This past weekend I was invited down to Baton Rogue, Louisiana to speak at the Hope Narrative conference put on by Sarah’s Laughter. It was an incredible honor to stand in front of men and women, all who are experiencing infertility in some way, and share our story. The process of writing this hour-long keynote was one gigantic season of wrestling for me. What did God want me to say? What was I supposed to leave them with to encourage them? Even more, it required me stepping back into deep, murky, thick emotions of infertility.
God came through, as He always does, and gave me words that weren’t my own, and our time together was so special. And, because I know not all of you could travel to Louisiana this weekend, I wanted to share some excerpts here. Maybe it’ll just be this post, maybe more will show up again. But I pray that as you read it, God will meet you and remind you of His gentle and powerful love for you.
So jump right in to the middle of my talk here and I pray that you take something away and He meets you in a personal and powerful way.
“God’s silence doesn’t equal His absence.
This is a powerful truth. Because so often we equate answers with presence, don’t we? Yet the truth remains that even in the darkest valley and the most tragic times, God hasn’t abandoned us. In fact, in order for us to truly realize that God is enough, I believe we have to live through a season where God is all we have, where His presence is all we are clinging to. Tragedy is unexplainable. I can’t understand why infertility exists or miscarriages happen. I don’t know why adoptions fail, transfers turn out negative, and babies are born without breathe. I don’t know why God doesn’t come through with our every request, however, I know that God is doing something great even when it doesn’t feel like it.
In order to walk away with our burdens eased today, we need to first start at the beginning and that’s with understanding who God is.
God is capable, He cares, and He is willing.
I can tell you those words but in order for them to take root, we have to know His character. And then we have to make an intentional choice to believe His character and His words. We have this book, the Bible, and the whole thing is a documented display of his character and yet we still tend to question who He is and what He is capable of doing. I know I do. I read stories of women like Sarah and Hannah and Elizabeth; women who were barren and felt broken and yet God came through at exactly the right time in a glorifying way. And still, I read these stories and I find myself a day later wondering if God really is capable, caring and willing.
This is what God taught me to do when I started to doubt His goodness – make a tangible list of His character. It’s quite simple. I make these lists anywhere. There’s no shame in list writing in a coffee shop or in a bathtub. I simply close my eyes and ask, God who do YOU say you are? What are the traits I need to be reminded of today?
And I write who God is. And I’m going to pause a second here and say some of these traits out loud to you right now because I always need a refresher. And I encourage you to either close your eyes for a second as I say them or just sit back and listen, but these are just some of the characteristics of God, that He would remind me of over and over and over again when I doubted how capable, caring, and willing He was.
God is compassionate. He is loving. He is caring, He is merciful. God is faithful. He is capable. He is our deliverer. He is powerful. He is righteous. He is holy, He is just. He is omnipresent and He is our Healer. God is sovereign. He is wise. He is full of grace. He is our comforter, He is our intercessor, He is our Father. He is the beginning of our story and the end of our story. He is unchangeable. He is the light in the darkness. He is all-powerful. He never abandons us. He is trustworthy. He is our Redeemer.
I find when I write these words out, my mind shifts. You see, in the long battle of infertility, it is easy to come to conclusions about God because of how we feel. But when we listen to these truths about Him – and they are all based on scripture! – we choose to believe Him over emotions.
Think about it. If we understood everything completely and fully, we wouldn’t need faith would we? If God told us exactly how our journey would end, what our families would look like, what job we would have, how our bank account would end up, which house we would live in, there would be no need for faith! Faith and trust must emerge out of our love for God, not out of obligation, and not because we feel we have no choice. We have to choose to faith over doubt.
So, who does God say He is? Outside that list we just read, I feel like there are two important traits to outline:
The first is this:
1 – He is who He says He is. God uses the phrase “I am who I am” to Moses in Exodus 3 and in the context of the passage, He is telling Moses He would be who they needed Him to be. Isn’t that a hope-filled promise? God will be everything we need Him to be. He is fully capable of filling up every inch of our heart. He reveals Himself in this name. He reveals His love for us, His ability to provide us strength and peace and guidance. He teaches us that no matter what circumstance comes our way, He will be there for us and He will be our I am. I am who I am. My character doesn’t change. I am who you need me to be.
The second trait is the fact that He is our comforter.
A handful of years back, I was on vacation, floating in a pool, reading, when the heavy emotions of infertility started to swirl. Everywhere I looked, there were children and families. I watched a mom rubbing down her little boy with sunscreen. I watched a dad wrestle the arm floaties on his toddler. I watched a set of grandparents taking a hundred pictures. I watched as a mom floated by with her tiny baby, whispering words to him and making him giggle as he splashed gently. And as I watched, I felt so sad. Broken. Lonely. Grief-stricken.
I suddenly felt hot from the inside. My heart felt like it was crying crocodile tears. I was frozen. The sadness started to creep from my heart up my neck, tightening. I felt so empty. I couldn’t process the sudden sadness.
A few hours later I found myself lying down in the spa area with a cool washcloth over my face, trying to sort out all my emotions. And as I lay there, the tears finally burst through, like a dam, flooding my washcloth and speaking words of grief to my Father that only tears could. I felt like I was being covered in a physical blanket of sadness and sorrow.
I kept praying it would go away. And then God stopped me, and He reminded me in that gentle, soothing way only He can, that it’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to want a family and to wonder when it’s going to happen. It’s okay to grieve the loss of dreams and wonder what the purpose of this is. It’s okay to acknowledge there’s a gigantic gaping hole in our heart. God is big enough for our sadness.
It was in that moment I felt like God stepped into my blanket of sorrow and closed both of us back up in it. He wanted me to acknowledge my emotions with Him by my side. He wanted to validate my feelings were okay.
You see, God is big enough for your questions. He is big enough to hold you close when you are crying and big enough for your dreams. I know it’s hard. I know it really doesn’t get easier. I encourage you to invite God into your pain. He is our comforter. He is the one who created us, which means He’s the only One who REALLY knows how to calm our hearts.
I wish I could promise you that it will all turn out okay in the end. I wish God would give you a timeline so that you knew how to handle another month with a negative test. And while I can’t do that, what I can do is reassure you that God is still in this heartache with you.
Each and every day, you are learning in a painstaking way, that it’s possible to experience joy that isn’t dependent on your circumstances. Here’s a promise: God is bigger than infertility. God knows exactly how your heart is feeling. I mentioned before how God used women struggling with infertility all throughout the Bible in BIG ways. Remember Hannah? 1 Samuel 1 shares her brokenness over the fact that her womb was closed, and yet God answered her prayers in His timing and Samuel was born. Remember Elizabeth and Zechariah? Luke 1 outlines the fact that they were barren, and yet God proved He was bigger than infertility and John the Baptist was born, at precisely the right time. These are just two examples where God reminds us that infertility isn’t without purpose.
Jesus is in the business of taking our brokenness, our pain, our past, our tears, and holding it up to Satan’s face and saying “Look at this. You did this. But look at this beautiful thing we are doing with it. It’s being redeemed.”
That gives me goosebumps. We have Jesus, our comforter, on our team, taking broken pieces and making them whole.
It’s hard to let Him be our comforter isn’t it? Because often times we want tangible comfort. When something bad happens to us, or our days are hard, or our worlds are rocked with tragedy, we find ourselves running to people first or posting it on social media. We crave this verbal comfort instead of turning to Jesus first and sitting in His presence and letting Him calm us with His words. Sometimes the reason we aren’t getting the comfort we are looking for is because we are not willing to pause and wait long enough for God to comfort us Himself.
The writer of Psalm 46:10 quotes God and says “Be still and know that I am God.”
Be still my daughter, and know that I am your comforter. Allow me to comfort you. Allow me to speak life into your broken heart. Allow me respond….
And here’s a few pictures of the fun weekend of community and friendships!