Grateful in the Waiting
“Let’s play house!” “Let’s play baby dolls!” “I’ll be the Mommy and you be the kids!”
Playtime for little girls naturally gravitates towards home, family, and most specifically, towards mothering. Engrained into our feminine DNA is the Creator’s design for a woman to bring forth life from her body and nurture that miraculous creation with every fiber of her being.
However, bringing forth life is impossible without full surrender. To bring forth life in our hearts, Christ surrendered His own on the Cross. To bring forth babies, I’ve observed my sister and sister-in-law lay aside their comfort, physique, their sleep, cute clothes and even careers to carry, deliver and raise little boys. Any woman would agree that if, in marriage, a denying of self is required to become bonded with one’s husband, then a full sacrifice of any remaining shred of “self” is willingly surrendered in motherhood.
As it should be.
“I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the Adversary to speak reproachfully.” 1 Timothy 5:14 KJV
“She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:15 and 31:27 KJV
My life hasn’t been a dream come true. Playing perfect little house with my perfect little dolls with their perfect plastic hair and their perfect blinking eyes that compliantly close when laid down for naps is a sweet, childish game of pretend. And honestly, does any infant actually go down for naps that easily? Real life so mirrors, yet opposes, playing house.
A prime example of this juxtaposition is the complexity of fertility.
In my words here, I hope to lay to rest any mounting questions and offer a new perspective on childlessness.
Growing up the eldest of five in a large, boisterous family with lots of cousins and a refrigerator door that never seemed to close, I always envisioned myself eventually mothering the same…or more! I imagined a whole slew of children to snuggle and raise in Godly character. For me, my grown-up ideal of “playing house” was the mature recognition that a child is the one and only eternal gift I could give back to my Creator. Oh sure, I can give Him tithes and offerings or praise and prayer. I can play piano for church or feed the hungry, but bearing and raising a child to give to the Lord is eternal…because people are eternal. In that regard, I understand barren Hannah’s willingness to return her son, Samuel, to the Lord.
“And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of this life.” 1 Samuel 1:11 KJV
Is not the whole of Scripture about dying to ourselves so Christ could live through us in incremental, ever increasing measures?
Let me be clear. Infertility and losing children too soon is a no good, terrible, gut wrenching, horrible thing.
But so was the Cross where Christ surrendered His life for me – knowing I would fuss and complain about my light and momentary struggles – which work in me a far greater glory and character. Christ’s death and resurrection enable me to overcome and bear fruit, even when question marks remain.
As surrender is foundational for conceiving, carrying and giving birth, so it is foundational with childlessness.
I have definitely wrestled with the irony of this type surrender. I’ve grappled with addressing my own heart on the matter of fertility. I’ve traversed the anger and self-pity, the sorrow and ache, the confusion and injustice and returned home to the bedrock of God’s sovereignty. I’ve covered the dictionary attempting to assign words to the depth of emotion I was surprised to realize existed in my carefully compartmentalized, analytical and disciplined heart. I prefer order, and emotional expression isn’t, well, it isn’t very orderly. It’s more like blubber. I’ve stumbled to formulate the ebb and flow of my position on infertility with the one dearest and nearest to me, my husband. I’ve withheld my views on the matter to protect those who have walked similar roads. I’ve kept quiet because, truthfully, my womb is no one else’s business. (Insert: “When are y’all gonna have a baby?” is the rudest, most insensitive question on the planet. It’s akin to asking, “How much do you weigh?” or “How much money does your husband earn?” only far more stinging. Don’t ask others about their plans for reproducing. Just don’t.) I’ve also refrained from broaching this topic because I have unique convictions about birth control and fertility medicine. I’ve closed up in fear of the opinion of friends who might think there is a curse on me, or I don’t have enough faith or I need to repent more. Do not misunderstand! Spiritual roots to chronic problems in life are a very real, quite Biblical thing. There is undoubtedly a Biblical element of Truth to examining a Believer’s life and family tree when evidence of the enemy is at play. In my life, spiritual roots to disease were a “piece of the pie” that my husband and I comprehensively addressed. We continually walk with contrite hearts before the Lord on the matter. So, there’s that.
My life has been fraught with disease. So much so, that according to the medical community I could – and probably should – be dead. True story. I do really well physically, yet my body bears battle scars. I deal with the residue of disease on a daily basis. However, much to the chagrin of the Adversary, I am still kicking! I am still alive and proclaiming the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!
At any moment in time, God could intervene and change my story. Today, though, these are the facts:
- I have never been pregnant.
- I battle secondary infertility.
- I’ve beaten dire diagnoses. I see no reason why I won’t beat this one.
- I feel the “leftovers” of disease in my body every day.
- I have been robbed by the enemy – NOT God and NOT myself. God will vindicate and redeem.
- I choose faith and joy.
- I do not have this figured out and, in time, will likely rearrange my position.
- I have peace that passes my finite understanding.
- I am unsure if I have hope for pregnancy. Or, maybe my hope waxes and wanes.
- I believe God makes the barren fruitful and a joyful mother of children.
- I don’t understand, but I know God is good. I praise Him.
- I recognize I can be fruitful, “bearing,” abundant and yes, even fertile, in my present state.
- I barely think about childlessness and sometimes battle guilt that not thinking of it makes me weird.
- I am not (usually) as sad as others envision.
- I am human, though, and infrequently the acute sadness gets me and I cry.
- I rejoice when God blesses others with children. To do any less is envy, pity and sin.
- I am content.
- I don’t have a void in my life that only a child can fill.
- I am grateful for the countless other blessings God’s seen fit to give me.
- I am happy!
- I do not want you to be sad for me.
- I know my husband would make a wonderful Father.
- I crazy LOVE my nephews!
- I stand secure in my identity in Christ.
- I see a world that needs Jesus; let me at ‘em!
- I do enjoy my quiet, clean house!
- I possess and will progress in an eternal, Kingdom purpose.
- I have a mother’s heart.
- I surrender.
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now life in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 KJV
When I gave my life to Christ, I gave Him my uterus. It is okay with me if you don’t understand that. It is a rare concept that I have only heard one other woman utter. She’s raised nine little ones. My husband and I maintain a tender heart for children because God has a tender heart for children. So whether the Lord blesses me with one dozen or none, I yield to His plan and ability to work all things for my good – as He sees fit.
God’s Idea is better than mine
Oh sure, the variables don’t add up. But, do they ever? It’s baffling how teenagers can hold hands and – “oops” – make a baby, or couples who really don’t seem fit to parent reproduce with ease. Adoption costs and the amount of red tape to qualify are staggering. Regarding the aborted babies my empty arms would welcome, well, it’s unwise to allow my thoughts to venture down that road. And yet, in all these fleshly musings, I don’t have a desire to interfere with conception. Early in our marriage, long before we knew our situation, my husband and I entrusted the size of our family to God. For us, that looks like no birth control and no fertility medicine. Just surrender. Ours are very unique opinions and unusual medical circumstances; my body has endured so much. We don’t form perceptions of others who choose differently. It’s such a personal matter, isn’t it? For me, I am obliged to yield those type aspects of life to the Author of life itself. I believe He has a better idea for planning my family than I could imagine. I relate to Mary, Mother of Jesus, in her prayer:
“And Mary said, behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word.” Luke 1:38 KJV
My life has not been a dream come true. I stated that earlier. Yet in actuality, even in the midst of unpredictable challenges, my life is better than my young and girlish dreams!
“For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory: While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Embracing heartache and joy as they roll in and out as an ocean tide increasingly proves how my choice to surrender is better than a dream. Challenges uniquely deepen my conviction and character. They embolden me to make the Enemy rue the day he ever sought to steal, kill or destroy me. I’m better on the backside of every difficulty I’ve overcome. I don’t enjoy struggles, but I value their fruit.
Dreams are fleeting. Surrender endures.
So, you wonder, “Does she even like children or know anything about them?” Oh, yes! Yes, I do! I’ve invested into the lives of many, many little ones as a big sister, big cousin, nanny, piano, preschool and Sunday school teacher. The fresh scent of a baby, the wondering eyes of adventurous preschoolers, and the amusing behavior of middlers as they try to decide whether they want to behave as children or grown-ups are all precious to behold. Those delights are what make me motherly even though I’m childless.
I love children. It bothers me that I’m deemed unqualified to weigh in on parenting matters because I haven’t borne my own. Parenting is about shepherding the heart of a child, and my journey’s been quite an effective teacher on Biblical matters of the heart. If anything, my biggest regret is that I’m missing out on the opportunity to do Deuteronomy 6 with my own family.
“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt TEACH THEM DILIGENTLY unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when though walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” Deuteronomy 6:5-7 KJV
The ongoing conversation between my husband and me is never, “We want a baby!” Firstly, we weep – literally, we weep – in gratitude that I am alive. Secondly, we are fine without 3:00am feedings and deciding whether or not to vaccinate!
Rather, we dream about how special it would be to train tiny people. We would love to experience teaching our children the Word of God in a way they KNOW its power, authority and are able to discern, overcome and be a light to the world. I am convinced even the youngest among us can appropriate the Word that way, if properly trained. Raising children to love God and serve others is the aspect of parenting we ponder in our hearts.
In the intermittent messiness of my normally un-messy thoughts and in the emptiness of my arms, my heart is full.
Why wouldn’t it be?
I am so very, profoundly glad to be ALIVE, to be in my Heavenly Father’s family, to have the salvation of Jesus and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. And tangibly, I cherish the arms of my husband to hold me when the tears do come.
A Believer’s purpose is to surrender.
A woman’s purpose is to bring forth life.
Surrender brings forth life.
Let it be so in me, Lord.
“I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11 KJV
“But Godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6
“When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, the Lord hath done great things for them. The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the south. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126 KJV