How am I a woman?

My infertility journey struggles onward.  It is painful every single day.  I don’t know what to liken it to.  It feels like such a lonely suffering, unlike any other form I can understand. Many other physical deficits can be healed by modern technology.  Even people who have completely lost their limbs are able to have a prosthetic one put in place.  Yet, there is no guaranteed operation that will allow me to produce a child.  And sure, certainly there are surgeries that may have complications; for example, a triple bypass that won’t take, or chronic conditions that leave people in forever pain.  But none of those illnesses can prevent a woman from creating life and from bringing another human into this world.

I have heard, read, and seen many accounts from women and men describing birth as a miracle.  God’s miracle.  I think God knew women would suffer in this world in a uniquely profound way that is different from men, so he gave her this gift of reproduction, and chose her, specially, for that purpose.

So where does that leave me?  What does that make me?  How am I a woman?

I have all the parts to be a woman, I have all the traits of a woman.  But I can’t participate in the one thing that signifies womanhood.  I struggle so much with the notion that I am made like a woman, but I don’t function like a woman.  It seems like an unsolvable puzzle.  I daily feel like a mathematician, staring at a chalk board, numbers and variables stretching wide, while she scratches her head trying to figure out the right formula for a solution.  I wish I were the Will Hunting of fertility.  I pray for the ingenuity.

One of the biggest challenges I have when meditating with God about my infertility is the fact that He associates fertility with blessings.  So I can’t help but think that my inability to give birth is linked to a curse or some sort of evil that has befallen me.

Aside from the beautiful descriptions of Mary’s birth of Jesus and that foretelling, the Bible is littered with references about the blessings of birth:

Psalm 127: 3 says, “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward”;

Genesis 1:28, “God blessed them and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it…”;

Genesis 25:21, “Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was barren, and the Lord answered him, and Rebekah his wife conceived”;

1 Samuel 1:20, “It came about in due time after Hannah had conceived, and she gave birth to a son and named him Samuel, saying, ‘Because I have asked him of the Lord”;

Luke 1:13, “But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John”.

Psalm 113:9 “He makes the barren woman abide in the house as a joyful mother of children.  Praise the Lord!”

Every day I ask God, “Why won’t you bless me?”  And then at the same time, as if it’s an instinctual tick of faith, I am reminded of the unseen and unknown, for I know God is good, omniscient and omnipotent.  Perhaps God is preventing more pain that could come from a sick childbirth.  Perhaps he has a blessing in store and I’m just being impatient.  Perhaps He made me to be the mother to others’ children.  I know He is teaching me something in the waiting.  But as a woman of this world, my lack of blessings from childbirth leaves me feeling less than.

I recently joined a Sunday morning Biblical Women Bible study.  That’s why all of this is resurfacing.  The discussion asked us to reflect on where we find our value and meaning.  Is it in what our culture and society tells us it should be, or is it in Jesus?  Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, I am in right relationship with Him as an adopted child of God.  I am also loved, and made in God’s image.  So why don’t I feel that way?  I had a brief epiphany in the Bible study that morning, recognizing that I feel so rejected as a woman because I have been rejected by important women in my life.  My mother rejects me, my sister rejects me, and I even feel rejected by some of my girlfriends.  To top it all off, the world rejects me as a barren woman, and so I link that to God’s rejection and my ultimate abandonment.

I also struggle with Jesus understanding my suffering.  Jesus was a man.  He could never know the loss associated with a miscarriage or the inability to bear children.  He made me—-full of maternal yearning and instincts, and still nothing.

I do believe.  I believe God is good.  I believe God has a good plan.  I believe He is waiting for me to make Him first in my life, not this desired pregnancy.  It is a challenge every day as my friends have babies, as I get another invitation to a baby shower, as I walk around pregnant women at work.  Every day I am reminded that I’m not quite a woman.  And that is evil at work, I’m sure of it.  So this I pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, please keep the spirit of evil away from me as I walk this treacherous, lonely walk of infertility.  Thank you for the women in my life who have partnered with me, inspiring me to not give up hope and to listen to Your will.  And, God, I do pray that Thy will be done, for I know that whatever comes from You is better than anything I could ever imagine.  Please God, wrap me in Your peace and love and lift me up when I am sad.  God, give me patience and understanding.  Send me the Holy Spirit in the waiting and provide me confidence for a future as a mother.  Thank you for my husband who accepts me for this failure to reproduce, and bless him for his faithful, loving kindness in this area of weakness and vulnerability.  Help me to feel whole, Father.  Bless me.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

For those who are in Christ…

…There is no condemnation! (Romans 8:1) What a comfort this passage provides. If we have Christ in our hearts, there is no disapproval. In regards to the Lenten journey, Christians may feel tempted to give up if they falter, much like a New Year’s Resolution. Upon slipping once, it’s easy to say, “Well, I gave it a fair shot, better luck next time”. And instead of committing for a year, it’s just 40 days, and the guilt may set in at our weaknesses in the face of all that Christ was able to sacrifice. Journey on the Cross, the seasonal devotional, urges us not to give up, but instead, for those who have already fallen off the Lenten wagon, so to speak, to run to the cross. I love that imagery. If then were now, how many of us would be running to the cross. I hope that if I could transport back in time, knowing what I know now, I would humble myself in the sight of the Lord.

hope found at the cross

But we don’t need a physical representation to do it. We just need to embrace this moment, this opportunity to sacrifice and to communicate with God. He knows our strengths and our weaknesses. He’s waiting for us to confess them. And if we aren’t yet aware, He has been trying to reach us, we just need to silence those distractions which overtake His still small voice (1 Kings 19:12). Wouldn’t it be great if the truth about Lenten abstaining came like a stork in the night with a baby? We could wake up in the morning, look on the front step and open our special package. Would we follow it still? If God sent a personalized note informing me that it was His intention for me to give up my car for 40 days, would I do it? That is more daunting than pasta, which is a task in itself! I think this is a faith test like many other trials God provides us. It’s about knowing that the conversations we do have in the privacy of our homes and our hearts, are God-driven, and are expected to be followed, regardless of any hand-written note of approval letting us know we were on track.

faith is doing what God has called you to do

While I have been writing this post, I had a GOd wink. I was searching for appropriate photos to add to my commentary, when I came across the InstaLent Photo Challenge . God spoke to me to do something similarly. I will search the Bible for words that inspire me to focus on every day throughout Lent. Today’s word is inspiration. Tomorrow’s word is Listen. Can you think of any others?
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Sinner share #5 – Faith IS doing what God has called me to do. I know He has called me to be a kinder, more patient person and I have a hard time doing that. Years of hurt and anger and frustration with the way the world works inhibits my ability to love my neighbor and to bask in the light of His love. Self-absorption and pride are sources of evil and we need to arm ourselves with the armor of God. This I pray.

Ephesians 6:10-17 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

30-something share #5 – I am stuck. I want my husband to want to go through this journey with me, but he hasn’t. I know faith is personal, but I also had grandiose ideas that it would be a “we” activity that he would want to take part of daily. It doesn’t make me love him less, but it does leave me confused about how to engage in this with him enough to satisfy my, and not too much to aggravate him. I know God wants us to enjoy Him together, I just wish I could accept that whatever we have in our faith as a couple is enough. Do you have similar struggles with your partner?

Romans 14:3 – “The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him.”