Saturday, December 29, 2007

Not shortchanged?

I've mentioned my friend C here a few times before. She is a dear friend and mentor from church who lost her wonderful, godly husband just over a year ago.

Shortly after her husband's death, we were having a baby dedication in church. I'm usually actually ok through those because in our church, they're short and sweet. This particular day it felt like we were dedicating 200 children (impossible because we don't even have 200 people in our church!) and I couldn't handle it. I ran out of the church with tears in my eyes and broke down outside. C, who had led our women's Bible Study and had mentored me some before her husband's illness and thus knew some of what we were going through from what I had shared, ran out after me and threw her arms around me and said "I'm sorry. I know what it's like to want something so bad and not get it." We just wept and wept together. What she said was simple, but it has stayed with me as the single most precious thing anyone has done for or said to me specifically regarding infertility. I was humbled that this woman I loved and respected so much would reach out of her own rightful grief and sorrow to comfort me. She legitimized my pain by referencing a loss that the world treats as much more "grievable."

I reflect on that moment a lot. It was so simple, yet so meaningful to me. I can't even adequately describe why it was meaningful and I'm sure someone reading this account could easily go "So? Big deal?" But it remains significant just the same.

I was thinking about that moment the weekend after we received our latest diagnoses and I happened to run in to C at church in such a way that I could actually visit with her privately (she's a popular lady and always has half a dozen folks wanting to chat with her). I shared with her how much I'd been reflecting on that day and how comforting it had been to me. I also told her of our new developments and again she hugged and wept and prayed with me. She asked if we could go to coffee. My heart soared. I've missed C so much but in her own grief I didn't really feel comfortable in asking her for anything.

We met for coffee on the anniversary of my grandma's death, which I shared here was a tough day for me. I think I talked her ear off for almost 4 hours and she listened, encouraged, admonished, advised, and walked with me every moment. We did talk about how she is doing too, (though I admit I hogged the air time). One thing she shared was that she has come to realize that because Scripture tells us that our number of days on this earth is already known and predetermined by God, God did not short change P one single breath. I listened to that and filed it away in my mental drawer of "insightful things when contemplating death" but it didn't really resonate with me, which is ok, because it wasn't designed to--C was sharing her own heart about her own journey and I'm privileged to have been admitted entry.

However, this week I was mulling over our conversation and I considered it in light of Jeremiah 29:11, which says
`For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, `plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
Lots of people have recited that to me, especially in recent months. But for some reason it always felt empty, hollow and minimizing, like "get over it-God has something better."

But this week I thought about C's words and I thought about this passage and a still small voice whispered to me, "I [the Lord God] have not shortchanged myself any plans or dreams for you." This plan for infertility is not His "second best" for me. That was a hard pill to swallow because truthfully, it's easier to think that I've been cheated out of something than to consider that this really could be the Ultimate plan and not just a bump in the road or a delay that will one day still turn out the way I hope. Am I ok with this as a final destination? Honestly? I'm trying to be but I don't think I can say that I am. I won't say "no" because I don't reject God's sovereignty and I am much better than I was.

Considering our journey in this light hasn't been a fix-all, but it's definitely been surgery on my broken heart. It's still broken, but the brokenness feels more purposeful now and I am filled with hope and peace. I'll repost something that stuck out to me about Lewis' book again here:

The terrible thing is that a perfectly good God is in this matter hardly less formidable than a Cosmic Sadist. The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness...Suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless.
If I'm honest, I'll say that right now I really can't envision a "best" that doesn't include children. That kind of surgery doesn't make sense to me. I can see us having children one day and testifying about God's miracles and about His faithfulness to us in this time. And if we never have children, I can still see testifying to His faithfulness, but beyond that I really can't see how anything could be better. And I'll admit that I can only pray for the wisdom and courage to one day appreciate and embrace its richness with my whole heart. I'll be honest and even say that I hope that His best for us doesn't include permanent barrenness. But if it does, I am at least encouraged cerebrally that in God's cosmology, it will be best, whether I feel it or not in my heart. Whatever His best is, He has not shortchanged Himself of His dreams and plans for His glory in our lives, and thereby we are not shortchanged either, and have cause to rejoice.

I don't have any false piety here. I'm still broken hearted and I'm terrified in my heart of hearts that maybe He will say "no, forever" and I'll have to be ok with that. But right now I'm choosing to believe what my heart has more trouble accepting, that I am ready for "His Best," whatever it may be. I know I'll still have my days, weeks or months of grief and I think that's still ok. But may it never be that my grief robs me of the Joy of the Lord. I want to begin this New Year with a better understanding of His joy and His peace that passes understanding. I pray that for all of us! Today is a day of Hope and Peace for me. My heart is full in a new way. I'm still human and full of my own selfish desires but today Peace comforts all of that.