold on the floor that I had just never seen before. “I am last. Now is my turn to be pregnant. God knew that I had enough strength and faith and patience to be last. Okay God, now it is my time, and I am ready.”
Whatever you do, please don’t stop reading the story there. Please know how wrong I was. Please know that the story does not end here.
“God shows us our poverty of spirit when we try, in our own strength, to walk in a way pleasing to God…and yet continually fail. This is the testimony that Paul gives of his own experience in Romans 7. Humility only came when the once proud man fell to his face and cried out, “Wretched man I am!”
–Kay Arthur, Lord, Only You Can Change Me
I have very clear memories of thinking to myself as I heard other people admit their struggle with pride, “I don’t struggle with pride. I think I am pretty humble.” If you can’t see the irony in that statement….well, then I guess you can stop reading.
I cannot tell you how hard it hit me, like a wrecking ball slamming full speed into my stomach, when I realized how much pride I have. Even as I type this now, tears well up in my eyes, because I know that it is still a lesson I am learning and struggling with daily.
My friend, if you don’t think you struggle with pride, please know that I too have been there. Maybe, just maybe, you don’t struggle with pride. But for a moment, I hope you will read what I have learned. I have learned that pride comes in various forms. Pride is not just thinking you are better then everyone. Pride is not just thinking you are good at things others aren’t. Pride can have many many faces.
“Pride is not the opposite of low self esteem. Pride is the opposite of humility. Pride is self absorption, whether we’re absorbed with how miserable we are or how wonderful we are.” (Beth Moore, Praying Gods Word)
When you think, “I deserve better than this” that is pride. When you can’t forgive, I believe that is pride. When you are afraid to let people in, when you are afraid to tell people about who you really are, that is pride. Impatience is pride. Stubbornness is pride.
Each of these are things I have seen in myself for the first time this year, and lifted up to God. Each of these have been, and currently are, things I struggle with. Each of these are things that are BIG and are hard to overcome. Each of them are things I wake up with daily. But with each of these things, there is not one that is bigger than God. There is not one that believe God can’t heal in me. There is not one that God can’t heal, change, and make new. In me. In you.
Isn’t God good?
So the day that I woke up and thought there was a light at the end of the tunnel, that God had finally given me a glimpse of hope and that this long darkness would all be over soon, I was fooled. I was so convinced at how strong I was….and that is why God had me wait the longest to be pregnant. I was so convinced that I had the best faith, the best patience (yes, can you see the ugly horns of perfectionism re-surfacing? Can you see the pride? ) I had a few days or weeks of what I thought was light…and then the wrecking ball came. BAM. Right in the gut. Right where it hurts the most. It took all the air out of my lungs. And again I fell to my knees.
You save the humble, but your eyes are on the proud to bring them low.
The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.
And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
And so again I was low. But for the first time in my life, it was not a low that was all about ME. It was a low that made me weep, but I was not weeping because I felt sorry for myself. I wept in sorrow. For who I was. For what I thought about others. I pleaded for forgiveness. I asked for change.
I was in it deep. God had to knock me down to humble me. I was like the child who was crying, but would not let anyone hold me or comfort me. Stubborn to my core. I kicked. I tantrum-ed. I hit. I bit. I screamed. But He didn’t give up. He didn’t let go. He held me through the kicks, the screams, the tantrums, and the tears. Finally I got tired of the weeping. Finally I was worn out from the stubbornness. Finally I rested, and I let him hold me.
Finally I was ready to listen to what He had to tell me all along.
When God has you at your lowest, I think he weeps with you and picks you up to carry you.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Being carried by someone is amazing, isn’t it? When a parent picks up a child and carries them, they don’t want to drop them, but protect them. Hold them close. Keep them safe. When a groom carries his bride, he carries her out of joy, jubilation, and excitement for the life ahead. He doesn’t care that she is heavy, in that moment, she has never felt lighter, or more beautiful.
God calls us both his child and his bride.
A parent’s love for a child is unmatched. I have never heard it more perfectly explained then the quote, “a child is your heart living outside your body.” And the way a groom sees his bride on the wedding day is with rose colored glasses. She has never looked more perfect, more radiant then she does on that day, glowing in white.
That is who we are to God. He loves us like a child. And we are as perfect and radiant to him (YES, even when we are weeping and stubborn) as a bride is to a groom.
That is what God has taught me. That he loves me. Incomprehensibly.
When you stop to take that in for a moment, swish it around in your mouth, see how it tastes, then swallow it, you really see the beauty in those promises. Seeing myself through God’s eyes, seeing how much he cares about me, knowing that he has counted every hair on my head, that he knows my words before they are spoken, knowing that he knew me and who I would be before I was even made in my mother’s womb….knowing that he knows me and what I need WAAAAY better then I know myself…..
I have found rest.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
I have found hope.
We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.
I have found peace.
But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf
of those who wait for him.
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
I can’t imagine loving someone, anyone, the way that God loves me. I know that there is no one in this world that I know as intimately as God knows me. How can I not trust him? How can I imagine for one minute that I know better then he does when I should have a baby? I realize I cannot fathom what month, time, day, personality, spirit, and gender will be the perfect fit for our little family. I can guess, but I know not. But God knows! And I am SO THANKFUL.
As I finish writing this, it has now been over a year since we started trying to have a baby. As I write this, I am not yet pregnant. Our family is still three. But it is perfect. And we thank God everyday.
As each month I am reminded that I am not yet pregnant, I feel nothing but complete peace. Knowing to my core, and being so thankful, that is it not up to me, I am not in control. I know with all my heart and soul that God is waiting for just the right time to give us the perfect fourth to our family. That he knows better than I ever could. And that when that little one is at last brought to our family, we will have never wanted one more. We have never been so sure that (s)he is a blessing. And we will praise God. For his perfection. For his timing
My Epilogue. My Conclusion.
As I type this I think about how I would love to take credit for all this change in my heart, the journey I have been on, like somehow I made this happen. I want to believe that I have a strength or a courageousness.
The truth is, I am not strong or courageous. I didn’t ask for God to make me barren for this time or ask him to teach me the things I have learned. And I would not even say that I have not gone on this journey willingly. In a way, I want to be frustrated, I want to be jealous of those who are getting pregnant and glare at them from across the grocery store. In a way, I feel like that would be righteous and would be understood by many.
But God is bigger then me. And knows what I need more than I do. He gave me this journey because I needed it, and I am SO thankful for that. He is the one who gives me the strength and courage. It is through his word that I have learned to trust him and believe that HE has plans for me (that are better than my own!) And it is HE who gives me the peace each morning as I wake, the peace as I see the women in the grocery store carrying child, the PEACE and JOY I feel when I am greeted with the reminder that comes that I am, yet again, not pregnant.
God is BIG. God is REAL. And if you ask, he will give you what you need too.
Sometimes we hide our pain. We hurt. But we hold it in. To who’s benefit I wonder? To ours? For you? To pretend for a moment that our life is perfect? I have tried for a long time to be perfect. But I am RELIEVED to say, I am not perfect. My plans are not perfect. And in that there is great beauty. And there is a GREAT PEACE.
And please, don’t for one second think that I am now perfect, or “fixed” in any way. I am still on my journey. Day by day. I will always be someone who needs God. I don’t read the bible to because I think it makes me “holy”, but because I know I am imperfect; I need help, and God hasn’t let me down yet. Only IN HIM am I strong.
I know that my story is not the only one of it’s kind. I know that there are many who have had harder journey’s and more tears shed. Who have waited much longer than I. But I also know there is power in sharing your pain, being less then perfect, and being ME. REAL. I share this journey in hopes that for one moment, there is someone out there who for the first time doesn’t feel alone and maybe, just maybe, feels the warmth of hope.
I don’t know really if this story will reach or touch anyone.
BUT I DO KNOW
GOD is BIGGER than me.
I sat down to write this to give him praise. To share what a great God he is. To share that my heart is fervent for him in a way that it has never been before.
Thank you God.
For your PEACE.
For your SOVEREIGNTY.
For your HAND IN MY LIFE.
For having PLANS that I do not know, but that I can TRUST. I know that you have plans to PROSPER and not harm, plans for a HOPE and a FUTURE.
Because I am your child. And I now know what a GIFT that word “child” is.
Thank you for your WORD. The TRUTH.
****I have turned off the comments on this post because for me the gain was simply in writing this.
This year was a GIFT to me from God, and I just want to shout thanks from the rooftops.
If you are touched, I am incredibly thankful. But I fear that if I hear others reactions, or look longingly for people to leave comments, it will no longer be about GOD and his GOODNESS to me, but about ME. As you know, I am struggling with pride, so I want to do everything I can to not put myself in it. If this touched you, please don’t tell me, please just pass it on to someone else.
Thank you. ****