Dwell in Me

Seeking God in the Every Day


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Asking, and Still Asking

Do you ever feel a little bit phony?

I’ve been riding a bit of an infertility roller coaster lately. I guess it’s been for the past few weeks, maybe even over a month. I am just so ready to be on the other side of this. So ready.

I think I’ve also reached a place where I think I’ve learned my lessons. Yes, I’ve been blessed in a number of ways by infertility, not least of which is getting connected to some absolutely wonderful men and women who are sitting in this boat with me–or who have been. I’ve grown closer to God and to my husband. I’ve seen intimacy increase in both relationships in ways I never expected. I know I’ve gained a new appreciation for what I’m missing, that I’ll be more joyful and slower to complain when things are tough in pregnancy or after. And I’ve benefited in some tangible ways: I eat better (or at least know better and try to), I’ve eliminated some potentially and actually harmful substances from my skin care routine. I’ve begun some new habits that will hopefully help my house run a bit smoother once I get them all down. And these are all things that will be good for my coming children.

I wouldn’t take it all back. Really I wouldn’t. I’m grateful, honest-to-goodness grateful for the journey that has led me here. But have I learned enough yet? Because I really, really am so ready to move on.

And the phoniness? It comes out on here sometimes, when I want to look like I have things more together than I really do. Mea culpa. Seriously. And I feel it when I’m with the people who don’t know. The ones who ask me, at my Bible study, “How are you?” with that look that says, “I know there’s something hurting you” or “Are you really okay?” or “No really, tell me, how are you?”

And I’m so grateful to have these women who ask me with depth. They know. I know some of them know. I’m 29, I’ve been married almost six years, I live in Texas, and I’m a stay at home wife. They know. But they don’t pry, they just keep asking, “How are you?” and meaning it.

And I keep deflecting. Like today, when I told a dear friend that, well, I have to get my house cleaned for DH’s grandparents who are coming to visit. I do need to do that, by the way. My house is a complete disaster. And I’m not exaggerating (though I really wish I was!). And I know why I’m not telling them, why I’m not exposing myself in that way and why we’re waiting. And I think we have some valid reasons not to tell, beyond just protecting ourselves. So I’m not actually rethinking that decision. Just, I guess, coming to terms with the feeling of phoniness that likes to sneak in.

And then, there’s God’s word. And I read it and I so want some of these things to be true for me specifically, but I don’t know how to take the promises specific to one person, or to one tribe, or to one time and place, and call them mine. I don’t know if they’re mine. And truthfully, the only thing that makes me want to say they are mine is because they line up so well with my will. But in my head I know that God’s will is best.*

And I’ll keep asking. And keep seeking. But I’m not yet claiming. I don’t know if I can, or should. So here I am, God, still waiting. Waiting to hear what your promises are to me. Hoping that, like infertility, having a child is a good gift you have in store for me. And waiting for this trial to end. Please let it end.

Sigh.

Keep on asking and it will be given to you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, [the door] will be opened.

Or what man is there of you, if his son asks him for a loaf of bread, will hand him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will hand him a serpent? If you then, evil as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give good and advantageous things to those who keep on asking him!
(Matthew 7:7-11, AMP)

With family in town from now through Thanksgiving, I’m not sure how consistent I’ll be (they are staying with DH’s parents, or I know I wouldn’t be able to do much blogging). I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed lately–not by the blog, but by other things–and I am striving to find balance. So, if I’m quiet for oddly long periods, please don’t worry. I’ll be back. I might be back tomorrow. But I appreciate your patience.

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Awkward Infertility Conversations

About a month ago we started attending Sunday school at a new church in an effort to build community here in Katy. So we’ve been doing double duty. Early church at our church home, Sunday school at a church down the road. I know this is weird. But it works for us.

The first class we visited turned out to be doing a parenting module (seriously?), but the second week we found a great fit. And now it’s been about a month and we’re already feeling more connected than we felt after a year without Sunday school. Crazy.

I’m really quite close-mouthed about infertility. I don’t know that I would be if it weren’t so important to DH that we don’t really tell people. Especially while so much is still up in the air. And I can’t blame him for wanting this to be private. It is a deeply private and personal struggle and it’s hard to open up to people who often don’t understand. 

The Sunday school does this thing called “dinners of six” every quarter. It’s an opportunity for three couples to share a meal together and fellowship. A way for people to get to know each other better in the event that they haven’t already developed friendships outside of class. So we signed up to go and enjoyed a great meal and, well, interesting fellowship Friday night.

The hosts are parents of a seven-month old. He’s adorable and about the same age as our godson. The other couple who came is expecting. And there we were. The longest married (we beat the hosts by two months) and the furthest from becoming parents.

This was not a problem until shortly after we sat down to dinner. The boys kind of talked together and so did the girls. The other couple who was there already knew our hosts pretty well, so DH and I were kind of in the spotlight. The hostess asked a bunch of questions. In her defense, she was trying to get to know us better. I don’t think she anticipated what was going to happen. And I did okay.

Hostess: Do you and [DH] want to have children?

Me: Yes.

Hostess: How many?

Me: I guess we’ll see.

Hostess: What’s your timeline?

[And here’s where I gave myself away]

Me: Sometimes things aren’t that straightforward.

[In my opinion, and I could be wrong, the appropriate response to this is “oh” and a polite change of subject.]

Hostess: Oh. Are you having trouble?

[Am I going to lie to my new Sunday school friends?]

Me: Yes.

Hostess: How bad?

Me: We’re seeing doctors.

Ultimately I shared that we’re expecting to undergo more invasive fertility treatments this winter.

She asked whether I’d had any hormone problems or weird periods or anything. I answered her questions as best I could while trying not to give everything away. [At one point she straight up said: “What’s your diagnosis?” I said, “I can’t tell you that.” She took it well and apologized for asking.] She said she had PCOS and endometriosis and was told she’d never have children before she became pregnant. That she understood. That her sister-in-law had undergone several cycles of IVF resulting in her two nieces, with two more eggs frozen for their next round. The other woman at the table spoke eloquently about the miscarriage she’d suffered prior to her current pregnancy and the continual nagging fear she has that something will happen to this baby, too (she’s 15 weeks). 

I have mixed feelings about this conversation. I would prefer to share about our infertility struggles on my terms and with the people I want to tell. I mean, most of the people in our small group (which has been meeting for about six months) don’t even know what we’re going through. But it was interesting to see that both of these women, who appear to be fertile without any question, have had their own infertility/miscarriage experiences, fears, and difficulties.

I know infertility is said to affect one in eight couples in the United States (or sometimes one in six, depending on what you read). But it usually doesn’t feel that common. Friday night’s conversation revealed that it is really more common than what we see. We hide it–most of us, anyway–for our own protection, out of self-preservation. Both of these women understood a part of what we’re going through. Neither had needed fertility treatments, but neither said those stupid things we all hate to hear: just believe, just adopt, God has a plan, and so forth.

Being open and talking about this–even though I wouldn’t have chosen to bring it up–did build intimacy with this woman quickly. She really is sweet and has a heart for people. She wants to be in fellowship in a deep way–even if that means taking conversations where social norms would dictate that they shouldn’t go.

Also, I like the idea that once I have a child, to the world I’ll be just your average fertile person. Some people will know what it took to get there, but most people won’t. I hope I can still comfort people then who are where I am now. But I also look forward to the normalcy that might come with being a parent. I look forward to being able to have mommy talks, to compare notes with the other parents, to learn from them and contribute to what they know. 

I like feeling like there’s a light at the end of this tunnel.


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Don’t Call Me Infertile

I’m not an infertile anymore.

My circumstances have not changed. What’s changed is my emphasis. From the day of our diagnosis to a few months ago, my life revolved around and centered on infertility. If you asked me how I was doing, my first thought was about infertility and how it was ruining my life. My smiles were fake and plastered on when that was an appropriate response, but on the inside I couldn’t overcome my pain. I stopped wearing mascara to church because the praise and worship songs we sang would bring tears to my eyes–often out of despair and a feeling that God wasn’t extending his might and power and wonder to my situation.

More than anything, I wanted God to take this burden of infertility. I meant, of course, that I wanted him to reach down into our lives, heal us, make me pregnant. I wanted it to all go away. I still want our infertility to end, but God did take the burden. He took the burden of infertility and gave me peace in my circumstances. He let me know, in my gut, that he is in control and that his plan is better. He answered that prayer.

And that peace has been life-changing and life-giving. I wasn’t really living when I kept myself trapped in this negative, despairing world of infertility. Infertile isn’t exactly an inaccurate word to describe me, but it’s also not the word to describe me. And knowing that? It has made a huge difference in my feeling of self-worth, in my experience of true joy, and in my ability to give of myself to others. Praise God for this new freedom from the negative words I was using to keep myself down.

And I’m able to see that there have been ways infertility has blessed my life. Infertility has challenged me to deepen my trust in God and to give up on fear and worry. Because of infertility, my relationship with my husband has grown deeper. He has become a stronger spiritual leader, and I have learned to lean on him more. We have made (and are making) lifestyle changes that will make our home a better, healthier environment for us and any future children. We’ve learned a lot about how we handle extreme stress. And we’ve put our priorities in order. We have become more empathetic and compassionate for others. We still have a long way to go, and I still hope we will have biological children–even without needing ART–but there is no question we have grown from infertility.

When you ask me now how I am, infertility might not be the first thing that comes to mind. When you tell me that you’re pregnant, I can smile and feel genuinely happy about the new life growing inside you. (Okay, full disclosure: when you complain about your pregnancy–well, I’m still working on an appropriate response to that.) And when I’m singing worship songs I may still tear up–but it’s more likely out of joy and awe of my great God than despair.

So who am I? I’m a Christ-follower. I’m a woman. I’m a wife. I’m {hopefully} a future mom. I’m a blogger and a copyeditor. I’m a small group leader. I’m a child of the one true King.

And I love this song by Matthew West that reminds me of what’s true.


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Can I Claim That?

People talk all the time about believing the promises of God in our life. I find defining the promises really difficult. There are promises I want to believe are for me. But how do I know that something in scripture is a permanent promise that applies to everyone and not just a promise that applies to certain someones?

There are some I have no doubt about. For example, Romans 8:28: “For we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”

I love God. So that promise must apply to me. (I sometimes struggle to remember it, and I often have to remind myself of it, but it’s a promise for me without any doubt.)

But then you read about other promises that are made in scripture. Here’s one I want to claim for myself, but how can I be sure it’s for me and not just for the people who were there?

“You shall serve the Lord your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you. None shall miscarry or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days.” Exodus 23: 25-26

And I want this one:

“Listen closely, Israel, and be careful to obey. Then all will go well with you, and you will have many children in the land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.” Deuteronomy 6:3

Or this one:

He will love you and bless you, and he will give you many children. He will give fertility to your land and your animals. . . . You will be blessed above all nations of the earth. None of your men or women will be childless, and all your livestock will bear young.” Deuteronomy 7: 13-14

And I’m not even asking for any sheep or goats to bear young.

I don’t have an answer. This is something I’ve been pondering for many months. In fact, I’ve wondered for many years what the promises are in the Bible. There isn’t any set rule that I can see. Like, if it’s written in Psalms it’s for you but not if it’s given by Moses. Nothing like that.

So I pray over these verses. And I ask God to let them apply to my life and to the lives of the many men and women I’ve come across through blogging or other means who are also struggling through infertility. And I keep asking for clarity and guidance.

Today, as I read those verses in Deuteronomy 7, I thought it was clear for a moment. Those promises are clearly made to the children of Israel.

But could I claim the promises to Israel? Am I like a child of Israel? I’m not descended from Israel (at least, not as far as I know). But I have been adopted into the family of God by belief in Christ Jesus and his work for me. Does that entitle me to the promises given to Israel? I don’t know, but I’d like to think so. (I like this perspective on the subject.)

When I google the promises in the Bible, many lists come up. So I clicked on one. This is one of the promises listed:

“‘For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds,’ says the Lord.” Jeremiah 30:17.

Some clearly claim this promise for themselves, even though it is prefaced with “This is the message the Lord gave concerning Israel and Judah” (30:4).

I realize this is pretty convoluted. I’m still trying to figure it out myself, so maybe I’m not the best one to be writing on this subject. But I’ll leave you with this verse (which I’ll be meditating on and trying to better understand over the next few days for sure):

“For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us–by me [Paul] and Silas and Timothy–was not ‘Yes’ and ‘No,’ but in him it has always been ‘Yes.’ For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.”
2 Corinthians 1:19-20

And I will say, “Amen” to those promises as I read them–just in case they are meant for me.