Joy Comes in the Morning

We just bought a crib and dresser for our son.

It has been a long time since I have written and so much has changed. My last post ironically was about my new tattoo and the meaning behind it to remind my heart to have courage in fearful times because once I am out of the darkness I will realize that with God holding me there was never anything be afraid of at all. What a beautiful thought, right?

Excerpt from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which was in my last post:

“In a few moments the darkness turned into a greyness ahead, and then, almost before they dared to begin hoping, they had shot out into the sunlight and were in the warm, blue world again. And all at once everybody realized that there was nothing to be afraid of and never had been. They blinked their eyes and looked about them. The brightness of the ship herself astonished them: they had half expected to find that the darkness would cling to the white and the green and the gold in the form of some grime or scum. And then first one, and then another, began laughing.”

And that is exactly how I feel right now…. as I feel this sweet baby boy doing flips in my belly.

We cannot see in the darkness. We cannot know for sure where we are going or what is going to happen. We fear the worst and try to hold onto hope with weak and shaking hands. It is only once we have left the darkness and step into a new season of life and hope that we’re able to look back on the dark times and see every single breathtaking second that God was with us. Eventually the darkness dissipates and we can see more clearly.

Joy comes in the morning indeed.

There are a lot of songs on Christian radio right now that make me change the station because they don’t have a ton of depth or they’re just plain annoying. To be honest, most of the annoying songs are by Mandisa (which I know a lot of people like??), but there was a song on the radio a few days ago by her that captured my heart…..  it said:

“When the waves are taking you under, hold on just a little bit longer
He knows that this is gonna make you stronger… stronger.
The pain ain’t gonna last forever and things can only get better
Believe me, this is gonna make you stronger”

I have heard this song before, but it really hit me this time. I have been held in the arms of my Savior while going through one of the hardest times in my life thus far and I can look back now and see how it made me stronger. I am a stronger person and I will be a stronger mom for having experienced the grief of infertility.

Hard times are inevitable and I will probably experience hard times again in my lifetime. Suffering does not discriminate and pain continually finds everyone…but hope and peace and deep, unshakable joy can only come from Christ. Everything else used to pacify pain and suffering is temporary and shallow.

The only way to get through suffering and find purpose in it, is to experience your pain while leaning into the arms of the One who can wipe away every single tear…. a mere glimpse into the life to come.

– – –

“…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ….”
Romans 5:3-6
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“Courage, Dear Heart…”

When Chad asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I don’t think he thought I was serious when I said I wanted a new tattoo. 🙂

I got my last tattoo nearly 10 years ago in March of 2005, but I have been thinking about getting a 2nd one for the past 2 years or so.

I don’t tend to get things permanently affixed to my body unless they’re thoroughly thought out and have significant meaning to me. I spent a while trying to think of a great way to not only reflect on the growth I have experienced over the past 3 years, but to also reflect the positive change in my heart as I look ahead to the future.

I stumbled upon this quote on Pintrest by one of my favorite authors: C.S. Lewis and realized how perfect it was.
(I also used it in a blog post not too long ago!)

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This quote is from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which is my favorite book in the Chronicles of Narnia series.

The context is this:

Lucy and the others are on a ship heading into dark, unknown waters. Everyone is scared and worried that Aslan had led them in the wrong direction. (Oh, wow! How many times I have had this very thought!)

At one point in the midst of some turmoil, Lucy whispers, “Aslan, Aslan, if ever you loved us at all, send us help now.”

After she whispers this, C.S. Lewis so perfectly writes:

“The darkness did not grow any less, but she began to feel a little—a very, very little—better.
‘After all, nothing has really happened to us yet,’ she thought.” 

Then Lucy hears a whisper in reply: “Courage, dear heart” and she knew it was Aslan whispering to her.

I just love this part of the book so much because so often in my life, and probably in yours too, life seems dark and full of turmoil. How many times have we questioned where God was in the midst of our confusion, our fear, and our pain?

Those that don’t know the voice of God shake their fists to the heavens and cry out – demanding a reply and a rescue! What I have come to learn slowly, but surely over the past several years is that God is so very near to the broken-hearted. He is a breath away and has not abandoned us. Sometimes the darkness remains around us, but his gentle whisper calms our fears and comes to us in our pain.

The call to have courage is a steep one.

Courage is not easily grasped.
Courage means that when your circumstances don’t change at all that you still trust, you still hope, and you still believe.
Courage waits for that quiet voice to whisper and calm our hearts when our world spins out of control.
Courage knows that a brighter day is coming and that our response should just be to take our Father’s hand as he leads us through and eventually out of the darkness.

After Lucy hears Aslan whisper to her to have courage, Lewis goes on to write:

“In a few moments the darkness turned into a greyness ahead, and then, almost before they dared to begin hoping, they had shot out into the sunlight and were in the warm, blue world again. And all at once everybody realized that there was nothing to be afraid of and never had been. They blinked their eyes and looked about them. The brightness of the ship herself astonished them: they had half expected to find that the darkness would cling to the white and the green and the gold in the form of some grime or scum. And then first one, and then another, began laughing.”

This is exactly the hope that I cling to…That after all this darkness has passed me, that I will find myself in a place more beautiful and more bright than I could have ever dreamed possible. I am not there yet, but I know that day is getting closer…

It takes courage for me to keep hoping.
It takes courage for me to keep dreaming and believing.
It takes courage for me to undergo a procedure or stick myself in a needle for medicine to help me ovulate.
It takes courage to try again and again.
It takes courage for me to fight the bitterness that so often threatens to rear it’s ugly head.
It takes courage for me to tune out the voices of those who speak against the hope my heart clings to.
It takes courage for me to trust that He knows why I am here and He knows where I am going even when I cannot see.

My first tattoo was meant to be a reminder to me that love is difficult, selfless, and requires sacrifice. It was a reminder not only of Christ’s loving sacrifice for me, but the loving sacrifice he calls me to show others.

In the past few years, with all that I have gone through and all that still lies before me, I want the reminder of this difficult season, the reminder of the strength I’ve found in Him, and the reminder of the hope He gives me to be permanent:

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Click here to read the full excerpt from Chap. 12 of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

One Hundred

So I don’t typically jump on the bandwagon of internet “hot topics,” but the recent death by suicide of beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams and his depression hit a little too close to home for me and made it difficult for me to be okay with the barrage of negative and judgmental commentary on Facebook about the choice he made. Let me be clear, I do think suicide is a choice. However, I understand and sympathize with the heavy feeling of deep darkness and hopelessness that accompanies depression and I could easily see how living with that depth of hopelessness for so long would make suicide seem like a good idea or the only escape, even if it’s not.

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When you’re depressed you don’t think rationally and you don’t think very far ahead. It is quite difficult to see past the hollowness you feel in each empty, unsatisfying moment of your day… of your life. For me, the only way I escaped was with the support of dear friends and the constant gently nudging assurance of my Savior reminding me that He is holding me and that He is enough to satisfy. Robin Williams, for whatever reasons he had, felt he was out of options. He left a monumental amount of pain in the lives of those who loved him by choosing to end his own life, but I know that there is a God who loves and comforts. I pray for people to rise up around his friends and family to comfort them in their grief in this sudden season of loss. I grieve that Robin Williams didn’t seem to know the hope and comfort of God’s embrace. Without that, I would imagine that pulling yourself out of a clinical depression would be an insurmountable task.

A while back I read a book that changed my perspective on how to respond to disappointment, sorrow, and discouragement. The book “One Thousand Gifts” by Anne Voskamp states simply that life is full of countless blessings we often overlook and that it is next to impossible to remain sad or discouraged when you begin to recount to yourself all the blessings in your life. It is even better if you take the time to write them down. Blessings can take many forms. Any single thing from the comforting hug of a close friend to the way the sun seems to warm your skin from the inside out. Nothing is off limits if it’s something that brings you joy.

So I made a list.

I began my list back on 03/10/2013.

So far I have physically written down in my journal 230 things that I have been thankful for. I hope to keep this going for a long time, but my goal is to get to 1,000 things. I wasn’t always consistent and had gaps of times between reflection and journaling. Sometimes I would repeat something I was thankful for that I had written down several months earlier, but I didn’t want to create any inhibiting rules. I simply wrote down the things I was thankful for – the things that brought me great joy and peace on each particular day.

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So in honor of my 100th WordPress blog post (Woohoo!!!), I am going to select and list out for you 100 of those things exactly how I wrote them in my journal and the dates on which I wrote them down. Enjoy. 🙂

3/10/2013:
1. My husband Chad
2. Memories
3. Green Ink Pens
4. Ice Water
5. Straws!
6. Our Temperpedic Bed
7. Candlelight
8. The first signs of Spring

3/16/2013
9. Comfy Leather Chairs
10. Hazelnut Mochas
11. Kimmie
12. Unlimited cell minutes
13. Cardigans
14. Vineyard church
15. Sleeping with the windows open
16. Netflix
17. Pumpkin, our circus kitty
18. Soft fuzzy yarn
19. Sense of smell
20. Stories

3/22/2013
21. Cool rain
22. People I can be myself with
23. Portland, OR
24. Outdoor patios
25. Tall trees
26. Brick courtyards
27. Pita
28. Slip on shoes
29. New friendships
30. Spontaneous compliments

3/24/2013
31. The breathing room of flying first class
32. Vodka cranberries
33. Laughter that replaces breathing
34. An assuring gentle touch
35. The company of like-minded people
36. Recognition for a job well done
37. The feeling of leaving the ground behind
38. Fog lifting off the water
39. Meeting Anne Fadiman

3/29/2013
40. Moments of reflection
41. Paid holidays
42. Pumpkin flavored things
43. Honest thoughts with God
44. Changing seasons
45. Building anticipation
46. Assurance that hard times have an expiration
47. Skin turning pink in the sun
48. Zeph. 3:17
49. The joy of blessing someone unexpectedly
50. Inside jokes
51. Ever-increasing comfort with another person
52. Finishing a great book

3/31/2013
53. Church family
54. Serving in Children’s Ministry

4/15/2013
55. Advancement of medical science
56. Kind nurses
57. Small needles
58. My good sense of direction/navigation

4/20/2013
59. Lazy Saturdays
60. Thick green grass
61. Banana bread with walnuts

4/26/2013
62. Gentle touches
63. Free fertility meds!!
64. Footstools
65. Time off on rainy days
66. Surprise phone calls
67. Plane tickets to loved ones

5/9/2013
68. Sunsets
69. Quiet places to just “be”
70. Just the right song lyrics

7/29/2013
71. Comfy colors like grey, plum, and navy
72. Jacket weather
73. New books to read
74. Warm fires

9/9/2013
75. Warm beds
76. Kitties snuggling at my feet
77. A good cry

10/3/2013
78. Melody Morgan
79. Matt Chandler podcasts
80. Pumpkin Spice Lattes

1/6/2014
81. That I am not homeless

2/3/2014
82. Thankful that my Granny is finally at rest

4/22/2014
83. That Pumpkin knows when I need kitty snuggles
84. That I got a really good hug from Deena today.
85. For friends like Jennifer who text just to check on me and make me feel very loved
86. That Kimmie prays with me on the phone and loves me 12 years later still…
87. For a husband who knows the perfect silly face to make me laugh when I need it the most…

5/2/2014
88. For new beginnings

6/25/2014
89. Feeling known
90. Feeling understood
91. Ocean breezes on Florida beaches
92. Aloe Vera gel/lotion
93. Tiny hands holding mine
94. Judah’s maniacal laughter
95. Late night movies with the Carters
96. Walks with Emily Donnelli
97. Direct flights
98. A really good back scratch
99. Chad missing me

8/2/2014
100. Seeing God stir something beautiful deep in Chad’s heart

 

Life-is-beautiful
If you made it this far and you’re still reading this, congrats! 😉
The funny thing about recognizing and being thankful for all the big and little things in your life that God has blessed you with is that it makes it hard to complain, feel sorry for yourself, and it is even difficult to obsess over the things you don’t have. As many of you know, these past few years have been incredibly hard for me (with the past year and a half being the worst of them). I have had so much pain and so much longing. I have fixated on the beautiful blessings God has given nearly every single person around me and sobbed over the fact that I did not have those same things. So it is amazing to me to look back over my journal and see the progression of where God has brought me and the blessings he gave along the way. On bad days he gave me friends to hug and friends to pray with me on the phone. On good days he gave me sunshine and Pumpkin Spice lattes and great books. Every time in between He has blessed me in one way or another.

So if you ever begin to feel like life is hard, overwhelming, or just plain hopeless and you can’t see a proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” in sight…. begin to write things down.
One at a time.
Write down what you’re thankful for, even if it’s hard to think of something.
I promise that on your very worst days you have been blessed with something.

If you have a friend who is struggling with depression or anxiety, please PLEASE do not ask them to “cheer up” and “think of what they could be grateful for.” Instead, buy them a latte, give them a hug, invite them over for a movie…..

BE the blessing from God.
BE the reason they have to smile and the reason they’re thankful.

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On Risking Intimacy

Intimacy has been on my mind more than normal the past several months.
Not intimacy in a romantic way, but intimacy in friendships.

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Intimacy is something rare, precious, and beautiful. Obviously it can take time to forge, but it also takes something else that people so often distance themselves from: vulnerability.
Yet, as so many of us know and C.S. Lewis so eloquently said, “To love is to be vulnerable.”

It means that at a deeper level, I want to share with you who I really am.

I want to share:
My flaws,
My hang ups,
What makes me deliriously happy,
My dreams for the future,
My discontentment with things in my life that I wish were better,
What God is teaching me,
What God is really trying to teach me, if I am truly honest,
Where I’d like to be in 5 or 10 years,
What things hurt me the most,
and more…

There is so much to be said that goes past the noise and the cacaphonic clatter of small talk and perpetually shallow topics.

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But do you want to know the hardest part about intimacy? The part that is even harder than raw vulnerability…?

Intimacy at its core – every single time – must be consensual.

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I cannot be singularly vulnerable and raw with you and suddenly we now have intimacy.
You cannot pour your heart and soul out to me, while I am holding back and expect to feel the deep connection of an intimate friend.
Unfortunately, this is what makes intimate relationships so rare.
It is also what makes it precious and beautiful.
How cheap would intimacy be if we handed it out freely to everyone?

I have had maybe a handful of people in my life with whom I have shared a deep, intimate connection in friendship.
Those friendships have been and, in some cases still are, some of the most precious treasures of my life.
To connect on a real level means to be known, to be understood, and to be loved exactly where you are and for who you are.

Lately, I have found myself wanting more with my friendships in KC.
I need those deep, intimate connections.
Because of being new the area 4 years ago, it took some time to get to know people first.
Now I know and have quite a few friends and I am still finding it difficult to usher in the intimacy that I crave.
I crave it because I have experienced it before and anything less just seems lacking.

I need friends that I don’t just get together with when we have cook outs or birthday parties or game nights, but friends who I can text at a moment’s notice and bare my heart. Friends who can ask me how I am and I can respond, “Well, actually lately I feel like shit and I think I am battling some kind of temporary clinical depression.” Friends that I can ask, “What is going on?” or “How are you?” and they will tell me the things that affected them deeply over the past week, month, or year. Friends who are honest and friends who listen honestly.

Being vulnerable is so difficult because it literally leaves you open and raw to deep hurt. You have to choose wisely who you let in, but once you find someone you love and trust – don’t hold back!
They may be able to have access to the deepest parts of your heart, leaving you open to potential hurt, but by having access to those deep places of your heart you also invite the opportunity for deep love and deep connection. It is unimaginably worth it.

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Many of my friendships are beginning to scratch the surface towards this type of intimacy and I love it, but some are holding back in certain ways.
I can tell.

  • The first group of friends that are holding back don’t want to share. They’re great listeners and I know, in that moment, they are there for me, but they don’t want to expose their true hearts or thoughts in return.
  • The second group of friends share with me freely and vulnerably, but find it difficult to listen to me when I have something I need to share.
  • And sadly, the third group of friends show a desire for a close, connected friendship and then suddenly disappear altogether – lost in the flow of life and busyness and responsibilities.

To the first group I say this: When you’re ready, I am here. I am willing and ready to hear your heart and accept you for exactly who you are. You can trust me with your innermost thoughts and feelings. I am a great listener, 100% non-judgmental, and loyal to a fault. Take all the time you need.

To the second group I say this: I need you to listen because I may not have many people I trust to share my life with. I need it more than you might know. I am sorry if some of my struggles seem repetitive, since some of them I have been struggling with for a long time. Please give me a chance to share anyway. I love you honestly sharing your life with me; let me share mine in return.

To the third group I say this: You’re so incredibly busy and you may not realize the extraordinary benefit of an intimate friendship. It can bring so much joy, peace, reassurance, and even clarity to the pandemonium of your life. You don’t have to have this deep connection with me, but please find someone in your life to share a deeper connection with. You will be amazed at how taking the time for some deep, connected friendships can bring harmony to so many areas of your life.

BeSeen

To you reading this blog post.
Share your life with someone!
Find someone to trust and really trust them.
Be real and honest and vulnerable because without those things, what is the point?
Find someone you can cry in front of without embarrassment.
Find someone who stops everything they’re doing to listen to you.
Find someone you care for and listen to their heart with nothing but a smile, a hug, reassuring words, and love to give back to them.

Love people.
Be vulnerable.
Find treasure in intimacy.

 

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…

How Many Times?

You know how they say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? It makes sense to assume that trying something over and over and getting absolutely no where would drive someone insane, right?

I sometimes feel like I a losing my mind.

Today I took a test that would either 1.) determine a new role for me for the rest of my life or 2.) would just be the same old results I always get. It was a pregnancy test and it was the latter.

God, this hurts.

Can you even fathom waiting and hoping and dreaming for something not only for 2.5 years, but every 30 days or so as well? Imagine that every single cycle you recover from the grief of another negative pregnancy test only to begin trying again and allowing yourself to hope and dream again – only to cycle back around into the darkness of hopelessness and loss. Even the “trying for a baby” part begins to lose its fairy tale appeal because while the rest of the world gets to just have sex all the time and magically turn up pregnant, your journey becomes more of a horror story involving multiple invasive vaginal ultrasounds, medication you have to inject yourself with in the abdomen every single day, the side effects of swollen enlarged ovaries, having to perfectly and intricately time when you have sex rather than being able to just do it when you actually want to, and add to that having many of the symptoms of pregnancy that only continue to falsely fuel your hopes and dreams because you had to give yourself a HCG shot to trigger ovulation resulting in the actual pregnancy hormone coursing through your body for 12 days.

It royally sucks.
I have never experienced such a traumatic roller coasters of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual pain.
Couple that with the fact that you’re now in your 30’s, so every single woman you seem to encounter is pregnant or already have 3-4 kids of her own. It not only will make you feel insane, but you’ll start to be jealous of the most ridiculous things.

How many times have I driven by someone’s house and been jealous of the toys laying in their yard?
How many times have I seen someone exhausted from being up all night with their newborn and wish I even had such a glorious reason to lose sleep?
Oh if I could tell you how many times have I even been jealous that someone had to deal with spit up, poopy diaper explosions, colicky babies, and even toddler tantrums because even in those difficult and not fun moments of parenting it still means that they are, in fact, a mother. Something I feel is so far out of my reach.

I know I am venting and complaining, but wouldn’t you?

You can’t tell me to “relax and it will happen” and you better not tell me to “rejoice in the Lord and He will give me the desires of my heart” because none of that negates the pain and sorrow I have to cycle through on a constant basis. I do trust God. I do rejoice in Him. I am waiting on His timing. But He has given me the freedom to grieve and cry out and beg for understanding even if it is beyond me.

I’ve actually been loving this song on the radio by Plumb called “Need You Now” because the lyrics resonate with exactly what my heart has been feeling. The sense that you can reach a point of heartache so deep that you cry out to God to “please take this” from you. The point of heartache where you’re so tired from having to hold on for so long and you just need His strength to keep breathing…. It is beautifully powerful.

The Answer to Why: When We Cannot See Clearly

One of my absolute favorite moments in the entire Chronicles of Narnia series is found in the book “The Horse and His Boy.” The voice of Aslan is having a conversation with Shasta about who He is and some circumstances that had transpired:

“I do not call you unfortunate,” said the Large Voice.
“Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?” said Shasta.
“There was only one lion,” said the Voice.
“What on earth do you mean? I’ve just told you there were at least two the first night, and-“
“There was only one: but he was swift of foot.”
“How do you know?”
“I was the lion.”
And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. “I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”

“Then it was you who wounded Aravis?”
“It was I”
“But what for?”
“Child,” said the Voice, “I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”

It may seem strange that this is one of my favorite moments in the series, but it so beautifully captures the multi-faceted nature of God and how little our understanding is of the bigger picture of our lives. God is the God who binds and heals and we love that side of God. Yet, on the other side of the coin, God is the God who wounds and “tears to pieces” so that He may heal us. Not just the God who “allows bad things” but a fierce and passionate God who actually wounds us in order than He may heal us to become more like Him.

Oh, how I am learning this right now!

I don’t know about you, but when you’re going through the very middle of a hard time all you can think about is your pain and start grasping at ways to make it stop. Did I do something to bring this on myself? Is this a punishment? Why is this happening to me? What sequential steps should I take to make it stop? How long will this pain last? 

It is easy to lose hope when the circumstances of your life seem to become a perfect storm that threatens to drown you forever. I am convinced that the absolute hardest thing to do is to face your difficult circumstances head on with a heart that is aching from exhaustion and tears streaming down your face and remember that God is good.

We don’t know why life can get so painful for us sometimes and not ever seem that way for others, but this is your story – not someone else’s. Whether you’ve always struggled with things people seem to manage so easily, or whether you have always struggled financially no matter how hard you’ve tried, or whether you’ve been single for so long and feel so lonely when you’re a great catch who just wants someone to share life with, or whether you suffer from a physical sickness and don’t feel like you did anything to deserve it, or whether you’ve unexpectedly lost a loved one and losing them seemed and felt so utterly pointless, or whether – like me – you long for a child of your own when it seems like every drunken teenager and drug addict you encounter is getting pregnant these days. But there is a bigger picture. You don’t know someone else’s story and neither do I.

“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as God sees us, knowing him directly just as He knows us!” – 1 Corinthians 13:12, The Message

Isn’t that the ultimate prize? More than the financially stability we wish for, more than the spouse we long for, more than the baby we ache for – to know God and have a deeper, more committed personal relationship with Him is the answer to everything we’re searching for and the ultimate goal of this life. This life and all it’s blessings are temporary and just a shadow of the One who made us and calls us to know Him.

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I spoke recently in Florida with a friend who said that looking back she was grateful for their struggle with infertility. She said she never would have even pictured herself saying such a thing when she was going through it. She always just wished it away and yearned for a pregnancy/baby to take away her sorrow and struggle. Yet, during that time, she explained that she grew closer to God than she ever was before. Her struggle with infertility deepened her faith and has become part of her testimony. Now that she has come through it and is out on the other side, she said she wouldn’t go back and change anything because knowing God and trusting Him more was worth every tear, every dark night of the soul, and every disappointed hope.

I’ve never heard something more beautiful and more encouraging.

In contrast, the countless people who have told me to just “Stay positive,” “Don’t stress,” or “Believe you’re healed and you will be” – that advice, although laced with good intentions, fell short of doing anything more than isolating me further. How can you paste on a smile while you’re choking down tears? Is that even normal? How do you not stress when every single deviation from normal in your body makes you wonder if you’re pregnant? And despite my unwavering and solid faith that God is The Healer, it doesn’t mean that 24 cycles of wishing and hoping with no resulting pregnancy have simply been a result of me just. not. believing. enough. That’s ridiculous.

How much more beautiful is it to simply respond to God from the reality of exactly where we are…. our anger, our pain, our bitterness, our weeping, and my poly-cystic ridden, hormonally-jacked-up body that betrays my greatest longing every single month. The invitation to cry out to God in our pain and confusion, confess our despair and faltering faith, and beg for peace and a greater faith despite circumstances is what drives us closer to Him and brings Him the most glory.

We only have our story to live and we won’t always understand it or know the answers to our biggest question: “WHY?!” – but God is still good. He sees the bigger picture and invites us to wait, to hope, and to trust.