Dwell in Me

Seeking God in the Every Day


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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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Defining “Glory” and Finding Joy

This post is sort of a part two to my previous post. If the last post was confusing or muddled, this one may be worse. Apologies if that’s the case.

When I had my “wrestling day,” I came to realize that I don’t value my salvation the way I should. To truly value the price that was paid for my sin, I need to recognize that my sins are great. So many people testify about salvation by saying things like “God has done so much for me, I can’t help but love him/be joyful/serve him/praise him/[enter any number of nice things for God here].”

I’ve always wondered about those people. I mean, they must have been really bad before they were saved, right? And I’m sitting here praying like the Pharisee in Luke 18:11: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector.”

I am embarrassed to say that I often think that my sins aren’t so bad. I mean, I know (head knowledge) that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) but I’ve been lacking any conviction of that (gut faith).

So two nights ago, I was dutifully answering my Bible study questions (we’re studying Hebrews; this week is 2:9-3:6). And I get to: “Look up ‘glory’ in a dictionary or Bible dictionary and write its definition.”

I was feeling moved, so I pulled out my old Greek reference books (I’m a total geek, in case that wasn’t already evident!). The word used for glory is δόξη (transliterated: doxa). And my Greek word study dictionary had about 5 pages of definitions and explanation of the word. A lot of the definitions were tied to specific verses. I found it fascinating.

It had a special part about Romans 3:23. My book said that when Paul writes “fall short of the glory of God,” it means that we don’t live up to what God has intended for our lives, that we don’t line up with the image and character of God.

For some reason, that got through to me.

I may not have murdered anyone or cheated on anyone, but I do know that I have not lived up to what God intended for me. I know that I don’t align perfectly with the image and character of God. And because of that, no matter the nature of my sins, I needed a savior just as desperately as all those people who may or may not have done really bad things by our worldly definition.

And if I can see how desperately I needed salvation, how truly short of God’s glory I fall, then I can have such gratitude for what God has done for me.

And I think that gratitude is where joy begins. I can be joyful because I know what a great thing God has done for me. That gift of forgiveness–of making up for my shortcomings–outweighs the temporal pain of barrenness. It doesn’t mean I don’t feel that pain or that I don’t suffer now, just that the joy should remain throughout.

I haven’t quite gotten there yet. Still working. But as long as I am still wrestling with these things, I think I am moving forward.


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The Head Knowledge-Gut Faith Disconnect

Yesterday was a wrestling day. I feel like I spent a lot of the day in prayer and half-sleep (which is not to suggest that I think it is good to pray while half sleeping, but hey, it happens). At the end of the day I was doing my homework for my Bible study. (Yes, I should have done a little each day all week. No, I didn’t do that. I did the whole thing last night.) As I was looking at the questions thoughts just kept coming to me and I think some things kind of came together. I tried to explain it all to DH. He listened sympathetically and mostly helped me realize that what I was saying was lacking any continuity. So apologies now if this doesn’t make sense.

At the crux of it all, I think, was the question of joy. In my last post, I wrote:

I know joy is supposed to be unaffected by emotion and that I should be joyful even when I am sad. I’m having trouble with that in practice. I’m working on it.

I guess my subconscious has been mulling that over for the past few days. And I have come to a few conclusions about this. I’ll start here with one epiphany that I think is helping me open the door to true faith in my life.

I have a lot of head knowledge. I know the Bible pretty well and I can quote it to myself. I can’t tell you how many of my recent journal entries have said things like,

“God, I know you say that ‘all things work for the good of those who love you, who are called according to your purpose’ (Romans 8:28) but how is this (our infertility) for good?”

and

“I know you tell me that you have plans ‘to prosper me and not to harm me, to give me a hope and a future’ (Jeremiah 29:11) but I am struggling to believe this is true.”

And, my favorite,

“God, I believe. Surely I have faith the size of a mustard seed!! You said, ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you’ (Matthew 17:20). So why isn’t this mountain moving yet?

I have head knowledge (which often undermines me by turning to pride, but that’s a story for a different day), but I am coming to see that I am lacking in true faith–gut faith. (It is sad really; at the end of the day all that knowledge is wasted if it keeps me from truly knowing and trusting my savior with my life.) If I stepped out of that boat onto the water to be with Jesus as Peter did (Matthew 14:29), I’d be telling myself all the while that surely I could stand on the water. It wouldn’t matter, though. Because I am lacking this real, honest, gut faith, those empty words would do me no good. I’d almost certainly find myself swimming.

I’m beginning to understand that this head knowledge – gut faith disconnect is a serious problem. It is keeping me from having real joy. It is also keeping me from being able to trust completely in the Lord in this crisis of my life.

So I’ve been praying for the Holy Spirit to move in me, to give me that gut faith. And my head knowledge says it will happen: God says, “You will seek me and  find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

And I am praying this not in an effort to manipulate God into giving me what I really want (to be a mom to a baby or 5), but in the hopes that he will transform the desires of my heart such that I want him and that I want to be with him and in his presence and to serve him, above all other things–even the things that seem good and fulfilling, like being a mother.

(As an aside: I’ve tried the praying with an eye toward tricking God into giving me what I want. It doesn’t work. I think he’s on to me.)

If knowing is half the battle, is actually believing the other half?