For some time I’ve been wanting to share with you a letter that I had written to the coordinator of the one and only (in)fertility conference we have attended. To set the stage for you, this was written in October 2009 after a very spiritually difficult year. By spiritually difficult I mean that my only conversations with God were “I’m still mad and not talking to you.” Yes, I mean that literally.
In case you don’t read all the way through it, I just wanted to say how vitally important I now believe conferences like this are for those struggling with infertility. We struggled for years on our own…maybe the occasional venting session with a fellow infertile, but could just kick ourselves for not attending something like this sooner. No matter how far you have to travel, find a conference (or support group) and GO – make it happen.
Oh, and one last thing before the letter – if it sounds familiar to anyone (albeit unlikely), yes, an edited version of this was published in the Stepping Stones newsletter some time ago. And, yes, as I re-read this, I did make some minor changes, but nothing major.
I wanted to share with you a story about some events that transpired after my husband and I left the conference yesterday.
Somewhere in the many books that I have read, I remember the author saying that we must pay attention to ‘unexpected tears’ because it is in those particular tears that you’ll find the heart of the matter. So, on our way home we were talking about things we shared in our groups as well as what we thought about various aspects of the day. As we were sharing with each other, we compared the things that affected us deeply, or in my case, caused those unexpected tears. It was really surprising because my husband was affected by the video that was shared about parents who, through various methods, had children – he struggled watching the people who were able to finally become parents. He said he wondered why you showed a video of people enjoying the one thing that everyone in that room desperately wanted and couldn’t have. His struggle is in the fact that he wants to be a dad and it’s just not happening right now. On the other hand, my hurt is centered around the fact that I feel betrayed by God for not giving us the blessings that He has given so many others. While it may not seem like a big difference to some, it is a pretty big difference to me. I cry every time I hear someone talk about God’s plan, purpose or will…even his goodness. To me it is so much more than just not having children, it’s the fact that I feel God is purposefully withholding from me my heart’s desire…or even that He purposefully took away my heart’s desire (like a cruel joke) when we miscarried. That is what has caused me to be so very angry with God. For example, if He is trying to teach me patience – just say ‘no’ or ‘wait’ rather than tricking me by allowing me to get pregnant with a child He had no intention of growing. That’s just cruel. Because of my faith I understand that our infertility isn’t God’s fault, but rather a results of living in a fallen world. However, by faith I also understand that God can do miracles and that He is effectively choosing to withhold that miracle from someone (me) who has faithfully followed Him her entire life. I just don’t understand how or why He would do that when he has full almighty power to do anything He wants. Why NOT intervene on my behalf?
Later that night, I wanted to look up the Psalm you read. I couldn’t find my ‘good’ Bible, so I picked up one of the many others we have lying around. I read the Psalm and thought it was interesting and applicable – a little feather to put in my cap. Then as I can only describe as a Holy Spirit prompting, I searched again for my own Bible. I found it, wiped off the dust, and turned to Psalm 77. I read the first verses and kept reading because I was surprised to see that I had some notes a little later in the chapter. I always loved to write in my Bible and this particular Bible had very wide margins – perfect for note taking, although I haven’t done much of that in the last few years. Well, sometime between 5 and 10 years ago I had written the following in the left margin around verses 11-15:
When God seems so far away, I must remember all the great things He has done and get into His word. Actively decide to change my habits because God didn’t move – I did. This is, along with a lot of prayer and trusting, the way to return to God.
On the right hand margin I continued with the following,
Review evidence of God’s lovingkindness. Our faith is nourished by developing a strong sense of God’s acting in the past so that we begin to count on Him to act consistently with His character in the future – again and again and again.
I cannot describe to you the emotions that I felt as I sobbed and realized how quickly I could lose site of the loving God that I had known my entire life. God has been nothing but generous and kind to me my entire life – given me far beyond what I can imagine or deserve, and yet how quickly that is forgotten the first time He has really told me “no” or “wait” (we’re not sure yet). How could I so quickly dismiss the loving character of God when He has given me so much evidence to the contrary? I still don’t know what He has in store for us, but I can tell you that something changed inside of me yesterday. My God, the God who created the universe loves me. I may not understand what He’s doing right now, but I know I can rely on His character and how He has treated me my entire life, to now know that He does have a plan – and that plan is to prosper us and give us hope for the future. Of course that also prompted me to turn to Jeremiah 29:11 where I found the following note:
We need to:
1. Trust God to do what is best for us
2. Look for ways to honor God in our present situation
3. Remember God will not abandon us
4. Watch for God’s plan for us
So, I just wanted to share all that with you. Sorry if it’s long, I just thought it might bring a smile to your face as you realize that while we had a very small group yesterday – lives were changed as a result of your ministry.
p.s. After spending some personal time with God yesterday, I asked Him what we are supposed to do now. The only response I could even vaguely hear was to pray for direction with my husband. So, when my husband came to bed I very frankly told him that God wanted him to pray with me. He laughed and then realized I was really very serious. So, he prayed and we still don’t have answers, but at least we’re praying about it together.
Psalm 77 (NIV)
1 I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands,
and I would not be comforted.
3 I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.[b]
4 You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
5 I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
6 I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart meditated and my spirit asked:
7 “Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”
10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
13 Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
16 The waters saw you, God,
the waters saw you and writhed;
the very depths were convulsed.
17 The clouds poured down water,
the heavens resounded with thunder;
your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
your lightning lit up the world;
the earth trembled and quaked.
19 Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen.
20 You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.