This may be the most intensely personal posts I’ve ever written. Only about 50% of what I write ever gets posted online, and I’ve thought long and hard for months about whether to write about this publicly. I’ve decided I do want to let you in on this part of my life so that you see the blessing that can come through the rain showers of pain.
I’ve ached with longings for many years. Not only due to hopes and dreams deferred, but also due to hopes and dreams presumably squashed. And while it may seem odd (given how many significant dreams have had to die in my life) that any one particular loss would be markedly more painful than another, I do feel that desiring to have children and finding this may never happen is honestly the most painful of all dreams I’ve had to let go. It’s also the hardest to find words to describe, which makes it feel that much more unbearable.
Perhaps even worse, I often feel guilty for feeling as I do. I feel like I cannot talk about it. I hear the voices of well-intentioned folks in my head telling me stuff like, “You’re single; you shouldn’t be thinking about that” or “Just give it to the Lord and He will remove that desire if it isn’t for you” or “God will give you children some other way” or perhaps the most teeth-grating one, “You can always adopt”. Because actually, you can’t always adopt, especially if you have a severe disability and financial instability. Yet most folks don’t know that and just assume.
They also don’t understand, if they haven’t experienced this loss, that there IS something special about having a child yourself. I’m not trying to knock adoption, not one bit! I think it’s a lovely picture of God’s love for us and a viable option for many people, and I applaud those who decide to go that route if they’ve felt lead by the Lord. Of course, if I say that there’s something special about having a child oneself, I often feel like I can get pegged as being selfish. For everything and anything I could say, I feel I must defend myself against the voices. Ugh! It’s entirely unnerving trying to share something so personal and so painful with anyone. As if it doesn’t hurt and tear at my heart enough to begin with….
During the last year, I’ve questioned my worth as a woman. Yep, I know my health and its impact on my ability to safely have children isn’t a determinative factor in my value either as a woman or as a person. I do, however, think the desire to have children is especially feminine, as I believe women are called to be nurturers, proven even by how our Creator designed us physiologically. I expect it would be no surprise to you that I questioned whether or not a godly man would be interested in a woman who would admit that having children may not be an option due to either her health or her inability to physically care for a child afterwards. Then again, it often takes a special guy to get past the fear of my wheelchair, so…. You can imagine how there are a whole bunch of pains overflowing from this trial.
The aching to become a mother is like nothing I’ve experienced before. It’s the most deep-down, internal type of ache, something I can feel physically even if there are no words. It is with me every day, though I try desperately to push it to the back burner. I cry when I’m alone, hiding my tears from human eyes. It’s hard to talk about, and as it isn’t a longing that’s going to go away anytime soon, I’d eventually weary the ears of anyone who was willing to listen.
The good news is that it’s lead me to make many conscious choices. I feel broken in so many ways. 2013 has been a year of brokenness. Yet it hasn’t come without beauty. I find it difficult to thank God for what I feel is barrenness, but I have been learning to thank Him for the opportunity to fly to Him and to speak to Him openly about how I’m feeling, what I’m thinking. I’ve been able to come to Him, even every minute when needed, and to submit my losses and all those things I desire and that I may never have in this life. I submit my desires to my Father and find that my pain leads me closer to Him. Out of necessity, I cling to Him. Out of His grace, He holds my breaking heart.
When you are suffering from severe pain, when you are surrounded by bitter grief, when you are depressed, pray. Do not cry for the sake of crying, and do not moan to the physician or the nurse. Cry, “Father.” For isn’t this how a lost child cries?
Have you ever cried to God? Have you ever said, “Father”? Oh may Father put His love in your heart. May He make you say, ” I will arise and go to my Father” (Luke 5:18). If that cry is in your heart and on your lips then you will truly be a child of God. – Charles Spurgeon; Beside Still Waters…Words of Comfort for the Soul – Roy H. Clarke, Editor; page 218.
I’ve noticed that my worship, though raw and often stained by tears and a cracking voice as I sing or pray, owns a more sincere tone that can only be felt by the spirit, not heard by the ear. There is a sweetness to surrendered worship in the shadow of grief that doesn’t appear to exist as purely outside of that shadow. The most beautiful songs come in the night. I find comfort in my belief that there will be no shadows in heaven.
The decision to continue bringing my griefs to God and accepting His comfort is like the decision to forgive. We have to keep making the conscious decision to forgive others and not bring up past offenses. When the hurt runs deep, it’s a minute-by-minute choice. And so it is with the deep grief of loss. Forgiveness is beautiful. Broken submission is beautiful. God’s light and a newfound empathy for those who are hurting, shining through my cracks and brokenness, is beautiful. The vulnerability I can give to others, allowing them to see my cracks and imperfections (very hard to do!) is beautiful because it opens doors to share the Gospel and to encourage others who have cracks they’d prefer to hide instead of expose, to choose not to hide their cracked pottery lamp under a bushel, thereby allowing the light of Christ to shine through them. In my weakness, I become strong in Christ. Joni Eareckson Tada allows her cracks also to show for the glory of God. Her vulnerability in her writing is the vehicle by which God shines His light through her. Beautiful brokenness.
I had set my original new year’s resolution for 2013 and, while I met that resolution (I often have met my resolutions in recent years), God’s resolution or goal for 2013 was a little different. I feel that His words for 2013 were “beautifully broken” and the two words He gave me for 2014 are “wholly surrendered”. I pray that this will be the case.
Do please pray for my heart, for it to be surrendered wholly, for me to embrace the beauty of the brokenness, and for mending of the bleeding aches that I often don’t know how to discuss without a sense of guilt. Pray that I won’t covet that which is not mine, and that God will lead me away from temptation and keep me from evil. Sometimes I just want a hug from someone who really does understand these things. If any women knowing me read this and are also acquainted with similar losses, I welcome you to help me through the pain to find joy in Christ and light on the other side. Please come alongside me and share your life as openly as you desire so that I can learn from your life, both your joys and your pains, your decisions that were wise and your decisions that weren’t as wise. It takes a lot of vulnerability, I know firsthand, but allowing that light to shine through the cracks blesses me and others.
Trials make the promise sweet;
Trials give new life to prayer;
Trials bring me to His feet,
Lay me low, and keep me there.