September 27, 2017 · Personal
The last three Wednesdays I have had women ask me, “Do YOU have any kids?” I glanced over at my co-teacher in the midst of over a dozen babies sprinkled throughout the classroom. “Our” babies as we call them. Some were sitting happily in Bumbos, some sprawled out on a cozy red blanket sucking on pacifiers. Some screaming at the top of their lungs…refusing to give in to their tiredness.
My co-teacher heard the question, too, and smiled at me softly. Already knowing the answer to that complicated inquiry even though my words always say something quite different than what my heart feels. I smiled back at this kind volunteer for the day as I responded, “Nope. No kids yet.”
Every Wednesday morning, you can find me buried in spit-up. Singing “Jesus Loves Me,” the very song I sang to Owen in his last hours, in the ear of a crying baby with the hope that this familiar tune will bring baby girl some comfort until her bottle is warm. Praying over every child that lays a head on my changing table aaaaand praying a little for my gag reflexes as I peel back a loaded diaper. (“Lord, help us all.”)
Last spring, I said, “Yes” when God asked me to teach a classroom of His littlest loves about Him. Even though some weeks we find ourselves doing little teaching and much soothing (today in a nut shell!) no one is too young to hear the Good News. No one.
I can’t think of any place I would rather be on a Wednesday morning than wearing the hat of a Children’s Leader to the littlest of littles at our local Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). A position that someone in my particular shoes would most likely run from. A position I found myself… running TO.
John and I have had some good heart to hearts these last few months. As we begin to prepare for a new season before us we found ourselves making mental lists of all that we have endured over the five years since we lost Owen. Six years since we started our journey to have a family. How secondary infertility on top of grief feels much like a cave that has you convinced you may never see the light of day again.
We couldn’t help but chuckle in disbelief at the extensive grocery list of “you’ve-gotta-be-kidding-me’s” we have overcome. Things many closest to us don’t even know. The suffering that has repeatedly tried to take…us…OUT.
Lean in, friends. I don’t want you to miss this next part. Pause the Netflix streaming in the background for a sec and picture my face in front of yours. My trembling hand reaching through this blog post and holding onto yours because I just can’t contain all that I feel for the phrase I am about to share with you.
Let the suffering you are walking through right now…break you. Destroy you. Turn you to dust.
Feel it all. Let it out. Keep feeling it for as long as you need to, but don’t keep clinging to it long after God has whispered, “Let this one go. I’ve got it now.”
Then and only then can you be rebuilt. After you crumble into a pile of nothing. Your foundation is about to be stronger than what your mind can even comprehend right now.
One day, you will look back on the suffering with thanksgiving. Yes, thanksgiving. I can now look back on the shank that pierced my heart the very moment Owen’s heart flatlined and thank God for every moment since. Thank Him for never leaving me. Thank Him for letting me speak to Him the way I did when the gloves came off. Thank Him for encouraging me not to waste my suffering.
What is the point of suffering if we don’t do everything in our strength and His to make all that is birthed of that suffering INCREDIBLE?! So mind-blowing that you don’t even have to bother explaining it with words because the visual beauty that comes from the suffering is a living, breathing testimony that ALL things work together for good?! People won’t be able to take their eyes off it and Whom it points to.
Even the thing you’re suffering through right now. Ya, that. God can work that into something GOOD.
If you don’t waste it.
Two miscarriages. Owen’s sudden death. Our crippling battle with secondary infertility and all that flooded our in-betweens these last six years…the more I think back on the pain and heaviness we have carried…since our journey to kids began…the more I am willing to do it all over again.
For what I have now.
Who I have become in Him is a far better version of myself than I would have ever become by living a cake life. What’s worse than never experiencing a life of suffering is to experience suffering and lose an opportunity to become MORE of who God has created you to be in Him. To endure the unthinkable, only to receive a badge that says, “I made it. Glad that’s over.”
Trade in that sissy badge for one that says, “I THRIVED. I DESTROYED all that the enemy used to try to bring me down. I DIDN’T WASTE MY SUFFERING. I used it for God’s glory. I used it to repair my broken relationship with my Heavenly Father. I kept my eyes on Him when my circumstances said, ‘What’s the point?!'”
God showed me how to make something out of my suffering that is so beautiful it will blow your mind. I’ve got a whole arsenal of stories of, “Good came from THAT?!”
Hecks ya it did.
Let’s sit down and have some coffee. I’d love to tell you about it sometime. After I tell you about the hell I’ve walked through these last six years, I’ll switch gears on ya and tell you how I would do it all again.
Next Wednesday, when those women who come in to volunteer at BSF see me love, nuture and care for babies that are not my own, may they see that this is just one way…ONE WAY… that something beautiful blossomed from me not wasting my suffering. They may never know my story. They may never know about the three precious babies I have lost. The years I have waited to have a baby that is here to stay. They may never know the extent of my suffering. But I know.
And I know I didn’t waste it.
Don’t waste yours either, friend.
(Dive deeper into my story of life, loss and infertility in the personal section of my blog.)