Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Faith and Love. But no Hope?

[image source]
And now these three remain: Faith, Hope, and Love.
But the greatest of these is Love.
1 Corinthians 13:13

It's another new month. But I don't mean October. This new month comes with a much heavier weight than the joy of autumn and the anticipation of Taylor Swift's fourth studio album. I mean another new cycle. The start of another new month after another failed month of trying to conceive. It's month 22 in a row of deliberately trying to get pregnant and not succeeding (not counting the year-worth of months we casually tried before that). It's month 22 of unfulfilled hope. It is month 12 of intervened, doctor and drug assisted attempts to conceive. Month 12 of unfulfilled medically assured hope.
That hope, it's a tricky thing. The hope is what makes it hurt. Every new cycle, like this one, it's the hope that "this could be the month." Every drug, it's the hope that "this one is going to do the trick." Every ovulation, it's the hope that "this egg is going to get fertilized and become my baby and be the first of my children to bless our home." Every two week wait filled with unusually strong smells or weird tastes or tender breasts or exhaustion or light pink spotting around possible implantation days, it's the hope that "these are symptoms of pregnancy, finally." And then every new menstruation, all of those fresh hopes die; are given up; are grieved. They must ultimately be replaced with new ones, again. But is that continually possible?
The death of that hope hurts.
Wouldn't it be better to just not hope anymore? Wouldn't it be less painful to not get hopes up just to be let down?
I wish I could respond to those rhetorical questions with a determined strength and scriptures to back it up about how God never lets us down and to just keep on truckin' along with that hope in full swing. (There are plenty of them.) But I can't. Not today. Not Cycle 22, Day 1.
I have love aplenty. I love my husband with all my heart. I love our families. I love our friends. I love our pup. I love my Lord and Savior with my entire existence. And I never, for one second, doubt God's love for me. After all, He loved me enough to sacrifice His only son for my salvation. That's a love that can't be questioned.
And I don't waiver with faith. I truly believe that God is good, and He knows what is best for our future. I believe He wouldn't withhold something I desire so strongly unless it was for a great purpose I can't see. If He's willing to give even His own child for me, why would He keep anything else from me unless it was for some great reason?
But, today, the hope is a struggle. The definition in the above photo states that hope means "to look forward to with great confidence and expectation." Well, I simply can't claim that right now. Just yesterday I was doodling our future children's names on scrap paper at work, but today, I can't look at this new month with any confidence that we will conceive. I can't actually expect to see a positive pregnancy test anytime soon, if ever. Too many months of experience have taught me that it's simply not going to happen. Why would this month be any different? We're coming up on the third holiday season I hoped to celebrate with either a baby or a pregnancy. I can't imagine this one will be the one, either. Boo.
Hope is tricky, because we hope with our human perspective. I could passionately hope to win the lottery, but it'd be silly to blame God for not granting me my wish. Or I could have hoped desperately to marry some random dude, all the while God knew that Brad was the man for me. Or I can hope with every ounce of my being to conceive a child (or two or five), but God may know that my heart's desire isn't what our future holds. Maybe we are to adopt? Maybe we are not meant to be parents at all. (I'm not at all prepared to accept that one, yet.) That's why hope is tricky, because it's determined by what we hope for, which may or may not be right for us. So basically, I have hope for a future, and hope to serve God faithfully, and hope for an eternity spent with Him in Heaven, but right now this minute, I do not have hope to conceive, at least "naturally" or any time soon.
How in the world do you know what God wants for your life? Do you just wait and wait and wait and wait until something happens and then assume that it is His will since it came to pass? Do you continue trying in the meantime for what you want? Or do you just trust that if God wants it to happen, He'll make it happen regardless of the effort put in on your part? After all, Mary conceived without ever even having sex! If God wants us to get pregnant, He can achieve that regardless of whether or not we take drugs, endure invasive procedures, or pee on sticks. Trying desperately and pleading in prayer every month isn't going to accomplish anything if it's not His plan anyway, is it? So what's the point? When do you let go? When do you move on? How do you know what His will is and what it'll take, if anything, to achieve it?
I don't know...
I think this month is unique with unprecedented difficulty for me. For the last 22 months, I've been devastated every time I didn't conceive, but I never really doubted that I was eventually going to. This month, however, the non-conception came as no surprise. It's what I've come to expect from years of experience. Furthermore, what's changed this time, is now I'm doubting and questioning and confused. Doubting our future. Questioning God's will. Confused of what steps to take, if any. I've always been so confident that I would be a mom, and sure that God knew my life better than I do. I've never truly asked "Why?" before, because I didn't think that as a member of creation I had the right to question the Creator. But this month I can't seem to help it. A lot of "Why?'s" and "What's the point?'s" are swirling through my head right now. I've never crossed this bridge of doubt before, nor did I ever intend or desire to, and I don't know how to navigate this new terrain. And I'm not entirely sure I want to stay in this new hopeless land long-term anyway.
Is it possible to have strong faith and love but let go of some of the hope? Is it healthy? Is it okay? Because today, that is where I am.

But what do you do without hope? How do you keep going? How do you give up a dream and longing that God placed so deep within your soul? How do you let go of the hope that you'll one day join Him in creating life? Of the hope of feeling your baby's hiccups from inside your belly? Of hearing his or her heartbeat for the first time? Of seeing that sweet face and recognizing a perfect combination of you and your spouse? Of rocking an innocent child to sleep with a lullaby and a nightlight? Of caressing that soft cheek as he nurses? Of hearing precious coos filling your house? Of looking into her eyes and seeing your future? How?

I'm at a weird place right now. I don't know how to keep the hope alive, but I don't know how to let it go either.
I genuinely wish I could be strong and faithful and encouraging and end this blog post with passionate affirmations to never doubt and never lose hope. I love God with all that I am, but today, I can't encourage or affirm. Thank you for allowing me to admit my weaknesses, struggles, wounds, shortcomings, and vulnerabilities. Christian family (which I consider all of you to be) is such a blessing.


Emily said...

Love you.

Amanda Bawcom said...

So beautifully written, and I don't have any answers...many of the same questions under different circumstances but no answers. May God fill us with His peace as we walk through this life seeking to hear His call. Thanks for your sharing such honest feelings about this tricky thing called hope.

Tara Elliot said...

Hey sweet girl. My heart cries for you. I totally understand you and how you feel. :) Maybe today, you could trade hope for peace. Peace in that the Lord will provide your every need. Peace that He is sufficient. And peace knowing that He will & wants to bless us. :) I know that when my hope seems to linger away, and then doubts flood in, well that is not the Lord talking to me, and then you have to dismiss that thought. God can do all things, even impregnate Mary, just as you said. I'm not going to tell you to the "just don't worry about it, then it'll happen" line that people give.... But I wanted to send encouragement to you by saying to pray for peace today. True peace that you are ok with God's plan for your life right now. Once you feel that amazing peace, the full hope will return. Love you. Praying for you guys. Many blessings to you and may God's peace surround you & brad and fill your home.

Madison said...

Okay, although I absolutely positively have no idea the pain you're feeling right now, my heart is still aching for you. None of this is helpful, but just letting you know I'm praying for you and I love you.

Steph said...

Love you sweet mindy. Big real hug from Illinois. Hope is hard, and I pray yours will return. Just from experience, sometimes when we give up and start looking down other paths, not knowing what Gods plan is but knowing that He is good, He gives us just the thing we hoped for. Perhaps this is the beginning of a new road, a new hope, that will eventually fulfill your first hope. Prayers for you sweet friend. You don't have to be the encouragement today, now is the time for your friends to lift you up and encourage you.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Proverbs 13:12
Ecclesiasties 3:1
1 peter 5:6-7
Psalm 27:14
Numbers 6:24-25
Proverbs 23:18
Psalm 71:14
Jeremiah 29:11

Melissa Menley said...

Mindy... I just love you. I don't have any encouraging words or words to uplift you unfortunately, but what I do have is love for you. And we do have a God who hears us. He hears our struggles, our disappointments. While it may be His will for you not to conceive, I think it's only human to question... you've done so well it seems in not doing this until now. I commend you for that. I'm not sure I could have been that strong. You are an inspiration to me in your positive outlooks... and don't think for a minute that your one “semi-negative” post would change that. It only shows me you are human.

You have been on my prayer list for some time now… not to say I’m always so faithful and good to bring these issues to God. I struggle myself… but many are praying for you. I pray that whatever God’s will is for you and Brad, that you can come to terms with it and accept it. I just know you would be a wonderful mother if God gives you the opportunity. However, you know as well as I do that His will is much greater than ours. You said that yourself… the hard part comes in accepting this. I pray you can…

Like I said, I have no encouraging words for you… but I did want you to know I appreciated your honest blog. And I want you to know I think all these feelings are human. And I want you to know I love you.

Aunt Kathey said...

Most times miracles happen when we least expect them.

Stacey said...

I have no answers sweet friend. I love you lots and pray for you every single day!

Kristen said...

For years I struggled with similar questions before I got married. I don't know that I put it in words, but sometimes I definitely felt it was easier not to hope...and not to be disappointed...when yet another year passed by with no Mr. Right. The thing is, like you said, God can make ANYTHING happen that He wants to happen. But how to know what His will is....????!!! That was the difficult part. YES. I know that feeling so well.

You described all the ways you still have hope in the Lord - and Mindy, THAT is all you need. I honestly do not believe He's asking you to hope for a baby every month, just to see you disappointed every month. He only asks you to hope in a future with Him, no matter what.

I recommend that you start praying specifically for God's will to be revealed to you. He wants to help you; He wants His Spirit to guide you. I feel like your thoughts this month may already be shifting in a different direction...maybe He is softening your heart to adopt a sweet baby who really needs some awesome parents like you guys! Or maybe He needs you to focus on another ministry until it's time for you to be a mom.

As always, I love you dearly! I'm praying for your peace that passes understanding.

Kara Vansandt said...

Sorry. It stinks.

Mom said...

I totally know that hugs can't make it better but I wish I could hold you in my arms and hug your pain away. Love you so much.

grandma stork said...

do.not worry. the lord knows what he is doing even if we don't agree. love you both.

Emily Jordan said...

Love you sweet girl ... Always in my prayers

Dad said...

Sweetheart, I echo what your mom says...

Melissa King said...

‎My heart is breaking for you and Brad. I cried for you reading your blog. I know we should never question God's answers and yet it is hard sometimes when the answers don't make sense to us. I'm praying for you and I know you and Brad will make amazing parents some day. Try to stay strong and when the hope is gone keep your faith that God will answer your prayers in his time.

Harmony Miller said...

I just love you and your sweet heart! I noticed your Pinterest board about no bun in the oven and thought you were dealing with infertility. I have been praying for you for months. I have 2 dear friends that are also going through infertility. It is a very difficult path. No doubt. I love you and I'm praying for you. Two things that I've talked to my friends about...have you thought about having the elders pray over you and anoint you with oil? God's Word does mention that! And the second thing (I read in a book...it was referring to a man who had cancer and came to the elders for them to pray over him...the preacher asked 'why do you want to be healed? Why do you want to live on this earth longer?)...I know it seems strange to ask...but why do you want a child? To love? To raise? To teach Christ to? Sometimes we want things that are selfish, but I believe your heart's desire is that you want a child because you want to teach him/her about Christ and to tell them the gospel! Sometimes it helps to say those things out loud to God! Tell Him why you want a child! He knows...but it is powerful when we say things out loud! Makes them real! We were unable to get pregnant for 6 months and after month 5 I continually spoke things out loud that I wanted for our future children (whether adopted or biological). I don't know if this is helpful...but I love you and we're praying for you!

Heather said...

I can't give you advice or a heart stopping scripture. I don't really think that's what you need from me right now. Here's what I can give you: hope! I give you my hope! My hopes and dreams of ahoue and a teaching career and a doctorate and my own family. I give all my hope to you right now! If you don't want o or can't take it right now, then I'll just hope for you! You WILL be a mother! Someday, somehow. We love you, your hubby loves you, your family and friends love you, and He loves you! It's not bad to lose hope, but until you get it back, is it okay if I have it for you?

Ginny Elkins said...

The song "Stand Back Up" by Sugarland helped me to stand back up more times than I care to admit. I would listen to it on repeat, and I would cry and curl up into a ball... and eventually I would scream it from the top of my lungs while listening to it and driving down the interstate. Sometimes I still listen to it, on my really bad days. Sounded like you could use it. Not Taylor Swift, but effective treatment none the less. Love you.

Krista Barmer said...

Thank you so much for your honest post, Mindy. Your heart is precious in the midst of this sadness. I'm at a loss for words and don't pretend to understand the "whys". Perhaps those of us around you (even via the web) can take up the mantle of hope on your behalf. Love to you from the Barmers

Kerwin Everson said...

You have really made me think about the connection of faith and love and hope and peace and joy. As I prayed for you tonight, and studied God’s word – God and His Holy Spirit led me to share this verse with you, to give you HOPE.

Romans 15:13

New Century Version - I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace while you trust in him. Then your hope will overflow by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Message - Oh! May the God of great hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!

Amplified Bible - May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.

Good News - May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit.

New Living Translation - I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Phillips Translation - May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in your faith, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, your whole life and outlook may be radiant with hope.

I never try to just “have an answer” – it is never that easy – but sometimes God leads me to a truth that I can share with someone who is hurting – I hope this helps you, Mindy and Brad. Look at each translation above – read them aloud slowly - then look what appears between GOD BEING HOPE at the beginning of the verse, and then our lives OVERFLOWING, or BRIMMING OVER, or BUBBLING OVER, or BEING CONFIDENT WITH HOPE, or RADIATING WITH HOPE.... at the end of the verse.

I see the “LINK” between the two being what is written in between them….. that is having JOY and PEACE and TRUST and BELIEVING (having faith). He simply asks us to be joyful where we are – have peace with our lives in HIM, continue to trust that He is good and always blesses us and wants what is best for us, and to live our lives believing in HIS power. Live your life this way – see what the end result is – you are in our prayers !!!

Emily J. said...

Sometimes it's hard to keep believing
In what you can't see
That everything happens for a reason
Even the worst life brings
If you're reaching for an answer
And you don't know what to pray
Just open up the pages
Let His word be your strength

And hold on to the promises (Hold tight)
Hold on to the promises (Alright)
Jesus is alive so hold tight
Hold on to the promises

All things work for the good
Of those who love God
He holds back nothing that will heal you
Not even His own Son
His love is everlasting
His faithfulness unending
Oh, if God is for us who can be against us
So if you feel weak

Neither life, nor death
Could separate us
From the eternal love
Of our God who saves us

Holly said...

Oh my. I feel like I'm reading my own prayer journal. I too have really struggled with this. My husband and I have finally decided to move to IVF but I am fully aware that whether I do IVF or not, God will do as He pleases. I wasn't having a clear 1 way or the other so I figured I would do what I could humanly do...but, accepting the fact that God could have allowed me to get pregnant if He wanted to. Is IVF really God's plan for me?? Maybe. The hope is really hard. I've even considered it a possible middle name!! :) Hang in there and keep hoping. The Bible does promise that HOPE does NOT dissapoint us. Praying for us friend!

Stacey Dalton said...

You continue to be in my prayers often! During the last few months of infertility treatments, I prayed daily, "Lord, Help my unbelief" (Mark 9:23-24). Like you, I believed the Lord could help us conceive but didn't know if it was His will. It was truly the hardest part of infertility for me. James and I decided by a certain time, that we would do more to pursue adoption. We did that for my sake, not to put a time limit on God. I needed resolve. I needed to see an end in sight. Infertility is hard enough but those hormone medications make every emotion so much more intense. No one can tell you what is best for your family. Only you and Brad (with the guidance of God) know when you need a change or if there needs to be a change. I pray that you do stay hopeful and our prayers are answered! Please, let me know if there is anything more I can do.

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