Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Enough to Carry

Sometimes we can't even imagine what's happening in the depths and secret places of a person's life: the secret griefs they carry, the challenging fears they face, the daunting hopelessness they feel surrounding certain situations. And when we carry these things ourselves, we often either (1) become completely self-absorbed by them or (2) notice with greater compassion the eyes of those around us.

For several months now, Darin and I have been dealing with a very personal and private issue that, until now, I honestly have been unable to discuss. We've learned that, barring a miracle, having biological children is a likely impossibility. When you've hoped for children for more than 5 years, it can be quite jarring to hear your doctor say this, no matter how compassionately it's conveyed. Surgery, he said, is an option, but there would still be no certainties even after that.

Over the last five years I've wrestled with believing the truths of the goodness, love, mercy, compassion and justice of God. There have honestly been times that I couldn't even speak to him for long intervals because I was so hurt and embittered with grief. I don't know why he's asking us to walk this very painful and disappointing road. The only things I can cling to are that he will work this all together for our good, since we love him and are called according to his purpose (Rms 8:28), and that he was before all of this, and in him all things hold together (Col 1:17).

In some weird way, I feel a sense of relief, in just having some questions answered (previous physicians didn't offer conclusive help or information), but more than that, he's opening a new chapter of life for us as a couple. What our walk will look like, only he knows, but I don't want fear to stand in the way of whatever he has in store. That's Satan's most effective tool against me. Fear. As a young woman, I wasn't afraid of much of anything, but this journey of infertility has unfortunately created that in me anew (with fear of disappointment ever-looming), and manifests itself in many areas of my life, even completely unrelated areas. I realize that aging brings with it the reality of sometimes-unmet dreams, but I want to mature, not just age, and maturity, at least to me, means not allowing the experience of unfulfilled dreams result in fear that paralyzes desires toward new dreams.

Looking back over the "armor of God" in Ephesians 6, I see how vital each piece is in protecting me against fear.
  • I need the belt of truth, because Satan's lies tell me how untrustworthy God is, causing me to fear dependence on him.
  • I need the breastplate of righteousness, because I fear something I do might cause me to fall out of God's favor for a time. It is Christ's righteousness that covers and seals me, not my behavior.
  • I need the shoes of the gospel of peace, because fear leaves anything but peace in its wake.
  • I need the shield of faith, because fear says to me that life is incomplete and unvictorious without my "picture" of family.
  • I need the helmet of salvation, because fear attacks my mind first with doubts and questions.
  • I need the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, as my weapon, because fear isn't afraid and won't flee from logic, reasoning, feelings, or positive thinking, but will run to escape from Scripture.
  • And I need prayer in the Spirit who intercedes for me with groans that words cannot express (Rom 8:26), because when I don't know what to say, the Spirit does, and fear cannot stand to be in the presence of Almighty God.
In truth, I've let my own burden blind me to the pains of those around me to some degree, but I hope that by following Jesus in this storm of struggle and disappointment, my eyes will be opened with greater sensitivity and compassion. (I've never been accused of having the spiritual gift of mercy.) But even that frightens me, because I fear the actions and words of others. But Christ understands that full well, humbling himself to the point of death on a cross, while being mocked and jeered by those who simply didn't understand what it meant and looked like for him to be obedient and act in faith. And like him, I don't want sympathy from those nearby, just sensitivity to truth and what obedience to God looks like for me. Jesus didn't need advice from the disciples, though they offered it ("don't wash my feet, Lord" etc.), he needed their support ("my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow... pray with me"). I not only want to receive that kind of encouragement, but I want to be that kind of blessing, too.

Jesus said to take up my cross and follow him. That's enough to carry. I don't want to fear to load me down any more in 2008.

1 comment:

Misty said...

Julie, I am so proud of you for sharing this with others! I know it was a HUGE step to take. Please know that I pray for you daily about children and my shoulder is always available for you to cry on (or at least my ears over the phone). I've come to realize that every child is a MIRACLE, not just the ones conceived with medical intervention. Patrick and I will continue to pray for you and Darin and your future family, in whatever form it may come.