The thing about pain

The thing about pain is, it hangs over you. You carry it with you wherever you go. Sometimes it’s right out front. You can’t get out of bed. You can’t talk about anything else. You can’t think about anything else. Nothing can make you smile. You cry without extra cause. It’s just swelling over you and out of you and consuming you, no matter how hard you try (if you can try at all).

And sometimes it’s standing in the background. The awkward guest at a party — everyone sees him standing off to the side, not really doing much, but definitely there. At any silence in the conversation, at some little moment without warning, he shouts something. “Oh, right,” you think, “You’re still here.”

ps147Grief is like that. That permanent loss leaves a permanent pain that just always sort of hangs there. In the beginning everyone sees it, everyone mentions it, everyone tries to help carry it. But later it’s just yours. Sometimes you sort of overlook it — this picture on the wall that’s been there for years that you sometimes don’t even notice is part of the decor anymore. Sometimes it jumps out at you and you realize there was a lion just standing in the corner the whole time, and you kept walking past it. Sometimes it’s so heavy,  but you pretend you’re ignoring it because you don’t want to keep bothering everyone. But it’s heavy and it’s big and it’s weighing you down, and it won’t go away.
And you don’t know the solution. That’s the true worst part. Nothing will really fix it. “Is there anything I can do for you?” People ask. You have no idea. I just want you to know. I just want you to remember a few years from now that I have this weight. I just want you to carry this with me when it’s just there and there’s nothing to be “done”.

And the thing about pain is, until you’ve had your own, you don’t know what this feels like. Why is she still stuck on that? You think. That was years ago. It’s over now. She should be moving on by now. And, maybe worst of all, This isn’t that big of a deal. And then you get your own pain, and you grieve for how unsympathetic you were. You know of others with pain and you just want to walk up and say, “I know you’re dying inside right now! I know this is killing you. I know about the pain. I know.” 

The thing about Christ is, He always knew. He knew about the guy in the corner. He knew about the lion. He knew about the weight. He knew when no one else knew. He cared before anyone else could, and cared when no one did anymore. When you were wondering How can I bear this alone? How will I bear this at all? What will carry me through this? The answer was Christ. The solution when there are no solutions, is to take comfort and peace in Christ, and take it up again every day after.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” -Psalm 34:18

The most important thing I could say

I have been wanting to write this post since I started this blog. I mean, I have felt a deep burden to write this, but I just haven’t known how to start. I actually wrote those first two sentences, and then walked away for like an hour, not sure how to continue.eph

But the truth is, in writing some 145 blog posts over the past 8 months, I have been acutely aware that there is nothing more important that I could write about than this. While this blog is unashamedly written from a Christian perspective, it is openly written for the Christian and non-Christian alike. So I am always aware of the fact that, although I have found many of my readers to be committed, sold-out disciples of Christ, many others are seekers, perhaps more “spiritually-minded” people, not totally sold on Christianity, the Bible, or any one belief system. Some of you have never really prayed until infertility reared its ugly head. Many of you have never really read the Bible. Times of trial have a way of, well, forcing us to care about God and seek Him, especially something like infertility, which is so out of our hands. Many of you have been bargaining with God — If you give me a baby, I’ll go to church more, and that sort of thing. I’m not judging you, I’m just acknowledging that I know where a lot of you are at.

If you are one of those people, I feel I need to tell you… I firmly believe that God has you in this trial and reading this blog for one, grand, most-important purpose: to call you to Himself. And I don’t mean to call you to church. I mean a call to repentance; to faith; to a life-changing personal relationship with Him.

I was not raised in a Bible-believing Christian home. I was raised in a non-Protestant, church-going family that meant well. Over 10 years ago, I don’t know what it was (well, yes I do, it was God), but there was this pulling inside me that made me seek truth. I had a handful of doubts about some of the things we believed, and a lot of curiosity about the Bible and who God really is.

thewaySpecifically, I struggled with the fact that my church did not teach that we could be sure if we were going to heaven or hell. For some reason, this never sat well with me. I asked many respected teachers and my parents, and I never got a consistent answer. I heard things about unforgivable sins (things like, if you lie to your mom, you can still go to heaven, but someone like Hitler, of course, could never go to heaven); I heard several “tricks” to sure salvation (read the whole Bible, say such-and-such a prayer right before you die, etc.), but none of it sounded like absolute truth — just a lot of “best guesses.” And I couldn’t stand it. For a short period, I decided there just must not be a hell. God wouldn’t just leave it up to a last minute, arbitrary decision that we can’t affect… so hell just must not be real.

It didn’t really occur to me to read the Bible — I think I was intimidated by it. I had the impression that it was complicated and unclear. By God’s grace, I generally trusted the Bible and didn’t really doubt its authenticity. I just didn’t feel comfortable picking it up and seeking answers. And it was overwhelming — I didn’t know where to start.

In His sovereignty, God had me “randomly” meet a few people who knew the truth. The first time I really read the Bible intentionally was when I asked a friend about her “John 3:16” bracelet, which I actually thought had something to do with sports because I always saw it at sporting events. That night I read what I now know is one of the most well-known Bible verses of all time, though I had never heard it before then:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.”

salvationI had kind of heard things like this in church my whole life, so I didn’t get what was so special about it. When I saw her the next day, I asked her why it was so special (why would you wear that on a bracelet, and hold it up at sporting events?). She kindly and confidently (I remember because it was the first time I heard someone speak of heaven and hell and who goes there with confidence — it really struck me) told me that this verse sums up the whole point of the Bible and the Christian faith — Jesus died to take our sins upon Himself, and those who put their faith in that will not go to hell, but to heaven.

In the coming months I started reading the Bible more, and going to Bible study with this girl and her friends. I will always remember the first time I read another verse, John 3:3 –

“Jesus said, ‘You must be born again.'”

For years I had been hearing my parents and others poke fun at my “born again” aunts and neighbors, and the weirdo “born again” church that had recently opened in our neighborhood. When I read this, I was absolutely shocked that the Bible used that terminology — that it is so clearly commanded that we are supposed to be born again.

And that’s what I believe God wants you to hear — You must be born again. What does that mean? It means starting a new life in Christ. It means believing and trusting in the truth that the forgiveness of your sins and your eternal salvation is only possible because Jesus, who was perfect, died in your place to take your sin. There is nothing else you can do to earn forgiveness. He did all the “doing.” In believing this truth and trusting in it, we are saved. We believe through this faith we become children of God and new creations — the Holy Spirit (God Himself) begins to dwell in us and change us to be more like Christ and less like us

When I heard this, my first thoughts were that it was too simple. I must not be getting it. But that’s why the gospel is called “Good News,” and that’s why you always meet Christians who are super (sometimes obnoxiously) joyful and obsessed with praising God for their salvation. It’s too good to be true, but it’s true! romans

I want to invite you to investigate this further. If you have always said you are a Christian, I want to invite you examine what your faith is in — why do you believe you will go to heaven? What do you believe makes you a Christian? Before I knew the truth, I had always called myself a Christian. It wasn’t until I read the truth in the Bible that I realized I had been mistaken. It was humbling, sure, but also tremendously freeing.

…The purpose of this post is to explain to you the foundation of the Christian faith, and to invite you to believe it. I know for most people, it will not be as easy as reading this message on a blog and choosing to be born again, committing your whole life to following Christ. It’s a big decision, and you, like I did, probably have a lot of doubts and skepticism to deal with. In my next blog post (because this is getting lengthy), I will share more scripture and some other resources that might help in these areas. I also want to invite you to discuss some of your thoughts with me — feel free to contact me any time.

What I Have is Enough

I live in an area with a largely non-Christian population. When I was first coming to accept that we are on a road of infertility, I began asking myself a question I think most Christian woman in similar circumstances are drawn to ask: How can this be used for God’s glory among others? At first glance, anyone would think that it brings God the most glory to bless His followers with children. Especially in the non-Western culture where I live, children are seen as a sign of God’s blessing on your life. I struggled at first with God denying us this fruitfulness, because I felt like it make Him “look bad” in front of these non-believers. Now they’ll mock us because they can say you don’t bless us, I would pray, Please, Lord, this isn’t helping our case very much! 

I’ve only more recently come to consider the great, and perhaps even greater, statement it could be to radiate peace, contentment, and joy in the midst of trial and waiting, or even the total denial of children. Imagine the message it sends, in a culture where children are so highly valued and longed for, to confidently proclaim, “I would love to have children, but God has denied me. Fortunately, my hope in this life is not in children. I already have my hope. My joy in this world is not in a baby. I already have my joy.”

I know there are many women all over the world who, when faced with infertility, would say that they will stop at nothing to have a child. No expense can be spared, no price is too great, to finally hold that baby. But what if, in the midst of this, you stood in stark contrast, saying “What I have is enough. Christ is enough”? How would those around you respond? And what would be their impression of Christ then?

I don’t want this to be interpreted that there is a line of “too far” that you can go or “too much” you can pay to conceive, but I do challenge you, if you haven’t already, to ask the Lord to grow your heart to honestly say: In Christ, I have enough. 

psalm 73