Monday, April 26, 2010

::but who's counting?::

Last week we officially hit the six year mark.  I know it doesn't really do me any good to keep counting up the years that we've been infertile, but I can't seem to help it. 

Surprisingly, even though I started a new cycle just as we hit that mark last week, it wasn't as discouraging as some of the other "anniversaries" have been in the past.  I remember being much more emotional around the first, second, and third year marks, easily spiraling into depression with each flip of the calendar.   It seemed to be the only thing I could think about, the thing that was defining my life.  I lived my life in two week increments.  With each failed cycle, with each passing month and then year, I felt like infertility was going to define the rest of my life, too.

Lately, I find myself not as much at odds with my infertility as I used to be.  Whereas it used to feel like I was wearing a choke collar with a vise-like grip, it now feels like an oddly comfortable, tattered t-shirt--something I wear not because I love it, but because I've been wearing it so long that it feels normal, familiar.  I would gladly take it off and wad it up, but instead of throwing it away I think I'd keep it somewhere close just so I can remember how God has used this form of pain in my life for my good and, hopefully, for His glory.  My husband was preaching yesterday, and he hit the topic of suffering in his walk through Zechariah 12-13.  One of the things that he said weighed on me with a fierce poignancy. Don't ask why you are suffering.  Scripture tells us that--it's to make you more like Jesus Christ.  Being conformed into His image will take you down the path of suffering.  Rather, ask how this suffering can be used to make you more like Christ. 

My husband is never a "three points and a poem" kind of preacher, but every so often he will read off some song lyrics that are heavy with good theology.  When he read this song by John Newton (author of "Amazing Grace")  I found my heart welling up with gratitude that God would use something in me to conform me to the image of His Son, even infertility.  Tears coursed down my cheeks as I listened to these words:

“I Asked the Lord That I Might Grow”
(John Newton, 1725-1807)
I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.

’Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“’Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”

If you've asked the Lord for growth and grace, then don't be surprised at the suffering you may endure (James 1:2-4).  And while infertility seems like such a small wound when compared to the physical suffering of saints around the world, don't discount it.  The Lord CAN use this to make you more like Jesus.  That is certainly what I desire for myself.

I've been listening to David Platt's "Radical" series, and I have to say, it is one more way that the Lord has opened my eyes to my small view of the Gospel and of God.  I urge you--don't let your life be defined by infertility.  Instead, be known by how Christ is seen in your life and in your sufferings.  Remember that our time here is so short and we are here to make Him known.  If God uses infertility in your life to point you to Christ, then rejoice that He is at work in you!  You can hurt and rejoice at the same time.  This is what I have learned in six years.  You can hurt and rejoice at the same time.  God is faithful and sovereign, and He is at work for the good of those He has called to Himself. 


Friday, April 9, 2010

::can i be content with one arrow?::

I always wanted a bunch of kids.  Like, four or five.  Two boys and two girls, of course.  Close enough in age to be friends and play well together, far enough apart to give my body a break in between pregnancies because from what I hear, labor and delivery are wicked rough on your body.  But still...several kids sounded nice.  And all of them looking like us with my eyes, his nose, my big smile, his long eyelashes. 

This, I think, is why infertility is such a hard pill to swallow.  Not only is it the death of a dream, it's the death of many dreams.  For many of us, it's not that we can't have a's that we can't have babies, children.  It's that someone shot a hole through our visions of a house bursting at the seams with children.  All of a sudden, you picture yourself decades from now mourning the constant quiet in your house, the echoing walls that never became kids' rooms, the deafening silence absent of infantile crying, sweet laughter, and childish imaginary play.  It's too much to dwell on...a future without children.  The years seem like they will stretch out in front of you, seemingly purposeless.  Infertility won't always translate into that, but it seems that way sometimes, doesn't it?

Having walked the path of adoption and finding myself blessed to be the mother of one, I ask myself often if I can be content with one child.  It's been the topic of recent posts here, and it's on my mind a lot. When I'm reading Scripture and run across Psalm 127, I wonder if I can be happy with one arrow in my quiver.
"Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them."  It sure seems to me like a lot of kids equals a lot of blessings.  I don't think it's wrong for me to desire that.

But, is it wrong to dwell in discontent as long as I've got one arrow?  For me, it always comes back to this...contentment.   I couldn't be more thankful for my sweet son, Isaiah.  He brings me so much joy.  My husband and I are savoring these precious moments at the end of our son's babyhood.  And now that we've got this beautiful kid, we now know what we were missing out on before.  And I think that's why we want more children....because we know what we will be missing out on if we don't have any more.

Right now, though, I've been hanging out in a purgatory of contentment.  I definitely long for more kids, but I'm really just trying to relish this, trying to truly grasp the sweetness of these days with my son.  I know that Lord willing, we have a lifetime with Isaiah, but these moments of smallness are so fleeting and have passed by so quickly.  I long to enjoy them again with another child or two or three.  But it's just not that easy to add to our family.

While I don't truly think our family is complete, I wonder if I could handle it if I knew that it was complete.  Would I reconcile myself to God's sovereignty over the size of my family?  It seems like such a backward question to ask when I look around me and see so many people who are quick to turn down the blessing of a big quiverful of children.  Just as many people don't trust God with the size of their families because they fear having too many children, I must learn to trust Him with the size of my family, though I fear it will be too small a family. This wrestling with contentment and sovereignty is truly the heart of the matter when it comes to my infertility.
Do I really believe that God is good in His design for my life?
Do I really trust Him, even if it means only one sharp little arrow?
Would I have believed it if my quiver had remained empty for life?
Will I ever be able to say with the apostle Paul, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances" (Phil. 4:11)???

 I guess I will find out. 

Oh Lord, help me to live in a posture of contentment. I have so many reasons to be content.

Monday, April 5, 2010

::post on adoptive mothering::

If you're interested, check out my guest post at My Busy Home, my friend Sheila's blog.   Also, check out Sheila's archives as well as her other blog, Momfessions.
*This post is about being an adoptive mom after infertility.  If you're not up to reading about becoming a mother, please feel free to skip this post.*