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.

Faith in the Storms

faith in the stormAfter a long hiatus, I come back to the blog world as I continue my faith journey.  Part of why I disappeared was because of the writer in me that wouldn’t allow for imperfect posts.  I would read and re-read, edit and re-edit, and it was taking me hours to get out a single thought.  But after MUCH time off, reflection and inspiration from my amazing husband, I am back at it, understanding that the sharing is more important than the writing itself.  What’s more, NOTHING is perfect except God, so why aim for something I can never achieve?

This past year, specifically, has been the longest and most daunting faith walk I’ve ever had to take.  In my life.  My marriage has been through trials that I wish no woman would ever have to face.  My body has been through trials that I wish no woman would ever have to face.  And now I’m in Texas.  To sum it all up, God has been working in his miraculous, mysterious ways and has called my family to move from Massachusetts to Texas.  For what reason, we’re still not quite sure.  It’s only been three months, so we are confident that his purpose will be revealed soon.  But looking back, here’s how I have  often felt since my last post:

I have walked, or should I say trudged, through the storms, soaked, cold, chilled to the bone.  I have dropped to the muddy ground, sobbing in tears, begging for the tumultuous weather to stop.  I have crept up on my knees, with my arms open wide, neck stretched out to the sky, eyes straight into the tempest and screamed, “Why, God, whyyyyyyyy!?  What have I done to deserve this?!?!”

His answer?  Nothing.  It is not a punishment.  Our good God doesn’t work that way.  He provides opportunities to get our attention.  It’s all about getting our attention and re-focusing our eyes on Him and on the path He has set forth for us.  But that isn’t always the most comforting thought.  Out of habit I would sit and suffer in silence and brood over my misfortunes.  And the pain was real, and the suffering was agonizing.  But because I know God is good, I can acknowledge His presence, thank Him for the strength He has given me (and will ALWAYS give me) to weather life’s hurdles.  Because after the rains subside, there is life again.  There are lush, green pastures and oftentimes rainbows.  If we could only hold on to the hope of the rainbows, and remember in the squall that He is there providing the precipitation for a reason.  I know in heaven He will show me the reason for that suffering and that pain.  But for now, I work hard to demonstrate my faithfulness in the trials.  I am a sinner, but I have faith.  I encourage you to hold on to Hope because God has never, and will never, let you down.

In similar fashion to my previous posts, my blog will contain a prayer and a passage from Scripture.  It is my hope (and prayer) that you will be able to connect with the prayers, and Scripture regarding any storm you may be experiencing at this moment.

Sinner Share #8: It’s so hard for me to have faith in the storm.  The pain is so real and sometimes the answer and the value seem so far away and unattainable.  A pastor from my home church used to say that the opposite of faith isn’t doubt, that it’s fear.  And I’m afraid all the time.  I want to be a woman of faith and not of fear.

Prayer: Dear Father God in Heaven, You know my struggles.  You know my saddened heart.  God I’m sorry for the times I have lacked faith.  Dear God, I believe, please help my unbelief!  As a sinner, as a human I come to you for my strength for you are my Rock and my Redeemer.  All things are possible through You and You alone.  When I feel alone and abandoned, send me the Holy Spirit as a reminder of your ever present and everlasting love, mercy and grace.  I pray to you today, Father, for all of those readers who feel lost in their own personal storm.  May you bless those who are weak and weary, and send them Your peace and reminders of Your promise that the suffering will end, and that Your purpose will be revealed.  We love You and we need You.  Thank you, Father.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 23: 1-6 “The Lord is My Shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.  Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”