Be Bold {let your light shine}

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I wish I could tell you that it is “easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy” (as my 5-yr-old likes to say) to parent children who have been adopted or to be a foster parent.  I’d love to say that once a child enters your home either for foster care or adoption, all problems go away and it’s just downhill and smooth-sailing from there.  It would be fantastic for me to declare that I never second-guess myself and that we are all about lollipops, rainbows, and laughter.  However, if I were to say any of these things, my words would be false.  They would not bear a truthful witness to what it is to be a parent through adoption.

A few months ago, I started praying/speaking these words to God, “What do you want me to do with my life?”  “What do you want from me?”  One morning while praying, I heard the words, “BE BOLD.”  A little startled at the immediate response, I asked, “What do you mean?”  

“BE BOLD.”  The words were clear, concise and not complicated.

Several months have passed and to be honest, I just kind of ignored this answer.  I know the Lord told me to be bold but it was just too simple of a declaration.  I am a detail-oriented person and the two-word response to my prayer just didn’t cut it.

With the dawning of a New Year, the Lord’s answer of “Be bold” has never strayed too far from my mind.  I wonder, friend, if His words are not only meant for my ears but also for yours.

For prospective foster and adoptive families, you need to know that being bold is imperative.  It’s more than just declaring an injustice in what you are witnessing.  It requires a stillness of faith AND a movement of courage.  

Being bold, in the sight of others who do not understand, is necessary.

When you are asked, “Why in the world would you want to do that?”, be bold.

When people say to you, “I would never subject my own kids to that”, be bold.

When you are quivering in fear over what is going to happen with a child you love, be bold.

When you have the opportunity to love on biological parents, please, by all means, be bold.

Foster parenting and adoption both have this funny way of knocking people to their knees.  We fall down time and again, but we get up.  We wonder what we are doing and why in the heck are we doing it, but we keep on.  In the face of many obstacles and trials, we stand up.  We are bold.

When parenting children who come from extremely difficult situations, we learn of our own blessings and our own stumbling blocks.  Their histories collide with ours and we realize how different life could have been for us if we were handed down the same hardships these children have been dealt.

I know the saying of “What would happen if you weren’t afraid?”  It’s fine and everything but I like this version better:  “What would happen if you were bold?” 

Since we have such a hope, we are very bold… -2nd Corinthians 3:12

How could your courage and boldness literally change the course of a child’s or adult’s life?

What would your boldness show to children who look up to you?

How could you make an eternal difference for someone?

What if you took that darned thing called infertility, grabbed it by the neck and said, “No. I’m not going down that way”?

What if you become a foster parent and take in kiddos that absolutely soak up your love and attention?

What if you step outside of your preconceived comfort zone and foster a large sibling group, older youth or ones with special needs?

What could happen if you decide tomorrow to wake up declaring that boldness is the only way to live?

We are well on our way into 2018.  We don’t know what we will have to face or overcome as the year unfolds but let’s live this year with a boldness that leaves an impression.

Shine your light, friends.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16

 

If you are considering foster care or adoption, my wish is that fear would not stop you.  It isn’t easy, but it is so worth.

Goal for 2018:  Let others see that boldly living and courageously loving is a remarkable way to live.

Question:  How are you going to live boldly this year?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

Dear Infertility (Part 4)

Dear Infertility,

I was reminded of you today.  I was out picking up Christmas presents for my children.  You know…

the ones you swore I would never have.

As I was waiting outside to pick up a big package, a kind gentleman began boasting about the love he has for his little girls.  I concurred with him that girls really are quite special.  I love hearing Father’s speak kindness about their daughters.  He spoke about their ages, and that he would not trade them for anything in the world.

Dear Infertility, I agreed with him.  I would not trade my daughter for anything in the world either.

As the conversation progressed, he mentioned that in just a few short years, things will be different with his daughters.  Their bodies will be changing, and he is concerned that he will not fully understand what they are going through.  He pointed out that he would “Send them to their mother” for answers.

“You know what I mean, right?”  he asked me.

I was caught in a moment of not being sure what to say.  The cold wind whipped around me as if it knew it would not take a lot to push me off of my feet.  I nodded at him, and then said,

“Yes, girls are awfully interesting.”

Dear Infertility, the truth is, I do not know all that he meant.  You changed my life as a girl.  Well, maybe not just you.  My illness, my hysterectomy, and the aftermath that followed, all played intricate parts in the unfolding drama of this life.  All of you took away that unique experience that makes up life in a female body.  The normal path I was born to take came to an abrupt dead-end.  In its place, a new path emerged that diverted from the one taken by every other girl I knew.

Thinking about you feels as though I’m watching you from a rear-view mirror.  You are in the distance, slightly distorted, and not as close as you once were.  I can only see parts of you, but you are still there.  Looking back causes my body to ache just a bit, as if it remembers the pain it once carried.  It winces.  It freezes up.  It will not forget.

Dear Infertility, it appears as though I will never be fully free of you.  Just when I have let you go, or do not feel you anymore, you come raging back at me.  You come up behind me so quickly that I coil back into that girl who once wondered what the heck life was going to be like living as a girl, growing into a woman, and being forced to meander through a baby-bearing world.

As my daughter grows up, I will face you again, and again.  I will have to admit that I do not understand what she is going through as her body starts to change.  I will have to ask for help in explaining it all to her, or better yet, so that I can understand it as well.

Do you know how much that actually frightens me?

Dear Infertility, I will keep my eye on you.  I will continue looking back in that rear-view mirror just to make sure you have not snuck-up on me again.  I will especially watch you as my daughter draws nearer to the age where her God-given body starts to fulfill the experience of life as a female.

I was honest when I replied to the gentleman that, “Yes, girls are awfully interesting.”  It is true.  Girls are interesting in so many ways.

Dear Infertility, because of you, my life as a girl has been very interesting, indeed.

Related Posts:  Dear Infertility 

                         Dear Infertility (Part 2)

                         Dear Infertility (Part 3)

Dear Infertility (Part 3)

Dear infertility,

I ran into you the other day.  You’ve changed.  I hardly recognize you anymore. I’m sure you could say the same thing about me.

Do you remember the first time we met?  I was young and sick.  I was vulnerable, and innocent in so many ways.  I didn’t understand you at all, and you did nothing to help me understand you.  Instead, you covered me like tar.  I tried to shake you off, but you stuck.  Even worse, as I grew up, you became harder to remove from my skin, my thoughts, and my heart.

You stalked me.  You ridiculed me, and you made me believe false things about myself, and about my future.  I was forced to wear you like some uncomfortable skin.  Everywhere I looked, I saw you.  I could not look at a child, and not think of you.  I heard you hissing painful reminders to me, and I felt you pound on my heart each time I tried to picture myself as a mother.

Oh, you met me where I was at alright.  You confronted me in each vulnerable moment of my life.  You chose to mix me up.  You twisted my thoughts, and tore at me.  You even tried to make me believe that I was half the female my friends were. You made me question my design, my worth, and my purpose.  You did your very best to take me down….didn’t you?

Infertility…you are not bigger than you think you are.  You have claimed power in so many people’s lives, but, you are only powerful when preying on people’s weaknesses and insecurities.

Infertility…you are despicable. 

Can I tell you something?  I felt you tremble a little when I was confronted with the love and the hope of Christ.  My Father met me where I was at, but unlike you, He wrapped a blanket of hope, forgiveness, and shelter for the future.  My regrets slid off of my skin when I encountered Him.

One day, I will stand before my Father in Heaven, and you will not be standing there next to me.  You will not be my sidekick, my story, or my painful moment of life.  You will be gone…gone…gone!  

I used to think that when I got to Heaven, I would ask about you.  I wanted to have a deep discussion about why you came at me like you did.  I do not need this conversation anymore.  I have my answer….I HAVE MY ANSWER.  My answer is a blue-eyed, Tomboy who loves her daddy, a blonde-haired charmer who is always one step ahead of me, and a little brown-eyed babe who loves to cuddle.

My answer is the redemption I found in the unstoppable, unfailing love of Christ, and in the unfolding chapters that have been written for my life.  You did not write my future out.  You did not dictate how my life would go, even though you thought you would. You were wrong.  You were so very wrong.

Dear infertility, I ran into you the other day.  You look different from what you used to look like.  I hardly recognize you anymore, and you feel so different now.  You are lighter…barely even noticeable.  You seem so small and weak compared to how you used to be.

Funny thing is….I must look different too….I must feel different to you.

Truth is….I AM different from the person I used to be, and, praise God for that.

2 Corinthians 5:17-Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Related Posts:

Dear Infertility

Dear Infertility (Part 2)

Dear Infertility (Part 2),

Dear infertility,

It’s been a while since we’ve spoken.  Funny how I carried you around for so many years, and now I don’t think of you on a day-to-day basis like I used to.  I swore I would never forget you, be able to let go of you, or even get over you, but, look at me now. You do not consume me anymore.

Dear infertility – You made me feel as though I was being punished.  If children are a reward from the Lord, then I must have done something pretty awful not to be rewarded with children…right?  You made me feel this way.  You spoke these lies to me.  You made me feel as though I was less important to the Creator of my beginning and Script-Writer of my future.

You made me think that I would never experience the same type of happiness that those around me were experiencing.  You forced me to wallow in my own despair, and yet, you never consoled me.  You never wiped my tears.  You never told me anything hopeful.  Instead, you shouted at me.  You screamed pain to me.  You never promised me a happy ending.

Dear infertility – you forsake me.  You made me feel like a victim, and at times, you made me feel as though I deserved what happened to me in my youth.  I’m here to tell you, I didn’t deserve it.  I was never a victim, and never will be.  The Lord was not punishing me.  He was not withholding His blessings of children.  He did not forget my name.  I was never less important to Him, or to the world He created, even though you made me feel that way.

Dear infertility – my Creator, my Comforter, my Healer, and my Hope remembers me.  He remembers the tears I cried because of you.  Not only does He remember them, He carries them.  He does not leave me feeling like a victim as you did.  He did not punish me.  What happened to me was an accident, a life-changing mistake that led to a tragic illness that even He mourned over.

He heard the deepest cry from the most secret place of my heart, and He listened. He did not ignore me like you did.  He answered me with the opening of doors, the closing of others, and the humbling moments that led me to being a parent.  He rewarded me with the gift of children.  He charged me with the care of some very special little ones that mean more to Him that I can ever imagine.  You, however, would have never promised me this.  You never would have told me to continue hoping for the fulfillment of my heart.

Dear infertility – I barely remember you, even though I will never forget you.  I will never forget the way you made me feel, the isolation you brought to my life, and the agony of not knowing if my prayers would be answered.  I will never forget being told that you would always be with me.  I was a child myself, and yet, I was forced to learn about you.  You stuck to me like glue.  I didn’t want you.  I didn’t need you, and I certainly didn’t understand you.

Dear infertility – remember me?  I am not the same person I used to be.  I am not that sickly girl, confused teen, and anguished woman I used to be.  I no longer doubt how incredible the Lord is, or even who He is.  I no longer feel like I am on the outside looking in on a life that would never be fully lived.  I am whole.  I am complete.  I am fulfilled.  I am living a life fully lived.  I am certainly not what you want me to be.

You even tried to damage those who loved me.  My parents and family members grieved over what you did to me.  My grandparents went to their grave never knowing that you would not dictate my future.  My parents will not forget what you did, but they too are busy with the joy of grandchildren to think about you anymore.

I suppose you will always be with me, although, I don’t listen to you anymore.  The truth is, I will never listen to you again.  I am too busy listening to the laughter of my children, and the love of my Lord.  I am too busy getting up in the middle of the night changing diapers, fixing school lunches, planning parties, and living a life full of the reward of children.

Dear infertility, I thought of you today while I was holding a little one and praising my Lord.  I thought of how you must feel now that I have moved on from you.  Can I ask you one thing?  Can I ask you to only remind me of you when I start to take my life for granted?  It is not that I don’t recall you from time-to-time.  When I scan over the memories of life and what all the Mighty Lord has done, you do enter my mind.

I remember laying in the hospital bed clinging to life and learning about you.  I remember trying to wrap my young mind and heart around you, even though, I had no idea who you were.  I remember being a teenager and feeling like I was so different from the other girls.  I remember crying into my pillow as I watched others being rewarded with children.

Dear infertility – it’s been a while since we’ve spoken.  It’s been a while since your name has crossed my mind.  It surely has been a while since the tears flowing from my eyes were filled with you.  I may still call on you from time-to-time, but for now, I’m going to tuck you back into my heart again.

Goodbye for now, goodbye.

Related articles – the first letter I wrote to infertility:

Dear Infertility

Words Hurt!

a little blurry because I was in a hurry

Standing in line at the grocery store, I glanced over at the latest tabloid newspapers.  As usual, they were spreading gossip about celebrities and others.  I try not to put much effort into noticing these magazines.  I see them not benefiting our society at all.

This time however, my eye caught one the latest headlines and I was somewhat stunned by what it said.  A celebrity couple was splattered all over the covers with statements about how they are heading for a multi-million dollar divorce.  According to the reports, the couple is divorcing because he “snapped” and stated “You can’t give me kids!”

When I read this, I thought “Oh no…no…no…no…they just didn’t go there!”  Sure these magazines and tabloid papers stoop to pretty low levels and truly do not care whose lives they ruin by their false statements, invasion of privacy, and exaggerated facts, but this one really got to me.  How disgustingly low of them to print something like this.  Here are a few reasons I find this to be just simply awful:

  1. If the couple is truly in the midst of fertility struggles, then they may be dealing with the emotional hardships of it.  This type of pain is only something that people who are infertile or otherwise struggling to become parents can understand.  It is a pain that fluctuates with great highs and deep lows.  It is a pain that leaves no mercy and that lingers.
  2. The assumption that their marriage is on the rocks because of infertility is a little insulting.  I know plenty of people with biological children whose marriages have fallen apart.  With that being said though, I suspect that marriages can be challenged by the stress of infertility.  The wife may not understand the husband’s thinking or he may not know how to comfort her.  One spouse may want to explore different options than the other.  Both may be grieving at the same time.  And, let’s face it, grief is a universal response to loss, but how one grieves is unique to that person.
  3. It always seems to be assumed that it is the woman who is the cause of infertility.  Men can be infertile too.  I know plenty of couples where the men have been diagnosed with infertility due to medical problems, etc.
  4. The statement “You can’t give me kids” is offensive.  Marriage is not JUST about having kids.  Plenty of people get married and choose to not have children.  My husband knew going into our marriage that we would never have biological children.  We started off on this adventure of marriage together knowing full well that our pursuit for children may not have been successful.  Marriage is about love and commitment.

I know that the entire article may be false and completely without merit.  Their marriage may be fine and infertility may not even be an issue.  I really do not keep up with celebrity news as it is, but I could not help but feel bad for the wife.  The insensitivity of it really bothered me.  What if they are struggling with infertility?  What if she is insecure right now about their marriage?  It would be extremely painful to see one’s hardship splattered all over the papers for the rest of us to read about.

To be honest, I really thought long and hard about writing this post.  A part of me feels like I too am benefiting from what was said as it gave me a topic to write about.  However, the words I read on the front cover of the tabloid that day stayed with me for several days later.  I actually went back to the store and snapped off a quick picture with my phone as I knew there might end up being a post about it brewing inside my thoughts.

Maybe that part of me that still lingers back in the days of growing up infertile feels the need to speak out and be a voice for others.  I don’t know…I really never found my own voice about being barren throughout my adolescence and young adulthood, so now, it feels good to find my voice and to use it — sort of like a protective instinct over the matters of all things infertile.

The saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” is just wishful thinking (in my opinion).  Words hurt.  Words can be used as instruments of healing or instruments of hate.  Words can be magical and speak vibrancy into so many things, but words can also drain the color.  Words – whether true or not – can cut right into the heart of the pain someone is going through.  It saddens me when the pain of others is turned into profit.

What is your opinion about this? Did you see the headline?  I’m curious!!

Visions of Pregnancy

Before the adoption of my children filled my home and my heart, and before the Lord’s revelation in my life, I used to wonder what I would look like if I were pregnant.  Here is another excerpt from my memoir in a chapter where I talk about the deep longing that existed when walking around with the feeling of emptiness.  I cannot believe I am admitting this, but…deep breath…here it is:

I secretly envied my pregnant friends.  I wanted what they had.  The joy, excitement, and love they shared with their spouses throughout their pregnancies were clearly obvious and I was jealous of it.  It felt really childish for me to think “why can’t I be like that?”  Or, “why does she get to have more children when I cannot even have one?”  It was almost shameful for me to think that way, or at least I felt ashamed of having those thoughts about them.  I love my friends and I love their children and I know it is wrong for us to covet what others have, but I honestly did.

Just once I wanted to know what it would feel like to carry a baby in my body, or hold a baby and believe that he or she was mine.  Every so often, I dreamed about being pregnant.  I do not know what made me feel worse – the dream itself or waking up.  Often, I stuck a ball under my shirt, stood in front of the mirror, and just stared at myself.  I surveyed the shape from every angle.  This was the closest I would ever come to seeing my “pregnant” belly.  I always thought I would have made a cute mom-to-be.

It is a mistake to assume that women who cannot have biological children never wonder what their pregnancies would feel like.  Most of us, although sympathetic to those going through it, would give anything to know what morning sickness was like, or to have the moment when a slight kick is felt from the inside.  We would give nearly anything to have an ultrasound done that reveals the life growing inside of us.

Most of us have dreamed about pregnancy.  Most of us have had visions of ourselves pregnant.  Many of us still do.

I never, ever told anyone close to me that I used to stand in front of the mirror daydreaming of being pregnant.  It was embarrassing and I felt as though I should not have even considered it.  But, why not?  Why not wonder what it would feel like to be pregnant?  This is not wrong, silly, or senseless.  It makes perfect sense to me.

If your path to pregnancy is jagged right now and you find yourself hiding away in front of a mirror staring at your belly, it is okay.  Do not be embarrassed.  Do not feel as though you should not be doing this.  Give yourself a break and daydream all you need to.  I get it, and my guess is that nearly every one else who is struggling with infertility or barrenness gets it to.

May His vision of you fill your life with love, peace, and understanding.

.

Voice of Truth

The song titled, The Voice of Truth, by Christian band Casting Crowns is one of my favorites.  I love this song.  Each time it comes on the radio, I crank it up.  The words of the chorus are quite simple:

But the voice of truth tells me a different story.  The voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid.”  And the voice of truth says, “This is for my glory.” Out of all the voices calling out to me.  I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.

-Casting Crowns

There was a time in my life when I did not know what truth was.  I heard many “voices” but none of them were comforting.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that there were moments in my growing years that whispers of darkness, cruel thoughts, and hurtful words were a part of my psyche.

I remember wondering after my hysterectomy if I had done something awful to cause it to happen.  I thought that perhaps I should have been born a boy…yes…being a boy would have been much better than a girl who could not have babies.  I also thought God surely knew I would make a terrible mother.  He must have wanted to spare a child my mothering.  Or, perhaps I was a child killer in a past life…even though I did not think past lives even existed.

As an adult, I wish I could say that these notions faded, but they did not.  I found myself thinking that God did not want me to be a parent.  If He wanted it, then it would have happened miraculously, quickly, and without any additional strife.  I do not know if anyone who reads this believes in spiritual warfare, but I do.  The fact that these horrific, cruel, depraved thoughts lingered in my mind as a child and an adult prove to me that spiritual warfare does exist.  Not one adult ever said these things to me.  Not one child, no one.  Yet, I “heard” them.

Back in 2000, I started going to church again.  As I began to do so, those hurtful words and  notions took a backseat to the Truth that is found in the voice of God.  The written Word became magnified.  In Him, I began to hear “You are beautiful”, “You have purpose”, “Your life was worth saving”.  Even more awesome though was the clarity I received from worship and reading the Word.  I was able to recognize that the voices bringing me down were not of Him. They were flaming arrows of the enemy and I was the target.

His Word and the hope I found in Christ became my shield.  The following verses spoke to me in ways that drowned out the cursed thoughts I once carried:

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Psalms 139:16 “Your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”

Psalm 139:14 “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Romans 5:2-5 “Through him we have also obtained  access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the  glory of God.  More than that, we rejoice in hope of the  glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that  suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character  produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been  poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to  us.

Silence and suffering comes along with infertility.  It can dishearten the strongest of believers.  It can eat at the core of one’s relationship with the Lord.  The enemy whispers “you don’t deserve to be a parent”, “you must have done something wrong”, “it must not be God’s will for you”….and many more things.

I can tell you that when in the pit of despair over barrenness, it is hard sometimes to hear anything but the words of the enemy.  It is hard to see outside of the strife and beyond the pain.  It is hard to hear the voice of Truth calling out.  IT. IS. HARD.  

However, as the song says, THE VOICE OF TRUTH TELLS ME A DIFFERENT STORY.     

The stories of those of us who have struggled or are currently being challenged with the spiritual confusion of infertility are not written by the enemy or anyone else for that matter.  Our stories have been written by the One whose voice is true; the One whose love is everlasting; the One whose shield is strong; the One who breathes life into the most destitute of situations; the One whose grace saves; the One who created us; the One who set our limits; and the One who has declared our future.

What’s the voice of truth telling you?  

For those of you who are battling your way to parenthood, stay strong in your faith.  Know that you are loved by a God who is bigger than your doubts.  Know that He is not done with you yet.  Know that your story is just unfolding.   Take delight in the hope of His promises and the mystery of what He has in store. 

Listen to His Voice of Truth.  Be Blessed.

Writing My Story

A few years ago I felt the urge to write.  It seemed as though the Lord was telling me to write my story down; although, I had no clue how to start the process.  The last writing class I took was in 1992 or so when I was in college.  My friend knew my desire, or perhaps the Lord’s calling on my heart, to start writing so she bought me some journals.  I carried them everywhere and would write down different thoughts or words that sparked my memories or pertained to my history.  I even used my iPhone to record thoughts that came to me when writing was not possible.  Gotta love technology!

I had no idea as to where this project was going or if there was really anything important to say.  The fact is that everyone has a story.  All of us have a uniquely designed existence that is of no greater matter or significance than the other.  We are all significant in the eyes of the Lord.  I personally feel that the most inspiring stories are those told from people who come from the most humble situations.

As I started writing, it felt as though my heart and my mind were pricked.  Suddenly, there was this release of all of the captive moments, long forgotten thoughts, and stifled persuasions that I had carried around for nearly my entire life; or at least, my life after age eleven.  Words were pouring out of me that brought me to tears.

Soon, I turned to my computer to start writing.  I craved it.  Early mornings and late evenings were often accompanied by the patter of my fingertips on the keyboard as I delved into my solitary world of infertility.  I had to reach out to others during this time for feedback, their memories of my story, and just plain old support.  However, for the most part, it was me, my computer, my memories, and the Lord’s prodding.

I finished the manuscript within a few months.  Once I started writing, I could not stop until I got it all out.  I grieved for the child I was who became so ill.  I fretted for the teenager who, despite seeming and acting like every other teen girl, held within her dark glimpses of despair.  I felt the anger of a young woman in her twenties who was torn between wondering if her future career would be her “baby” or if she was ever going to have a baby to call her own.  I celebrated the woman who ran to the Lord after years of ignoring Him.  Lastly, I shed tears of joy for the foster-mother whose life was impacted for the better by the humbling refinement that is foster care and adoption.

I still have the manuscript on my computer.  I do not know where it is going or what it is supposed to be.  That is okay though.  There is great cleansing in writing one’s life story even if no one reads it.  Writing my story down has brought about a desire to continue to bring to life the words my heart feels but often my lips cannot form.  Writing my story has also revealed the incredible essence of survival, faith, mercy, grace, and hope.

I would like to share an excerpt from it if you don’t mind.  I have already inserted a few lines  from the manuscript from time to time into previous blog posts.  Even though this is just a glimpse, I welcome any comments.  I may share more as I feel the need…

I do not remember much about the week I was in the hospital prior to the doctors discovering what was ravaging my body.  My memories are more like flashing images from a movie.  I do however remember waking up at one point with my dad and a doctor looking over me.  My dad simply and courageously stated “You can always make love, but you will never be able to have children.”  Or, did he say that?  I remember hearing it, but not sure if it was said to me or about me.  Nevertheless, in my hazy mind, I tried to comprehend what he was saying.  Make love?  What does that mean?  I had not even kissed a boy yet.  Have children? It really had not crossed my mind much.  But, I heard him loud and clear.  I knew something big had happened.  This event that occurred forever changed who I was and the path my life would take.  There was not a choice – it was either my life or my organs.  Oh, the agony my parents were feeling.  What irony really…the organs with which life begins had nearly destroyed mine.  I was eleven years old, I had never had a period, and now I was forever infertile.  I had just been thrust in to the world of infertility.  Trapped in a little girl’s body was a pre-menopausal woman.

Dear Infertility

Dear Infertility,

Hello, it’s me again. You know…the little girl you once made to feel inadequate, the teenager you once strived to isolate, and the adult you almost accomplished stealing joy from. Well, I’m here to tell you what you cannot do.

You cannot diminish moments of laughter that echo in my mind for days following. You won’t determine my capacity to love other people and children. You no longer make me feel less of a female or parent or anything else you once tried to convince me of.

You don’t stalk me like you used to. I don’t think of you when I see babies anymore. I actually enjoy going to baby showers now. You used to tag along uninvited just to make me feel uncomfortable.  You are not invited, anymore.

You no longer cause a wedge between me and the loving Father I believe in. You used to do that, you know. I used you as an excuse to not listen to Him. He is bigger than you will ever be.  He reminds me what His plans are for my life, not yours.

You cannot take away forgiveness. You do not replace hope. You obviously offer very little grace, but I do not look to you for it anyway.

For the most part, you were one of my darkest secrets. I hid you away for so long.  Funny thing now is that I’m exposing you to the world. You have become my motivation to write, to reach out, and to love.

At one time, I was incomplete. You filled an ever-growing void with even more sorrow, but not anymore. I will never use you again as a way to justify my lack of purpose or meaning in this life.

Dear infertility…this is not goodbye. I can still use you to be a more passionate person. I can still reminisce of you as a reminder to try and love my children more each day than I did the day before. I see you trying to pull others down and I recognize you right away. I use this as motivation for being a more genuine and empathetic listener. The tears I cry now are not for me, but for those of whom you are trying to take over.

Dear infertility…you have not stolen my ability to have a bountiful life. I have a full, rich life that involves children despite your attempt at taking that away. My life is no longer barren. You did not create a wasteland in me. Oh, I won’t forget you. How can I really? You have traveled with me the vast majority of my life, but you are not my life. Ironically, you have caused me to view life as being precious.

Dear infertility…this is not goodbye. This is me saying hello to all the things that you will never be.

Glass door

Growing up I felt there was this glass door between me and the other girls.  I could get right up close to it, but never go through.  My surgery, being barren, not having a period…all of these things separated me from being  just like them.  This is something I kept to myself though.  It was hard enough being an adolescent.  As an adult, it has been hard work to remind myself that while I may be different, I’m still just as much a woman as any other female out there.

I think hysterectomies are difficult for women to undergo.  Mine happened at such a young age that I grew into womanhood already feeling as if I was not wholly female.  Women of any age might not feel completely whole after a hysterectomy.  If the surgery happens at a younger age, then it is more than just losing some organs.  It’s losing the ones that are vital to a women’s experience in this life.

As I have developed through the years, the recognition of the impact on my physical, emotional, and spiritual health became clearer with each milestone or emotional age.  I could tell that infertility was not going to get easier, but harder, much harder.  I stood by and watched my friends’ life cycle continue on.  From the announcements of their pregnancies, to the first baby bumps appearing, the baby showers, flushed cheeks, and swollen feet…  I was on the side-lines watching.  I often heard them talk about their pregnancies and tried to act like I knew what they were talking about.  But the truth is, I did not know and honestly did not care to know.  It would never happen for me.

Infertility creates such a distinct type of isolation.  People just don’t know how to react when one says “I can’t have children”.  Instantly, there is an awkward silence usually followed by some words of wisdom that may or may not be too wise.  It is sadly refreshing sometimes to be around other women who cannot have children.  The conversations tend to be more driven by genuine empathy and understanding for each other.  We don’t have to “be strong” and hide our emotions about it.

There are also those universal themes that tend to come out while discussing infertility with fellow women who are struggling.  First, baby showers are the worst things to attend when you cannot have children.  They can create a raw and digging pain that is usually held in until after the shower is over.  I venture to guess that a lot of infertile women cry themselves home after baby showers.  I know I did before I adopted.  I actually dreaded going to them.  I would “fake” my way through them, drive home as quickly as I could,  and then curl up on my bed in a sobbing mess.  The rest of the day following a baby shower was usually filled with emotions and apathy.

Second, it really hurts when people say to you “if it’s God’s will, then it will happen”.  Most believers agree that things happen in our lives that are within God’s will, but it does not take away the pain.  It may not be within the Lord’s will for any of us to children – biological or adopted.  Unbeknownst to people who say this, an infertile woman might start thinking “if I can’t have children then God must not want me to be a mom”.  This is an awful place to be at.  I’ve been there.  I’ve thought “perhaps God doesn’t think I will be a good mom”, or “God must not want us to be parents”.

Third, pregnancy and birth announcements are wonderful and sweet unless you will never be the one sending them out.  That may sound selfish.  I’m a little embarassed to admit this, but sometimes I would think “why does she get to have another baby when I can’t even have one?”  This does not mean that those of us who cannot have biological children aren’t happy for our family members or friends.  Sometimes, the announcements and the excitement that follows reminds us of what we cannot have.

Growing up, I always felt that maybe I was the only one out there like me.  In some way, this may have been true since I was so young when my hysterectomy happened.  But, now as an adult, I know my experience, though somewhat different, is one that is shared by many.  Being an infertile woman in a world of baby-bearing bliss is difficult.  It can be socially isolating.  It can cause tension between spouses, friends, and family members.  For those of you who may be struggling with handling your journey of infertility or adoption, don’t be too hard on yourself.   Just know that there are others out there on your side of the glass door.