Saturday, October 15, 2011

Blessed be Your Name, Even When...

Even though I started this blog a few months ago with the purpose of being content while waiting to be a mother, I have mostly shied away from sharing my thoughts and feelings on this issue. My goal was to focus my gaze on the other blessings that God has poured out upon me and my husband and search for how God was using us here. And now. Not on how God will use us when He gives us a baby.

That is still my goal. I still want to be used by God here and now, and I do not want to take for granted all of that which I have to be thankful for.

However, today I also need to remind myself of God’s goodness and God’s faithfulness. I need to give myself a pep talk.

This morning my husband and I woke up in our hotel room, on our much-anticipated weekend vacation. My cousin’s fiancĂ© works for a hotel in the ‘big city’ about 50 miles away and was able to get us an amazing discount on a suite, and we feel very blessed to be able to spend time away from home on a small budget.

One of the things that we are enjoying while we are here is continual internet access. (We don’t have internet access at home and must content ourselves with visits to the library or coffee shops to spend time online.) So, of course, one of the first things we both found ourselves doing this morning was checking e-mail, even checking Facebook.

“Hill, [Friend-from-church] has a picture on Facebook that you should really see,” I hear as I’m putting on make-up in the bathroom.

“Oh, OK.” Friend-from-church has a fun and quirky sense of humor, so I am anticipating a picture that will make me chuckle, shake my head, and sigh.

Instead, when I come to look, I see a picture announcing very clearly (but of course in a fun and quirky way) that Friend-from-church and her husband are expecting a baby. They are expecting their baby to be born next May, about the same time as my beautiful sister-in-law and her husband are expecting their baby to be born.

My initial response upon realizing what this picture means is not joy, but jealousy. And sadness. And then guilt because my initial response was not joy.

I try to give myself a little bit of slack, though, because I know that some of my strong feelings come from a doctor’s appointment I had less than 24 hours before seeing this Facebook announcement.

An appointment that was less than encouraging and also less than conclusive.

 An appointment at which I heard in not so few words, “You will probably need to use fertility treatments if you want to have your own children.”

“Your body may not be able to sustain a child through a pregnancy without help.”

Traitorous words. Traitorous body.

And I know, the doctor may be wrong. The doctor may not have all the information he needs yet. And what’s so very bad about fertility treatments anyway? Probably nothing.

But even so, I can’t stop the anguished questioning of God inside of me: “Why her? Why not me? They haven’t been married as long as we have! I’m sure they haven’t even been wanting this baby as long as we have!”

I don’t mean to sound melodramatic, or wimpy. I know there are so many women who have much, much more heart-wrenching stories, have been feeling empty-arm pain much, much longer and much, much more acutely than I have.

But even so, the pain is still there, and I still need to address the God whom I love and serve and who I have believed is good, oh so good, in the past.

A teacher of mine once told me that we sing songs like “Blessed Be Your Name” when times are good and it’s easy to believe God is good as a sort of exercise and muscle-building for when times are bad and it’s not so easy to see God’s goodness.

That way, when life gets hard in one way or another, the refrain

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering,
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name.

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise.
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord,
Blessed be Your name!
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
Blessed be Your glorious name!

will play in our heads and we will remember, Yes, God is good. God can use this for good. Even when this doesn’t make sense to me, God is still good.

I can remember this song. I am able to say with my words (even if my feelings aren’t so sure), Yes, God is good. And I know that this one itsy bitsy difficult time will strengthen me and prepare me. I will come to know more deeply the One who is infinitely more precious than a thousand babies, and He will be my strength and my song.

Yes, God is still good!


  1. I've been praying for you so much about this whole situation, Hill. Last night after reading this, I lay awake praying even more so, out of a broken heart for you. A verse that came to my mind is "My yoke is easy and My burden is light." It specifically doesn't say that we won't have yokes or burdens. In fact, Jesus points out in other places that "In this world you will have trouble". I'm not sure where I'm going with this. It's just the verses that came to mind as I was praying over you. Praying that with Jesus as a yoke-partner, you will allow your burdens to be lighter and that you will allow Him to help you carry them---it sounds like you are from this post. Praying so much for you.

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Hillary and Mark. Definitely praying for you... maybe this is a hard question to answer, but I have a good friend in the same situation. And I want to know how to love and support you better. What kinds of things should I/should I not say to my friend? I'm not always sure if I should bring it up in case it's too difficult to talk about. They've been trying to get pregnant for close to 3 years. Any advice?

  3. Thanks for the encouraging words, Heather. I have been sitting and chewing on the verse you shared since then.

    And, AF, I don't know if I could give advice for another person... since everyone's struggle is a little different and personalities are definitely different. But what I know is true for me is that I am incredibly encouraged when someone sends me a message with encouraging words or just letting me know they are praying for me. And as for words coming from pregnant friends, I still want to hear about their pregnancy and their excitement, but it helps me when they are willing and able to shorten that conversation and move on to other things, if that makes sense.

    Hopefully that makes sense and helps.

    I'm so thankful for wonderful sisters!

  4. Hi there,
    Hope you don't mind a 'hello' from a stranger - I came over from Heather's blog and wanted to sympathise / empathise on this post. I know this feeling all too well (although our appointments involved genetic testing, which was different but stunk equally, I think) so I just want to reach through the screen and hug you. God promises that he will never test us beyond what we are able to bear - but sometimes I do wonder if that promise covers all the announcements on facebook. Surely not!

    It is so, so hard working through how an utterly faithful God can send us such difficult trials. I think it's particularly hard when the thing that is denied or delayed is something that seems so biblical - c'mon, it's motherhood! Practically the eleventh commandment! How can I be a Godly woman if I'm not a mother? How will other peopel ever see me as a proper Godly woman? And yet you are right, we are called to be content. I found that I reached a point where I realised 'ahhhh, THIS is the trial that all of those easy years were preparing me for'. Waiting to be a mother sounds like a pretty trivial trial, until a person is IN it (well, that was my experience anyway).

    One thing I found myself thinking about, often, is that Jesus was not a parent. And yet it is HIS image to which we are being conformed. So I knew that God could do everything he needed to with me even if I never became a mother. (I did - eventually, via adoption, but there were lots of times I thought it would never happen). I'm not sure if that makes any sense - like you say up above, every person experiences this particular trial differently. But I found it really helpful to know that being childless was NOT something that would stop me being like Christ. That probably sounds really obvious, but it didn't feel obvious to me :)

    Sending you lots of love, and hoping that while you wait for a child, you will be wrapped in the arms of your heavenly Father.

    (I hope it wasn't creepy to leave this comment. I know you don't know me! But Heather will vouch for me, I promise :) )

  5. Claudia,

    I do not think you are creepy. :) Any friend of Heather is most likely a wonderful person. Thank you so much for your 'hug' and your thoughts. I had never thought about how Jesus was never a parent and yet we are being conformed to His image. You've given me a lot of encouragement and a lot to think on, and I appreciate it. :)