Thursday, November 22, 2012

God's promises

So as the whole world knows by now, I'm in a rocky place where my faith is concerned. I want to have great hope and put all of my trust in the Lord, but over and over so far my greatest desire seems out of reach.

In my quest for some sort of balance, I've begun to write my prayers down, instead of simply praying them in my head. (This is in addition to talking to good friends, my godmother, my counselor, my sweet hubby, running on a semi-regular basis, etc.)

It has been good for me, so far, because it is forcing me to take the time to slow down and focus and to really be intentional about trying to be thankful, even when I don't really feel thankful. It is forcing me to recognize feelings and questions that I have about this whole infertility experience that before I hadn't been able to fully form or fully recognize.

It is also forcing me to be more open to hearing God's response -- this taking time to really pay attention also gives me a time and place where I am quiet and trying to listen.

And so one day last weekend I prayed for a sign. My prayer went something like, "God, just let me know which way my life is supposed to go -- let me know whether I should be hopeful without fear of having my faith, little though it may be, ripped out from under me if we find out that we really just can't have our own children."

I don't normally pray for signs. I don't know if I really even believe in signs, most of the time.

The one other time I have actively prayed for a sign was actually the beginning of my romantic relationship with sweet hubby. I prayed for a long time before sweet hubby and I were a couple, because I thought he had a girlfriend but I really really liked him and we were starting to spend more time together. I was determined not to come between him and a girlfriend, not to do anything to mess up his relationship, and I was determined not to be the one to initiate anything physical. I prayed to God that this boy would kiss me by a certain date, and if he didn't, that I would let go of my feelings for him. And funnily enough, after I started praying so specifically about needing this particular sign before a specific date, we had hardly any time alone. I started to get worried, and then I kept reminding myself that I wasn't supposed to be in charge. I wasn't supposed to be orchestrating or trying to make sure that we had an opportunity or anything -- I was supposed to wait and see and be open to both possibilities (that we would get together, or that we wouldn't).

And wouldn't you know, even on the very last day, we still didn't have any time together alone? We lived in a sort of boarding house, and I had accidentally left my water bottle downstairs. When I went back downstairs late that night to retrieve it, there was sweet hubby, all alone, and his eyes lit up to see me. He initiated the kiss that I had been so impatiently waiting for. And the rest is history.

Was it a sign? I'm not entirely sure, but clearly I'd like to believe that it was. It sure felt a lot like a sign and an answered prayer when it happened.

I *want* very much to believe in signs now, because the one I think I received over the weekend could be so incredibly encouraging to me right now. I have been praying for God to let us know definitively whether we will have our own babies or need to explore other family-growing options.

So there I was, sandwiched between my mama and daddy at church on Sunday morning, and we began to sing the hymn "Come Ye Thankful People Come". The third line caught me off guard and put a smile on my face -- "God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied". The hymn isn't really about whether I can have babies or not, though, but it felt like God might be whispering to me.

Just a little bit later, we began to responsively read Psalm 113. And here, my heart just about jumped into my throat. Could this really be what I just read? Look at verse 9 of this Psalm -- "He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord." Really, God? Is this a coincidence, or is this for real? I made a decision that I was going to have to look the Psalm up again later, just to see if I had made it up and it was all in my head.

When the sermon began, I didn't know whether I would listen or not. I like my pastor just fine, but sometimes I totally tune him out when he talks about topics that are upsetting to me -- like when he tells lots of stories about how important it is to be a parent, which seems totally out of reach to me right now. I started off listening. He told the story of someone who recognized all of the many, many small things that led to big things, with the understanding that she couldn't control any of the small things and couldn't control the big thing, but that she recognized the way that all of these small things came together in exactly the right way for the big things to happen. I know that sounds vague, but I've forgotten the exact story, even though I recall it was about an author.

And so I've been left thinking about the small things. Small things that I'm hoping, very much, are adding up to a big thing in my life -- small things that I'm hoping will turn out exactly as God has planned, and exactly as my heart desires, all at the same time.

I've been thinking about how I developed a good relationship with the counselors that I used to work for, so that when I needed to reach out for professional help coping with the emotional journey that infertility brings, I was comfortable enough to actually do so. I've been thinking about how my godmother struggled with infertility, but I never knew it until I confided in her a few weeks ago, and she can fully understand where my heart and mind are in this process of really wanting to have children and questioning and doubting and being on an emotional roller coaster almost all the time and the effect of the extra hormones from treatment and all of it. I've been thinking about how letting our social/travel calendar revolve around "good times to be apart" and "times that we should be together" has grown my relationship with sweet hubby and encouraged him to verbalize to me the importance to him of growing our family and has allowed him to demonstrate to me that he is willing and able to put our family ahead of his immediate desires to travel or spend time with friends. I've been thinking about how two of my good friends from college, while they have no problem getting pregnant themselves, both have an older sister struggling with infertility. I've been thinking about how my mom decided several years ago that she wasn't going to ask us prying questions about when we were planning to have kids, and how when we are at parties and such and people ask me in her presence, she'll automatically defend our childless-ness with the statement "I don't even ask them about that -- it's not my business". And this from my mama, who loves me, but with whom I do not discuss anything truly personal -- this from my mama, without me ever telling her that we're trying to have babies and that it hasn't been an easy road.

The little things, I'm discovering, are pretty amazing. And I have great hope (this week, at least) that these little things will add up to something amazing. I'm hesitant to claim Psalm 113:9 as a personal promise from God to me, but on Sunday morning, standing there, reading it aloud, it sure felt like a sign. It felt like a promise, from God to me, that he does, actually, have a plan for me, and that the pieces of this plan will come together the way God wants them to, and that God's plan includes my desire of having children of my own.

I'm a little bit afraid to claim this promise, in case it turns out that we really can't have children of our own, and rocks my faith in a way that I can't recover. But mostly I want to claim God's promise, and to use it to shore up my hope and have a positive attitude and not worry so so so much all the time about where and when and how and whether I am doing enough.

Please pray for me.

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