I always said I wanted as many children as I could possibly have, I just never thought I would not be able to have any. People would tell me at a young age that I was a “natural mother.” They also said that one day I would probably have a string of little ones holding on to me, and that was a picture I could very clearly imagine. I even had names picked out and the birth order of those names…
I never dreamed I would not know the surprise and joy of discovering a pregnancy; or feel the first waves of morning sickness wash over me; or enjoy some bizarre cravings and get to pick out loose maternity clothing. Most of all, I did not consider that I would never feel my waters break and then go through that age old process of labor and delivery and finally get to hold a new born baby, my baby, in my exhausted arms and feel a kind of love that filled me up so completely that it spilled over, and ran on down through the years of mothering.
It took me a long, long time to come to terms with the fact that I am infertile; to even be able to put that word in the same sentence as my name. I hated that word and all the other ugly words that go with it… “barren,” “dry,” “cold” and “failure.” I had heard these words used when describing my uterus or my ovaries, and they made me feel worse than a failure; I felt like I was dying inside.
I have been a Christian for a long enough time that I knew I needed to look outward and not inward. I realized I had to fill my life with service to others and use all the many gifts that my Lord has blessed me with. And a funny thing began to happen, I started seeing all the many, many, many blessings in my life as just that, as blessings! I stopped focusing on the fact that I do not have any children of my own and I started seeing the beauty, the joy, the talents, the love, the hope, the family and friends, the time and the value in my life, and my Lord gave me that wonderful peace that passes all understanding.
A good friend recently became a grandmother for the first time, and I found myself thinking about how amazingly wonderful it would have been to hear a little soul call me “granny,” but I did not feel sadness or bitterness. No, I felt joy and awe and a giddy kind of happiness bubble up inside me because I was so happy for my friend. Once again it dawned on me that by looking to my friend and genuinely feeling for, and with her, I felt the same way myself. I couldn’t help it! That is exactly what Romans 12:15 says: “Rejoice with those who rejoice….” (NRSV) and when we do that, we will really feel the joy ourselves.
Other scriptures like Philippians 4:4, Galatians 5:22, Proverbs 17:22 and Proverbs 12:20 all speak to joy and how we can experience it for real.
Another scripture that has helped me find ways to move beyond infertility is Philippians 4:4-8. I love how Paul instructs us on how not to be anxious: “…in everything by prayer and supplication and with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Don’t read over the fact that the peace which we cannot understand will guard our minds and hearts. That is what I feel the Lord has done for me! That beautiful peace has guarded my heart and turned the pain of infertility into a joy that I cannot find words to aptly describe. Do I have sad moments? Of course I do, but they are moments, not days or weeks or months, and when I feel a sadness coming on, I pray my way through it: “….be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12b). I refocus my mind with “….whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8) and I feel at peace, and I feel strengthened… “…practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9b).
The Lord has seen fit to bless me with many children in my life through the experience of several wonderful nieces and nephews and even many great nieces and great nephews. I have also worked as a nanny for several families and so had the honor of looking after children of all ages. While working as a Bible school teacher and camp staffer, I have come into contact with hundreds of children who have in some small way or another, many of them, let me know that I made a difference in their lives, that they remember me.
Let me encourage any of you who are struggling with infertility right now to start looking outward. Take small steps to refocus your heart on what you do have in your life and then, begin to practice genuinely rejoicing with others, especially at the birth of their babies or grandbabies. I know it is hard, but trust me, the rewards and the benefits you will feel are beyond understanding. Keep reading God’s Word, praying about, and studying about peace and, sisters, you will feel that wonderful, warm peace wash over you.
For any of you who are older and have dealt with this pain for so long, go out and find a younger woman to mentor just as Paul instructs the older women to do in Titus 2:3-5: “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands.”
I have mentored a young lady for about six years now, and that relationship has been beneficial to, and a blessing for both of us. She is like a daughter to me and I love her as though she were my own. My joy is being made complete!
Ladies, sometimes our bodies just don’t work the way they are supposed to, and sometimes we just don’t get to find out why not, but we are daughters of a King and children of a God who loves us so much He gave His only Son that we might have a chance to be saved. When you think on that, doesn’t it help you to want to put things in perspective? I hope so, I pray so!
May God hold you in the palm of His hand, may He make His countenance to shine upon you, and give you peace.
In all things, to Him be the honor and Glory always!
Linda was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, gratefully to a Christian family. She was baptized in the late 1970’s in Natal, South Africa and has remained a loyal Christian since. She’s thankful for God’s many gifts and talents upon her, and enjoys using her creativity in many areas including, painting, sketching, designing and baking wedding cakes, painting murals, and working with pottery and fabric. She enjoys reading, writing letters, going on long walks, having tea times and traveling. She’s had the honor of speaking and coordinating several Ladies’ Days and conventions.