2013 sucked (Part 2)

You know how you can be trying to think of something specific and you just can’t seem to recall the very thing your brain is searching for? Maybe where you left your keys, what your great grandma’s middle name was, the name of your best friend in 5th grade, etc. . .  I recently heard someone say that you can ask anyone what their absolute favorite book is and they will struggle to simply recall their top five or that you can ask someone what their favorite movie is and, for just a second, they forget every movie they’ve ever seen until their brain catches up.
Suddenly the thing you have been trying to think of hits you like the colloquial freight train and you wonder how you could have forgotten it to begin with.

I feel like – more often than not – this is how God finds us.

Not that God has lost us, but that, for a moment, we have forgotten him. In dark times, our brain struggles to remember Him and who He is and what He has done in our lives. We sink deeply into the drowning waters of our own fears, panic, and stress until life threatens to swallow us completely. And then suddenly, it hits us. He comes to us when we least expect it and we remember that we were once centered. We once felt calm and whole and protected.

2013 sucked because I forgot.

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Sometime before Christmas when I should have been enjoying the most wonderful time of the year, I was instead feeling like the shattered and barely pieced together version of myself that I had slowly become (as explained in my last post). I wasn’t looking for ways to feel better because feeling better required energy I just didn’t have. I felt exhausted and spent. I felt lost. . . . . . .  then came the freight train.

On December 15th, we went to a Sunday evening service at church and I sat near the back with my warm cup of coffee.
I don’t honestly remember much of the message that night.
I don’t remember all the songs we sang.
I just remember one thing Pastor Fred said.
I just remember one song in particular that we sang that night.

Pastor Fred was talking about God being our Immanuel.
Immanuel means “God is with us.”
Pastor Fred said that when the prophet Isaiah spoke of Jesus’ coming (Isaiah 7:14) the people of Judah were under the rule of King Ahaz. Brief history: almost immediately upon becoming king, Ahaz joined forces with the Assyrians in order to protect himself and his new kingdom. The Assyrians had a reputation for being barbaric, violent, and ruthless. It was a very dark time for the Israelites and this alliance with the Assyrians left them incredibly vulnerable, afraid, and oppressed.

And then Pastor Fred said, “When Isaiah says, ‘Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.’ he is saying to Israel in one of their darkest times that God is their hope. He is reminding them that God sees them. He hears them. He is their hope and He is sending the Prince of Peace.”

That is when it hit me.
Hard.
In Israel’s despair when they felt like shattered versions of themselves, God was going to work a miracle. He was going to do the impossible to bring them hope and to remind them that He was and is with them.  When Pastor Fred said that, I couldn’t stop the tears that spilled from my eyes without warning.

Our Immanuel.
God. With. Us.

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Shortly after this, the sermon wrapped up and we stood to sing the closing song.
Because it was December 15th and nearly Christmas, we sang what has always been one of my favorite songs: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”
The smooth melody of the music began and I felt my heart finding resolution as Pastor Fred’s words of God’s promise echoed in my heart with the powerful words of this song.
Have you ever really listened to the words of this well known Christmas carol?
Have you ever understood them in the context of what Israel was feeling?
They had no hope. They were lost. They were broken. They felt abandoned and didn’t understand why God was allowing something like to happen to them. Much of what I have been feeling the past year.

If you take the lyrics out of their poetic stanzas, you can more clearly see how desperate they must have felt:

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel

God gave a promise to ransom them – to pay the price to free them from their captivity and bring them out of exile. The Son of God would be their salvation and He would wipe away every tear. He would be coming. They didn’t know when. They didn’t have an exact date or all the answers, but they knew eventually He would come and that alone was reason to rejoice.

He was their hope.

Stay tuned for Part 3. . .

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2013 sucked (Part 1)

I had a good friend ask me recently where my heart and mind towards God has been in our struggle my infertility. I don’t remember ever fully answering his question and realized that since he reads my blog I must not have addressed it here either. So here goes…

Honestly last year was a hellish year for me.
I am sure that was clear to most of you reading this.

When you are wanting something so desperately and your emotions have been through the gauntlet, you can easily forget things that came so normally to you before. Simple every day things like remembering that God is good and loves you because now He feels so far away. Remembering to reach out to others for comfort and encouragement because now reaching out itself requires so much more energy than you feel capable of. Remembering what it is like to listen to music or chat on the phone on your drive home from work because now you just start sobbing now that you’re finally alone and you were just reminded once again of the emptiness you feel inside.

Infertility makes you feel like less. Period.
Less of a woman. Less of a person. Lesser than those around you.

People make comments to me all the time like, “Oh you will understand [insert anything here] when you have kids” without realizing how painful these comments can be. I even had one friend tell me to “Hurry up and get pregnant.”
I don’t need anyone to remind me that I cannot and have not done the one thing that women are designed to do. I don’t need to be reminded of all the free time I have because I don’t have kids. I don’t need to be told constantly that I don’t understand what it is like to be a parent.

I get it.

I don’t have kids.

I think about this every single day.

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All of last year was a constant struggle. I was being constantly poked & prodded, adjusting to new meds, dealing with a grapefruit-sized cyst on my right ovary, and cycling through chronic disappointment every single freaking 30 days after another failed attempt to conceive. We spent roughly $8,000 in out of pocket expenses for fertility treatments and have nothing to show for it. On top of all of this, I was adjusting to a new job and a dose of work place harassment on top of all of this. (what fun that was!)

2013 sucked.

So where was my heart and mind towards God in all of this?
Well, it was all over the place.

I started out in the beginning of 2013 feeling ready to tackle whatever God brought before me only to quickly dissolve into a heaping pile of painfully raw emotions. It is hard to feel like God is your Healer when your body is riddled with brokenness. It is hard to maintain a strong faith when you build it up every cycle only to have it come crashing down with the negative results of your efforts. I soon began a negotiating process without even realizing it – worshiping God in my pain and subconsciously thinking, “See! See, God! I am worshiping you! My heart must be in a good place. Now, please grant me my heart’s desires!” and feeling incredibly let down when nothing changed.

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Denial and negotiation led quickly into cynicism and a deeply underlying numbness.
I felt like everything was hard. Having fun became hard. Talking on the phone was a chore. I didn’t want to be on Facebook seeing everyone so happy with their families and announcing a bazillion pregnancies and living the life I have wanted for so long. I didn’t want to answer emails from friends or text them or even cook a decent dinner for Chad and I. I lost my appetite most of the time and felt like nothing could pull me out of the pit I had been slowly sinking into.
I was unhappy and exhausted.I believe fully that I had become clinically depressed. Nothing made me happy anymore and every single moment I was alone I was wiping tears from my eyes and clenching my teeth to prevent the too-common onslaught of tears. I kept telling myself I was okay and I wasn’t, but I pasted on a smile.

I also wasn’t a good friend, wife, daughter, sister, co-worker or anything in 2013. I already know this because I’ve lost touch with some people and have already been “gently chastised” by another good friend of mine for not keeping her the loop. If I wasn’t myself with you or if I seemed distant, I am so sorry…

I tried my best to keep myself glued together while I was shattering in a million pieces every day and I didn’t have any energy left for anything or anyone else.

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Stayed tuned for Part 2…