Saturday, April 5, 2014

While We Waited

We had been married five years. Three of which we hadn’t been using birth control.  

The questions were coming now. “So, any news??? Anything exciting to tell us?” 
Or this one, “Have you talked about having children?” (As if we’d been married 5 years and the topic had never come up). One well-meaning relative even asked if my husband was being “good to me”, concerned that maybe we weren’t being “intimate enough” to have children. Ah… the questioning.   

Initially, we weren’t trying to have children, so I wasn’t too devastated when a few months went by and nothing happened.  
Then a few more months went by. Then a year. A year and a half. Two years. 
Sometime in there, I started to wonder. I was still okay not being pregnant. But the idea that I could never be pregnant … I wasn’t quite ready for that. So when I stumbled upon a statistic on the internet that said, “90% of all women who don’t conceive within a year of being off any form of birth control, won’t be able to have children at all”.  I knew full well it had been over a year … that’s when it began to hit me.  

Is something wrong with me?  

I’ve always had irregular periods. They’ve checked my thyroid multiple times at the doctors, but everything always comes back clear. I’m about ten pounds overweight, but nothing significant enough to interfere with having a baby. I’ve been to doctors for all types of “girl problems” (long periods, continuous periods, etc.). I’ve undergone multiple exams, paid hundreds and hundreds of dollars for tests that come back saying “everything is fine, and to doctors that say, “We don’t know, everything looks okay.” 

My husband was wonderful and so supportive. We both trusted the Lord’s will was perfect, but still, every time I took a pregnancy test, I think we both were a little disappointed. He never said it out loud, but I think it was something we both felt. In the early months, it was more relief. But after months turned into years, each test brought us face to face with the sinking thought: “maybe we’ll never be able to have children.” 

Somewhere during that time, I remembered the story of the woman who comes to Jesus, and grabs hold of the hem of His garment, in faith that He can do something to make it better. The Bible calls her, “the woman with the issue of blood” or “the woman with the hemorrhage”, but basically, she has been bleeding for 12 years, and has spent all her living at the hands of physicians, with no help. Something resonated deep within me. And I looked up to the Lord, and said, “Lord, I want your will. If this is your will, by your grace and help, I can accept it. But you know this interferes with our marriage, with our marriage bed, and with my ability to have children, so Lord I don’t know how to grab hold of the hem of your garment, but in faith I want to look up to you and as much as I know how, and grab hold of your garment. May your will be done” 

I wasn’t healed instantly. The flow of blood and irregular periods and infertility didn’t stop that day. (Although when I prayed, I almost felt like it would). But it was the beginning of many dealings that happened in my heart. 

I felt the question come to me, “why do you want to have children?” 

And I struggled over the answer. Really. I mean, of course there was this longing in my heart. There was that day at naptime in my pre-K class, and as I rubbed one girls back to help her sleep, I just knew that I wanted children of my own. I was one of 5 kids, as was my husband. I’d watched my siblings since I was 12. I’ve held countless babysitting and camp jobs. Working with kids was second nature.  

But then there was this deeper, more subtle part of me that wanted kids to be able to share my past with them and tell them who their mommy was. I wanted them to be able to climb up in the attic one day and go through all of mommy’s old stuff and share with them story upon story about all of my fun times and accomplishments and success in this world. And that’s when the Lord caught me again, with another question. (Let me just interject, that second desire with wanting to have kids to share and pass something down is probably a normal and decent one, but with me, the Lord needed to do some tweaking) 

“What do you really want to pass along to your children? Why do you want to pass along all that was outside of Christ? All that was vanity and pride and empty in my eyes?” 

And I was caught. I’d been here before, years earlier, after I had first consecrated my life to the Lord. I had felt Him asking me to be willing to count everything as loss (Philippians 4:7). During that time, many things were thrown away and left behind.  So I thought I had gone this way before. But this time the question was not just about me, but about my children, and what I wanted to pass down. Was I willing to let go of my children’s future? Was I willing to let go of their worldly accomplishments and careers and successes in this life, and entrust them wholly to God too?  

I still had no idea if I could ever had children. But the question was strong in my heart, as if God wanted me to deal with this. And I knew, I had to.  And so, by God’s grace, with breaking and tears, and in much communion with the Lord, I handed over to him many things that I knew I had been saving “to show my children one day”. If God never gave me children, what was the loss anyway? If He did, what did I want them to see in me? Did I want them to be all into my wordly accomplishments? Did I want them to know how well I did in this world, and who this world said I could be? Or did I want them to see Christ in me, and know that He is worth far more than anything this world can offer? Did I want them to see a life so into the world and the praise of men? Or a life laid down, for Him and for them, so that Christ could be lifted up.  

These were not special childhood toys or artwork or “innocent” souvenirs, I saved those types of things. But it was the “wordly” things, things from a part of my life before I was saved, that really only boasted of self and self’s accomplishments, those things I felt he asked for.  

Was I okay if He gave me a son that became a garbage man? Or a daughter that worked at McDonald's? Was in enough if my children just found Christ and became Christians who loved Jesus?  Or was my heart ambitious for another life for them, that I had to pass along and boast of the worldly successes and attitudes that He saved me from?  

What can I say? God arrested my heart, and got my attention. And thankfully, by His grace, I was able to surrender and obey. In July of 2009, I handed over the last of my “idols”. Just one month later, and exactly one year (to the week) from the time I prayed and told the Lord I wanted to “grab hold of the hem of his garment”, I got pregnant.  

Nine months later a new, priceless joy came into our world. We named him, Gabriel Micah. Micah means, “Who is like God”. Who is like God, who does all things well? Who is like God, who worked miracles in my life to heal me and open my womb and give me such a beautiful son? But even more, who is like God, to love me so much to withhold His precious gift until my heart was ready? To wait until I would pray. To wait until I could hear, and obey, and cooperate with Him. Until my heart could say, “yes, Lord, he is yours, and for your kingdom, and because of you, and to you and for your glory.”   

My Gabriel Micah is getting bigger now. And God has given us a beautiful girl too. More to come? Only He knows, but may my heart remember these truly are gifts from Him, for Him. Precious gifts entrusted to us, to be raised for Him and His glory alone. May this always stay in my heart.  

This article is not meant to be a formula or the “answer” as to how to get pregnant, but just one mom’s encouragement and testimony. God is a wonderful God who works with all of us differently according to what we need. His timing is perfect, His way is perfect. And for me, in my life, those questions, that delay, was exactly what I needed. I needed to “suffer much” at the hands of many physicians, so that my eyes would be lifted up to God. I needed years of infertility to break me and humble me, and make sure my ambition in having a child was right in God’s eyes. Maybe some of our friends in the world got pregnant the first month they tried, or maybe a sister at church has 5 kids without any struggle. But our God is personal and real and working all things for our good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Rom. 8:28). Some of us can get pregnant right away; some of us go through months and years of agonizing and prayer.  But God knows. His way is best. Don’t give up on Him. He has reasons. Seek Him out. Be willing to accept His will and be satisfied with what He has given just in the moment. Who is like our God? “He gives and takes away, He gives and takes away, my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name”**  

**Beth Redman | Matt Redman Blessed Be Your Name© 2002 

Published 2014,  Republished with edits, February 2018

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