Monday, November 26, 2012

Not Why, But How

The following is part of a series of posts that will take you on a (very personal) journey with me through the story of our family. If you are just now tuning in, take a minute to start back at the beginning and catch up: 

Post 1: A Journey
Post 2: Love Awakened
Post 3: Hope Deferred
Post 6: Faith Tested
The past couple weeks I've felt like I've been living in a fog. While I normally get up to work out and shower before the kids wake up, I have barely been able to pull myself out of bed even after I know they're awake. I've found myself doing mindless things, like accidentally leaving my van unlocked and my purse sitting right there on the passenger seat, or putting shampoo on my hair before I wet it. I just lost my rhythm. 

One morning I was sitting on the couch with stringy hair and no make up and I said to Andy, "I just want you to know, I will get my rhythm back. This is not the new version of me."  He looked at me with knowing eyes and said, "I understand. You need to give yourself some grace." 

When life hands you a hurt, the tendency we all have is to want to know "why"? There is something inside of us that is desperate for an maybe if there was a good enough reason for the pain then it would be worth it. The thought of pointless suffering is more than our hearts can bear.

Sometimes we are blessed with an understanding of why the pain happened or we get to see the good that came out of our suffering. But we are not promised a full understanding of it this side of eternity. Often, we don’t get to know the “why”. Job didn’t realize that Satan had asked permission to test him and God approved the request. The man who was blind from birth didn’t know he was born that way so that God could reveal His glory through him once he was a full grown adult. Mary and Martha couldn’t understand why Jesus would allow his dear friend, Lazarus, to die when he had healed so many other sick people. The aching in their hearts was real and there was an all-powerful God who loved them and saw their pain but did nothing to take it away...because He had something greater in mind.

Right now when I listen to or sing songs of worship to God, it is often with a tear streaked face. The wound is still so tender and the words of the songs reach way down in my heart and take on a deeper meaning than ever before. This is my sacrifice of praise. I have something that I can lay at the feet of Jesus. It is my opportunity to trust Him with the most intimate longing of my heart. And if I can’t trust Him with that, what does it really say about this faith that I have claimed to believe all these years; this faith that I've assured people will carry them through their darkest of moments? This is my moment. It is my chance to put into practice every ounce of belief I can muster up from somewhere deep inside and say to Jesus, “I don’t understand. This is not what I want. But I trust you. And I will worship You regardless of what happens in my life because You are God. My worship is not dependent upon my circumstances.” 

I made the choice long before this season that my theology will not be dictated by my experience. When I walk through the darkness, I will hold on to what I knew to be true in the light. God was good then. He is still good now. 

I may never fully understand why God has allowed this to be my journey. I may store that fragile question in a beautiful little package to take with me to heaven. But perhaps that is the wrong question. Not a bad question. I certainly don’t think Jesus minds hearing it. Maybe it’s just the wrong question upon which to focus my thoughts. I have had to intentionally turn my focus from the "Why?" to the “How?” questions. How do You want me to embrace this? How do You want me to live each day in a way that honors You? How can You use this trial to minister to others? How do You want us to pour out all this love that You’ve put in our hearts for another child?

One thing that has been very healing to me is starting to tell my story to others. The first time I shared about our struggle with infertility was in a rather public way. Andy asked me if I would be willing to make a video to be shown on Sunday at our church about our journey. I readily agreed to do it, but as Sunday approached I had an ever-increasing desire to hide in the shadows. Instead of my normal seat up front, I sat in the middle surrounded by a sea of people. I didn’t want to greet people after the service, as is my custom. But I did. And you know what I found? A bunch of tear-streaked faces of women who either had or were currently struggling with infertility themselves. Some ministered to me, and God gave me the wonderful privilege of ministering to some of them. 

I have been amazed by the responses I've received from this series of blog posts. Women have messaged me and emailed me their stories. So many of them have said, "Thank you for sharing your helps to know that I'm not alone." And it helps me to know that they're out there, too. We all have a story to tell. And if we are willing, God will use it to minister to others and to bring healing to our own soul. He will never waste a hurt. The full redemption of the pain in our lives only comes when we can use that very pain to minister to others. 

Another thing that helps me is to purposefully get out of my house and find someone to serve. Who can I take a meal to? Is there a friend that could use some company? Maybe there's someone at church that God wants me to encourage. Doing this forces me to look outward instead of inward. My pain is real, no doubt. But I am not the only hurting person in the world. Serving others reminds me that I live for a higher purpose and that there is pain and suffering in the world much greater than my own. I do not need, nor do I want, to live a self-absorbed life.  

Forcing myself to put all of these thoughts and feelings into writing has been very healing for me. Sometimes I'll read back over what I just wrote and think to myself, "Yes, that is what I believe," like I just learned it all over again. But there is still some pain there. A dull aching that can begin to throb at unexpected moments. I have begun to embrace that pain as God’s blessing to me. That ache reminds me of my opportunity to trust God, to worship Him as He truly is instead of as I would make Him. That ache is my reminder that this is not my home. There will be a place where I will cry no more tears and every longing will be fulfilled in the One who is the fulfiller and fulfillment of every promise in God. So in the midst of crushing disappointments and unmet expectations, I choose to embrace the One who has been embracing me all along. Whenever I find myself crying tears into His chest, I inevitably end up with my eyes locked on His in worship. He is the lifter of my head. 

Thank you for taking this journey with me.


Jane in TX said...

Thank you for sharing your journey to this point, Stacy. I was incredibly blessed to never suffer the pain of infertility or miscarriage. My daughter has been through both, for years. My heart goes out to you & my prayers are for your healing...Andy's also, as well as other women experiencing the same pain & being ministered to through your blog. God is never arbitrary. His good purposes will stand, always, even though we don't see or understand. "He is doing a thousand things," as John Piper writes. Love & warmest thoughts from Cedar Hill.

Anonymous said...

As a women who has struggled with the why behind so many choices God has made in my life, I'm truely grateful for your story!!!! There are so many lessons that you've learned along your journey that I can relate to! It's not that our struggles have been the same but as a child of God it can sometimes be difficult to struggle and not know Gods purpose for the pain!!!!! Please continue to share your journey and I will definitely keep reading!