The wilderness seems like a place of want, but it’s actually a place of plenty– if you know where to look.
I learned this the hard way–with hunger and raving thirst clawing, dropping me to my knees in surrender.
Just like the Israelites learned to know God in the wilderness, I also met Him there in a new way. The wilderness-loss that I carried was named infertility and, like all types of loss, it stripped me of my ability to function. I had known God for years, but I didn’t know Him yet as the Giver and Sustainer of life in the middle of nothingness.
The desert is a mirror, but it reflects the images you create in your mind—not what actually is. Mirages danced across my vision as I stumbled, hungry and thirsty, and they seemed so real, I nearly crumbled under them.
I looked at myself and saw ugly. My body was bloated and hormonal imbalances caused dark hairs to grow on my face. Clothes didn’t fit right, my hair was thinning and breaking off. It seemed like I was stripped of the things that made me feel feminine and pretty, so all I thought when I saw myself was gross.
I looked at the doctor’s reports and saw, it’s your fault you’re not pregnant. If you could afford more treatments, you could have a baby.
I ate a slice of pizza and saw, you’re not supposed to eat white flour. You probably just traded a baby for a slice of pizza.
It didn’t matter how ridiculous the mirage, or how many times my husband countered the lies with truth—my identity was being altered by whatever pictures I built in my mind. Names were adhering themselves to me left and right. Instead of being in a barren wasteland, I believed I was the barren wasteland.
Which can be loosely translated: not enough.
But when I closed my eyes, defeated and broken and desperate, and called out to the Lord in my anguish, something happened. My ears were opened.
There was a voice in the desert.
“God,” I whispered, because when you’re thirsty, you don’t even have the ability to raise your voice. “How do I survive? I’m so, so tired of hurting. I want to live abundantly, but I’m trapped in this emptiness. Do I really have to walk through this desert?”
Yes. He told me. But I AM with you.
It took me awhile before I understood. But gently, ever so gently, He showed me what He meant. The more I turned to Him, cutting off my view of the mirages, the louder His voice became and the clearer I could see. I was trapped in a desert—but I wasn’t alone. Everything I needed was right beside me. Jesus. The Living Water. The Bread of Life.
There was enough.
I didn’t have to be thirsty.
I didn’t have to be hungry.
I didn’t even have to be enough.
Because He was.
In the emptiness of the desert, I sought the Lord in a new way. With my head, and my heart, and my soul–and even with my sorrow. This wasn’t about doing the good thing, or the right thing, or the expected thing. This was about survival.
I turned and the Lord’s words found me.
They were tender. Infinitely tender.
Your name isn’t infertile, He said. Your name is daughter.
Throughout Scripture God promises the most startling things. He says stuff like, “I will give you streams in the desert” and, “I will make your valley of trouble into a door of hope.” He builds tables in the wilderness and spreads out a feast for us.
You’re aware what a feast is, right? More than enough. Far, far more than could ever be consumed in one sitting. Abundance.
I’m still living in the wilderness, all these years later. I’m still writing from the vast barren wasteland of infertility. I still have endless heart-breaking cycles. I’m still young enough to hope, but old enough to feel the turning of days that are graying my hair.
I still ache for a baby.
But infertile and barren aren’t my names anymore.
I can hear the Father, whispering the truth, inscribing His words into the foundation of my life. We were born with our backs turned to the Star-Breathing God, rebellion was our name and our life and our essence. But when we turn? When we seek to see His face? That’s when the miracles happen.
In the wilderness, in my sorrow, I learned a knew kind of surrender.
“You are enough, even without,” I say, and God hears me.
He carves streams into the wasteland and His voice thunders a whispered promise back over me.
You are enough, even without.
I am surprised when He says the words back, but they burst into me. A deep pool of water thrusts onto the surface, rinsing my life with truth.
God puts His finger right on the crux of the matter. I’m afraid I won’t have enough, I won’t be enough. If the babies never come, I’ll always be empty. If my body never heals, I will always be filled with sorrow. If nothing changes, it’ll be proof that I didn’t have enough faith or enough trust or enough strength.
You are enough, daughter, even without.
His words trace the pattern of the now-flowing streams that cover my heart. All fear is drowned in Love.
Because even here, even without, there is enough.