One hundred sixteen days…
I have been thinking a lot about another question I asked myself in the first blog post. What do I want my forties to mean? After wrestling with this question, I finally have an answer. I want my forties to represent contentment. I didn’t do such a great job with contentment in my first phase of adulthood. I was searching so deeply for answers to fill a void I had, I lost sight of the beauty of life right in front of me. I know it sounds trite, but it is true that no matter how bad things seem, there is always a reason to be thankful. The following is the introduction to my book, “Nothing to Hold but Hope.”
I love to read! When I finish a really good book, I am always amazed at the time and talent that were poured into it by the author. The research that goes into a novel has led authors to travel the world and interview interesting people that landscapes a story and brings it to life. The story I have to tell is not one that was preplanned in the recesses of my mind just waiting for me to capture the details with pen and paper. It is not a story with fascinating characters or exotic places for your mind’s eye to visualize. Instead, it is a dose of reality that shaped who I am today. I was forced to take a good look in the mirror. I recognized what I liked, and what I did not like about myself. I also learned you cannot run from your problems, because wherever you go, they are there with you. Along the way, my journey left me with several bruises and scars upon my heart, yet what I attained from it spiritually was worth every tear that was shed.
Like most authors, I have done my research, but only because I lived every detail. I have breathed it in and out, every moment of it. I know it has become a cliché that “everyone has a story.” However, the fact remains true; we all do have one, and through our pain God is setting out to accomplish something beautiful within us. How we handle struggle will determine who we are. I believe each of our stories was carefully orchestrated by the Creator. However, unlike the conductor of an orchestra directing the ebb and flow of music coming from the instruments, our God waits on us to choose the proper dynamics. This is, of course, because of free will. He gives us exactly what we need along the way, but we have to be willing to accept it. He has given each and every one of us a story to tell, and we are all a work in progress that will not be finished until we someday find ourselves before His throne.
This particular chapter of my story you are about to learn is just one piece of the puzzle that makes me who I am. These are fifteen years out of my life that I pray will help give you strength while you, or someone you love, is traveling a similar journey. It is not easy for me to write all this down, primarily because I must relive it to tell it. However, if anything I have been through helps to comfort you, then I will be happy to relive it… over and over again.
Since you are reading this, chances are you have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, or infertility. I have experienced all three. I know the pain, and I understand the sense of hopelessness that tears at the heart. I want to share my struggles with you, for you. My prayer is that through my testimony, you will regain hope and find your strength in Him. I am no different from any one of you who may be walking this road right now. I have no secret weapons to help you deal with the issues you are facing. I do, however, have some experience and lessons learned along the way I would like to share.
A woman who lost a baby during childbirth once called and asked me, “How did you do it? How did you get through it?” My answer was the same then as it is now: one breath at a time, one day at a time, and, most importantly, one prayer at a time. It was an uphill battle. I was involved in a tug of war between my will and God’s will that became a daily fight for my spiritual survival.
For a very long period of time, grief served as an unwanted best friend- so much so that I did not know how to function properly without it as part of a paradox in my life. I knew Jesus died to take away my pain, yet I could not rid myself of this antagonistic companion. I suffered loss after loss with seemingly no end in sight, and grief stood by me every step of the way. Anyone who has had multiple losses and found solace in Christ understands it takes time to find your footing again. The miraculous part is that we can stand together and recognize that “all things work together for good for those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) N.K.J.
I do not know who I would be today if not for these hardships in my life, and, frankly, I would never want to find out. After all the suffering, I can honestly tell you I would not change a thing. I am who I am in Christ, because of the trials I have endured. I have come out of the dark, gray clouds into the sun, with recognition that it takes the love of a Savior who understands pain and knows us better than anyone else ever could to fill us up and make us whole again.
“You are My witnesses,” says the Lord, “and My servant whom I have chosen, That you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me.” (Isaiah 43:10) N.K.J.
This verse gives me two lifelines:
- I need to know Him. A personal relationship with Christ will always sustain me through difficult times.
- I have to believe Him! This is imperative. If I truly believe His word, then I am able to rest knowing He, and He alone, is in control.
Unfortunately, it took me a long time to comprehend the principle of the previous verse. Throughout this time in my life, I battled my own need to “fix” my situation. I was one big ball of stress trying to make sense of it all. Out of all the emotions I faced, my desire for control was probably the most detrimental. It was not until I neared the end of my battle that the following scripture took root.
The end of a thing is better than its beginning; the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. (Ecclesiastes 7:8) N.K.J.
I imagine our lives to be like giant picture windows. The hard part is that only bits and pieces of what is on the other side of the window are visible. Slowly over time as God assents, we see and understand more and more of why we are where we are, and of what God intends for us. I guarantee that if we knew God’s perfect ending, it would be much easier to endure waiting for more of the picture to be revealed. But, since we cannot see the entire work of the Creator at once, we must push away our own need to control surrounding events and exercise patience.
We need only to find room for patience and trust in the One who knows all and who is All. In this, we will surely find our comfort in knowing He alone is in control. The lesson in this is if we follow what He has for us, then the end will most certainly be better than the beginning. There is no room for pride on our behalf. We cannot begin to think we have the capability to take over the work of the artist. It is impossible to finish the picture the way we see fit.
Throughout my situation, I wanted to remain in the driver’s seat taking control of which way I turned and how fast and slow I traveled. When I finally understood I needed to give up control, because I actually had none in the first place, I opened myself up to a brand new dimension of what God had for me. This allowed my heart and soul to be poured into and transformed in a miraculous healing of the heart. By miraculous, I don’t mean that healing takes place in an instant. Sometimes we experience miracles one step at a time.
In 1997, my husband, brother in law, and two other family members were hit by a drunk driver. My brother-in-law, Levi, who was sitting in the passenger seat, sustained brain damage. The doctors gave little hope; he spent weeks in a coma. During that time everyone prayed for a miracle. With all my heart, I really and truly believed that when he awoke from his coma that he would just be “Levi” again, and that there would be no long term effects. After all, that’s the way it happens in the movies. The main character wakes out of a coma he has been in for years and speaks to everyone around with such fluency that it appears as if he was just taking a power nap. The shocking part for me was that coming out of a coma was not like what you see in the movies at all, and it took Levi months to relearn to walk properly, talk, and even read. Every day when he would accomplish a minor goal like speaking in a full sentence, we were experiencing a miracle. It did not happen overnight, but it happened just the same.
A healing of the heart can be much like waking out of a coma; it is a process. Your thought pattern can change, you may feel emotionally unstable, and your personality may seem to have changed completely. You may feel in the midst of all the suffering that you have lost yourself. Still, every time you have enough faith to press into God, you unlock hope, and from my experience, you cannot walk the tight rope of soul killing emotion that comes from the depths of heartbreak unless you have hope to nourish you. And so, there it is, if today is the day that you decide to press into God… then today you may be experiencing a miracle without even recognizing it as such.
Nothing I am saying to you or will say to you is probably different from anything else you have already heard. I am not a medical professional. I do not claim to have some wonderful amount of wisdom with which I want to grace you. I just want to help you. I know the road is tough. However, healing of the heart takes readiness. Are you ready to hear what God is speaking to you? Is your heart open to it? The keys to helping your broken heart heal all depend upon whether you are ready to know and believe Christ. Many of us who already have a personal relationship with Jesus find it even harder to go through trials in life because we continually want to reason out why we are where we are. After all, we are “good people,” and we serve the Lord. In case you are not already aware, allow me to shine a little light on this subject. Bad things happen to “good”, godly people, and that is just the way it is.
I cannot tell you how many times I asked the Lord, “What is the reason for all this? Why is this happening to me?” I never felt as if I received a clear answer, except that I now have an opportunity to share my experience with you. I want to reach out to you and give you a glimmer of hope and light in a dark place. I am humbled that you have already taken the time to open up this book and read about my journey. I do not take it lightly.
I am a very honest person, especially when it comes to confessing my weaknesses. This is why I have no choice but to share a genuine heart with you. To convey the amount of doubt I have had in attempting to write this book would be impossible, because I examine all the weaknesses in my life under a microscope. I am skeptical of sharing any type of insight with you, especially when I still struggle in so many areas. However, I know that God has called me to do this, and I am trying hard to be obedient to the call. I know deep down in my heart that I did not suffer all those years for nothing. Maybe I can help you to lighten the load of your burden by sharing what helped me to lighten mine. It is my hope that by being as transparent as possible, you will see the mistakes I made along the way, and how to avoid some of them. Maybe in some sense, the things I share will help you to simply recognize that you are not alone in the thoughts and emotions that you are working overtime to process. You may think the answer to your problem is to have a baby, but God may be doing something else in the interworking of your heart. The answer to complex equations in our lives such as infertility, miscarriage or stillbirth cannot be worked out without faith, because the variables are always changing.
From a physical standpoint, the situation that you are enduring is unique to you. Each body is unique, and you may have a medical diagnosis that is different from the one that I had. What is the same is the sense of loss- not just the loss you feel from coping with miscarriage or stillbirth, but also the loss from being unable to become pregnant. Infertility injects a race against the clock, causing you to ruminate over all the time you feel you lost.
The intent of this book is simply to share my testimony with you. I want you to realize you are not alone. If you are in the midst of a battle with infertility, or if you have dealt with a loss and are now pregnant again, you may find yourself facing a daily fear concerning what the outcome of your circumstance will be. Regardless of the specifics of your battle, my prayer for you remains the same. I pray for hope, peace, and strength to fill you, as well as unshakeable reliance on God.