Are you one-in-a-_________? Me too.

Being one brings pain. Being one-of-a brings power.

A few weeks ago I talked my man into taking a day trip up to LA to enter the Newsies lottery for day-of tickets at the Pantages. And by talked into I mean I said “hey you wanna do this?” and he said “yeah”. I know, I’m really very convincing.

We got in line right on time (rule-follower here), and they said they’d be lottery-ing (is that a word?) 26 tickets. Several of us started counting. There were about 26 of us in line. Boom.

But then all these other people started showing up. Not on time. I’m just sayin’. By the time they called tickets, there were a lot more than 26 entries. Sigh. Our chances were now about 1 in 5.

About halfway through the call-outs, I hear my name.

It was a good day to be one in five.

Here’s my cheesy smile to prove it.

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And really, being one-in-a-___________ is awesome when you’re winning something.

But there are other days that one-in-a-_________ is a punch in the gut. I’m one in eight women experiencing infertility. One in about eighty experiencing infertility without any explanation.

As National Infertility Awareness week ends, I find it no small coincidence that this very morning I’ll be in a room filled with brave stories at the Choose Joy conference, sharing both smiles and tears. There’s something fiercely powerful about bringing a bunch of one-in-a’s into the same room together.

And the awareness doesn’t end with a week. Having my own one-of-a story has made me all the more aware of the many other one-of-a stories being lived out around me …

… like a nine-year-old cancer warrior with rare genetic disorder that makes him susceptible to recurring cancer – chances are one in about 1.4 million.

… like having an in-utero test to tell you whether your baby has Down’s syndrome because other factors make the chances about one in forty.

… like a cancer that’s so rare it doesn’t even have a name and is only fatal when combined with another rare condition, both of which your husband had – chances are one in a million. Squared.

The thing about being a one-of-a is that you feel so utterly alone when the diagnosis is handed down. And you are. I mean, no one else has ever been you, facing this specific circumstance at this time in history.

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But I think we tend to focus on the “I’m one” and miss the “of-a” part. That’s the powerful part. That’s the part that tells you that you. are. not. alone. That’s the part can happen over a simple cup of coffee or over instagram or at a gathering or anywhere in between. Just last night, as a Choose Joy speaker shared her story of infertility, bringing us laughter as the ridiculousness of hormones and the pee sticks and the what-not is a shared experience in the room, a woman turned around to her husband and mouthed “see, I’m normal.

Isn’t that exactly what we need to hear when we find out we are one-in-a-________? See, I’m normal. I’m one-of-a-new-normal.

So sister, whether you’re one-in-a-handful or one-in-a-million, you. are. not. alone. Find your people. Find your “of-a”. They need you just as much as you need them.

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True Confessions: The childless-fist-bump

Fist Bump Image

True confessions time: we have a childless-fist-bump. Yep, it’s a thing in our house. It’s code for dodged-a-bullet-there moments. We can deliver it quite subtly. Sometimes. Other times we get caught. Just a month ago we got caught during Church, as our friend realized what we were doing and barely stifled a laugh.

It might sound odd that the girl who’s poured out her heart in longing for a baby also bumps knuckles to celebrate childless moments. And really, it took a lot of tears before I could make it to the cheers.

The fist-bump is about celebrating the as-things-are-right-now moments, without thinking about whether they’ll stay that way. For today, we’re childless. And while that has brought ache, there are also a lot of things about our lives that are way easier than all those poor suckers who ARE parents.

The first rule of the childless-fist-bump is that it’s never used in condemnation. Grace, grace. We are in humbled awe of people raising little people.

The second rule of the childless-fist-bump is to attempt subtlety whenever possible. No flaunting. This may or may not be more of a “guideline” as we age.

The third rule of the childless-fist-bump is to use it properly. As Auntie Boo and Uncle J, we have plenty of snot-faces to clean, boo-boos to kiss, and tantrums to survive. And we love all the littles in our life. Fiercely. It’s just that AT SOME POINT THEY GO HOME. Cue fist-bump.

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Other examples of proper childless-fist-bump moments include …

when a toddler is throwing a tantrum in the grocery store … or at Target … or in the parking lot … or at the movie theatre … or at the park … or at Disneyland … actually, especially at Disneyland.

… while in line for TSA at the airport. Yep, you frequent flyers know what I’m talking about.

when a long drippy piece of snot is snaking it’s way down a child’s face and into their mouth. GAH! I can hardly type it.

… when we get to go to sleep WHENEVER. WE. WANT. TO.

… when we get to stay in bed AS. LONG. AS. WE. WANT. TO.

when a scent drifts across the room. You know the one. Chasing your nostrils down like a toxin. Challenging you to keep a straight face and pretend you don’t smell it. (To be fair, our dog makes the same smell, sometimes worse, but at least there’s no diaper to change in her world – yet – oh Lord have mercy if I ever have to change my DOG’s diaper.)

when we have only two schedules to consult before booking a trip. No cross-referencing with school, soccer, dance, gymnastics or chess matches (hey, our kid could’ve been a chess genius, it’s possible).

when our house is QUIET. Which is almost always. Amen.

 when we hear about labor and delivery. Any of it. All of it.

Really, the childless-fist-bump started as a way to capture small victories, small moments to defeat the emptiness and replace it with reminders of the good. Is there any part of your life that needs a fist-bump right now?

When you’ve cried enough, it’s time to laugh. And while not intentionally directed at infertility, I don’t know if I’ve seen a funnier video than this.

And if we ever do have kids, I imagine the fist-bump will look more like this:

 Baby Fist Bump

This post is dedicated to “the other side” of infertility loss, as Resolve.org hosts National Infertility Awareness Week. For a more serious take, go here … or here … or here. And for medical facts on the disease, go here.

For some ideas on how I came to “the other side”, go here and here.

But did she get happy again?

She’s got angel’s hair. You know the kind. So blonde it’s almost white. With an angel’s face to match.

She’s four. And precocious. She already carries a fierce stubbornness that is going to make her a challenging teen but amazing woman. She’s in her question-asking stage – you know the one. Why this? How that? I know some of the answers, but not all.

As we sat together and watched Up, she narrated. He likes balloons, she’d say with a grin. Her giggle was infectious as the love story of Carl and Ellie unfolded.Up_ellie_and_carl

When they started painting the nursery, she turned to me with a conspiratorious smile and half-whispered she’s going to have a baby.

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I then saw her head go sideways when the next scene shows Ellie sobbing in the doctor’s office: why is shy crying?

 Ellie Crying Dr

Ah, this answer I know. She’s really sad because she isn’t going to have a baby like she thought, I answered. Why can’t she have a baby? Well, not everyone gets to. She let that answer sit – I could see that it was brand new information for her brain.

But did she get happy again?

Yes. Yes she did.

How? Well, she had a different adventure.

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Contended, Charlie snuggled in, took a deep sigh, as if the breath she’d been holding had depended on how I answered that question.

The rest of the movie continued question-free. But as I snuggled my arms around this fierce-wee-angel-girl, I too took a deep sigh, knowing that in that moment I wasn’t only answering for Ellie, but for me.

It’s National Infertility Awareness week again. I’ve written a lot already about the grief of infertility, giving voice to some of the unique aspects of this type of loss, especially as your hopes, your faith, your marriage and your friendships are all affected when a pee stick becomes your companion.

This year I want to dedicate a few posts “from the other side”. Not the other side of infertility. That will always be a part of my story. Even if I get pregnant someday. And yes, also if I adopt someday.

I mean the other side of “trying”. The other side of the ugly tears. The other side of the doubt and crippling fear. Sometimes it’s tricky to share about grief and it’s honest depths because it’s easy to leave people feeling like you’re perpetually in that state. And it’s equally tricky to share about “the other side” because there are people that like to pretend that the ugly never happened. May we never be pretenders, my friends.

Because the reality is this: “the other side” has parts that are stronger, parts that are still tender, and even parts that are actually, well, awesome.

If you’re grieving, be it through infertility or another sacred loss, you will have a different adventure than the one you’d hoped for. I don’t know what that is. And I DO know what it’s like to want to punch someone in the face when they use those words to “console” you. I also know that grief is a window, not a wall. That if Ellie hadn’t sat in her tears, hadn’t sat in her backyard to grieve the future she was losing, then her “adventure book” would have had an undertone of unresolved resentment and not even three hundred colorful balloons could have redeemed the movie. But she did sit through it.

Ellie Crying Backyard

So when her different-and-not-at-all-what-she-expected-adventure continued, she was ready for it. She found her happy ending by being honest in her sad beginning.

So this week, in honor of the “You are Not Alone” theme set out by Resolve.org, I want to share that not only are you not alone, but you are not doomed.

Did she get happy again? Yes, yes she did. She had a different adventure.

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P.S. Next week I’ll be releasing an E-Bible Study: Friday’s Rain: revealing what grief washes away. It’s a journey alongside four characters in Scripture, journeying through their grief. I know God has a lot to say to us about loss and grief, whichever “side” of it you’re on. Subscribe here to receive download link.

P.S.S. If you want to know more about the basics of infertility as a disease, click here. Or about NIAW, here.

Empty Tomb > Empty Womb

It’s not just the word-play, though I’ve always been a fan of those. Not puns, mind you, but word-play.

Empty Tomb. Empty Womb. I know the second one very well. I’ve written about it plenty. Much like Peter, I found myself lost on ‘Friday’, struggling with a storm of unexpected emotions.

Maybe you’ve got an empty space that’s stirred up a storm, too.

I spent a couple years trying to hold those emotions at bay. I’m not saying I did keep them at bay, but I gave it a valiant effort. But when the dam broke, I had to dig in to my empty place because you can’t heal from what you don’t first acknowledge.

I had to spend some time listening to my Empty Womb.

Because then I was able to listen to the Empty Tomb.

Which tells me that after death, life can be found.

That loss doesn’t have the last word.

That my story has a different ending than I’d expected. And a different beginning.

When Jesus rose, the grave was still the most logical place to find him. It’s where the disciples knew to go. And where they were asked one of the most philosophically-driven questions that Scripture presents: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”

Why indeed. I think it’s because it’s where we know to look. If we’re in mourning for something lost, for whatever is our EMPTY PLACE, then that’s where we know to go. Where we know to search. In fact, I’d say it’s where we need to start. But it’s not where we need to finish.

Yes my womb is still empty, but so is Christ’s tomb.

What about you? What is your EMPTY today? Have you gone there? Do. Even if you’re scared. Go there and search. Run like Peter did. It’s where you’ll find out where to find Jesus. And maybe He’ll be right there when you turn around, with a clear-cut answer, like He was for Mary. Or maybe you’ll just get a clue, a hint, a reminder, and later He will find you while you’re at work. Like Peter.

The Empty Tomb tells our empty places that hope may look quite different than we’d thought, but Hope is nonetheless alive. And his name is Jesus.

Happy Empty-Tomb day, friends.

The Day A Puppy Crawled Into My Heart

I laid there in bed, staring at the ceiling, thinking of my responsibility-free life, and voiced out loud to my husband You realize, right, that these things can live up to, like, 15 years?

Yeah, why did we say yes to this, again?

I don’t know. But my mom said we can give it back if it doesn’t work out.

The next day, we met my mom to pick up our puppies – she had two “picks” from a litter as she finished up her chapter as a dog breeder. She had pre-picked a possible pup for us. And she was the cutest by far. But shy and timid, too. My husband spotted a rambunctious sister hopping around the yard and asked if we could consider her, too.

Since my experience in puppy-picking had last been exercised around age 10, I didn’t exactly have a game plan, but we stepped away from the people and the other pups to see which one of these we’d experimentally take into our home, again reminding ourselves that if it didn’t work out, no matter which one we picked, my mom would take her back.

We placed both pups down on the ground and I walked a few feet away before turning and saying “Here, puppy … “ to which the small one eagerly trotted over, while the rambunctious one wobbled her head and looked around.

Almost convinced, I tried one more test. I placed them both side by side again, walked a few feet away, and said “Here, Abby … “. Sure enough, as though she already knew that was her name, the small one trotted my way and the rambunctious one bounced and hopped in clueless circles.

So, did we choose our pup or did she choose us? I’ve often wondered.

Everyone likes a puppy. I mean, really, they are one of the cutest things this side of heaven. And a cavalier puppy – oh stop it, I mean there’s just no way to even describe the cuteness. Gone were the doubts of the night before.

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Until the night after. When this adorable ball of fur Would. Not. Stop. Whining. My responsibility-free life had just been rudely interrupted.

We stumbled through the first few nights with Abby in our home, charmed enough by day to try one more night, growing in sympathy for parents of newborns that have to wake up every two hours. But wary – very very wary – that even when she was full-grown and house-trained, she would still need things like food and water and attention, and we couldn’t just pack up our bags for a weekend without, you know, thinking about her.

I know, I know, the life of the childless is so easily interrupted.

Three days in, I sat my exhausted self down on the cold tile of my kitchen floor. And this little three-pound ball of fluff crawled right up into my lap, and into my heart. I can still see the moment so clearly, because she knew exactly where she belonged, and she’s insisted on that spot ever since.

She crawled into my heart that day as if to say that I wasn’t as carefree as I’d thought. As if to say there was a little puppy-shaped hole inside my heart that she was ready to occupy. I’d never thought of myself as a dog person – things like drool and barking and feces aren’t really my thing. Ironic since I’d been trying to have a baby, but at least they don’t bark.

And there I sat in my fuzzy white robe on the cold kitchen tile, realizing that there really was a space just for her. That I wasn’t really afraid of losing my responsibility-free-lifestyle, but I was afraid of caring for something too deeply, including a dog – or maybe especially a dog. Having a wee little life in our house that wasn’t the baby we’d been hoping for was at once comforting and alarming – I did not want to become “that couple” that treated their dog like their child (spoiler alert, that plan didn’t work. My last shred of personal dignity is that I don’t put my dog in people clothes).

All at once, I remembered my first dog – Heidi. She was a blonde cocker spaniel, with wild bangs that gave her personality. I got her when I was five years old. I can still see the sun shining through the trees as my mom and I went to pick her up. My very first dog.

When I was ten, my sweet, precocious Heidi was hit by a car. We were out of town when it happened and she had survived the hit, but was curled up beneath our porch in pain – her pelvis had been crushed. The vet gave us two options: she might survive a surgery, but it would mean losing at least one hip and back leg. The only tri-pod dogs I’d ever known were objects of jokes between my brothers, so I couldn’t imagine that life for her. The other option was to put her down.

In that moment I had to grow up a little bit. Do I put my dog down or try to save her?

I wish we had tried to save her.

But I didn’t know that until I sat on a cold tile floor and held this new, precious, vulnerable pup. I cried tears for my Heidi in that moment.

I have been governed by practicality for many years and many days. Little did I know that on the day this pup crawled into my heart, she was nudging out parts of my practical self. She would teach me to make decisions with my heart and not just my head. I would spend enough money on her little self to make someone say “e-gads” (also, I think “e-gads” should be reintroduced to our language). I would miss her when I left town. I would delight in the ways she loved me and others. I would marvel at the idea of a dog providing therapy. And no, not just to me. But maybe starting with me. And that’s okay.

She crawled into my lap and straight into my heart that day. After I picked myself up off the cold tile and crawled back into bed with my husband, I said Do you realize that she might live for, like, ONLY 15 years!?!?

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Hard Candy Shells

Four years ago, I sat in Church with my arms fiercely crossed. My heart was as hard as the look of stone on my face. I was captive to some pain in my life, and in no mood to hear an inspirational sermon. Many days I was good at hiding it – this was not one of those days. I was, in fact, sitting there at Church merely because it was easier than fighting about not wanting to go to Church.

Pain is like a candy shell – hard on the outside, even though I was mush on the inside, and all it would take is a little tap on a chisel to open it all up.

The message was on the ordinariness of Jesus’ disciples – how plain and dull and ordinary those twelve guys were. And yet they were called to do extraordinary things. The pastor then went on to share how he and his wife felt very ordinary, yet called to something extraordinary. They were planning to adopt. Because they’d heard that if just 7% of the world’s Christians cared for an orphan, there would be no more orphans. And they felt compelled to be part of that 7%.

7%

Tap-tap went the chisel. My arms fell to my side. Still rigid, but there was a crack in the ice. I was no stranger to statistics, but this one shocked me.

See, part of my pain and hardness that morning came from an all-too-familiar ache as I sat there and watched baby dedications before the sermon began. I sat there, just coming to grips with being infertile, and longing for nothing more extraordinary than plain old ordinariness.

I had the faintest idea of what a motherless child might feel because I was sitting there as a childless mother.

My arms were still crossed, but that hard candy shell was about to burst as that chisel chipped away. To be honest, the orphan care stats weren’t the focal point of the message – just one of the many illustrations that the pastor was using. But it was the one that penetrated my heart.

I went home and started exploring if it could possibly be true that the world’s orphan crisis really could be eradicated with just 7% of the Christian body’s efforts. My googling led me to an annual Summit put on by “Christian Alliance for Orphans”, and in May of 2010 my husband and I jumped a plane to explore this new world. Little did we know the floodgates we were opening.

The world of orphan care is as equally complicated as that of infertility – and to be clear, I think the two are all too often linked when they really are separate things, but that’s for another blog post. What I mean here is simply this: a lot of people start the road to infertility “just wanting a baby”, a simple enough concept until it gets complicated by doctors and thermometers and pee sticks. So, too, the intro point to orphan care is often a simple prick of desire – maybe to build a family, maybe to be part of this world’s greatest social crisis, maybe because of some indefinable nudging to explore. A simple enough concept until it gets complicated with attachment disorder and interracial dynamics and the all-consuming question of how to help without hurting. The more you learn, the less you know – but that becomes more and more okay, too. 

Today, I sit again at the CAFO Summit, amidst a crowd that is still full of many strangers, but no longer strange to me. It is a room filled with some of the most ordinary-extraordinaries I have ever met, living out the Gospel in all aspects of orphan care: adoption, foster care, family preservation, global and local initiatives, wrap-around support, mental health, and more. There are no easy answers in the world of orphan care. There are diversely opposing viewpoints and constant new lessons. But an aroma of surrender permeates the conversations and the praise.

And it’s not just about 7%, it’s about all of us. While it is actually true that it would take only 7% of the world’s Christians to care for all of the world’s orphans, making this the most solvable crisis on the planet, it is a call to us all – it’s a big ocean where every drop counts – the other 93% of us get to support those called to the deepest parts of that ocean.

All of us ordinaries have a place here – just you and me and all of us who have nothing more to offer than our plain ordinary selves – like twelve guys who used to follow a carpenter around. Just ordinary people called into an extraordinary story. Hard candy shells and all.

400 and 26 [NIAW]

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” –Henry David Thoreau 

This past week’s series has been an invitation to look through the eyes of my infertility for a moment, as part of the NIAW (National Infertility Awareness Week). It seemed most fitting, then, to end this week by sharing a friend’s blog post that I’m told was inspired by this series. May I invite you to look through another set of beautiful eyes … 

Redwoods

Last week, I drove 400 miles to a Writer’s Conference in the Redwoods. Each mile would have been worth it for the sake of meeting just this one  new friend: Robynne Miller Feaveryear. Her heart is as big as her name, and our paths crossed before we knew it, as we have both experienced the sacredness of an empty womb amidst a full life.

We “met” through the exchange of manuscript samples – on the most holy of anniversaries. And upon meeting in real life, well, let’s just say there was a lot of laughter, a few tears, and I learned a lot about the prairie. Robynne is a Modern-Day Pioneer Mama who will teach you much more than just how to make your own laundry detergent, and still love ya even if you use Tide Pods like, ahem, someone.

So without further ado and in honor of the end of awareness week (but not of awareness), I introduce you to Robynne, mama to 31 littles, 26 of whom she never got to meet …

26.  Yes, that’s correct.  TwentySix

This huge, ridiculous, appalling number represents the babies I didn’t have.

Some people call them “miscarriages,” as if their precious little hearts never beat and their brains never sent miraculous waves of energy pulsing through their sweet, tiny bodies. But I can’t reduce them to “tissue” that was never meant to be.  They’re my children . . . even if I didn’t get the chance to raise them.

And I miss them all.  Deeply.

I’m not sure I’ll ever know the “why” behind such a large number of losses. I’m not sure I need to. 

Continue reading here …

Dancing in the Driveway [NIAW]

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” –Henry David Thoreau

This is a week-long series to invite you to look through the eyes of infertility for a moment, as part of the NIAW (National Infertility Awareness Week). This is not a series about the medical condition of Infertility – you can find facts here if interested.

Instead, this series is dedicated to the heart’s awakening to emptiness – and ultimately, to life. Even without an answer. Each day this week, I’ll be sharing a letter that I penned throughout this journey of infertility, as I tried to find words to describe the silent experience. Days filled with hope, cynicism, laughter, tears – and sometimes all at once.

One in eight couples are experiencing infertility right now – about 7.3 million. We are 1 in 8.

Wedding Run

Ten years ago, I was in the middle of full-swing-wedding-planning. We were only engaged for three months (I know, I KNOW!), so it was go-time from the minute that ring was placed on my finger.

There were no doubts. None. I count myself lucky in that regard, because doubt sneaks up on just about every decision I’ve ever made in my life, but I was spared that in the spousal department. It was simply the easiest decision I’d ever made.

I penned this letter to my Jason last year on our ninth wedding anniversary. It was a particularly painful summer as we’d just finished our last unsuccessful fertility treatment, my husband had just lost his job, and we were in the middle of a major home remodel. So umm, I was a little to the left of crazy.

Still, I married a celebrator. A man who is so good – so good – at pulling me out of my own head and helping me celebrate what we have, and we especially love celebrating having each other. As year ten approaches and someone in this marriage is a little less, ahem, crazy, we’re going BIG. We’re celebrating year ten ala Europe, and you’d better believe I’ll be blogging about that goodness.

As NIAW steers to an end, this letter is dedicated to beautiful relationships everywhere. I oh-so-hope that anyone experiencing unplanned unparenthood – or any sacred loss – can dig deep into the relationships they have and find much to celebrate even in the midst of crazy-town.

Dear J,

Nine years ago this morning I woke up as Mrs. Miller for the first time. 3,285 mornings later, waking up to you is still my very favorite part of the day.

There are so many things I didn’t know nine years ago. I didn’t know we would be cuddlers. I didn’t know I could love you more today than I did then.

I didn’t know how hard marriage could be. I didn’t know how bitter a look we could give one another. I didn’t know how we could bring healing to one another’s world.

I didn’t know that we’d dance so well – not the tango or salsa or real dancing – but the dances stolen in the driveway at midnight just because the moon is peaking through the mist.

I didn’t know anyone could know me better than I know myself. Like knowing what I wished I had ordered for breakfast as I look longingly at your plate, and you nudge a fork towards me. Or like that time you packed a book for me to read on vacation so that when I exclaimed, “Dang, I forgot to bring a book”, you were right there. Like knowing my favorite tea. Like the grin and grip of trusting my driving.

I didn’t know that we would explore the world. That my love for airports and cultural foods and all things related to a passport would be shared. That a spirit of adventure would root deeply in us both. That we would sell everything and then buy it back again. That the gleam in your eye – the one that comes on the verge of adventure – would be so alluring.

I also had no idea the storms we’d be asked to weather. The tears we would cry. The nights of deep and dark pain that would penetrate our souls. The losses we’d be asked to bear.

There’s something about those stormy days, though, that make it all the sweeter to hold your hand on the sunny ones like today. There’s something so much richer to clinging to one another when we’ve been through days where it’s all we had to cling to. There is a grace in knowing that this anchor holds. That our relationship isn’t determined by the number of sunny days versus dark days. That our love isn’t circumstantial. That loss, while real, doesn’t define us. That our friendship outweighs our fears.

I’ve been given a rich life with you, my love. I’m thankful every day, but particularly today, day number 3,286.

 

Oh the Questions I’ve Asked [NIAW]

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” –Henry David Thoreau

This is a week-long series to invite you to look through the eyes of infertility for a moment, as part of the NIAW (National Infertility Awareness Week) (link). This is not a series about the medical condition of Infertility – you can find facts here if interested.

Instead, this series is dedicated to the heart’s awakening to emptiness – and ultimately, to life. Even without an answer. Each day this week, I’ll be sharing a letter that I penned throughout this journey of infertility, as I tried to find words to describe the silent experience. Days filled with hope, cynicism, laughter, tears – and sometimes all at once.

One in eight couples are experiencing infertility right now – about 7.3 million. We are 1 in 8.

Clouds

I could dedicate a whole series JUST to the spiritual dynamic of infertility. I’ve asked more questions than I’ve had answers, though I’ve found answers to the most critical ones.

I’ve wrestled with this post because there is just no way – NO WAY – to capture the fullness or scope of this sacred conversation in one little post. The majesty and the mystery of sacred sadness fills many pages of Scripture. While my God’s character doesn’t need defending, I care very much about how He’s represented to a hurting world. I feel the weight of portraying just how good He truly is, while admitting just how many times I’ve questioned that in the midst of loss.

So I won’t try to accomplish in one wee post what acres of Scripture work to portray over generations of time. But for today, for one glimpse, I invite you to pull up a chair and listen in on one of the many conversations I’ve had with this good, mysterious God.

Dear God,

When I started this journey, questions flooded my mind. Why me? Why do you allow painful things for your children? Why are you withholding something good from me if you are my good Father?

I’m not sure those were wrong questions, but I am not sure they were entirely right, either. I think the real questions are simply this: who are You – really – and who am I – really?

I wonder if I’m any closer to knowing. Maybe in part.

Here’s what I know so far:

God, you are hard to understand. Intensely intimate and frighteningly distant. Jealous but kind. Firm but gentle. Generous yet controlled. Good but not safe. You give. And you take away. You are a mystery, yet worthy of trust.

I, too, am a deep mystery – even to myself. Hopeful yet despairing. Giving but oh-so-selfish. Jealous and bitter. Thankful and humbled. Trusting and yet suspicious.

I guess we make a fine pair. I know now a little bit of what Job felt when he realized He’d been searching for an answer for his pain and instead You responded with more questions. Not in a mean way but just, you know, reminding us both that we weren’t there when you laid the foundations of the earth and what not.

You don’t owe me answers – though I wouldn’t turn them down if you offered them. I kind of envision a long coffee date in heaven where You walk me through my story. But right here, right now, I don’t have answers to all my questions.

I have answers to the important ones, though, like what faith in You really requires, that You aren’t afraid of Friday or honest questions, that you allow pain, and yet are the God who brings life from death.