Dwell in Me

Seeking God in the Every Day

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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.


Evicting Fear

I have an enemy called Fear. We don’t get along well, but I have, off and on,  allowed Fear to be a close companion. And not in the “keep your enemies closer” kind of way.

Fear keeps sneaking up on me and trying to steal my joy. She sneaks into my thoughts and tells me lies. Lies like I’ll never be fulfilled if I don’t have children. Lies like I’m wasting my life waiting around for a baby. Lies like I’d better hurry up and figure out what I’m supposed to do with my life, because I’m clearly not having a child any time soon.

For months I let fear live with me. She came in and made a pleasant little home for herself. When my thoughts would stray toward our infertility, she was right there ready to tell me all the reasons my life looked bleak. When I spent a day at home without a lot of work I needed to do, she taunted me. When I wondered where I was going or what I was going to do, she egged me on. “Worry more,” she’d say. “There’s so much you should be worried about.”

Fear has a few buddies she invited over for regular, noisy parties. Anxiety would come. Low Self-Esteem always showed up. Loneliness was definitely around. But the life of the party was Worry. They all came and they always made a mess.

Anxiety always echoed Fear’s haunting chorus: “You’ve got nothing. You’re going nowhere.” And added, “What are we going to do?”

Low Self-Esteem said, “Without children, who are you? You’re not valuable to future generations. You’re not worthy of your mommy-friends. And you’re really letting yourself go these days.” (Okay, there may be some truth to that last one . . .)

Loneliness tried to make me forget that I am never alone, that God is always with me. She tried to make me forget that  my husband, my best friend,  is here for me. Loneliness tried to tell me my friends, especially the ones who live far away, were too busy with their own, more important, lives to have time to talk to me. Loneliness told me that I didn’t fit in–that I’m too long married to be with the “young marrieds” and too barren to hang with the fertile crowd.

And Worry. She got into everything. Every aspect of my life was under her purview. “What if your husband has a terrible car accident on his way to work? Then you’ll really be alone. What if you get everything in order and still can’t make a baby? What if you can’t have any children? What will you do with yourself then? What if . . .”

A mess indeed. I look back on those months and I remember the company I was keeping–the company I was feeding and allowing to be part of my life–and it’s no wonder that I was depressed. That I was always tired. That I felt Hope slipping away.

And then something changed. Slowly, I began to realize that I was nourishing all of these negative voices instead of the positive voices that were standing at the door and waiting to be let in to influence my life. I was feeding Fear and Worry. I was giving them a free pass. But I didn’t have to do that.

And I found in the Word, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (I John 4: 18).

And I found in the Word, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

I find today that I am not afraid. I’m not afraid that we won’t be able to have children even with help. It may happen, but I’m not afraid of it. I’m not afraid that I will not be a mother. I may never be a mother, but I’m not afraid. I don’t need to worry about tomorrow–I need to live today.

I am choosing Joy instead of Worry and Peace instead of Anxiety. I am choosing Love instead of Fear. And maybe when Love comes in and finds it is at home, Fear is evicted and can’t find a place to lay her head. Love trumps Fear. Love wins.