Hardship & Healing

If you have ever struggled with infertility (or anything really), there’s someone I would like you to meet. This woman struggled with bleeding for 12 years. Twelve! She was considered to have less value than others and did everything within her power to resolve her issues. But regardless of her efforts she only found her condition growing worse with each passing year. I imagine she was exhausted, frustrated, heartbroken and weary. Let’s take a look at her story…

“A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse – after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.” Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ ” And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.” Mark 5:25-34 (NASB)

So this story is about a woman desperate and at the end of her rope. She had nowhere to turn and no one to turn to. Then she hears about Jesus and thinks this is it. I have to get to Him. As she made her way through the crowd, I can imagine them looking down on her in disgust. People with her condition would have been known, loathed, considered unclean, and would have been shunned rather than loved. But she knew, if she just made her way to Jesus, she would be healed.

Her healing was a miracle. No doubt. But what I love most about it is what happened after she was healed. Jesus knew what was happening. He knew she had touched Him and that she was immediately healed of her bleeding. But He still asked who touched Him. I believe He did this for many reasons, but here are two I can’t help but highlight.

First, it made everyone stop in their tracks. I imagine Jesus stopping this huge crowd around Him, turning, looking around, and pretending He doesn’t see her. He was making his actions known, and caused the crowd to wonder what was going on. It’s clear His disciples were totally confused as you can read the sarcasm in their voice, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?” ‘ And as all of this was happening, the woman that was healed is terrified knowing exactly what she had done and realizing she was being called out for it by Jesus himself.

Another reason I think He stopped and addressed what happened was to allow this woman the opportunity to publicly announce her faith and healing. She could have remained hidden in the crowd, but by acknowledging what happened it solidified her faith, served as a testimony to Christ’s power and healing, and restored her in the eyes of the crowd. Her healing was an example of how Christ loves all, including those that people feel are unlovable or of less worth. He knew by publicly commending her faith He would be healing her heart, exalting her in front of the crowd and allowing her the opportunity to serve as an example of His power, goodness and love to those that had previously shamed her.

So, why am I sharing this with you? Well, I think it’s safe to say we all encounter hardship. Either something has happened in our life that hurt use deep and just won’t heal, we feel God has forgotten us in some way, life hasn’t gone the way we think it should, we feel we deserve more than what we have, or we have found that life is simply harder than we think it should be. We don’t know why we have to deal with something that’s happened out of our control, and feel we’re stuck in the mud without the energy or ability to get out.

But like the woman that was healed, we have to have faith. I’m sure she wondered why she had to endure bleeding for 12 years and all the pain and ridicule that came with it. But I think if she hadn’t, God wouldn’t have been able to use the moment of her healing and testimony without that hardship first happening. It wouldn’t have been nearly as memorable if she had only been bleeding for a little while, but by having this condition for 12 years and countless physicians trying to make her well with no success, it allowed all glory and credit to go to Jesus Christ, not just on that day, but every day since. He healed her and there was nothing anyone could say to her to dispute that fact.

So I share this to say as we go through life and have hardship, I pray that we learn to trust God in the midst of our chaotic world. It’s not always easy and we probably won’t receive healing like the woman did, but when we trust God and have faith like she did, I know He can heal our hearts and use our pain for something good. He can use us and our testimonies in ways we never dreamed were possible. He can increase our faith as we release our lives to Him. And no matter the trial or hardship before us, He can heal our souls, provide a peace unlike anything before, and provide us with a testimony that lasts beyond our lifetime.

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When Dreams Come True — My Infertility Miracle

In 2007 my husband and I began our journey into parenthood with no idea what we were in for. Like most couples, we didn’t expect it would lead us down the road of infertility. After I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), we went through years of fertility treatments until my body finally gave out in 2010, and we were told conceiving a child of our own just wasn’t possible. The news was devastating, but eventually we accepted it and moved on. We began exploring our options for adoption, but after almost two years of research and prayer, we simply didn’t have peace in knowing that was God’s ultimate plan for our family. Read more

A New Outlook for a New Year

It may be hard to believe, but the first month of the New Year is almost over. So, how’s 2012 going so far? If it’s not going as you had hoped, now is a great time to start again. For the first time in probably six years, I have started a year by keeping an open mind, open heart and releasing all of my expectations. For the first time, I have not started the year with an internal countdown of when my family will expand going on in my mind. And for the first time, I finally feel I have some peace moving into a new year. Now, I’m not writing this to say I have all of the answers. Far from it. But my goal as always is to share my experiences in an effort to support those going through similar struggles. I’ve learned that when I put things into practice, and begin each day for what it is … a new day … then things all of a sudden don’t seem so overwhelming. Read more

Busted Myth – An infertile Mother’s Day must be a miserable one

I just got back from vacation, and missed National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW).  I find it interesting that first there was Easter, then NIAW, and now this coming Sunday is Mother’s Day.  These three events mean so much to me, but the holidays can be hard to handle. So since I didn’t get a chance to share my “busted myth” during NIAW, I find it fitting to share how in the mist of all that may seem wrong, there can still be  joy, hope and renewal ahead for all who seek it.

When we celebrate Easter and Mother’s Day many mothers dress their children up in frilly dresses, or little man suits while others still hoping for that little one to come along just try to make it through the church service without shedding a tear.  For someone longing to be a mom, it can be hard to even walk into church when you know families are celebrating and you’ll be constantly reminded of what is missing.  We want to go, know we should go, but somehow seeing all of the happy families,  little girls in their beautiful dresses, little boys in their Sunday best, being asked when we’re finally going to have kids, or being what seems like the only woman in the room without the honored rose or carnation given to mothers when they walk in the door can really take away the joy and worshipful experience we so long to be a part of.  Now, I’m not saying this is right, and I acknowledge this is Satan’s way of trying to tear down the celebration of Christ’s accomplishment through His Son, but the ugly truth is this is reality.

Infertility is a painful experience that hits you both physically and emotionally.  If you share your battle with others many times you will receive ridicule, and often times people will try to be supportive by offering their advice or suggest you simply adopt.  Their words come nonchalantly, and usually only make themselves feel better.  You’re constantly reminded of the child missing in your life as family and friends continue to get pregnant all around you.  Years pass and as I’ve remained barren I’ve seen friends get married, pregnant, celebrate their children’s birthdays, get pregnant again and start the cycle all over… multiple times.  It’s like they are living the life I always thought I would have right before my eyes, and with every pregnancy announcement, growing belly I see, Facebook sonogram picture or update, baby shower invitation, birth announcement, or birthday invitation it’s like they are trying to remind me of what I’m missing.  Now I know that’s not their intention and don’t get me wrong, I love to see pregnant people enjoying their pregnancy and moms enjoying their children.  I really don’t think there’s anything worse than having a friend complain to me about her morning sickness, not being able to fit into her clothes, having a back ache, or not being able to sleep because of her newborn, but when you’re dealing with infertility, something that most likely never crossed your mind until a doctor mentions you should begin testing, it can all be very overwhelming.

But through this overwhelming frustration, pain, sorrow and confusion, I’ve oddly been able to find hope, joy and a sense of peace.  I remember all that Christ has endured and accomplished and it reminds me that there is nothing He can’t handle.  I know that no matter what comes my way, Christ has been through so much more and has the strength to walk me through it.  He never promised life would be easy, or I would get everything I wanted exactly the way I wanted it, but instead He promised to never leave or forsake me.  I’ve seen time and time again how when life seems to be full of chaos, and I can’t fathom why things are the way they are, there is a later point in life where I can see how I was able to grow through the experience, reach others because of that time of uncertainty, and in the end it all somehow worked out even if it wasn’t the way I expected or even wanted.

So as Mother’s Day now approaches I’m busting the myth that you have to have a miserable one.  If you can’t muster up the courage to walk into church then simply use this Sunday to enjoy your own worshipful experience on your own and thank God for staying with you even though things don’t seem to be going as planned.  Thank Him for the mothers and women in your life that have been there for you, offered a listening ear, or a shoulder to cry on.  They haven’t been there by coincidence.  And finally, plan something special with your husband so you can look forward to this day with anticipation and excitement, after-all, you both deserve to enjoy this day just as much as the next person.

The Battle of Infertility

You’ve heard me say it before and I will say it again, infertility is a battle.  Everyday is a fight of choice. Will you throw in the towel and let your emotions take over, or will you find strength to enjoy the blessings you’ve been given?  I recently posted on Facebook the statement, “It’s not about the blessings that haven’t arrived; it’s making the most of the blessings you’ve been given this day.”  It came to me as I was heading into work, and taking a moment to pause before reading my Bible.  I wish I could say I do this every day, but I’m human, and unfortunately I don’t.  But I can’t help but think God gave me this thought as I was beginning just another day of life with infertility.

To me, infertility is battle.  It’s fierce.  It breaks you physically and emotionally. It drains the life out of you, and just when you think you have things under control it gains power out of nowhere and knocks you down again.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about being a mom, or how wonderful of a father my husband would be.  Infertility tests you, and quite honestly if I didn’t have faith in knowing God’s plan is ultimately best, I don’t know where I’d be today.  It’s hard to trust God when you don’t like what He’s allowing you to go through and all you can do is walk through life blindly, but I think that’s the ultimate lesson in faith.

Trusting God regardless of the outcome is one thing life has taught me.  I can plan and plan, but in the end His plan is always much better than my own.  It is hard looking at it on this end without knowing how things will end up, but He’s shown me time and time again that His plan is always best and He can use each trial that comes along as a way of growing my relationship with Him, reaching others I couldn’t have without going through that trial, and when His plan is finally revealed I can see how each step along the way was preparing me for a greater purpose.

Just like every battle, blessings can be found as the dust settles.  There are highs and lows, but through each battle you learn what you’re made of, and I’ve learned a lot through infertility.  When my husband and I got married almost 8 years ago, I never imagined anything would come between us.  Life was wonderful and we got excited about starting a family. But when things didn’t go as planned, it tested us and showed us what true love is.  In all honesty, I had hard time processing my emotions.  I didn’t know what to feel, and when I did feel something, it was a range of emotion from excitement, to frustration, to guilt, to fear, to anger, to bitterness, to jealousy, and I just couldn’t decipher it all.  But by not knowing how to process my emotions, I became distant, distracted, and left my husband in the dark as to how I was feeling until I really just needed to explode and get it out.  It was through infertility that we had to fight for each other, get in the trenches, and love each other even when we didn’t like each other very much.  But through this battle, we are now stronger, closer, more honest, and have both said our marriage and life is even better now than it’s probably ever been.  It’s sad to see how marriage is not taken seriously these days, but for us, no matter what comes our way, we know we will always get through it together.

Another blessing that has appeared through this battle has been helping friends going through similar struggles.  When we went through our infertility treatments we really felt alone.  We let friends know we had been trying and were going through treatment, but without going through it yourself, it’s nearly impossible to understand.  As time has passed though, some of our friends have had to venture into their own battle with infertility.  Some have gotten their happy ending, and others continue down the road of the unknown.  Now I wouldn’t wish infertility on anyone, but it’s really been a blessing to be able to support friends going through similar struggles which in turn has grown our friendship.

You could say that I started this blog as a way of conquering my battle with infertility.  I can now take a step back and recount my emotions without being as clouded by them.  I can share my story with others as a way of combatting the silence around the subject while reaching out to others and letting them know they’re not alone.  And finally, I can find peace about the past and look forward to the future.  It’s amazing to see how much more at ease I feel these days about not knowing what the future holds, and how I know now that if I have to continue waiting another year, two or even three years before I learn what will happen that’s ok because I’ve come this far and I know God will continue to prepare me for whatever His outcome is.  Through my years of waiting I’ve learned He can bring along peace in uncertainty, and by having that it allows me to enjoy my husband more and the blessings we’ve been given today. So even though the battle of infertility may pick up speed on some days, for the most part, and by the grace of God, I’m able to keep the battle far off in the distance.

2011: Remembering the Past and Trusting God with the Future

Happy New Year, and thanks for sticking around even after the long breaks in writing.  It’s now 2011 which seems so hard to believe.  I hope the holidays were good to you, and you are looking forward to the new year.  Many people look at the new year, and think about all they want to accomplish.  Some of you are probably hoping for a pregnancy, others for a baby through adoption, and others may just be trying to move on.  For me, I’m just wanting to enjoy whatever comes this year without any expectations.

Since my husband and I started trying, each year I looked at the holidays as our last one just the two of us.  I would think about how there was a good chance we’d be adding a baby to our family, and how I couldn’t wait to celebrate the next Thanksgiving or Christmas with a little one in my arms.  In a way, I think I robbed myself of those holidays by fixating on what was missing, or dreaming of what may be rather than enjoying the life I had been given.  This year I had a different approach.  Maybe it’s because we’ve stopped trying, and are still uncertain about adoption, but this year I truly enjoyed Christmas for what it was…a time to reflect on all Christ has done for us, and a time to enjoy what’s really important in life.  My husband and I had almost two weeks off of work together, and I truly treasured every second.  2010 was a very busy and demanding year for us, so having some time to ourselves was simply wonderful.

If there’s anything 2010 has taught me, it would have to be that life is full of uncertainty, and the only joy we can find is by embracing the life we’ve been given.  I’ve learned that barren is the term that defines me now more than infertile, and as hard as it was to admit it, it has helped me to move on.  Coming to grips with reality is hard.  I see a lot of posts from infertiles on Facebook refusing to admit that they are infertile.  Many women go through years of failed infertility treatments and failed adoptions all while refusing to give up.  They allow their struggles to define them and take pride in the difficutlies they find in life.  For me, I was very much like them so by writing this now I’m not telling anyone how to feel… but the truth is facing reality and admitting defeat has felt more like claiming victory than throwing in the towel.  It’s like I finally have my life back.  I know I won’t get pregnant, and I will never give birth to my child, but that doesn’t mean my life can’t go on and God doesn’t have a plan for it.  God can use our strengths and weaknesses to grow us, and by opening my heart to His plans, I can move on from my own.  Adoption may become my reality one day, and if it does, I will love our baby with every breath that I have.  I think that we will be better parents for the time and struggles we’ve been through, and our marriage will be stronger by going through our infertility battle together.  But the urgency to adopt seems to have faded.  Adoption is no longer about me, what I want, or my timing, but it’s more about what God’s plan is for us as a couple and family.  I’ve learned that when I take things into my own hands before it’s time, things usually end up a mess.  But if I wait to see where God leads then the path brings more peace than I could have ever brought about myself.

So this year for me is all about enjoying life.  Doing things I’ve always wanted to do, loving life for the blessings I’ve been given, and allowing God to mold my hopes and dreams however He chooses.  I’m giving each day to Him to reveal His plan, and to make the desires of my heart a better reflection of Him.