When I was barren, I was constantly waiting to be pregnant. But I was also waiting to be happy. I thought that if God would give me what I desired (a baby!), I would be “complete.” And I would be the happiest girl in the world!
I remember the day I found out I was pregnant, and I was indeed: Happy! I cried and jumped up and down, and blew my nose on my husband’s shoulder. Life was at last good. God was at last good. And I was at last happy. You’d think after that I should have remained the most content person on the planet. But I did not.
I have this problem. It’s a deep problem. Not one that can be solved by a few Pinterest tips, or self-help reads, or swapping my table sugar for organic honey. It’s something dark inside me. Like hunger…but it doesn’t go away with food. Or vanity. Or accomplishment. Or relationships. Or exercise.
I call it want. It’s this thing that lives in me that is always desiring more. That always whispers there is not enough. And this is truly the heart of being barren: emptiness. For so long seeing only the empty in me. Seeing the flaws in others. And seeing God as a withholding God, and not an infinitely giving one. This feeling, this way of seeing your life as “not yet full” is not just for the unable to conceive woman though.
As people, we constantly fantasize about the next “phase” of life–as if it will trump all our prior experiences. I know this because I have done it my whole life so far. Kids can’t wait to be teens. Teens can’t wait till college. College students can’t wait to graduate. Graduates can’t wait to get a job. People with careers can’t wait to retire. (And old people just long to be young again.) How far does it go? There is something tragic happening here!
No one is enjoying their current phase of life! Everyone wants to be somewhere else, not here. The want is taking over. We are a people who constantly look to the next thing. We want more. Better. Different. Have you ever considered that the phase you are in RIGHT NOW is the best phase simply because it is the phase God has ordained for you right now? If we constantly race ahead to the place we want to be, the goals we want to achieve, we will tragically miss the good going on right now. We will look back on this month, this year, and not remember anything. All we will see is a big blur–jumbled with frantic desires and disappointments.
So just stop. Stop. Right now, and look around you. (Be still, and know that He is God.) What has God already given you? With what responsibilities is He entrusting you right now? Who is in front of you today to love? And then thank Him. Thank Him for every single thing you can about right now. This place.
I share this only because for way too long I have wanted the next thing. And dear brothers and sisters, I feel it working even now within me. The want. The thing that sucks the joy, and steals it from today.
But when I am thankful–the joy comes rushing back in, like noisy, laughing children stumbling in from outside bringing the smell of summer warmth all around. When I am thankful (even in spite of the mess, and the chaos, and the things I don’t have, or things I haven’t become, or achieved) I am declaring with my heart:
God is Good!
God is Wise!
God is In Control!
Growing up I always heard church-people saying, “If you are faithful with the small things, God will entrust you with the big things!” So, I always thought this was some kind of transaction, or a stepping stone.”Be a good custodian, and someday you will own the company!” What those people were referring to was to a parable Jesus spoke of in Luke 16:10 and Matthew 25:21, and said, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” While I do believe this passage is about stewardship, I think there is something more going on here than a promotion at work. The very next line is, “Come share in your Master’s happiness!” I think what He is saying is–whether you thought I entrusted you with a little or a lot, important, or unimportant–you embraced it with both arms. I am pleased with you because by welcoming what I have sovereignly arranged for you, you have declared me wise, and good, and giving! And indeed I AM! So come share in my happiness!
I declare today that You are good. I rejoice in what You have entrusted to me right now (from the biggest to the smallest task). Before I get to the next “phase” of my life..or if I ever “get there,” I want to worship You. I was made for Your glory and to be happy in You. Open my eyes to Your glory all around me. I want to share in Your happiness. Take my heart full of “want”, and replace it with a heart of deep gratitude. You promise to satisfy the hungry with good things. And for that I praise You. Satisfy me now in all that You are, that my joy may be made full.
In Jesus’ Name,
This was so beautiful to read! It made me cry but in a good way! I could never have children. And I would look around at parents who were abusive or had abortions and I would wonder why these people were blessed with children and I was not. I had all this love to give a child. It took me many years to see the blessings that I did have. My brothers and sisters shared their children with me and my neighbors and I got to be ‘like a mom’ to students I work with etc. Jesus used me in a different way to fulfill that need. When I read the sentence ‘a withholding God and not an infinitely giving one”–I know that to be true–but I had a hard time in my young life to see this whole picture. This lesson you learned so young regarding want and enjoying your current phase of life is a good lesson –I learned this much later. But in my time–in God’s time for me. I hope that your young life and my 60 year old life can give others hope and courage to live their best life in God’s care! There is a fulfillment in knowing God has a unique purpose in your life—that you might not ‘get’ at the time—God is Good—THIS is a very touching blog. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you so much for your kind encouragement. And thank you for taking time to read it. God truly has taught me so much I did not know could be true, (though I also still have sooo much to learn.) I look forward to heaven when God’s wisdom will finally be revealed to us and we will understand why things happened the way they did. It’s hard here though sometimes because we are just left wondering “why?” a lot of the time. On the other hand, if there’s been one person in my life that I can say has shown me the JOY of the Lord..it’s you. As I think back to being a little girl, I have so many fun memories with you and am so thankful you have always been such a big part of my (and all the cousins) lives. We always would tell our friends how fun and funny you were! I remember you coming to our plays, performances, making us laugh, taking us swimming at your house, taking us to musicals..so many fun memories just having fun or being goofy with you. You showed me that adults don’t have to be boring. And that’s a very important lesson!:) You have always been such a bright spot in my life, and in the lives of so many others. You are truly a blessing. 🙂
The Dandler says
Wow…just, wow. What a perfect blog post that speaks to exactly where I am, to where I’ve always been in my life – never content, afraid that even God will not and cannot satisfy me (and when you know that God is the only one who CAN satisfy, but you think he never will, then that’s a scary existential place to be in.) I call it E.D. – existential dread, that there will never be enough, and then you die. Through Christ things have gotten better, but I still struggle with this every day. Thank you so much for writing so honestly about it and encouraging me through your experience. You will definitely get a re-blog on my own DandleBlog, which is all ABOUT E.D. and finding meaning when we’re so unsatisfied in life. Thanks again.
I can completely relate to this. When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to grow up so I could get out of an abusive home. When I graduated high school, it felt like I was waiting to be happy until I got married (it took 11 years). And my whole life I always longed to become a mother, but (9+ years after getting married) I’ve lost 8 children through failed IVF attempts, 3 children through failed adoptions, and I’m still not a mother. I’ve always recognized I should be happy with the circumstances I’m in right now, but sometimes it can be really hard. Thanks for your posts and the reminder of who it is that is the source of happiness and who can fill our souls, no matter our hardships.
From the Canticle of Mary, “…He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty…” (full text is at Luke 1:46-55) I think it refers to the wanting that you describe. We need to want the good things that God is anxious to fill us with, but when we are rich with the worldly wants, we are sent away empty.
Wow, that is so beautiful! I love that Scripture. You are so right! Thank you for this beautiful reminder! He truly is the ONLY satisfier of our souls. 🙂
thanks for posting!! i just started the “let go” part of my infertility journey yesterday! God is good, and will give me strength to keep going, even if i never see the answer i want, i am learning to be happy to rejoice in my phase of life right now!
I am so thrilled to hear this!! Thank you for sharing. May God fill you up with His joy as you embrace this phase of life right now, and as you embrace Him! During my infertility journey, the best moments were the ones that I completely surrendered to Him with a truly thankful heart. I am so excited for you as you embark on this new path of freedom, and give your heart over to Him. May He bless and strengthen you, and may you be forever happy in Him.
Thank you for these beautiful posts. I see myself in every one and it’s crazy. As someone in the same struggle( two years and counting…) I have continued to refuse to be happy or live life, even though I know that’s the wrong way to go about it. I can’t have a fulfilled life without a baby… Or so I tell myself. I needed a reminder of surrendering to God and being thankful no matter what. It’s a test that I keep failing miserably at, but I know it’s one given to me for a reason. Thank you for sharing your story and know that God has used you to help girls like me to have hope and encouragement. 🙂
Thank you for sharing your journey with me! Oh, I pray that God will open up joy and life in you once again, even as you wait! Thanks for reading, and know I have been there so many many times. I feel for you. I know what barrenness feels like, and the dryness. But I also know that God waters us, like a torrential down pour at times, even during physical “barrenness.” May He water you fully, and may you drink Him in all the more. Much love to you, and all the life about to break forth. <3
I’ve been reading your blog. And feel it’s so easy for you to write these positive words when you have what you want. You are not barren so it’s easy for you to say ‘remain positive, trust in God etc…’
It took you 2 yrs to conceive. I do not class that as infertility or barren.
I’m 45 and have never conceived despite trying everything! You cannot resonate with my pain and desperation.
Thanks for trying but I just don’t get how you think you can encourage truly barren and infertile women to remain positive.
Thank you for sharing your honest opinion here and asking this totally valid question. I would love to answer it.
You are right, that God did bless us with children–without medical intervention or treatments or fertility drugs. I had my children naturally through my own womb. It was 2 years of TTC before I got pregnant with our first child, and 3 years of TTC before I got pregnant with our second.
I know that doesn’t sound “that” long–but as I’m sure you know, and anyone who has experienced infertility for any amount of time knows, that’s it’s painful, and sad, and feels hopeless. During the time I experienced infertility, I did know pain. I did know sorrow. And I did experience barrenness. Perhaps others could easily let it roll of their shoulders. But I couldn’t. It affected me deeply. And I had no idea how long it would last–and quite possibly for the rest of my life.
I can only share my experience. But it’s the true story of what God did in my life. It’s my testimony. And I believe every testimony has a place in God’s kingdom. [Many women (who waited longer than me, and some who are still not pregnant) have shared their testimony on my blog. (They are under the “Testimonies” category.) These women, God did not heal every one of them, in their barren womb, but He has healed every one of them in their barren soul. These women all testify of God’s promises and goodness in a powerful way.]
During the time I experienced infertility, I realized that I not only had a barren womb, but I had a barren soul. My soul was thirsty and dry, like a desert, like a barren wasteland. (I would encourage you to read, “About My Barrennes.”)
I had “accepted” that this was God’s will for my life–that I would never be able to have kids. I “tolerated” this was His plan. Until one day, He showed me that He didn’t die for me just so I could “accept” and “tolerate” His plan. He wanted me to embrace it, to embrace HIM.
He wanted to show me how to be grateful and thank Him even when I couldn’t get pregnant–and He wanted to show me how to worship Him when my arms were empty.
And that’s what I did. Before I was pregnant, I learned to worship Him and rejoice in Him. I learned to look forward to His plan unfolding even if it meant I would never have kids. (See the article, “Motherhood is a Beautiful Calling, But it’s not the Only One.”)
My blog is not about getting what you want. It’s not even about trusting God for what you want. It’s about trusting in God, and rejoicing in Him–even when you don’t have what you want. Even if you never have what you want. Because God doesn’t promise anyone a baby (neither do I), but He does promise Himself. And this is the greatest gift He could give any of us. I mean that.
I know that you said “it’s easy for me to say” but this is something God taught me *while* I was still barren. And it wasn’t easy. But it was life-changing. God showed me *while* I was still barren to thank Him for my infertility. When I began to thank Him for everything I possibly could about not getting pregnant, it changed something in me. I actually began to have joy again.
I fully knew I may never have children.
And one day God really broke into my soul–which had been so very dry, and so very thirsty. He showed me that even though my womb was barren, my heart and soul didn’t have to be. Do you know why? Because his Holy Spirit was living in me. And He is the one who makes us alive–SO very alive.
And that was the moment, truly, when God took the barreness of my soul away. (Again, not after I got pregnant–before!) And THIS is the hope that I want to share with women.
That God can come in and change us on the inside, that He brings His beauty and life and joy to our very souls.
All of us apart from Jesus Christ, are barren inside. (In our souls.) We are thirsty and dry, and we have a thirst that cannot be quenched by anything in this world–except God himself.
I can’t promise anyone a baby–but I can promise you Jesus Christ. He is the River of Life–that whoever drinks of Him will never thirst again. His Spirit makes us alive.
I truly believe, with all my heart, that all of us, men, women, people with 2 years of infertility, or 20 years of infertility, people who have tons of kids–all of us have a “barren soul” apart from Jesus.
And though I do not know your pain, Jesus does. He was aquainted with grief, and more sorrow than any one of us could ever even begin to comprehend. No one knows pain or suffering the way Jesus does. I encourage you to bring your pain to Him. Because He can carry it for you. I say this tears. He can carry it for you. And there is hope in Him, and there is hope that this life is not the end. That we can live with Him forever in heaven. And one day there will be healing for every pain in this life, and He will wipe every tear away from our eyes. And that one day we will truly know what means to transform from barren to beautiful.