Six positive pregnancy tests, each with weeks filled with elation and big plans; each followed with certain loss and bouts of grief, all in a span of five years.
While this may seem like pure tragedy, senseless suffering, there is so much more to comprehend in this story than grief and loss. Ultimately my faith, my relationship with God, has gotten me through this difficult time in my life, but let me assure you, it wasn’t so simple.
For some reason, it is perpetuated in society that Christians are not supposed to struggle. Christians are not supposed to suffer. In being chosen by God to be a part of His family, life should be easy, even privileged. But this is a myth.
In my twenties, I was married, baptized, and had two children. By thirty, I was divorced from their father and my husband of nine years. I could easily tell you a story of how God helped me through a tumultuous divorce (and it would be true), but as difficult as that time was for me, I wasn’t fully following Christ then. I was in and out as it suited me. But by the time I married my second husband, I had really begun to follow Christ with all I had. Yet when it came time to try to have a child together, the path was not the “blessing” I had expected.
Less than a year after getting married, I was pregnant. We were thrilled! My husband has no children of his own and we were both on cloud nine with the good news. We had no reason to expect anything but the best. But our happiness was brief as I quickly lost the pregnancy. We were in shock and I was devastated. It took me months to recover from this loss. My heart was broken, but my faith seemed strong.
My second miscarriage was worse. This one shook my world. I was so angry with God, and I yelled at Him and told Him how He had hurt me. “We had an agreement!” I yelled. “I already lost one baby, how could You take another?” I demanded. My heart was broken and my faith was overturned by anger.
Shortly after this we miscarried again, which was horrible, but what was worse were the two years wherein we experienced a complete lack of what every human needs: hope. Month after month of desperately longing for positive tests, my faith was tested through hills and valleys. I cried constantly, at one point feeling like my body was a failure and perhaps my marriage would follow suit. What a desperate feeling to know you can’t give your husband a child. But he stood by me, never blamed me, and was sure to reassure me that he chose me for who I am to him, not what I can give him. My faith was being restored by love.
Slowly my faith was infused with hope, peace, and sometimes, even joy. I began to see a vision for the future that could be happy and purposeful with or without a baby. I began to pursue my dreams, and to hone my talents that I knew were God-given.
I begged God to stop my heart from constantly aching, and He did. I still wanted a baby, but I was able to see myself as whole, and my marriage as flourishing without one. And I began writing about my experiences, and I felt more blessed and useful than ever.
Then I got pregnant. Three more times in one year! Last July brought the end of my last pregnancy and the destruction of my right tube. Any thoughts of IVF or other options for fertility were shut from our minds. We had barely considered them and immediately shut them out on the heels of this final loss. The pain of trying was too much. We needed a retreat. My faith was substantial. My hope in a baby was not. I asked God not to let me get pregnant again unless I would get to hold my healthy baby at the end of it. So far, He has honored that wish.
My husband and I went back to lovemaking, purely for the sake of making love. We tossed out calendars, barely ever discussed ovulation, and if we were too tired to make babies, we just held hands and talked. I eventually realized that I had no idea what God had planned for us. I couldn’t picture my future with a baby anymore, nor did I feel like God had told me to let it go altogether. I was in limbo, but I had made a certain peace with it. My faith was cementing.
Fast forward to more than a year later, to today. I recently had a “talk” with God. While my heart doesn’t constantly ache for a baby, my mind still holds a spot for it. In fact, I would say that for the last year, wondering if I would procreate again has occupied 10% of my thoughts. When I told my hubby, he was surprised. I rarely ever mentioned it anymore, but the thoughts have held precious real estate in my brain, and I was beginning to think it needed to be released so it could be useful space again. So what did I say to God? Something like this:
“Ok God, I don’t know what You have planned for my future. I don’t know why we don’t have a baby yet. Are we bad parents? Do my kids need all I have to offer them right now? Are You sparing us from heartache that we can’t foresee? Do You have a plan for me that doesn’t include poopy diapers and sleepless nights? Because I am not even mad anymore. Sometimes I am a little sad, but You rescued me from constant grief. Yet my mind is full of thoughts that aren’t serving me or You anymore, at least from where I am standing. Can You rescue me from that? Can You free up the space for something that honors and glorifies You? I am okay with You planning my future. I will follow You. I just ask that You release me from this desire and replace it with something that makes a difference in Your kingdom. If I can’t have a baby, give me something that I want more.”
I didn’t even recognize myself in my words. My prayers had gone from “How could you do this to me?” and “We had a deal!” to “Restore my mind so I can serve YOU better.” Throughout this painful struggle, God has created a new me.
See faith is not a light switch. It’s a whole light board for a grand concert hall. You don’t automatically choose to follow Him and get to experience all of His peace and joy. It is a process! With every loss, with every tear that I shed, and with every prayer that I spoke (and there were thousands!), a small light pierced through the darkness. Following God is not a one-time decision. It’s billions of tiny decisions, big choices and major life events that shape who we will become. And faith is not a simple little noun to be painted daintily onto a child’s wall. Faith is an action like no action I have ever experienced! It is exertion, with muscles trembling, voices quaking, hearts exploding and fear learning its place.
I don’t know if I could have made it through the last five years if I didn’t have this faith. It started out like a mustard seed, but truly it sustains me. I have learned to listen to God, to try to follow Christ’s example, and finally I am learning to let the Holy Spirit into my life. Finding peace and joy in the times of tragedy require me to invite all of God into my life all of the time.
I still don’t know what God has planned for me. I can promise you this: it will be a worthwhile surprise, even in the suffering. My faith hasn’t just changed my behavior or even my attitudes. It has changed my life, my vision, and my purpose. In the depths of despair, it has changed me. And I am better for it.
While I am not to the point of inviting suffering into my life, I am always ready to invite the God that gets me through it.
Kris Wolfe is a Christian, wife and mother. She is a freelance writer who focuses on spiritual and practical encouragement, writes lessons for small group purposes for churches, and is also a small group coach. Kris has a master’s degree in Biblical Counseling from Luther Rice University and Seminary and is a listed TN Supreme Court Rule 31 Mediator.
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