We had it all planned out. We would get pregnant in September, and have our baby in June, so my teacher-husband could have three months off with our newborn. It was a great plan.
It just wasn’t God’s plan.
I started my infertility journey like most people: unexpectedly. We tried one month. And then the next, and the next, and the next. And soon the months turned into years.
And I’d cry, and we’d pray. I’d stay up late in the bathroom, just a candle flickering in the darkness, and I’d whisper to God:
“Why can everyone have a baby – except us?”
“Do you see me, God?”
“Can you hear me?”
I was asking God to heal my womb, when He wanted to do a far deeper work in me. He wanted to heal my soul.
See, I knew I had a barren womb, but what I didn’t know is that I also had a barren soul.
On the inside, my soul was like a dry, barren wasteland. It was like a desert. And I was dying of thirst.
I am so thankful that Jesus isn’t afraid to enter deserts. He was about to enter mine.
The past few years of infertility had worn on me, and on my soul. I tried to have stronger faith. I tried to surrender more. I tried to do all the right things.
But over time, it became exhausting to keep trying, to keep hoping, and to keep failing. I was weary of being sad all the time.
So I tried to simply “not care” that I couldn’t get pregnant. I tried to just “be OK with it.” Isn’t that how you surrender?
I thought it was. But I wasn’t surrendering; I was actually just hardening my heart. Squeezing it tight like an angry, clenched fist. Surrender, brings joy and freedom to our spirits, not anger and bitterness.
I didn’t know it was anger then, because I was trying not to “feel” anything. I thought I was being “tough,” being “strong,” learning to “grin-and-bear” it.
I came to this place where I could finally “tolerate” God’s will for my life.
I could finally “accept” God’s plan might not be for us to have kids.
But do you know what God showed me?
He didn’t want for me to simply “tolerate” the plan He had for my life.
He wanted me to embrace it.
He wanted me to enjoy it.
To enjoy him in it.
The unique plan that God had for my life, which he ordained for me before I was in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139) was a beautiful masterpiece for his glory, and for my greatest good.
His plan was not a burden to be tolerated, but a profound gift, given to me in love.
So how did I stop tolerating God’s plan for my life, and start embracing it?
I thanked God for His plan.
Specifically, I thanked God for my infertility.
I know it sounds crazy. But this is actually what we are told to do in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV):
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
And again in Philippians 4:6: "With thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
How did I do this?
I got paper and pen and made a list of everything good I could possibly think of about not being pregnant.
On my list, I thanked God that I didn’t have to go through morning sickness, or stop exercising, or put on baby weight. I thanked Him that I didn’t have to go through labor, or have a flabby stomach afterward, or get varicose veins.
(Yes, my list was a bit vain. But it was sincere, nonetheless.)
Each day, I kept thanking God for new things I could think of to be thankful for. And the more I did, the more I began to see that God had filled my life with good things, that He was wise and in control.
Over time, I began to think: Maybe God has a unique calling on our lives? Maybe there is a child waiting for us in a orphanage across the ocean? Maybe he has some wild adventure that we can’t even imagine? Maybe he can see something we can’t?
I began to cling to the Scripture, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.” (Psalm 138:8).
I didn’t know what God would do, but instead of hardening in anger, like that clenched fist, I began to open in love. I began to open my arms and my heart to embrace what He had –even if I couldn’t understand it all yet.
As I worshipped him in the wilderness, while my womb was barren and my arms were empty, he came to me just as he promised. He came rushing in as the Living Water, like a river breaking through a dry wasteland, and watered my deepest thirst, making those barren places beautiful again.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)
Jesus is not afraid to enter deserts. In fact, this is the very reason he came. Our souls are dry and thirsty without him. We feel empty. But he is the River of Life, who pours out his Spirit on all who are thirsty for him. He makes ways in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, so we can flourish and bloom again.
Rebekah Fox writes about infertility and helps to encourage women to find the beauty of God during barrenness at her blog www.barrentobeautiful.com. She lives with her husband, Brandon, and their children Selah and Jesse, and they are expecting a baby girl this fall. You can connect with her through her blog, Facebook, and Instagram.