Wednesday, April 9, 2008

To Everything there is a Season

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately.

Grief, infertility and adoption can cause a sort of identity crisis in a woman.

I started down this journey as a starry-eyed bride, full of hopes and dreams about what was to be in our life, and I pontificated with all the earnestness afforded by innocent ignorance and lack of life experience, about wifery, marriage, and parenting. I couldn't wait to be that SUV-driving soccer mom with a car full of kids, and I thought it not only my Christian duty, but the duty of every Christian wife, to stay at home and raise kids for Jesus. Praise God that His glory is not hinged on our biology!

As we continued, I found myself in a job I loved, but always afraid to love it too much, because it was just an in-between place while we waited on God's timing. I found myself wholeheartedly believing that pregnancy would come in the right time, and thanking God that He gave me something else to enjoy in the mean time.

As time wore on and no baby came, I struggled with the notion that everything I had professed about faith and trust in God's timing was a Christianese facade. If I really believed those things, why did my heart ache so badly? I began to rail against the Christian culture that put the suburbian family with 2.4 children and a dog up on a pedestal as the "highest calling" and scorned those starry eyed lovers as "small minded" and limiting of God, despite the fact that I myself had been one of them and longed for that place of ignorance where one can just assume that bodies work correctly and babies come easily. I resented the Christian culture and then resented myself for resenting it. I felt betrayed by everything I had believed about God's plan for my life, by my friends and family who couldn't understand, and by my own dark heart.

I decided that it wasn't the starry-eyed lovers who were in the wrong. After all, God had seen fit to bless them with children while withholding them from me, so I must be the problem. I threw myself in to soul searching and prayer, thinking that if I could just uncover that rock and expose the cobwebs and spiders and put my God-slot machine coin in and say "here, Lord, I give it up!" and He would reward us with baby.

That didn't work either. I began to feel guilty and believe that my soul must be really dark and if I had worked so hard and still couldn't figure out what was disqualifying me from entering the Parenthood Party. I was consumed with guilt and shame and fear, dreading entering the courts of my God for lack of anything to give Him. I felt nervous in my own skin, unsure of how to fit in a culture that DOES praise motherhood. Gradually, I developed a spiritual hunch. I skulked in the shadows of the Temple, feeling more like a leper than a princess. I hid myself as best I could, offering what meager remnants of my broken spirit remained, and ashamed to keep company with those who walked upright and full of grace.

Slowly, it all turned to grief, as I really began to mourn all that had been lost. I'd lost a dream, I'd lost a sense of self, I'd lost my understanding of my place in God's kingdom, I lost my knowledge of my identity in Him, I lost the will to Hope, and to believe in God's loving kindness. I cried and cried and cried, and asked the questions I'd been to afraid to ask, and uprooted the bitter root that had taken foot in my soul.

I'd tried everything I could to fix the situation, and to make myself a better Christian for it, wanting desperately to prove that I could accept God's sovereignty in any situation, and yet it was only in my brokenness that He began to heal me. This shouldn't have come as a surprise to a life-long Christian, but it did. He began to teach me that I am not the bride, the bitter, the betrayed, the broken, or even the barren. I am Jennifer, daughter of the most High God. All of these things were a chapter in the story of my life that He has written for His glory.

I began to appreciate the chapters. Instead of skipping through them to get to a better one, I hung on every word. And carefully, slowly, exquisitely, He continued writing.

Now, as God has filled my heart with a new dream, and has begun a new chapter, I understand how much He has used the past to equip my heart for this new journey. I was and am all of those things and yet none of them. Before teaching me the role of mother, He has taught me the role of daughter!

Now in this new chapter, the canvas on top is blank, yet I can still see the layers underneath of works gone by. I find myself pausing when grief still catches me by surprise, and pausing when it doesn't. I am not a mom yet, but I am a mom in my heart. I no longer identify myself entirely as "Primary Infertility" and yet I still occasionally grapple with the fact that I will never have a biological child. And I've realized that this grief will always be a part of my story, because like all seasons, it has its time and place. God does not deal in selective amnesia (though how wonderful is it that He himself forgets our sins!) But sometimes it does feel a bit like he deals in schizophrenia. ;) Here I am, the barren and the mom-to-be, the grieved and the joyful, the full and the broken, all fearfully and wonderfully knit together in the same soul. The lover of my soul Has excited my passion in ways I have never known before, and has stilled my spirit with the knowledge that I was never out of His hand nor far from His heart.

How grateful I am for the marvelous ways He has done all of this to prepare my heart for this new journey and for the children that may one day result from it. I look back on who I was when we first longed for a baby, and who He has made to be now, and I am grateful that His plan is so much greater than ours. Anxious I am to meet our child, but God through this grief has brought me full circle and with my whole heart I say "yes, Lord, in Thy divine timing!"


  1. I empathize with your feelings. The decision to take the IVF road was the hardest I've ever had to make, being a catholic. I'm very interested in your Snowflakes adoption experience as it occurs. My biggest fear was that my embryos would not have a chance to be borne due to my health and being able to give them that chance. I felt relieved to know that if that was the case, a good family may be able to adopt them and that family would know who I was and know how much I love those souls. I'm looking forward to reading about your journey.

  2. Jen, this post was both inspiring to me and humbled me at the same time. I still have so much more of God's will to accept and I keep fighting it. Thank you for writing about your journey through grief in a way that inspired me!

  3. Jen, this is a really wonderful post. You've put in words things that I've been feeling & some things that I still struggle to accept. You are totally right, we can't skip any of the chapters in this book. Thanks for the lovely post. It has a special place in my heart & blog

  4. That is a hard process to go through...I understand your feelings. It is definitely a process that isn't easy... But in the midst of everything God is so Good. He always keeps his promises- I know he will be faithful to you :)

  5. What a beautiful and moving post! I had to share it on my google/reader share.

    Thank you for sharing your heart.

  6. Jen, you are amazing! I am so encouraged to read about your struggle. Isn't it interesting how various life situations (infertility, grief, illness) take us through such intense spiritual journeys? I am still in the middle of mine which resulted from HG - the whole rebellion/doubt/fear thing. It's nice to know that one can come out on the other side! I wish that we could just skip the middle and go straight from affliction to victory, but it seems to be human nature to have to grapple with things and have difficulty for a while in the middle. I'm going to be blogging on that subject very soon. Thanks for the entry!

  7. Jen - I am so glad that you are coming full circle and realizing that you are worthy, you are special and that God has known that all along.....I can't wait to hear even more good news in the future! You have warmed my heart and inspired me to delve deeper into my own battles and to try to see them in a different light.