One of the greatest privileges of my life has been walking alongside my friends who struggle with infertility. In them I have found a kinship: we have both prayed for what we see no evidence of ever getting. Carissa Bleecker is one of those friends. In the past few years that I have known and loved her, we have wept, prayed, rejoiced, struggled, and seen God move in our lives. Here's some of her story for you. I thought I would have 2 or 3 children by now.
Instead, I'm a childless 28-year-old business owner. There is more pain and joy in that statement than I can possibly express. I love the beautiful things the Lord has done in these past 3 years of my life. He has blessed me richly, a fact that I often have to remind myself of, because I didn't get blessed with what I wanted - baby.
"Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them."
This verse haunts me, the very core of me. I wrestle with God over this verse. I often wonder, "Why doesn't God want to bless me?" "Would I be a bad mother, and that's why God won't give me a baby?" "What's wrong with me?"
I have watched dozens and dozens of my friends and acquaintances announce pregnancies and have babies, some two or three times in the last few years. I have been invited to numerous baby showers that I could not bring myself to attend. I have listened to people tell me they are pregnant and have barely held it together until I could get alone and weep bitterly. Not because I am not excited for them. They have been blessed with something incredible and I am overjoyed for them. But it reminds me of what I don't have, of what I may never experience.
All of these things are a painful reminder that God can and does bless people with children every day, just not me. Because, make no mistake, God is in control. God creates life, we do not, though we may think we do.
I know this because of the many pieces of advice I have received on how to get pregnant. They range from "Just relax and it will happen" to being asked intimate questions over dinner, to being told "Just ask your sister to be a surrogate." And many many others. All of these "helpful hints" just reinforce my sinful desire to control my life.
I went through a period of time where I took all the advice I could get. It was incredibly painful because I got caught up in the lie that I could control getting pregnant. It made me crazy.
About a year ago, my Husband and I decided to adopt. Adoption has been a desire of ours even before we met each other. So after a year and a half of trying to get pregnant, we decided that God was leading us to start our family this way. There was a mix of emotions over this decision. We were excited about being parents and so thankful to have something to look forward to, rather than grieving over someone who wasn't there. But it has also been hard to let go of starting our family the way we wanted to.
We started out with foster care, wanting to care for children that had been neglected and/or abused. We spent months going to training, filling out paperwork, and working on extensive home improvements to qualify to be certified by the state. I love foster care. It is a beautiful ministry, sacrifice, and joy to the families that do it. But in the end, I could not. I was overwhelmed at the thought of having a child in our home for a year and them going back to their parents. And that is the whole point of foster care, to reunite families. A very good thing. But my heart is in such a fragile state that I could not bare that. Not now. I want to adopt a child.
So we decided to do a domestic adoption. We are still in this process, finishing up paperwork and waiting to be chosen by a birth mom.
I have no doubt that there will be greater joy than I can imagine when I finally get to hold my adopted child in my arms for the first time. But, I wonder if this pain of not bearing a child of my own will ever leave me. There is still a part of me that wonders if it will be enough.
And I know that it will not be enough. Because having children will never make me whole. Only God can fill that place.
The Lord has torn my hands off of my desire to have children and placed them onto Himself because He knew that if I had children of my own right now, they would be in His place. He loved me enough to break me. And furthermore, He has taught me that raising children is not about me. Raising children is about imparting the Glory of God to the next generation, and that has nothing to do with whether they came from my body or not.