Dwell in Me

Seeking God in the Every Day


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Looking Anew at the Psalms

I always used to wonder about the Psalms. I mean, there are some really pretty poems in that book, right? Who doesn’t love Psalm 23, for example? And I’ve always liked the ones that clearly prophesied things about Jesus, like in Psalm 22:

“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;
my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and my  feet–
I can count all my bones–
they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.” (v. 14-18)

But outside of the clear references to Jesus and the sweeter, most oft-quoted poetry, I never really cared for the Psalms.

And I sort of felt like they were poems old people liked. I mean, they don’t even rhyme in English. And I’m sure the rhthym is all off too. Not like Shakespeare. Or even Dickinson–with her half rhymes and rhythmic verses. Or e. e. cummings, whose creativity in poetry just makes you think. “anyone lived in a pretty how town/ (with up so floating many bells down).” Love that.

The rest of the Bible is a little easier for me. More concrete. You know when God is telling you to do something or live a certain way. There are stories and you can analyze them and think about their application in your own life. You can read and puzzle over Revelation and Daniel, wondering what everything really looked like to John and Daniel in these visions they’ve recorded. Trying to see what they see. But the Psalms require something different.

I’m not sure what that is. Empathy? Personal suffering? Doubts? A vision of a God who is Love? And maybe all of those things and more.

Infertility has been pain, my suffering. It has made me question God and caused me to examine him to see who he really is. It has brought me to my knees and  brought me to his throne. And it has taken me to the Psalms.

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3

 

“Ask of me and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.” Psalm 2:8

 

“But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill.” Psalm 3:3-4

 

“Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!” Psalm 4:1

 

“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread you rprotection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.” Psalm 5:11

And there are 150 Psalms recorded in the Bible. Praise God for this source of wisdom and empathy. For this instruction in speaking to God and relating to and understanding who he is. For this emotional connection to him and to his word that we have in the Psalms like nowhere else. Praise God for opening my eyes to the beauty in these poems, to the meat in them, to the way they can speak powerfully in my life. Praise God.

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Out of My Head, into My Heart

I’m not a very emotional person–at least compared to other women I know. I live my life through my head. It’s hard–so hard–for me to get things into my heart.

I think sometimes this means I’m not a very compassionate person. I struggle with sympathy, not to mention empathy.

People talk about feeling someone’s pain so deep that it feels like it’s their pain. Or seeing something beautiful and just feeling this little twinge of emotion that flows up like something real and tangible.

Not me.

Like a white-washed tomb–my heart felt empty and unmoved inside this body.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires

One of the biggest struggles I’ve had through infertility is convincing my heart that what I believe in my head is true. I’ve called this the head knowledge-gut faith disconnect.

And one of the biggest blessings of infertility is that my heart seems to be working better. Like infertility is the hammer that has broken my heart open and at the same time knocked down the walls I’d built around it. The feeling is coming back, empathy and compassion are slowly seeping in. Not perfect, but gradually coming to life within me.

Outside Recoleta Cemetery,  Buenos Aires

That opening up makes me hurt more. Opening up lets in the good with the bad, the pain with the joy, the heartache with the peace. And it is what enables me to trust that what God says is true, that God is who he says he is. That God is everything to me. These weren’t possible with my hardened, sealed up heart.

So today, my heart is aching. Aching for one of my only “real life” friends who is dealing with this infertility mess. Her embryo didn’t make it in her first IVF transfer.

And she says she is struggling with this same head knowledge-gut faith disconnect right now.

Praying for her today. For her faith and trust in God. For peace and strength. And for beauty in the pain of death.

And thanking God that he has used infertility for my good and his glory. That I can be there for my friend because of where I’ve been and where I’m going.

I may have picked a different road in life. But God knew where I needed to be today and how to get me here.


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Visit from Mom and Dad

I had a lovely blessing this weekend: My parents came to visit. My dad hadn’t seen our new house yet, and when my mom came last we had just moved in. She was helping us unpack. So it was very nice to have a chance to show them the house now that it is put together and we’ve hung stuff on the walls.

We had a great time while they were here. DH and I took them to NASA headquarters and we visited DH’s parents at their lakehouse. We ate at excellent restaurants, and we really had a wonderful time.

But last night my mom wanted to discuss our infertility stuff. It was their last night here, and we were up until almost 4 am talking. She and I had talked a little about the physical stuff (medicines we were trying, our approximate timeline of upcoming stuff, and so forth), but last night she asked, “Are you happy?”

I told her that I am happy most days, but on the whole I’m sad. I don’t think I’ll ever look back on this period of my life and think, gee, wasn’t that a great time? Remember when we were living in a strange city, we didn’t have a very good social outlet, and we found out we were infertile? Wasn’t it just lovely?

And she didn’t like my answer. She wants me to be happy, of course. But in her mind, the fact that I’m not happy isn’t a fact. It’s something I’m apparently supposed to be either ignoring or doing something about. The hardest part was that she kept telling me that she just knew we would have children someday–if we had faith. She said it more the more I tried to explain to her that, while I appreciated that she was trying to make me feel better, her words weren’t comforting.

I really feel that God is calling me to trust him and to, in a sense, come to terms with the possibility that we won’t have our own children and know that if this happens it will be because that is what is best for us (based on Romans 8:28). It’s not that I think we won’t or that I am not hoping that we will, but that I feel I need to come to a place where I can say honestly that while I hope we will have a family of our own one day, I am okay with the possibility that we won’t.

I’m not there yet. But I’ve gotten close a few times.

I had told her all this before. But it clearly didn’t sink in (or, more likely, she just thinks I’m wrong in my assessment of things). Last night, I told my mom that what she was saying was undermining what I felt like God has been telling me.

And she couldn’t comprehend that.

I just wish she would try to understand. That she would sincerely put herself in our shoes and try to get what it feels like to be here. Or, if that is too much or not possible for her, that she would at least listen when I say, “Mom, what you are saying to me right now hurts me. Believe that if you like, but please stop saying it.” Instead, when I say that to her, she repeats the offending words. Over. And over. And over again.

What she said (though she couldn’t understand why this was hurtful) boiled down to saying that if we had enough faith we would be pregnant. As in, it’s our fault we are still barren.

I don’t believe that is true. Deep down, I know it’s not true.

But it’s hard enough to hear stuff like that from people I don’t know well. It’s so much harder to hear it from my own mom.

Lord, give me strength to love her, even when we don’t see eye to eye. And to recognize that she means well, even when she keeps throwing little barbs at me.

(Note: I am really grateful they came to visit. As hard as last night was, maybe by the end of our 4-hour conversation she came to understand something new. Maybe things will be better next time. I am glad it happened. And I really did have a lovely long weekend with my mom and dad, even if some of last night was depressing.)