That’s right. In a short five months from now Meg and I are expecting a new roommate to move in with us! Welcoming our new companion also means that we will be entering the world of parenthood. We’re having a baby! Yes! All praise to our life-giving Lord!
Our journey toward receiving the little life in Meg’s belly wasn’t always filled with such rejoicing. Instead, for a long time our praises to God were mixed with the agony of waiting, the grief of disappointment, the difficulty of planning, the frustration of insensitivity, and the mystery of Providence.
Looking back on this time caused us to want to write a post about all we’ve learned. From our current vantage point, the Lord’s wisdom is evident in leading us through the trial of infertility. We don’t imagine at all that our situation was nearly as long or as hard compared to what many of our friends have gone through. Nevertheless, we learned much and want to share here:
God’s Purpose, Our Pain – Even today I heard a seminary friend jokingly say, “As you know, seminary students aren’t the wealthiest people in the world. So what do we do for low cost entertainment around here? We make babies.” And it is not uncommon to hear such jokes around campus or when with seminary friends. And there is a reason it isn’t uncommon…because babies are everywhere!
However, when trying to conceive ourselves, the fact that we were in this environment punctuated our pain and caused us all the more to wonder, Why? Why is it so easy for everyone to get pregnant…except us?
Thankfully, a close friend shared a resource with us that was tremendously helpful. It was a book by Jeff Manion, pastor of Ada Bible Church in western Michigan, called The Land Between. Using the Scriptures and contemporary life testimonies, Jeff’s purpose is to help readers see the biblical way to respond to our suffering. Closing off to God, stewing in our sadness, and isolating ourselves in our misery will not work and is not right. Being honest with God in prayer, fighting for joy in agony, and more tightly locking arms with brothers and sisters in Christ is God’s design. As I read this book out loud to Meg before bed each night, we were jointly reminded that God is more interested in our holiness (i.e. learning Christ-likeness) than in our “happiness” (i.e. getting what we want). All glory to our endlessly wise Creator-God who teaches us through our tears.
Weep well with those who weep – Recently, I heard someone say, “It’s easy to weep with those who weep, but it’s hard to rejoice with those who rejoice.” His argument was that resentment and envy are more problematical for rejoicing with those who rejoice than are insensitivity and meanness for weeping with those who weep. But our experience of trying to pregnant proved that appropriately grieving with people might be harder than first thought.
Time after time we were engaged in conversations in which well meaning friends were not as sensitive to our situation as they should have been. We harbor no bitterness against anyone. In fact, discussing these problems has drawn us into some fruitful conversations, and our experience has made us repent ourselves from being insensitive to those who are hurting around us. Still, upon reflecting on these conversations we think Christians have a lot to learn about weeping well with those struggling with infertility.
So to that end Meg has come up with several things you should never say to someone you suspect may be trying to get pregnant:
- “Everyone around you is having kids. Now it’s our turn!”
- “Don’t you want your own?”
- “So when are you having kids?”
- “Are you o.k.? No really, are you sure everything is o.k. with you?”
- “Well, it will happen when it’s supposed to happen.”
- “Have you tried doing x, y, or z?”
- “Well, as soon as you start adopting I bet you’ll get pregnant.”
Sheer dependency – “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). This prayer was spoken to Jesus by the father of a young boy who was tormented by evil spirits. At once the grieved father confesses both his faith in Jesus and his reliance on Jesus to sustain that faith. His is a pain-wrought expression of sheer dependency.
In our passage toward pregnancy, Meg and I learned even more of what it means to humbly rely on our Lord. As disciples of Jesus we’re convinced that “he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3). Nevertheless, it’s easy to not always feel like we are depending on him. I make myself breath. I work hard at my job. I pay for my food. I put clothes on my back and a roof over my head. But trying to conceive and repeatedly failing gave us an almost tangible indication of our need for the Lord to provide.
I’d love to say that we could learn this type of reliance by merely studying Scripture or hearing the stories of others who’ve learned likewise. But it was in the classroom of our own agony that our sovereign Lord has taught us a truer and deeper dependence on him for “life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25).
The lessons in trusting God just continue now that we’ve received the gift and thrill of our unborn baby. Never has anything felt so outside of my hands. Never have I been so concerned and excited about a heartbeat as I have with this little life. And never have I felt so helpless, so reliant on our life-sustaining Lord.