My Faith

I’m going to start with the cliché, but I promise I won’t stay here long: I was born and raised in a Christian home. As a child I loved going to church and one night after AWANA I came home to my parents and told them I wanted to accept Christ as my personal Savior. My dad led the discussion and even though I was young, I truly believe that I understood this decision and at that time fully gave my life to God.

As a teenager I was very involved in my youth group, the church drama club, and used every excuse to be at church. I loved participating in extra Bible Studies, mission projects, and especially retreats and summer camps. My faith was growing each and every day. I loved God and had a passion for serving Him.

In college my faith started growing stagnant. I became frustrated that I couldn’t keep my promises to God to spend more time with Him. I was still very involved in church, after all – my husband was the Youth Pastor, but my personal relationship with God was almost non-existent. After a few years of struggling in my relationship with God, I came to realize that instead of focusing on doing all the right things (not doing the wrong things was the easy part for me) that I needed to simply allow God to work in and through me. I realized that my relationship with God wasn’t dependent on what I did and didn’t do and that His love for me didn’t waver along with my actions. I knew the concept in my head, but it took me a long time for that to translate into my heart. Had I not learned these concepts at this time in my life, I would have never made it through the trial that was still to come.

In the summer of 2008, my faith was severely shaken when we miscarried our first child. We had already been trying to have a child for a few years and I did not understand how God in all of His power, would give me a child that He had no intention of growing…especially after we had waited so long to conceive. This was the beginning of a very dark valley in my life.

Almost a year later, we got our second positive pregnancy test. I went in for my first blood test and everything looked good, but I was nervous after our last experience. Through sobbing tears one night, I begged God to protect this child. Surely God would answer His child who had devoted her entire life to Him. How could he ignore my cries and take another child away from me? The next day our second blood test results were in – my HCG levels had not doubled and I would most likely miscarry in another few days. As the blood started to flow, my fury deepened.

Later that year we attended a fertility conference in our area. As we sat in the room with other couples experiencing the same things we were going through, my heart began to soften. I shed many tears that day as I begun to understand the full breadth of my hurt – I was not just sad over my lack of children or even my losses. I was angry and hurt that I had lost my best friend. I had loved and trusted God my entire life and now, at the time I needed him most, I felt abandoned. By faith I knew that He had all power to control life, to open and close wombs, and yet He chose not to intervene on my behalf. Why was I so unworthy of these great blessings?

As we returned home that night, God continued to work in my heart as I wrestled with these questions. Through what I can only describe as a prompting of the Holy Spirit, I was led to read Psalms 77. Around verses 11-15, I found the following note written in the margin of my Bible:

“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 habit, because God didn’t move – I did. This is, along with a lot of prayer and trusting, the way to return to God.

Review evidence of God’s loving kindness. Our faith is nourished by developing a strong sense of God 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 do not remember when I wrote this nor what context it was written in at the time, but it was what I needed to hear at the time I was ready to hear it. God was the same God that had loved and protected me my entire life. He was the same God who put me in a Christian family who loved me, the same God who protected me from most of life’s heartaches as a child, and the same God who led me to my husband who has been the most amazing picture of God’s love in my life. No, God did not change – He was still there, He still loved me, and He was never going to let me go.

Since this great revelation I would love to say that my heart was perfectly healed and I went from the darkest valley to the highest mountain top. But, such is life, there are no fairy tale endings. Even after the birth of our daughter in August 2010, I still struggle with my relationship with God. At best, I was at ‘break even’ again. But who wants to be at break even? Ok, fine, I was perfectly happy with being at break even at the time. Now almost two years (and another baby girl) later, I am no longer content with just surviving. I want more. I want my vibrant relationship with God to be restored. I want to be on that mountain. While I may not know how to get there again, I am officially ready and willing.

6 Responses to My Faith

  1. Diane says:

    Annie, I hear your heart cry. God hears that heart cry, and He WILL bring you to that mountain again. Just continue to seek Him and give Him control of any and all areas of your life. His Holy Spirit will come to you if you ask Him to. He loves you more than you know!

  2. Michiko says:

    Hi Annie, thank you for sharing your story. I currently suffer from secondary infertility…I’m 43 and have had two miscarriages in the last 2.5 years. How do you continue having a strong relationship with God when this heartache becomes so overwhelming?

    • akarel says:

      To me it has never really been an option to completely fall away from my faith in God because I believe so deeply in my being that He exists. I’m not sure how one believes in the existence of an Almighty Creator God full of infinite love for His people, but decides they don’t want anything to do with Him. That said, I’m not sure that one could truly characterize my relationship with God as ‘strong’. There was a time when the only words I spoke to Him were “I’m still mad and not talking to you”…and being at least a little relieved that I was at least communicating with Him again (after a long silence). It’s almost like the old marriage advice of ‘never go to bed angry’. The advice isn’t ‘never fight with your spouse’ it is that when your fight you resolve it, quickly, knowing that you have years ahead of you and wasting time being perpetually angry is just silly. I always knew that I would one day be ‘resolved’ with God, that I would look back in awe at how He built our family, what He did in our lives, and maybe, just maybe, even thank Him for ALL that we had gone through to get there. It was an unfathomable resolution and with all of my being I couldn’t imagine how He would work it out, how He would restore my heart to Him, but I knew that my God was big enough to one day make that happen. It was a LOOOONG process because I am a very strong willed woman. That strong will, though, was the one thing that made it impossible for me to throw my hands up and say ‘forget it’ to God and toss Him away permanently. I just couldn’t do it…even on days I wanted to when the pain was so deep that I didn’t see how I could ever come out of it. This last Friday was my third child’s birthday (first child born on earth). On Facebook I posted her picture and this:

      Four years ago I received the most precious gift…I became a mommy to a beautiful little girl who I could finally hold in my arms, love and care for, cherish and raise to know the God who gave her to us. The years of infertility (including two babies born in Heaven) had damaged my heart, barely leaving room for the hope that the day would finally come, but come it did and God continued His work of restoring my heart. Now, four years later that precious miracle baby is so full of life and love that my heart can barely contain the joy that she brings. Strong willed, so smart, so full of energy, she is amazing. Happy Birthday, Jessica. I still cannot believe how incredibly blessed we are that you are in our family.

      God healing my heart began before we got pregnant with her, but it was a very long process, one that I still struggle with. For ages people would ask me to pray for them and the first response of my heart was “you don’t want me to pray for you, God doesn’t listen to me.” I’ve come a long way, but I look back and think “if that was a test, I completely failed – miserably.” I’ve often though of how I could have handled it better, how I could have kept my faith more strong and I still don’t know the answer. I don’t think I could have responded any differently. I was so far outside my capacity to deal with our situation, being told “no” by God was so new to me, I was so young and immature in my faith even though I was a long-time Christian. I had absolutely no capacity to hold on any tighter than I did and I know how paper thin my grasp on God was. The only credit here is to God who never loosed His strong grip on me. Never gave up. Never let me go. Decided I was worth restoring to Him rather than allowing me to ‘be His child’ but one that would forever be ‘estranged’ (that was my real fear in this process).

      p.s. Sorry for the delayed response. Our third child (surprise free baby boy) was born a few days after this response and I’ve barely had time to do anything since. My blogs (both of them) have been dormant for a long time. We had a sermon this morning, though, that inspired me to start a new blog post and when I logged in I saw a few notifications. Stay tuned for that post as it’s right in line with this conversation. 🙂

  3. Lindsey Cook says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey. As I read your posts I found myself crying because everything you wrote is how my husband and I have felt for the past 6 years. We’ve had a long journey too (including a miscarriage and failed ivfs). I praise God for my healthy baby girl but long to have one more child. Thank you for sharing your faith and for reminding me that God will never let me go.

  4. Karla says:

    Thank you. It’s comforting to hear that others have experienced this. My faith that He Can give us a 2nd child, a sibling for our surprise free baby, was never in question. I know God can, I’m just screaming why. But 4 years of infertility treatments an thousands of dollars later I just feel foolish.

    • akarel says:

      I have often felt that it was harder knowing He CAN, which in my mind meant that He was choosing not to and that made me very angry for a very long time. I lost sight of the goodness of God. It’s so so so hard to wait and not know what He has in store, to enjoy the now instead of focusing on the what’s next. It’s a journey, not just the waiting for a child, but a journey of faith as we wrestle with the goodness of God when He seems to be withholding our deepest desire. Thank you for you’re note – it’s good for us to know we are not alone in this journey. 🙂

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