“It’s time to grow up Gina!” is what a very wise woman who has walked with God for many years said to me when I was in a spiritual funk many years ago. Going through infertility was one of the many hardest things I have gone through in my life.
Something about praying for something so beautiful and watching the rest of the world live your dream.
Something about the cycle of hopeful waiting met with disappointment month after month…holiday after holiday….year after year.
Something about feeling as though you are being punished, abandoned, rejected or ignored by God.
The sting of infertility went deeper than just wanting a baby. If I’m honest I thought being a mom was all I needed to be happy. The idea that “when I have this…when I get here…” We all have our thing…”when I get out of school” “when I get married” “when I have so and so’s approval” “when I get that job or position” “when I get through this trial” “when I buy that…or when I look like that”
The list goes on, you get the point.
It was in the hope of any person or other thing other than God…other than true contentment that I thought would miraculously smooth out the uneven and rough edges of my heart.
I think there was another part of me in my humanity that equated performance with love, acceptance and purpose…”God must not love me or approve of me or else he would give me a baby” “God must be punishing me” “God is withholding from me”.
On the flip side I was actually doing what I perceived God was doing to me, “I am angry with you unless you perform God!” I shook my fist in the air countless times as though my temper tantrum somehow would change the maker of heaven and earths mind for my every whim. I thought for sure I had a way better plan than God and couldn’t figure out for the life of me why he not only didn’t consult with me first before allowing my barrenness. Furthermore, I couldn’t figure out why in the world was he giving blessings to other people! Yeah, I’m sure God was pretty impressed with me.
Now that I am a mom and I’ve seen about 42 tantrums a day I picture God shaking His head saying, “Gina, you silly little girl, I love you.” About 4 years into my journey I was pretty bitter though. The endless cycle of hope and disappointment is very wearing and even more so when seeing others live the dream you are praying for and uncertain if you will ever do so yourself. You can’t help but feel left out. My heart truly was breaking – daily. I identified with Hannah’s brokenness when she said “give me a son or I will die.” I pictured her kneeling just as I did countless times, desperate to be heard. For me the thing is, it wasn’t just infertility, it was what infertility represented in conjunction with all the other broken parts of me. I hadn’t yet dealt with all of my stuff from my younger years and infertility brought it all to the surface.
Infertility said what I had always felt, experienced or what lies I had believed forever – you aren’t enough. Somewhere in my being was a running tape that would never stop replaying the lie: You aren’t enough. You are not enough. Those things from our youth – they don’t just go away because we get older. We don’t “grow out” of insecurity unless we recognize it and deal with it. Better yet, until we let God deal with it these things they magnify. When we pretend they don’t exist – they grow like a cancer.
My insecurities and lack of trust had grown into cancer. They had manifested into tumors that overtook my entire present life, my every filter was from a place of feeling inadequate, unloveable or invisible. For many reasons I never felt like I was enough. I needed constant affirmation, I never actually said out loud “Hey! tell me I have worth!” But my heart was. Oh it was screaming and for most of us who have blood running through our veins and a pulse we all just really want to know we are valuable and know. So when we need that affirmation and we are ignored, or feel ignored, it then reinforces that which we already fear. That is what infertility did for me. It said I wasn’t good enough, worthy, I was less than other women, I wasn’t favored…it told me that I was…..well empty.
What I thought I needed was for God to show me He loved me by giving me what I thought would inevitably fix me. Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with my normal God given desire to be a mother, but it had become my idol, the thing that would save me. If only. He knew better. He knew me. He knew. He did and I didn’t. So what this woman said to me actually wasn’t “grow up” in a mean or cruel way, it was actually the most loving thing she could have said.
Every Christian encounters a sort of crisis of faith, but it is in the crisis that we choose to stay stunted or to grow. Like the marks on a wall reflect the physical growth of a child, the marks of our hearts growth are usually most reflected during times of waiting or trial. It was time for me to get taller in my heart, time for me to grow. A dear friend showed me Ecclesiastes 3 where it speaks of there being a time for everything. There is a time to mourn. I had mourned, for quite some time, and now it was time to choose joy and grow. My situation hadn’t changed and probably wouldn’t for quite some time or perhaps never. Yet God had not changed, nor would He ever change. I just wasn’t seeing Him clearly.
What pain wouldn’t allow me to see was that He was the same God who created me, knew the hairs on my head, knew my every need. He was the same God who gave me free will to choose good things and bad things. He was the same God who provided a way out for me when I was 21 and in a very abusive relationship. He was the same God who had loved me from my very first breath, so much that He died for me. I needed to settle in my heart for good who God was so that I didn’t question His love for me based on what I felt I needed or wanted…or prayed for….good, bad or indifferent.
I needed to settle in my heart that every idea or earthly experience I had to compare God with and my ideas of what love looked like or should look like simply didn’t compare. God loved me. End of story. God loved me if He gave me a child and God loved me if He didn’t. God loved me when I prayed and He didn’t answer the way I thought He should. God loved me just as much when I lost my way like the prodigal and He loved me when I came home too. He loved me when everything in life made no sense to me…He loved me…and quite frankly He already proved it.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall have everlasting life.” John 3:16
So I had to come to a place where there was something settled in my heart with or without the extras, because that honestly is what everything else is. But Salvation that is our hearts answered prayer, that is the gift, that is the prize, that is the hope, mercy. He is the answer to every question to every heartbreak to every lost dream, to every fix, insatiable craving, desire to our barren souls. Salvation is the answer that explains our need for more – more of anything beyond it simply won’t satisfy, even the good things. I had to be okay with no or perhaps not yet because He had already said Yes to my greatest need – Savior, Deliverer, Repairer of all of my brokenness. He is that and more for everyone of us but the thing is, if we don’t know we are broken we will continue to try to receive a fix through other things, other people and other experiences.
So for me it was in the faithful life giving words that my wise friend said to me that stung a little but I needed to hear. It changed not my circumstances that day but how I viewed them and more importantly how I viewed God. He is the same yesterday, today and forever even when it doesn’t make sense, even when I can’t see, and to be honest even when life just flat out stinks! He died that we would have life – real life inwardly – even when outward circumstances seem hopeless, grim, impossible or less than what we think we need at the moment. Peace – wonderful peace is what I received, peace in knowing that He held all things together and that I could trust Him with me and my dreams. I didn’t give up my dream of being a mom but what I did give up was superficial control. In exchange I received peace – He is perfect and all knowing of your circumstance and your needs and He already fulfilled your greatest need…Himself.
For me when I surrendered my need to have a child is when I realized my need needed to always only be Jesus and it was then that I was in a position to receive more – if, when and how He chose. He longs to give us good things but not more than He longs to give us himself. Maybe you are in a place where you are waiting for something to change – you haven’t gone unnoticed, He sees you, He hears you and He knows your hearts cry. Trust Him to be bigger than _______ (you fill in the blank)
I say this because I know the plans I have for you. I have good plans, not plans to hurt you, I will give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11