Years after the car accident–the one she was in as a six-year-old that took her sister’s life–Shelly still suffered from survivor’s guilt. It came and went over the years, but the idea that she should have at least suffered physically, instead of walking away from the wreck, haunted her.
At one point, when she’d thought she had finally gotten past the lingering effects of the accident, Shelly began to have terrible dreams. Night after night she would awaken after seeing herself maimed and injured, but never killed, in her dreams.
As she was walking across her college campus one day after a particularly vivid dream, she felt God speak clearly to her. He first reminded her that she was physically fine. None of these things in her imagination or thoughts from her subconscious had happened. But what he followed with is why I’m telling this story:
Think, he said, If you were maimed or severely injured, think of the people you would be able to reach for me and for my glory that you cannot connect with currently. Think of the great work I would have for you that you would be able to accomplish because of–not in spite of–such a physical challenge.*
She thought about it and laughed. Of course God was right. Of course he would be able to use anything that happened in her life for good and for his glory. At the realization, as this sunk in, she says she felt her spirits lift. A burden of worry and a weight of fear were lifted.
And the dreams stopped. To this day–and she has grown children now–she has not had nightmares or feelings of survivor’s guilt.
I think the lesson translates as easily to infertility as to any other struggles that we, through our human eyes, see as hindering our ability to be successful or happy. I know there are things I do because of infertility that I wouldn’t be able to do if I’d gotten pregnant right away. God can use me in a way I never would have expected because I haven’t been able to have children. Especially if I’m willing to surrender and listen to him.
God will use us in the shape we’re in. And he will use the imperfections, the challenges, the pain, the heartaches in our lives to use us in different and better ways. He will truly work all things to the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purposes.
*There are no direct quotations from God in this post. I’m paraphrasing from a second-hand source. But I did my best to recreate what I heard and stay true to the point of the message.
Shelly told this story to a group of women in a Bible study through my church. She told it, and many other stories from her life and other’s lives, because faith stories build faith, as she said. And she graciously gave me permission to share this story here.