Thursday, October 29, 2009

Step by Step

Visualize strolling through a peaceful forest with the Lord Jesus at your side. You are on a journey to the land where hopes and dreams are fulfilled. As the sunlight filters through the trees you think to yourself, Life couldn't be more perfect! Surely this is what the Lord meant when he said he had come to give us more abundant life! You are sharing with him your hope of becoming a mother soon and thanking him for creating you a woman and giving you the privilege of conceiving and bearing new life.

But suddenly, you begin to hear the rush of water and, as you come to a clearing in the trees, you see a wide and roaring river. Your heart stops! You need to get to the other side. That's where your hopes and dreams will become reality. You feel panic and frustration rising within you. You begin running frantically up and down the shoreline looking for a way to get across to the other side. You see your future waiting for you over there, but there's no way to reach it. You long to call for help, hoping someone in a boat will hear you and take you across. You feel so alone. Where are your friends and family when you need them the most?

You begin to stomp your foot and beat your fists against the nearest tree. You shout, "What's happening? Five minutes ago I was so happy - now this!" You throw yourself down on the bank. You feel as though your heart has been torn out and thrown into the murky water, to be washed away downstream in the foam.

The tears continue to fall for days, weeks, years it seems. But, finally, out of total brokenness you begin to look for the friend you abandoned at first sight of that horrible river. You don't take many steps before you see him sitting there. As your eyes meet his, your very soul suddenly overflows with feelings of love, peace, and acceptance.

"I've been waiting for you," he says. "I know the way across the river. Will you trust me to deliver you safely to the other side?" Words cannot form in your mouth, so you silently slip your hand into his, assuring him that yes, you are ready.

He begins to lead you along the shoreline and it isn't long before you see a path across the water leading to the other side. Stones! A path of stepping stones! Why hadn't you seen those before? Finally, there is a bridge across the troubled waters. There, just waiting for you, are the hopes and dreams of a lifetime.

He steps out first. How comforting it is to know that he goes before you. Time passes slowly. It seems you've been stepping from stone to stone for a very long time, so you strain to see around your leader, wanting to know how much farther you have to go. In doing so, you lose your balance and slip off the rock into the churning water. He quickly turns, reaches down, and draws you out of danger. You're thankful he doesn't rebuke you for your impatience and lack of trust in his ability and promise to get you safely to the other side. He just smiles and says, "Follow me!"

As time drags on you again begin to wonder when you'll ever reach your destination. You think to yourself, If I look back to see how far we have come, maybe that will encourage me to keep the faith. So you stop and look behind you.

You can't believe your eyes! You look to the left and then to the right! There are people behind you - men and women all plodding along on paths to get to the other side. Where did they all come from?, your heart cries. Where were they when I felt so alone?

You position yourself on the stone beneath you so you can see these fellow travelers more clearly. You begin to realize that not all pathways are the same. Some paths seem shorter than others. Some are straight and others crooked. Just to your left you see a woman practically running across her stones, not taking the careful, slow steps you must take in order not to slip or fall. Why, her stones are much closer together than yours - no wonder! How unfair! She will reach the other side long before you will and you started out before she did!

You decide you must speak to the Lord about this. You carefully turn forward again and there he stands, on the stone right in front of yours - patiently waiting for you to continue your journey. You are surprised at the bitter and selfish words that flow out of your mouth but, after all, "This isn't fair!" He listens and, when you are finished, gently says, "The stones I have chosen for your brothers and sisters are not your concern. You follow me!" He stretches out his hand and once again you relinquish your hand into his care and allow him to guide you across.

It seems forever, but you finally reach the other side. As you wearily step onto the bank you look behind you. Your heart is filled with compassion for those still stepping from stone to stone. You hear the Lord say, "My child, if you could share with them how to make their journey easier, their burden lighter, what would you tell them?"

Thinking for a moment you reply, "Lord, I'd tell them that even though the stones you have chosen for them seem too many in number or too far apart for their stride, if they will only keep their hand in your hand, neither looking to the left nor to the right, but gazing steadfastly in front of them, then you will guide them safely over each stone until they reach the desires of their hearts."

-Janet Malcom

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Return of Fear

Yet again I am faced with the decision I never wanted to make.

Infertility treatment.

The mere thought gives me a choked feeling of dread.  A year ago we thought we had beaten infertility against all odds.  But here we are again. 

I shirked, I left the decision up to Brandon.  If we haven't had success by the end of the year our new year will start with infertility appointments.  A repeat of all the tests we did throughout 2008. Wrestling again with the moral dilemmas. Waving the white flag.

I want to just "give up,"  I'm not being pessimistic.  I want to let go of the fight, the anguish, the burden.  I want to find peace, I'm so weary.  In "giving up" I want to truly give it all to God.  I want to trust fully in His perfect will and timing. But that's far easier said than done. 

I also know His will might not include us becoming parents. I'm tired of people acting like I lack faith because I suggest we might not have children.  Yes, my hope has taken a major hit, I'm not impervious to the pain of disappointment month after month.  I'm wrestling with many questions.  God wants us to ask the hard questions, He doesn't mind us dealing with our anger and hurt feelings.

Sometimes I believe He might want to teach me more about patience.  I don't think I'm extremely impatient. I did wait 6 1/2 years to marry Brandon after knowing I wanted to marry him after a year.  In many ways I failed that test miserably but was also rewarded with a completely devoted and supportive husband.

So I struggle.  I'm struggling harder than ever, sometimes only hanging on by a thread.  Perhaps these trials really will make me stronger someday. I cling hard to that when hope seems all but gone.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Olivia

The first in our group of mutual friends who are expecting, had their baby a week and a half ago. Brandon went to visit them last Saturday and sadly, I couldn't go with him. I had been sick all the previous week and while I was already feeling better, I didn't want to risk spreading germs to them.

Finally, last night I was able to go over and meet Olivia. At just under 7 pounds she looked tiny. I'm used to monster newborns, my nephew weighed nearly 10 pounds, my niece was close to the same, and my cousin was over 10 pounds. Olivia fit so snugly in the crook of my arm.

I thought about sending flowers, a gift, the usual but I don't know, I guess I am too practical. Flowers die. A gift, well what? I wanted to do something useful. So, I made them dinner and brought it over last night. It's what I would want someone to do for me. They thanked us over and over.

We didn't stay too long but it was nice getting to chat with them. And getting some "baby snuggles" was pretty nice too.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sadness

My heart is breaking for my sister-in-law and her family. They had to let her mother go. It was sudden. She was supposed to get well, not worse. She was too young. She was their rock. Always thinking of others before herself. Her smile lit up the room. Her kindness and compassion will live on in Jessica.

When I found out things were not looking good I drove to the hospital to offer my support. I didn't know what else to do but I felt like I needed to be there. If I was in the same situation I would want Jessica there with me. I lent an ear, a shoulder. I walked the halls. I prayed. I ran out of words so I prayed the same thing over and over.

It was so hard to watch them go through all that. They know she is in a better place, a place where she no longer suffers. They know they will see her again. But that doesn't always make the grief easier.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ramblings of a Head Cold

Life has been happening but I've been feeling particularly uninspired to write lately. Which is probably the best time to write.

There's been mental wrangling dealing yet again with our loss. I thought I was doing well but the scar was peeled back a couple of months ago. I've since come to realize that I will never "get over it" but I can move on and I can choose how I deal with it. With out realizing it depression was starting to set in, but I've decided not to let it overcome me. One day I will beat depression once and for all.

Something I have to constantly tell myself.

More mental wrangling about infertility treatment. Once again it's time to start making those decisions. I have such an immense fear about going through all of it. Another thing I need to let die. But I've got support now. I realize I have to open up, share, and allow others to help me through this journey. It doesn't mean that I am weak. It doesn't mean that I am burdening others.

Things I have to keep reminding myself.

Yet more on my future career options. I am blessed beyond words to have this time of rest. Because of choices and sacrifices we have made I am not working right now. I have a great many interests which gives me a tendancy of paralysis in wondering what is the "right" choice. I realize I might "fail" again, but how will I know without trying? Who cares if I have to go back to school a number of times? Education is never a waste. Stepping out into the unknown is scary but paralysis due to fear is even scarier.

Thoughts I need to drill into my brain.

Do you notice the pattern? Low self-esteem is my enemy. When I told my mom that years ago she said, "But you have never cared what others think of you, you always seem so strong." True, I don't really care. Why is low self-esteem always wrapped up in what others think of you? And seem is the key word. I tend to not share my true self with others.

I am my own worst enemy. Overly critical. Perfectionistic. I don't let others in very easily. It's an anchor that weighs me down. I am only harming myself.

But I am trying. I am opening up more. Reaching out to a support system. Even dealing with unpleasant things and unpleasant people. Working to not let the helpful hurtful things they say rankle.

Life is hard. Dealing with life is hard work. But I can choose to be miserable or happy.

I can choose to live instead of exist.