Worshiping IN the Waiting vs. Worshiping to END the Waiting

Many of us have experienced situations in which we've lost touch with an old friend. You may have once been so close, spending lots of time together and sharing all your joys and struggles with each other. Then at some point you parted ways either because of a hurtful situation causing a loss of trust, or it simply happened based on the busy-ness of life or the physical distance that often comes with a move for a job, etc. Regardless of the reason, they carry on throughout life with a sort of out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality even though you may have tried to reach out to them often over the years. What can be fascinating is when you notice that they all of the sudden start wanting to come back into the picture pretty quickly when they either want or need something from you, or they find out you got engaged and are trying to snag an invitation to your wedding. Take a moment to consider how that would make you feel. Does the word "used" come to mind?

I would dare to suggest that many times we are guilty of giving God the same treatment. We call out to Him more and pursue a stronger relationship with Him when we want something or in times of need. If something is not happening as fast as we would like for it to, we pursue Him even harder because in today's culture that is how you get results. Everyone hates waiting - whether it be in lines, in traffic, for job promotions or any other aspect of life. No matter how many times we hear the words that God's timing is perfect, from our perspective He sometimes seems late. Can you recall a time when you felt that God was actually early on something you were waiting for?

Over the past 2 years Kelley and I have been waiting on God to provide a child for our family. As you will find out if you read the rest of our blog, it has been quite a difficult journey emotionally for both of us and even physically for Kelley. There have been ups and downs along the way including the hope of a pregnancy back in November only to end in a miscarriage a few weeks later. We have sought help from fertility specialists who have been very knowledgeable, but still no baby.  There has been an abundance of waiting, which I particularly am not very good at.

I realized recently that although we were honestly seeking God and trusting Him to provide for us the entire time, it was during the rounds of fertility treatments that I would become more passionate about seeking God and crying out to Him for help. You see, the messed up part about this is that deep down that might have been all I was doing sometimes, just asking Him for "assistance." I was getting tired of waiting and I guess without realizing it I had figured that I should tap into all the resources I had at my disposal to have a better chance at getting the results I wanted.  In my messed up mind, 

Fertility treatment + God = Baby.
Seriously? How did it come to this? I had reduced God to a variable in a simple math equation.

This all came to light when we were forced to take a break from fertility treatments. During that time period I started to notice my desire to seek and worship God slowly decreasing. I wasn't mad at God, I just knew it wasn't possible for us to get pregnant during that month or two so I didn't really need anything from Him right then. Sadly, I found myself sort of putting my relationship with God on hold. Wow!

After recovering from the embarrassment of this discovery that my motivation for worshiping God had mostly been to END the waiting period I was in, I began to search for what was at the root of all this and look at other areas of my life that may have been affected by this skewed mindset. How could I correct the course I was on and begin to truly worship God IN the waiting, regardless of the outcome?

I first needed a better understanding of what true worship was. According to Louie Giglio, one of my favorite Christian speakers, "Worship is our response to God for who He is and what He has done, expressed in and by the things we say and how we live."

Let's break that down for a minute. "Worship is our response TO God." It is not something we do in order to get a response FROM God. I could stop right here and that would be enough for many of us to chew on for days. Continuing on, "for who He IS and what He has done," is a great reminder that we still have reason to worship Him just for who He is even during times when we feel like He hasn't done much for us lately, or at least not what we would have wanted him to do if He were our little servant or a puppet on a string. Hasn't God done enough already even if we never experienced another single blessing for the rest of our lives? He has given us abundant life and eternal salvation, which is more than anyone or anything else could ever give!

Although applying this newfound understanding can make worshiping a little bit easier, it still doesn't eliminate the difficulty of waiting.

Many of us say we want to know God's will for our lives right now and we so desperately want God to just end the waiting period we are currently in. But when He begins to show us what He has next for us, we often respond initially with fear and dread if it does not line up with the plans we had conjured up in our own minds. Our fear of unfulfilled expectations becomes stronger than our faith at this moment. The only way to overcome this fear is to trust God to increase our faith as we confidently wait on Him to show us what’s next. Learning to worship IN the waiting is not a one-time event however, but an ongoing process.

Isaiah 40:31 says "but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.”

Ultimately I have decided that worshiping through the wait all comes down to this:

“Waiting becomes worship when our as-yet-unfulfilled hopes and dreams take a secondary place to knowing, loving, and trusting our God. God is worthy of our worship and our praise should not be contingent upon the gifts He gives or chooses to withhold.”

If you are waiting on God to provide children, a spouse or a different way to answer the "What do you do for a living?" question, don't lust after what you perceive as the next thing in life. Instead, trust and submit yourself to the Lord. Wait on Him by worshiping Him and allowing Him to grow your faith.

“Now in this hope we were saved, yet hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience.”  Romans 8:24-25

Even though I have never considered myself to be much of a writer, I found the desire to write about this experience because I know how easy it was to fall into this trap of worshiping God more to End the waiting, and I have no doubt that there are many other people who have fallen into this trap and may not even realize it yet. The waiting periods will be different for everyone. My hope is that these words would at least cause some of you to question your motives in your pursuit of God during your times of waiting, and that you would be able to truly worship Him simply for who He is and what He has already done throughout your entire journey.

 

-Waiting in HOPE- Worshiping IN the Waiting vs. Worshiping to END the Waiting

Trusting in the Lord... in the wait

Justin and I are both being refined and challenged in the area of trusting God. We want to fully and completely Trust God with our situation. Not just “saying” we are trusting, but instead a trust that leads you to rest everything on Him without watching or preparing yourself for what “could happen”. Far too often I think I am trusting God when I tell Him with my mouth “God I trust you” but it never reached my heart. I was falsely saying it in hope that the elusive trust would then be created in me. I may often say it when really I’m keeping a close watch on my emotions, feelings and plans to “guard my own heart.” But let’s be honest, neither of those options will bring real peace or comfort to our soul.

Only true and complete Trust in our Lord and Savior can do that.

This kind of trust starts with a confidence and faith in Christ, as you turn your mindset to be that of “God you are who you say you are and you can hold all things together. Therefore I Trust you with all my being, for you know the plans and you are able to do anything, even the impossible. But regardless of your plan, you will and are the only One who can hold me together whether good or bad!”

With this new approach in Truly Trusting…thus far we’ve experienced peace regardless of the circumstance. During the treatments, IUI procedure and even in the current waiting to know if we are pregnant.

Waiting is a whole blog post for another day… but anyone going through this knows that all you experience is WAITING. Constant, continual and reoccurring waiting. And who’s good at that?
But it seems that when you are fully trusting (with your whole weight, heart, expectations) the waiting becomes easier, crazy I know. But I’ve experienced that God can do that, He can turn your waiting into a pleasure (maybe not always that far… but an assured promise). When your focus is on Him and His plan, not you and your desperately needed plan, He moves in. BIG. And right now I am daily thankful for Him moving Big in my heart, because I desperately need that.

Here are a few examples of ways He has been moving… 
(keep your eyes open and looking, I promise He is speaking) 

Last week we realized that for a while now Justin & I were both praying and reading Psalms 33:20-23 daily over our current situations. (Read We feel so blessed… where I previously wrote about this scripture.)
And today during worship service, we sang “Waiting Here for You” (by Christy Nockels) and wow I couldn’t have picked a better song at that moment to bring before the Lord. Soon after the song ended a dear friend (passed me a note... so high school I know - I loved it) she shared a verse in her sweet note that of course began my tears. But the verse was actually one I had been writing in my journal and without realizing it praying through this week. Psalm 130:5-8 “I wait for Jehovah (Lord), my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchman wait for the morning. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemptive abundance. He himself will redeem Israel…”

Interestingly enough, while writing this Pandora was playing a song expressing my thoughts and words perfectly, I had to stop and add them. God’s Amazing that way. (See I told you...look for ways He is speaking, just ask for Him to show you - it helps in the waiting times)

Bethany Dillon “All That I Can Do”
Oh, all that I can do is hold onto You
And follow where You lead
Where You’re leading me.     
And all that I can do is hold onto You
And let You bring me through, oh

When the waves begin to rise
And all my hope fails
In confidence I’ll close my eyes
Trusting You’ll be there, be there

All that I can do is hold onto You
And let You bring me through
It’s all that I can do

In this dreaded 2 week wait, all I can do is hold onto the Lord, trust and let Him bring me through like the perfectly timed song reminds us. It is truly all that I (you) can do! Waiting isn't as hard even when the water rises and all our remaining hope fails when we choose Trust over our expectations and desires we instead surrender saying "thy will be done, Amen!" Lord, you've got this and "in confidence I'll close my eyes - trusting you'll be there."

Friends, are you or do you realize that all you can do is hold onto the Lord our God during your waiting? Or are you like so many out there more focused on holding on to your own ways and plans, like a selfish little child, shaking your fist "I know better" "where have you been?"

Is your waiting only about and for it ending? Is your waiting only about and for your desired answer? 

2 Corinthians 4:18 - So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (NIV) So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (NLT)

Or even in your waiting and unknowns, you are concerned more with the glory of God and His goodness to be known. Not merely to display your own efforts, resolutions, and deserved earthly blessings. This became my prayer in and for my heart. That I would become more concerned with His glory, His will, and His will to be done in and through my life and infertility journey. I pray this would become your prayer and focus in your waiting and trusting too. Amen.

2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV) For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

Hebrews 11:1 (MSG) It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead.
-Waiting in HOPE- Trusting in the Lord... in the wait

Dear Mommy-to-be Friend, Love your Infertile Friend

I was both honored and scared when a close friend of mine (the amazing Becky Kiser) asked me to write a guest post for her (personal & ministry) blog. She was asking for an open letter to moms-to-be and mothers from the side of the friend struggling with infertility (me). Needless to say, I didn't want to do it but knew I needed to, especially now desiring to be obedient and have a "let Him Use us" mentality. I said yes, even though my gifts are all wrong for what she was asking. But doesn't God always use the unequipped? There's something about us getting out of the way and Him truly speaking.

Dear Mommy-to-be Friend,
I love you so much! And I am truly over the moon for you and your husband’s news! What a miracle and blessing a pregnancy and baby are! I screamed, cried and jumped right along with you in your pure bliss. I am looking forward to watching your belly and that precious baby grow.

Yet if I am honest with you, after hearing your news, I sobbed.

I feel so double sided.

On one very pure, real side I am ecstatic and joyful for your news. Yet at the very same time it brings up my own personal hurt, longing, sadness and disappointment about my own empty womb and arms.

My sadness is not entirely because I am jealous, although that does creep up on me. But mainly because I so desperately and deeply want to be where you are, and going through this alongside you. We did start "trying" about the same time (or maybe I was ahead of you), yet my womb and arms are still empty. It is a very strange place I'm not use to, but God is working in me at this time. Please bare with me, I am working on not comparing myself to "what God has given you."

I would never want our current situations to change, hurt or divide our friendship. Because you mean the world to me! Sweet friend it is not your fault that God’s plan or timing is different than my own.

I’ve attempted to hide my fear that we won’t be able to relate as our “life phases” change, even though I know our friendship is stronger, deeper and more honest than that. Therefore, I may have to on occasion during this journey approach you with my hard yet vulnerable feelings. I pray you can listen and understand, and I will do the same for you. I only want our friendship to grow through our honesty, as we freely share in both laughter and tears without explaining or defending ourselves.

Please be patient with me as I personally battle between handling things with God’s grace and being a stubborn child. I am begging for you to please love me during this time. I know you have your own distractions with preparing for or taking care of a baby, which I promise to do my best to share in. That way our friendship is balanced and healthy. You may wonder during this time, what does it look like to love me? Ask me. Ask me questions, not necessarily or all the time about my treatments or where I am in the fertility process, although I like to share and it helps. Just don’t forget to ask to know my heart. For example: ask how i am feeling, how is my marriage, my hurts, struggles, frustrations, fears and joys (and if you ask please prepare yourself for real answers.) Most of the time I need a caring, listening ear or simply to know that people (besides my loving husband who gets sick of hearing about our infertility) are walking beside me, praying for us and supporting us. I need you on my team too.

I apologize now for how sensitive, irrational, hormonal, needy and an utter mess I may be right now or during this long journey. I don’t mean to be difficult. It can sometimes just be too much especially since everything seems heightened and affected right now - physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.

Can I be blunt with you dear friend? I am not writing this to be mean or hurtful, please see my Heart! But I would like to give you a little warning of what will instantly be “too much for me.” Even if I don’t show it at the time, I will feel the painful sting of it later. I know your intentions are pure and that you mean well. We know I sometimes (or often) say things I don’t mean or realize are bad, we all do. Which is why I want to prepare you.

Please don’t tell me you “completely understand what I am going through” unless you have actually been through it yourself. I feel like a guinea-pig most days or weeks; giving blood every other day, taking medicines, being probed, stuck with needles, self-inflicted nightly shots, cut open for surgical procedures, etc... Honestly unless you’ve been in my shoes of heartache and longing for a child you can’t seem to conceive, lost or will never have, you just can’t even begin to imagine the depth of all the emotions. Such a statement unintentionally belittles my pain.

Close friend, if you are in the process of attempting to conceive, I would be grateful if you asked me how I would like to receive your news once you become pregnant. If you’re already expecting please kindly and privately tell me before your joyful news becomes public. Otherwise it only hurts worse and/or forces me to cope in a very public situation.

Please let me know of resources that might help me like support groups, books, other godly women, or couples who may share this journey or would tenderly care and listen. But steer away from strong, unsolicited advice. Please don’t push your suggestions or opinions upon me but pray that God would prepare me for His timing.

I could never picture you saying these things, but I would be naive to not accept that they are said to infertile families every day from within the church. You need to just “trust God”, you must not have “enough faith.” Although there will be times I need your encouragement especially to keep my faith, we (families going through this) have enough blame and guilt without outside opinions. I’ve experienced this as we began seeking “specialized treatment for infertility.” It already feels like the un-natural way, especially since all my friends so easily got pregnant without help. Oh boy do I hate that word “natural” or the phrase “the natural way.” What is natural to you may not be what is natural for me. Obviously, my body isn’t functioning like yours which is hard enough for me to come to terms with.

If a miscarriage ever occurs, please refrain from the words “it was probably for the best.” I know you mean that the embryo was not developing properly and it is God’s way of creating the body to handle it. But mostly, I just need someone to hurt with me and validate my grief.

Also, I would encourage you if meeting someone new to try starting the conversation with open ended questions like “tell me a little about yourself.” Because the longer I wait in infertility the more tired I become of answering the question, “so, do you have kids (yet)?” You know I am an honest person but who wants to open that can of worms when first meeting. Oh how I wish that I could sometimes just freak them out by instantly initiating full blown tears.

P.S. I loved when you... thoughtfully sent me a special note with your baby shower invitation, letting me know that this might bring me pain and giving me the option to freely choose to come or not. You loved me so well, healing scars with such a simple gesture.

Or when you remembered and acknowledged that my baby died. I was taken back by your huge love when you gave me a present to my un-born child, even though I miscarried so early on. WOW!

I pray you see my torn heart in my love for you my dear sister. I do love you. I love your unborn child. I love your children. And I love that we are strong enough women to walk through some tough ground with God’s direction, and that together we will be better on the “other side.”

All My Love,
Kelley

**I am thankful to be able to write this due to the grace and love my Lord has shown me during my current infertility journey. And by the unending blessing of having amazing godly friends (most of which are pregnant or with small children) that gently, lovingly and earnestly walk beside me providing encouragement in my hard place. My thanks will never be enough, you know who you are. -Kel (And I pray this same blessing for all who read this and are walking a similar hilly journey.)

For further resources (and where a good bit of my topics came from) visit www.hannah.org/ resources/friends.htm

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-Waiting in HOPE- Dear Mommy-to-be Friend, Love your Infertile Friend