I suppose I should follow that by saying: "That is the question."
In fear of being incredibly cliche', I'll refrain.
But as I have moved throughout a rainy Saturday and into Sunday (which turned out not to be nearly as rainy as everyone predicted), and as I caught up at work and attempted to entertain a dog without a yard, Frisbee, or anything outside my living room, my thoughts were on trust. I had a lot of free time, as I often do, when JB is on call.
I think these thoughts stemmed from a conversation I had held the evening prior with a friend. And then it stretched back into a discussion JB and I had just a few days prior to that. A discussion on what it means to trust the Lord and how easy it is to say, "Trust Him," when your own lack of trust finally paid off.
I spent five years arguing with God and refusing to trust Him, because, well, He was not doing what He was supposed to do! I'd sit in front of the Bible I was unable to read each morning and tell Him everything. I'd tell Him that I thought He was unfair. I'd tell Him that I thought He forgot about me. I'd tell Him that I could not possibly take one more shot, one more appointment, one more unanswered prayer. "How many people need to pray?" I asked Him all too many times. I'd sob. I'd beg. I'd yell. I'd give up.
I wouldn't call anything I did during those days, trust.
In fact, I can honestly say that my trust for the Lord didn't enter into the picture until months after we moved to Florida. It was after our fourth failed IVF, when JB was working horrid hours at the hospital, and I was attempting to train our fifteen pounds of spotted fur not to pee in the kitchen or chew the baseboards, that I began to finally give up. I think giving up is a key ingredient in trust. It wasn't until I finally threw my hands up in despair and said I could no longer do it or seek it or try it, that I began to trust God. In a way what I did was give up on the idea of being a mom. In another way what I did was decide to let God decide what was best for my life. I didn't know if I would like the decision He made. But I was done trying to make my own.
I would not call that trust perfect. There were days that I still broke down. There were days that I still questioned His decisions. There were days that I still felt sorry for myself and had a good cry. I still could not attend first birthday parties or baby showers. I still had trouble with pregnancy announcements and bulging bellies. We kept finding other fun things to do on Mother's Day instead of going to church. In fact, it was one month after Isaac was born, when I was in fact, unknowingly pregnant, that I had yet another good cry, lying in the bed next to JB one night. It had been a long time since I had cried so hard that I had trouble lying down and had to sit up to make sure the tears didn't choke me. I think it took JB by surprise a little bit to see me back in that place. We were so happy with Isaac. We truly felt our lives were complete. And yet there was a part of me that still felt sad that we were infertile (even though we actually no longer were). And another part of me that was still very afraid of having to do IVF again someday. It was a lot easier to trust when I wasn't doing a treatment cycle. How could I trust when constantly reminded -- a necessary part of infertility treatments?
Our church has begun a series on parenting. Had it come just one year ago, I know I'd be taking a short siesta from services. The guest speaker, on the first day of the series, encouraged us not to stop coming if we weren't currently parents -- telling us that we could still get something out of the sermon. I looked at JB, and we shared a knowing glance. How many times had we been told that before? How many times had I attended an event structured for mothers when I wasn't one? On the drive over I'd try to convince myself with the thought that I should be healthy enough to gleam something from the speaker's words despite my own pain. Then I'd have a good cry in the bathroom during a break, put on a happy face, and try all over again.
In the midst of our infertility journey, I finally gave up on doing that. It wasn't that I couldn't take something from the words. It was that the words were too painful to hear. Parents sat around nodding their heads or emitting a knowing chuckle. I just sat there wishing that I had a nod to give. The emotions would come running back. The feelings would come swarming over me, even if I had thought they were far away. I suppose they were never very far at all.
Don't get me wrong. I think a series on parenting is a great idea. I think I'll learn a lot from it, especially considering I've avoided these sermons for so long. But on the way home that morning I told JB that my heart hurt for the people who hurt during that discussion. As always, I thought of people who weren't holding an Isaac during the sermon. And especially those people who weren't sitting next to a John. Not seeing your dreams come true is a painful reality, and my heart hurt because now my dreams were coming true while others still waited.
I find it important, when sharing the story of our China daughter, Isaac, and now our belly baby, to make sure that I don't tell people that if they trust God, everything will work out okay. For some people this may be true in a matter of days or weeks or months. For me, it was a matter of years. For Abraham and Sarah in then New Testament, it was a matter of decades. And for others, there dream may never come true on this Earth.
Instead I tell people that trust is hard. It is painful. And it can take a very long time to learn. In my case, I don't think I ever achieved full trust prior to Isaac's arrival. I like to believe I gained better trust. I like to believe I was getting there. But I hadn't arrived. I am not sure you ever actually do. All you can do is to try each day to remember that He does have a plan. It may make no sense. It may make sense in the future as I believe our struggles now do. But it many not make sense until we stand before our Heavenly Father someday. We may not ever see his plan with our earthly eyes.
My prayer today is that I am able to remember, someday in the future when I am faced with obstacles that impact my trust again, this period of my life. I hope you are able to do the same. I hope you are able to look at our story and see that God is present. In our case we can all see it now. That may not be the case for future events in my life or in your's. But He is there. And He does care.
I pray that if you are someone today who is hurting, you'll come to find just a bit more trust today. Don't try to get to 100%. Just try to get 1% better than you were yesterday. Just try to remember a little bit more that He does love you. He is hurting with you. And He does have your best interest in mind.
If this isn't you who are hurting, think of someone else who is. Make it a point to think of them during a painful sermon. Just having people telling me that my grief was legitimate helped me so much. People don't think I am stupid! It's okay that I am sad. They don't understand but they empathize. This made me feel so much better. Think of someone who is alone or grieving a loss the next time you are nodding in agreement with the pastor in church or celebrating an event with your family. A hug. An email. An invitation to dinner. We need each other in this world. I don't know what I would have done without my faithful friends during my darkest hours -- friends that trusted for me when I had no more trust to give.
God loves you. He remembers you. He has a plan.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not onto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.