Childbearing Hips

As one negative pregnancy test led to the next and to the next, each cycle became less of an exciting wait and more of a dreaded encounter, hoping against all odds that this would be the month, only to have those hopes dashed be a single pink line and those telltale cramps. Agonizing cramps that seemingly mock me from within my own body. Taunting me that I have the body parts but that I’m broken, that I don’t work, that I might look like a perfectly fine woman on the outside-but that I’m not. Cramps that I still have to suffer. Suffer every month for what-for nothing my mind cries out. The frustration at “being broken” can feel overwhelming at times. Questions of “why was I created to be a woman if I don’t even work” flit across my mind as cruel reality brings jarring pain to such a crescendo that my infertility cannot be ignored–not today. I can go for a few weeks acting like everything is normal, but then the cramps, then the reality. The empty womb crying out at me–”don’t you dare forget!”– a war between my body and my mind, between my hormone levels and my desire to be a mother.

The identity crisis of being a woman with infertility is real and it was unexpected. It caught me off-guard when I began to feel trapped in my body, a body that didn’t work. A body that looked like it should work-but wasn’t. My childbearing hips were helping me carry in the groceries, or a box up the stairs, but that wasn’t what they were supposed to carry. They were supposed to help me carry a baby, my baby. Like I’d carried brothers and sisters growing up. Instead here I was all alone with no baby and these childbearing hips. Watching the diagnostic ultrasounds of my womb, finding out the exact measurements of these body parts that remained vacant, lifeless. I felt like I was useless, like I was defective. Betrayed by my own body it felt like there had been a mistake. Life wasn’t supposed to be like this. I was supposed to be a mom. My dream of raising children, homeschooling, making homemade bread, my body didn’t match up. It wasn’t right. Something was wrong.

Something is wrong. Things are broken. There is sickness. There is disease. I’m not the first person to feel trapped in, or betrayed by their body and I won’t be the last. In the end our bodies will fail each and every one of us, expiring to return to the dust because of the curse of sin that is upon us and all of creation. A curse that we’ve inherited and that we perpetuate. A decay that renders our ability to stay young, strong and healthy out of our control as time marches forward until we breathe our last. And when we breathe our last it will surely matter what or who we identity with and as. It matters because if your identity is founded only in the life that you spend in this body then you are guaranteed to be disappointed, to be betrayed by your body and by your idolatry. But, if your identity is rooted in Christ Jesus then you are guaranteed life eternal. Whenever I feel frustrated with my body, whenever the sorrow washes over me I cling to Jesus and I remember that my identity is in Him. I am His. I belong to Him. I am His daughter. I am His bride. He satisfies me with His Living Waters and comforts me with His strong arms. He holds me and He sustains me. He is my confidence. He is my Rock. He is my salvation. He is my hope. I will never be disappointed when my eyes are on Him, and they will be on Him forever–for when I leave this body I will be going home to a place that He is preparing for me. A place where He is the Light, where there is no more sorrow, no more tears, no more shame.

I refuse to agree with the lies of Satan that seek to take my eyes off of Jesus. I speak the Truth of God’s Word over myself. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am carefully made by the hands of my loving Father Who knew me in the womb, Who knew me even before He formed me. God made me a woman, God has given me the heart of a mother and I am so thankful for these things. I rejoice because of His tender love, He is my Victory. I am so incredibly thankful for my body. I am thankful for every part of my body. Yes this creation may be under the curse of our sin, but God is the Redeemer and He is making all things new. God is my Redeemer! He is my “dream-come-true-Boaz”, He has paid the greatest price so I can be with Him forever and ever and I gladly give myself over to Him, to His authority, to His will. He can–and is–making something beautiful out of the mire clay. I am free to dance in joy as He lifts me up from the ashes. He has brought me into His glory and I look forward to be taken into the full measure of His glory. His strong arm upholds me, His strong right hand defends and protects me.

I need thee every hour Lord. I need Thine Righteousness to revive me for Thine power to course through me, for You Holy Spirit to wash and cleanse me, for Your Word to lead me. For every part of me to be enveloped in Your presence, under Your guidance and authority. Every lie, every doubt hold no power over me-for I sit down under Your shadow with great delight and Your fruit is sweet to my taste, You bring me to Your banqueting House and Your banner over me is love. You satisfy me and embrace me, You come leaping and bounding over the mountains and hills and lead me into the Cleft of the Solid Rock, through Your pasture among the lilies. (See Song of Solomon 2).

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,  being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.  2 Corinthians 10:-6

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.  Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.  I Thessalonians 5:16-24

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”  Revelation 21:1-8

Summer of The Leviathan

God often prepares His children before something happens. Revealing a key part of His Truth so that we can be ready for when the storm hits-or for being thrust into the icy, isolated, darkness, which is a more fitting description in this case. Several things that were my biggest dreams in life were stripped away around the same time that we left the tropical island of Okinawa and moved to Alaska, a week before the snow hit. This on top of me never having lived anywhere where the snow actually stays longer than a day. The psychological shock of being thrust against my will by the military into an environment that felt like an icy trap mirrored the trauma I felt in my soul.

During that first year of trying to have a baby, while we were still in the tropical “paradise” of Okinawa, God laid on my heart an urgency to read the book of Job. Even though I was beginning to realize that there was indeed a problem with my fertility, I really had no idea and I thought we could just get help after the first year and have our baby soon after that. Oh, how little did I know that 5 years later there would still be no cigars, no sweet baby coos, no staring in wonder into the eyes of my baby. No baby.

God knew though. He knew all the different emotions, all the different parts of my heart and soul that would be laid bare under his refining fire. He knew this, and He knew that a lot of it would hurt and that I had to be ready. I had to know that He was God and that I was not. God knew that I was going to have to hold onto this key, foundational Truth in order to submit to Him and let Him fully have His way in me. Even when it felt like “all my dreams” were being taken away.

 Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Declare to Me, if you have and know understanding. Who determined the measures of the earth, if you know? Or who stretched the measuring line upon it?…

…Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, saying, Gird up your loins now like a man; I will demand of you, and you answer Me. Will you also annul (set aside and render void) My judgment? Will you condemn Me [your God], that you may [appear] righteous and justified?

Have you an arm like God? Or can you thunder with a voice like His? [Since you question the manner of the Almighty’s rule] deck yourself now with the excellency and dignity [of the Supreme Ruler, and yourself undertake the government of the world if you are so wise], and array yourself with honor and majesty…

…“No one is so fierce [and foolhardy] that he dares to stir up Leviathan;
Who then is he who can stand before Me [or dares to contend with Me, the beast’s creator]? “Who has first given to Me that I should repay him?
Whatever is under the whole heaven is Mine. [Who can have a claim against Me who made the unmastered beast?]

Job 38:1-7, 40:6-10, 41:10-11 AMP

These passages from Job deeply impressed upon my soul. I cannot stand before God. God alone has the power and might to create, to give or to take away. God does not “owe me” anything. Like it says in Job “Who has first given to Me that I should repay him?”-no one. No one has given anything to God so that God owes them. In fact God has richly blessed us, the undeserving, by sending His son while we were still in rebellious hostility toward Him. Even if literally every dream and everything that I love was taken from me I would still have Jesus, and I would still be rich because I am His. He is my Redeemer. Like Boaz who redeemed Ruth out of destitution, shame, and sorrow into wealth, love, and joy. God redeems us out of sin and death into eternal life as His adopted children, purchased by the precious blood of His Son, and that is the only gift that we need.

It was vitally important from the beginning that I set my mind on the task of trusting God. Jesus said His burden is light and His yoke is easy. He desires to clothe us in His righteousness and strengthen us with His joy, but first we must entrust Him with our life and trust Him wherever He leads. To desire nothing-but Christ alone, is to have all that you need. He is more than enough. I remember forcing myself to sing “Enough” by Chris Tomlin after we’d moved to Alaska and began to become more acquainted with the reality of infertility. He is more than enough. With a tightly constricted throat, and tears forcing their way down my cheeks, “All of You is more than enough for all of me / For every thirst and every need / You satisfy me with Your love / And all I have in You is more than enough”.

Sometimes the rocky mountain paths or the dark valleys don’t make sense from our perspective, but we can be like Habakkuk, who after He asked God “why” He resolved:

I will stand on my guard post
And station myself on the rampart;
And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me,
And how I may reply when I am reproved.

It’s ok to ask God why, as long as our heart is right. Are we asking Him so He can reprove and correct us, or are we challenging Him? There is a distinct difference.

God wanted me to be in a posture of submission so that He could transform me according to His will, not mine. So that He could bless me with the portion of His presence that is reserved for those that declare, no matter what, that He is all that we need, and that He is more than enough. And, believe me, I needed that presence, because it was Him, my Father, my Anchor, that I was clinging to; hiding in the Cleft of the Rock.

To choose to trust in God and let Him take the lead means being able to abide in His presence. To be blessed with His ever comforting Spirit. He is the Good Shepherd, He does not push us into the valley, He walks ahead of us and protects us. But in order to be satisfied as with the fatness and marrow (Psalm 63:5) of His presence we have to be in close proximity and that means following Him right on His heels. When we enter the valley of the shadow of death we must press in closer ’cause it is harder to see. Maybe the death in that valley means the death of our dreams. But we can trust Him with the thoughts and the plans that He has for us, He Who is the Author and the Perfecter of our Faith.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2

 

5 Years

Sometimes it takes 5 years before you are ready to talk about something. This is one of those things.

This Thanksgiving marked the 5 year anniversary since my husband and I set out on the exciting journey to become parents. What we didn’t realize is that if I had been able to conceive we probably would have already had a baby by then. I had this feeling that something might be wrong from the very beginning. Half a year in I knew for sure something was wrong. Charting produced jagged patterns that looked more like mountain peaks from the “The Rockies” instead of a jump to a plateau.

I felt some trepidation about posting this, about being so open and transparent. In fact I almost chickened out, but I feel as if God wants me to talk now. As Levi Lusco puts it, this is “my microphone“. God has brought me to a point where even though it still hurts, I am no longer in a fetal position barely holding on. I feel as if I’ve gone through the fire, but its strange because the “fire is still there”. The only thing that has changed is that God has changed me, so that like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego I am free to praise Him, to delight myself in Him and have close communion with Him in the oven. God has changed me. He has grown my faith and it is my joy to share with you the hope that resonates strong and deep within my soul. A hope that is steadfast and sure no matter what becomes of this earthly life or this body of mine.

Infertility may be a part of the curse on creation that I am deeply acquainted with with. It may have wrought grief and despair that has poured forth in messy uncontrollable sobs, but I refuse to remain frozen in grief. I refuse to give it attention for it’s sake–I will not do that. Instead I declare–no matter the day of my cycle, no matter the season of my life–to God be all glory, and all honor, and all praise. When I speak I want people to listen and to hear Him.

God has taught me so many lessons through my journey in infertility that it would be unfitting for me to write it all out in one blog post, so this is the first in a series, the introduction if you will to one of the most vulnerable parts of my life. One of the most vulnerable–but also to one of the most powerful.

To God be the glory.