The Song and the Sermon
It’s hard to predict the kind of things that are going to set me off. I never know what kind of things are going to prompt that hateful, pulsing lie that’s become a part of me, the one that’s been buried deep within me since I first found out we may never get pregnant. This is why. This is why this isn’t happening for you.
It’s usually something that seems to me to be proof of our lack of responsibility. I accidentally left the oven on for an hour after I finished cooking. My husband left his keys in our front door when he got home. I never put the wet laundry in the dryer and had to wash it again. We spent an entire week eating cereal and chips and Mac and cheese for dinner.
Sometimes, it’s our childishness. We sometimes stay up all night just for the heck of it even though we have to work the next day. My husband doesn’t always eat his vegetables, and sometimes he kicks his soccer ball in the house. I still watch Disney movies and Harry Potter on the regular, and I spill something on my clothes almost every day. We still feel like children.
While none of these things are close to being condemning, for the person struggling with infertility, they can quickly become elements of torment. Because what happens when you discover that you can’t get pregnant is that you inevitably begin to evaluate every little piece of your life in order to try to figure out which piece is to blame. Naturally, your mind wants to come up with a logical reason why. And what comes of that is debilitating grief and guilt.
This is the exact mindset I was in when God chose to send me the truth of His promises through two pastors.
The first month after my doctor told me the news of my infertility was a hazy, pain-filled mess. I’d have moments of deep, dark grief that pulled me away from everything and everyone and left me completely isolated and alone. We would try to talk about our options, but it would only end with me in an uncontrollable fit of tears and a string of lies pounding around my mind. This is never going to happen for us. I can’t give my husband children. There’s a reason God isn’t allowing us to be parents. I’m the reason. I am why. It’s because of me.
I met a worship pastor through my husband one evening after one of my frequent meltdowns. This one had been bad, but if I’m being honest, they all are bad. My husband has been leading worship for years, so he has dozens of connections with leaders in the worship realm all over the area. This might as well have been a brief introduction in passing. It probably would have been, had God not chosen this moment to remind me of His presence.
It was your typical conversation of introductions: This is my wife. Nice to meet you. We’ve played music together a couple of times before… The man talked of music for a moment, but then he looked at me and stopped.
“This will probably sound weird,” he said, “but as I was talking to you both, I could feel a nurturing spirit surrounding the two of you. I don’t know if you both have been thinking of kids or if maybe you guys have been trying, but I can feel your hearts being pulled in that direction, like God is preparing you for parenthood.”
He went on to tell us that we had no reason to be fearful; God had placed that spirit inside us and we would be great parents. He talked for a few moments longer, reaffirming areas of our own lives that were clouded with doubt, some of which contained fears we had yet to even express to each other. And then he prayed for us and we parted ways.
Over the next few days, I wrestled with God’s purpose in affirming my heart’s desires when it seemed as though they were unattainable. Though I’d recently heard what I believed to be earth-shattering news, God had taken the time to send me hope to cling to, hope that this was not yet the end for our dream of parenthood. Though I’d been so caught up in my grief that I could not even find the energy to cry out to God for healing, He had still heard my cries, and He had reached out and taken my hand.
I didn’t understand this confusing mix of emotions; I was overwhelmed by my desire to mourn the loss we had suffered, yet God was calling me to cling to hope in spite of it, hope that I was beginning to see the faint light of, yet hope that still seemed out of my reach.
Then one Sunday, I walked into church to find that our pastor was beginning a new series: Learning to Lament. And as I sat there listening to the the pastor introducing the book of Lamentations to our church, I felt God narrowing in on me in that moment, asking me to cry out to Him, reassuring me that it was okay to lament. Our God desires for us to express our grief to him, because when we do, we see that God is still good, that He is still faithful, and that He is present amid our sorrows.
And as I felt that pull on my heart, as God urged me again to talk to Him, to tell Him what was on my heart, I opened my journal and I wrote these words:
Lord, You are asking me to come to you with a specific request, to cry out to you…but I don’t know if I can…
I remembered the pastor that spoke God’s promise over my husband and me. I remembered the first time I’d ever heard him sing, and the song that he sung in that moment: Glory to Glory. In that song, there is a line that says, “You took on our frame, You walked in our pain, and now You’re taking us higher.” God was promising to take us higher. He was promising something that we could not yet see, something of which we had to trust him to attain. He was not promising that it would come without pain. He was not promising that it would be easy or instantaneous. He was not promising that we would not have grief, but rather, that there would be glory in that grief.
Then my pastor posed a question that shook me. Do you feel like the enemy has triumphed? I realized in that moment that God could turn my grief into glory, but I first needed to let Him. Because He has not told us that sadness and grief are wrong; He has not told us that we shouldn’t mourn. He has asked us to come to Him with our grief, to draw near to Him rather than retreat in our pain. He has asked us to lament with Him. He has asked us to turn our attention to Him and realize that He has won. He has already won over my pain. He has won over my grief. He has won over my loss. He has won over my lack of faith. He has won over infertility. And He has promised us glory in spite of grief. He is taking us higher, because through Him we have victory over all things.
Though those pulsing lies still flood my mind at unsuspecting times, though I still struggle with understanding why this has happened, though I still often fight the urge to question Him and ask Him why, I am confident that His hand is still in this. Though my faith has wavered, He has never left me. Though I question, He has still chosen to draw near to me. I may not fully understand, but I don’t need to, because His glory will be revealed in due time.
“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” -Psalm 27:13-14