“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” ~John 12:24
It has come to my attention that this week is National Infertility Awareness Week. I kind of find the term “infertility awareness” as laughable when I think back to a time in my life when every week was Infertility Awareness week for me. Every day. Every hour. Something would come up to remind me of my emptiness. Perhaps you know what I’m talking about.
It’s a vague memory now. And I don’t say that lightly. I don’t think, looking back, that I ever could have imagined myself writing those words out. Much less for anyone to read.
But there is such a beautiful story of God’s grace, His leading, His plan. I just have to share a part of my story. I know that there are many different walks of life represented in my readers and many of you mamas have become mamas in a variety of ways. Biological, foster, adoptive, step, in-laws (or in-loves, as I call my in-laws). Each of you have unique stories to tell and I recognize that there may be some foster or adoptive or step-moms out there that long to bear your “own” child. I get it. I used to be there. But I am no longer and I want to share how and why.
This is my story.
July 29, 2009…a day which will live in infamy. At least for me. I was nearly 28 years old, married eight years, childless and getting a hysterectomy. There have been a handful of times in my life when I have felt completely and totally surrendered to God and His will. This was one of those times.
My surgeon had worried that we were being premature. My nurse practitioner, who knew my whole miserable story had referred me to him. He was a quiet, small-statured, South Korean man, who had been a well-known name in my hometown for years. He delivered many of my friends AND their babies. During our consult, he looked very seriously at Shane and me and said in his Asian accent, “You so young! You sure you want to do this? You only 27. If you 40, I say fine. Nobody need uterus at 40! But you so young.” He was right. I was very young but had already suffered 16 years. After he did his own ultrasound, all doubt was removed, even on his part and he agreed it was the best decision. The surgery was scheduled.
I had a successful career at VW. I never planned on staying as long as I did. I was sure I would get pregnant and be a stay-at-home mommy like I had always dreamed. I regret to say that I didn’t give VW the best that I could have because I was always looking ahead to the phase of life I longed for. In spite of this, they took great care of me and I got six weeks paid time off to recuperate. Wow. I guess was really doing this. May and June flew by and before I knew it, the surgery was looming in the near future. It was a dark cloud. I kept fantasizing that in the time leading up to my surgery, I would get pregnant and would have to cancel the surgery.
July came. Every year for the first two weeks in July for my entire life, I have gone to our annual church Camp Meeting. I wish I could say that every year I went with the sole desire to be changed by the Lord. To leave different than I came. Better than I came. Several years I did a lot of visiting with friends from all over the country but not necessarily a lot of praying at the altar. Several years I went serious and left with significant spiritual experiences. Shane proposed to me at Camp Meeting 2000. No matter what, I always enjoyed Camp Meeting and planned my summer around it.
2009 was different. I went feeling sorry for myself and I longed for sympathy. Poor 27-year old Glenda has to have a hysterectomy. I looked up all my former pastors’ wives and hoped for encouraging, magical words that would make it feel better. Many ladies that I knew did give those encouraging words along the way and helped me to know that I was not alone. But I went basically the entire two weeks of Camp Meeting in misery. I wanted a different outcome. I wanted to be healed. I wanted the Lord to give me a baby in my own womb. I was striving with the Lord. The funny part is that I had already committed to the Lord to adopt. So why was this so important to me?
Then one night near the end of Camp, I’m pretty sure it was the last Friday night of Camp, in fact, it happened. It was in a song called, “I Choose,” originally sung by Ivan Parker. Take the time to listen to it. It’s powerful.
The Lord had let me wallow in self-pity long enough. Now He was asking me to choose the better way. His perfect will. My Daddy had told me more times in my life that I could count on both hands how very important it was to want God’s perfect will and not just His permissive one. I had been trying to convince God that my way was better. I was trying to twist His arm. Thankfully, He loved me enough to not allow me to get my own way. He sees all and knows all and knew the day would come when I would thank Him from the bottom of my heart for not giving me what I wanted, but rather what I needed.
That night I wept bitterly. But the bitterness slowly melted as the Lord began to reason with me. My tears started flowing differently, turning from gall into a sweet incense for my Lord as I began to slowly surrender my will to Him.
I felt Him ask so simply, “How could you be raised knowing your Mom’s story, hearing it over and over and over again, knowing My power to intervene, but not trust that I will do the same for you if that is My will?”
You see, in 1977, my mother had gone through a very similar trial only she was in her 30’s and not yet married. Going under the knife believing she would come out unable to bear children before even meeting the love of her life was devastating. However, she had a godly physician who prayed with her prior to the surgery and asked the Lord to guide His hand. He later shared with her that the Lord stopped his hand and only allowed him to remove the affected ovary. When she awoke, he told her of the massive cyst he had removed (about the size of a grapefruit) but that he had left everything else alone. He believed her “knight in shining armor” would come along some day. And sure enough, in January 1979, he did. Long story short, here I am.
Talk about humbled.
The thought even occurred to me, What if the Lord allowed Mom to go through the trial she did just so that years later it would encourage me to make the decision I need to make right now?
Make that doubly humbled.
That evening as I was mulling all of this over in my heart, I had felt so distant from the Lord. So much so that instead of going down to the altar to pray as I normally would, I sat in the very back of the Tabernacle. My Mom happened to be there that night and sat beside me. I shared with her all my emotions and thoughts through my tears. As she listened, she concluded that was very likely why the Lord had allowed her to suffer and told me how blessed she felt to do that for me.
It was on that night, and possibly at that very moment that the Lord consumed my sacrifice. I felt an unwavering peace that would stay with me in the days ahead.
Two weeks later, early on a Friday morning as I headed to the hospital for surgery, I realized that I was no longer expecting God to intervene. That’s not to say it was easy. The nurses who were prepping me realized that they had not done a pregnancy test with my other lab work the week before, so… lucky me! I had to pee in a cup and hear just minutes before my surgery that I was indeed not pregnant. Familiar words. Yet, even then, I had a peace to continue trusting in my Father’s heart and that He not only knew what was best for me, but for my future and other lives it might affect.
I began to have a renewed fervor to adopt.
When I was nine years old, the Lord laid adoption on my heart. When Shane and I were discussing future spouses, before we even started dating, we both agreed that we were called to adopt. But I had always pictured a blended family. Biological, adopted and perhaps foster kiddos.
But on that Friday night at Camp Meeting when the Lord broke my will so that His could spring forth, I realized that I had wanted to bear a child to somehow meet a need in me. After all, what was wrong with wanting that? It was Hannah’s heart’s desire, and Sarah’s, and Rachel’s and the Lord and filled their wombs in miraculous ways. So why not me?
The Lord was trying to show me something profoundly important. Because my focus was on the fact that my womb could not bear a child, I was missing the truth that my heart still could. In fact, my heart can bear many more children than my uterus ever could!
So here I am writing this tonight with three children all tucked in their beds in this little home of ours. Two are ours. Our very own. I didn’t bear them in the traditional sense, but they are our “own” children. And our foster daughter will be forever in my heart whether she is under our roof or not. Two other foster sons have moved on, but I still hold them in my heart and I have not only had the privilege of loving them, but their parents as well.
God knew what He was doing. He always does.
Dear mama dealing with infertility, I have not written this to minimize your struggle. I know exactly how you feel. I’ve seen the specialists, tried the treatments, suffered through years of pain, miscarriage, heartache, loss, anger and confusion. I have begged, pleaded and bargained with God. Some of you are reading this that still have a longing to bear a child and I didn’t write this to change your heart or mind. I wrote this to encourage you. He does ALL things well. In His time.
And His perfect will has the potential to knock your socks off, sweep you off your feet, turn you upside down and never leave you the same.
And whatever that may be for you or however that looks, choose it anyway.
Blessings and much love,