<< This post is part of the blog series The Christian Woman’s Guide to Infertility: Finding Hope and Healing even without a Baby. >>
Infertility Doesn’t Define My Heart
I started babysitting when I was ten years old. We lived in Alaska, at a Bible School, and our neighbors had three girls. A three year old, a two year old, and a baby. They were beautiful blond-headed sweethearts who called me “Miss Tasha” in their rich Southern accents that gave away their Louisiana roots, and I was crazy about them.
I would show up at their house with a bag full of games and prizes and they would race for me and launch themselves into my arms. We moved away when I was eleven, but I never forgot those girls and the way my heart attached to them.
I lived many places after leaving Alaska, but no matter where I went—my heart found babies to love. My Sunday School teacher’s newborn daughter when I was in New York. My best friend’s little siblings when I was in Florida. Tiny infant twins when I was visiting Haiti. The dozen two-year olds who were in my class when I started teaching at a preschool in Port Charlotte, Florida. The neighbor kids when I moved to Rural Ave in Lowville, New York. The tiniest member of the family I worked for in Brazil, who would come visit me in my little house at the back of the property and would color me pictures or snuggle in the hammock.
I adored them all.
And then infertility came slamming into my life and instead of adoring the babies around me, I found myself turning away to hide the burning tears of anguish that scalded me.
My initial reaction was to build walls around my heart. I remember, distinctly, warily watching a friend’s baby crawl around on the floor, and turning my eyes away from her with determined effort. I wasn’t going to care. Not at all. Because caring hurts.
As time went on a deep grief began building in me. Not just over the loss of the dreams of my own babies, but also over the loss of the babies around me. My heart was made to love them, but instead I was afraid of them. Afraid of the sorrow, the jealousy, the what-if’s. Afraid of the moment when I had to walk away from them because they weren’t mine. Afraid of the night hours, when I would find myself crying and angry.
I don’t remember if someone said something to me, or if it was just God whispering to my heart—waking it up—but eventually I was called to account. Grief isn’t all bad, you know. Scripture tells us, in 2 Corinthians, that godly grief is used to bring us to repentance.
God began working on me, peeling back the layers of my anger and pride and envy, and something inside me began to rebel at the idea of the enemy stealing the things I loved. My heart was made to love babies—and infertility didn’t get the right to redefine my heart.
Our hearts were each created specifically by God. We’re told that He knit us together in our mother’s wombs—carefully, wonderfully creating us to be someone special and beloved. When we deny who God made us to be and act as if we can live our lives just fine without doing what He has called us to do, we’re pretending. We’re denying God the one thing He actually asks us to give.
The Bible tells this story multiple times over centuries and generations. In the book of Amos, we find God carrying on a discussion with the Israelite people about who they are and what kind of life He is calling them to partake of. By the time you get to chapter 5, God is repeating Himself over and over.
Verse 4, “Seek me and live…”
Verse 6, “Seek the Lord and live…”
Verse 14, “Seek good, and not evil, that you may live…”
And then, a few verses later, we get to a section of laments. We arrive at the soul-cracking agony of the God-Who-Loves. “I hate, I despise your feasts…your solemn assemblies…your burnt offerings and grain offerings…” His words bleed across the page with intensity. “Take away from me the noise of your songs…the melody of your harps…”
The people were following God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him. And what God actually wanted was their hearts. All the sacrifices in the world mean nothing if we’re withholding the one thing He requests.
We do this. Or rather, I guess I should say that I do this. I give Jesus my words, my allegiance, but then I deny Him my heart because I want my heart to stay safe.
God says, “I want you to give you a heart of flesh,” and I say, “Uh, no thanks, Lord. Stone would be much nicer. It doesn’t bleed as easily.”
By withholding my heart, I’m allow the enemy-of-God to use infertility to steal my joy, my purpose, and the very breath I need to survive.
At a certain point, it’s time to rebel against the enemy and start fighting for the winning team.
How this looks will appear different with every individual, but with me? I started holding babies again. I started kissing them and playing with them. I started marching into maternity wards with balloons and flowers for my friends and relatives. I opened up my home and my heart to watch children again. Babies and toddlers and middle-schoolers.
And I cried.
Oh, goodness graciousness, did I ever cry. Sometimes silently, sometimes with deep wrenching sobs. I cried all over newborns and all over friend’s shoulders and all over my pillow at night.
But it turns out that crying doesn’t kill us, and it doesn’t hurt our friends, and, in fact, salt-water doesn’t even bother babies.
One of my favorite stories is in the book of Jeremiah. This prophet is known as the weeping prophet, probably because he wrote Lamentations (from the word, lament, which literally means to mourn out loud, to wail). In the book that carries his name, we do, in fact, find him weeping on many occasions. Israel is under attack, specifically under siege, by another kingdom and Jeremiah is prophesying the coming destruction and deportation of the people. But then he does something crazy and beautiful and startling.
Right in the middle of the enemy’s heyday, Jeremiah—who is known for crying over the state of his country—decides to buy a field. Well, actually, God tells him to and Jeremiah obeys. He seals the deal, and stores the paperwork where it will last for generations.
And God, the Lord of hosts, a.k.a. the God-of-Angel-Armies, says, “Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.”
Guess what follows? Israel is defeated and deported and lies in ruin.
But God isn’t done with the story.
In future generations, the land comes back and houses were built and fields were plowed and vineyards were harvested and Israelites once again stood on the land of their forefathers—just as God promised.
When God asked me to open my heart to the children around me, He was asking me to buy a field. To choose to have faith that He isn’t done with the story. To trust that He will give me the breath I need to live, even through this long hard battle. Even if I never see the profits of my investment.
He was asking me to trust Him with my heart.
Every woman who faces infertility, faces a battle for her heart. I have no idea what your field-buying moment might be. Perhaps it’ll be setting up a Christmas tree for just your husband and yourself. Perhaps it’ll be starting a new career, or ending one. Perhaps it’ll be getting professional photographs done without the baby you dreamed of having with you.
There are endless ways that field-buying opportunities may reveal themselves.
But you can do it. You can buy the field. You can trust God with your heart. You can believe that He isn’t done writing the story—and you can say, “Father, I’ll follow You, even if I never see the profits of my investment.”
The day will come, beloveds, when death will be swallowed up forever. The day will come when the Lord will gather all of those tears that didn’t kill us, but, for sure and certain, left our hearts bleeding. The day will come when the reproach we carry from our infertility will be taken away. The day will come when we will be able to say, “This is our God; we have waited for Him.”
Infertility doesn’t define our hearts, dear ones. God does.
Let us choose to trust the Lord and wait for Him.
Let us buy the fields and kiss the babies and cry the tears—knowing the story isn’t finished yet.
Thoughts to Ponder:
Is God calling you to “buy a field”? To do something you’ve been avoiding, just to practice choosing trust despite how you feel?
Oh, how I encourage you to step out. To live the life God created you to live–no matter how much ground it seems like the enemy is holding. Because God isn’t done with your story. Not yet.