When I was a teenager I had a certain plan for my life. It involved serving Jesus and it also involved 5-7 children and a house in the country.
I thought of my dreams as quite noble, really. After all, motherhood is good and right and God-ordained and beautiful. And I really would be happy with any house. It didn’t have to be big or grand. And I would even compromise on the country part, as long as there was a nice yard (and that’s just because I love God’s creation so much).
I’m not an extravagant person. I’m simple and my dreams were simple.
By the time I was in my mid-twenties, I was married to a wonderful man and living in a tiny house on a beautiful farm outside of a little village in upstate New York.
The only thing I needed was my children.
But, as it turns out, my body refused to bear them.
And, as it turns out, every time we’ve pursued adoption, it has failed.
These truths have caused me hours and hours worth of tears. These truths have torn me apart inside, ripping at my self-confidence, shredding my self-image, and leaving me very broken and very unlovely.
And I am very, very thankful.
I am thankful because there is a much deeper truth than my inability to have children.
You see, even though it was masked with self-confidence and a positive self-image, I was always very broken and very unlovely.
And there is a God who says that in Him I can be healed.
If I had attained everything I wanted; if I had insisted that as an American or as a Christian, I have the right to my dreams, I probably could have them by now. I could recreate my dreams into something personally attainable and continue life in a state that masks my true condition. I could.
But I’m thankful that God graciously ripped the blinders from my eyes. Because I don’t want that kind of life. I don’t want to feast on what is happy and pointless. I am hungry for what is real.
What is real is that I need Him.
Without Jesus, I will face the wrath of a Just God who cannot tolerate sin.
Without Jesus, I may have 60-90 years worth of earthly pleasure but it will never truly mask the brokenness and unlovely-ness that erodes my soul.
Without Jesus, I have nothing. Nothing at all.
And without this great struggle that leaves me gasping for breath, I would have completely missed Him. Instead, I would have clung to the image I had created of Him and never been forced to look at Him as He truly is.
I serve a God who is greater than my struggles,
but I would not have known this if I had not stumbled through them.
I serve a God who brings victory to the darkest of defeats,
but I would not have known this if I didn’t crawl through the blackness.
I serve a God who miraculously breathes new life into the ugly and broken,
but I would not have known this if I never looked honestly at my own emptiness.
I serve a God who cares nothing for earthly gain,
because He knows this world is but a moment.
I serve a God who gives good gifts,
but never at the expense of eternity.
And most of all, I serve a God who will judge my heart.
A heart that is desperately wicked.
And yet, I don’t have to fear.
I fear Him because of His awesome holiness, but I do not fear for my own safety before Him, because His Son bore the wrath of this Holy God for me.
And I am free.
This great struggle that has marked my adulthood, this word, infertility, that has carved its bloody letters into my life, these are my greatest blessings.
For in this broken, empty state, I am free to drink deep of God. To see Him for whom He truly is. Not as some great miracle-worker in the sky, but as a holy and gentle healer who walks beside me and sticks His hands right into the bloody mess that is my life and breathes hope.
You who are reading this.
You who are carrying struggles that may look very different than mine.
You who may even carry the complete opposite struggle, with children that drain you and cause you to lock yourself in the bathroom and cry.
You who have attained everything you desired but cannot escape your loneliness.
You who have managed to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and crawl to the top of the pit, only to find that there is no sky above you, no earth below you.
You who have buried crushed dreams and are left with bleeding hands.
To you I say:
Your greatest struggle is your greatest blessing. It is. Because it will force you to face truth. You cannot make your life great. You cannot create your own happiness, no matter what this world tries to tell you. You cannot.
And this truth will set you free.
Open your Bible, dear one. Start reading and don’t stop. Even when you’re confused. Even when it doesn’t make sense. Keep reading and you will find Him. He is God with us. He is right here. And the thing that crushed your soul can be used to open your eyes.
He will come and breathe life into you.
I know because that’s what He does.