Give and Take

This week, April 21-27, is National Infertility Awareness Week. It’s the week that the spotlight is placed on the fact that 1 in 8 couples struggle to have children. It’s no secret that we are the 1 in 8, or that it has been a battle.

For the longest time, all I could see was what infertility had taken from me.

It took joy from my marriage.

We had been married a grand total of 3 months before I took my first negative pregnancy test. We were still newlyweds and should have been focused on being happy together and in love, but I quickly succumbed to sorrow with every month that brought another negative test. My poor husband had no idea what he was getting into.

It took away friendships.

As the months passed, my friends were getting pregnant, and I was not. Some days, it was hard for me to see them with their growing bellies, and they felt sorry for me, so it became this big awkward thing, and it was just easier to stay away. I went months without seeing anyone except those I saw at church because I had to go. Seclusion was just easier…but it didn’t do me any favors.

It took away my feelings of worth as a woman.

Having babies is the one thing women are supposed to be able to do, and my body refused to do it. What good was I to my husband or to anyone else? I was a failure. I couldn’t keep my house spotless like other people. I couldn’t make myself look pretty like other people. Some days, I couldn’t shake the depression enough to even get out of bed and cook supper for my husband, let alone have a fancy dinner every night like other people. And also unlike everyone else, I couldn’t give my hubs the children he wanted. These were all lies from the enemy of course, but I still felt completely worthless.

It took my eyes off of Christ and put them on myself.

My perception of everything became skewed because I was so focused on myself and my sorrow and my pain. There was no time or space in my heart for anyone or anything else. Oh, I tried to pray a lot during those days/months/years, but I just wanted God to fix it. I knew He could give me a baby if He wanted to, and I just knew that was the answer. Everything would be better and I would always be happy if He would give me this one thing. He just needed to get on board and do it already. I couldn’t see that He had already given me everything I would ever need when He gave me Himself.

It took a long time for God to chip away at the pride and self-centeredness I had allowed to swallow me up before my prayers changed from “God, just fix it!” to “God, help me to learn what You want to teach me, and make me sweeter…not bitter.” Once my prayers changed, I began to see that infertility had not only taken things from me, but it had given me things as well.

It gave me time with my husband.

In my childish dreams, I planned on not being married any longer than a year before we had kids, and let’s be honest, I wanted them right away. Though it seemed like a curse for the longest time, in this way, it was a blessing. We had almost a decade of just me and him. We were able to go places and do things and just have fun spending time together. I’ll always be grateful for that.

It gave me a deeper understanding of who God is.

I’ve always been stubborn and strong-willed. I always liked being independent and not having to rely on others for anything. Without infertility to remind me daily of my complete inability and weakness, I would never have seen how sufficient God’s grace is…and how He is more than willing to give it. Because He had to carry me, He showed me His strength and care and His love for me in ways I wouldn’t have seen it otherwise. I’ll always be grateful for that.

It gave me a way to minister to others.

I’m often reminded of a quote I saw years ago: “Your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurt.” When I was in my darkest days, I wanted so badly to be able to talk to someone who understood where I was. Not someone who tried for a year or two and eventually had children, but someone who never had the kids they wanted so much, and yet they survived. I needed someone who still loved Jesus, even though He never gave them what they wanted. In fact, I needed that so badly that I told God I would be okay with Him never giving me children if I could just be that person for someone else one day. In recent years, I’ve had several people reach out to me, and I could listen to them, cry with them, assure them that I understood and it would get better, and pray with them and for them that God would hold them close and pour the grace and comfort into their hearts that they so desperately need. Infertility has given me more compassion and changed the way I pray for others. I’ll always be grateful for that.

I could go on and on listing ways God has used an empty womb to give me so much more than it took away. I would still love to have a miracle baby, if He ever sees fit to give us one, but that is not the focus of my life anymore. Though there were days I never would’ve believed I would say this, He has made infertility one of the biggest blessings in my life.

It gave us our son.

After all the hurt and tears and anger and confusion and sorrow, God brought us a beautiful, happy, sweet, growing baby to love and to be ours. I was able to be there when he was born and every day since. Adoption has made us parents, and I’ll always be grateful for that.

How different my life would look without the give and take of infertility. Lysa Terkeurst said, “We serve a God who allows hurt. But we also serve a God who uses hurt for good.” I’m glad my life and times are in the hand of the One who does all things well.

I honestly wouldn’t go back and change a thing if I could. God’s plans are infinitely better than my dreams of how I think things should be. I think I’ll just keep following and trusting Jesus. đŸ’œ

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