Sunny Days and Ice Cream Cones

Working in child welfare for any amount of time forces the rude awakening of the troubles we have in our society and the daily struggles that too many children have in the United States.  There are children who are fatherless, motherless, or both.  Many are taking care of their baby siblings even though they are babies themselves.  Some can tell you how to prepare a crack pipe because they have witnessed it in their home.  Others do not understand boundaries or safety because they have never been kept safe.  Infants are born with the addictions of their mothers; or at least, the exposure of poor choices made while in the womb.  If you do not believe or understand this, then I encourage you to spend a day with a child abuse and neglect investigator.

It is deeply troubling when I hear people dismiss children as if they carry no purpose.  I have written about this before in my post Where is Your Treasure?

ALL children are vital to this world.  ALL children are precious in the eyes of the Lord.  He loves each one as if he or she is His only child.

They teach us to forgive quickly, to slow down, to laugh, and to dream.  They see things through the lens of innocence.  They have great purpose in this world.  Not to sound cliché, but they are the future and the potential fulfillment of all things good in this world.

When I took this picture of my daughter above at a family get together, I could not help but think about what the life of a child should be made of.  Their lives should be filled with love, silliness, warmth, and parents.  Their lives should be enveloped in family, memories, shelter, encouragement, and safety.  They deserve days filled with the warmth of sunshine, the laughter of playmates, and the sweetness of ice cream cones.

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.

Unashamed

It was a challenge growing up after having a hysterectomy so young. I never really knew how to handle it.  I felt ashamed of it, and I really don’t know why I felt this way.  It was not my fault.  I was gravely ill and the surgery had to happen in order to save my life, but for some reason, I really didn’t want many people to find out about it.  I internalized a sense of guilt or embarassment because I was different than my peers.  Due to my young age, I did not fully grasp how my surgery would play out in my life over and over again.

As an adult, it has taken me many, many years to say out loud “I HAD A HYSTERECTOMY”.  Even now, when asked about my medical history at doctor’s visits, I always get a little tense and just a bit nervous.  Perhaps it is because the response is usually “You had a hysterectomy at age eleven?!?”…followed by an awkward moment of silence…then followed by “May I ask why?”  One of these days I may just say “No, no you may not ask why…” just to see how they respond!

Sometimes, I let medical professionals off the hook early and just go right into all the details of it.  I sense at times they are a little overwhelmed. Or at least, the women are.  They usually give me a slightly pitiful look, but most of the time they express sadness about it.  Men on the other hand just sort of skip right over, as if there’s “nothing to talk about here”…move along.

Often, they will stare at me briefly as if they expect me to say more, or break down sobbing, or something. The truth is even if I felt like crying, I would hold it in until I left the appointment anyway. This is not as much of an issue for me now that my emptiness has been filled with children, and I have come to a place of fully embracing who I am, but throughout my life, there was a tremendous amount of despair mixed in with a sliver of shame over it.

One thing that I habitually do time after time is quickly follow up my revelation of being infertile with an “It’s okay though. I’ve adopted children, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world”.  Before I adopted, I found myself saying things like “Oh, it’s okay.  I might be able to adopt” even if I did not believe my own words.  It is as if I have always felt the need to apologize for my lot in life.

Perhaps in my earlier years,  I was still trying to figure it all out.  I didn’t want or need anyone to explain things to me.  I also never wanted to be pitied for it.  This was my experience to navigate on my own – no one else’s.  Some things in life are just too big to wrap our heads around until we are fully ready to do so.  Giving simplistic and quick explanations to medical staff or anyone else who wanted to know what happened to me did nothing to help me understand my own circumstance.  I often felt I was fulfilling their curiosity at my own expense.

I’ve always wondered, yet never quite figured out what it is about infertility and hysterectomies that cause the feelings of shame, embarrassment, or whatever else it can be called. I just sometimes think that the rest of the world (all the fertile myrtles) don’t fully grasp the complexity of infertility.  Perhaps this is why those of us (non-fertile myrtles) feel isolated out in the “real” world.  There is nothing to be shameful of!  We didn’t cause this.  We didn’t set out in the world thinking “I’m going to do whatever I can to make having a family extremely difficult.”  Barrenness has been around forever; yet, there is so much restraint when talking about it out loud.

While pondering this issue, I thought “God has used barren women to do mighty things.”  Several women in the Bible, who were considered barren, ended up giving birth to children who went on to do noteworthy things.  I know the incredible ending of their barrenness was the birth of children, but I find it equally incredible that their struggle with it was written down.  Their stories were compelling.  They were often mocked for it.  Yet, their faith ran deep.

I choose to believe that barrenness is close to God’s heart.  I know that He does not want us to be ashamed.  I believe that there is no reason anyone should ever feel the need to apologize for not being able to have children.  My life is not desolate. I feel totally fruitful; quite the opposite of barren really.

The world may think, or even expect me to be angry, bitter, and even resentful about infertility, but I choose not to follow the world.  I am not listening to it; my ears, my eyes, and my heart are captured by the whispers of God.  Through Him, and only through Him, I am beautiful, purposeful, and redeemed.

I am unashamed.