Monday, August 31, 2009

My Almost Rebellion: Part Two

Somewhere in the recesses of my heart, I determined to at least attempt to talk to God a little, before I ran away from Him. I figured the hour drive in Kansas was a good place to start.

I didn’t get very far on that either. I mean, really—what do I say anymore? I’ve asked for answers, I’ve asked for peace, I’ve, of course, asked for pregnancy, I’ve asked for the pregnancy desire to lessen, if that would help. I’ve asked to be taught, I’ve asked to be molded. And I do know that, at times, these different things were answered. I have to give Him that, I guess. So, instead of talking, I turned on worship music, and drowned my sorrows in Hillsongs.

In my hotel room that night, my friend Terri called me. I had just finished reading an email from my friend Kelly, who commiserated with me on the confusion of prayer, answers, and how they don’t always come together. I appreciated that email, and I really appreciated Terri’s call.

She asked me how I was, and I told her honestly. I went through my rant. At one point I said something about saying to God, “God, get me pregnant!” and she said, “Wow—that sounds more like a demand than a prayer request!” I backtracked by saying, well, ah, you know, in real life it was more like “Dear God, please allow me the chance to bear a child …” But you know what? She was right. I started to wonder if I’d fallen into that trap, the trap that is so common for us all to fall into. The trap where as long as the one thing that I deem important in my life is missing, I’m upset with God. Had I really gotten there? Sure. I had. At least in those few hours of wrestling. Man, I hate wrestling.

By the end of the phone call, Terri had me in hysterics—laughter of course, I mean, come on—if you knew Terri, you’d understand—about how newborn babies look like overturned cockroaches. You know how when a bug is on its back and its little legs are flailing? Well, picture your favorite newborn, on its back, screaming and crying, with flailing appendages and you now understand why I was dying and out of breath from laughter.

Mom and I talked again. She called because she wanted to share something she’d read … or was it heard? Or found? Or wrote herself? No, that’s not it … I don’t remember. I admit, I wasn’t listening super closely. I’m a horrible daughter. I do remember this though. She said that whatever it was she had read/heard/found/wrote was something like this: Sometimes we’re so wrapped up with being angry about something, angry at God about something, that we forget to grieve. We’re so focused on anger, and so quick to go there, that we forget to allow the God of all comfort to, well, comfort. She said to me, something to the tune of (man, I need to listen better), maybe you just need to stop running toward the anger, and sit in your grief. God will meet you in that grief and, if you allow Him, begin to heal your wounds. Yep, I think that’s basically what she said. And if that’s not what you said, Mom, well, it’s what I heard and it helped. So good job.

Grief. When was the last time that I grieved? That I just allowed sadness? I jump to bitterness. I rest in anger, not that any rest actually happens there. I run to jealousy. But grief? I was done with grief. I’d done the cycle; I’d grieved the miscarriages. But to grieve simply the journey? To grieve the loss every single month, month after long month of still no baby? I hadn’t thought to grieve that. And so, in Kansas, the next day as I drove around the countryside, plastered on a smile for clients, found my way back to the airport and wandered to my concourse, I tried to remember how to grieve. I allowed sadness. I shut out anger, bitterness and jealousy, and I grieved.

(the third and final installment still to come...sorry it's so stinkin long!! I had a lot to "emote")

My Almost Rebellion: Part One

The past few days have been some of the hardest of my life. Nothing big has happened, I didn’t lose anyone, or anything. But I feel like I almost lost God. Or, well, He almost lost me. Well, wait, that still doesn’t work … I feel like I almost attempted to give up on God. I don’t know if I would have gone through with it. Actually, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have. God is so good about putting people in my life when I’m in these tough spots. People who speak truth to me, and who are willing to help me work through my emotions. People who don’t get scared when I question God, and question everyone’s perfect little theologies of Him. People like my friend Terri, my husband Erik, my friend Kelly and, most importantly in this little discussion, my Mom.

Here’s where I was at on August 26th. I was sitting in my favorite leather chair in our living room, scouring my well-worn Bible, that’s engraved with Kristin Miller—it was a high school graduation gift—and I’m looking for verses that speak to prayer. I found all the normal ones and wrote them in my journal. And after them I wrote a huge I DON’T GET IT. Because in that moment, I was so pissed. I was so confused. I was so done. Erik came home in the midst of this, and I started ranting, in a teary way, about how none of this makes sense to me. I handed him my journal and said, “I don’t get these verses.” And he kinda laughed, and said, “And you want me to explain them to you?” I could see the teasing in his eyes, because he didn’t yet get the personal torture I was putting myself through, and he was just seeing this as another way to prove that his Bible schooling is superior to my Bible schooling. I said yes, and watched his eyes drop to the page. The teasing left his eyes as he scanned the verses that I had listed. I had also underlined certain specific phrases.

1 John 5:14-15

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

Matthew 7:7-8

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find … For everyone who asks receives

Luke 18:1

Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

Matthew 26:39b

Yet not as I will, but as you will.

John 15:7

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.

He dropped the journal and admitted he didn’t know. Neither of us spoke; we just looked at each other, and I of course, got teary. Because here’s where I was at in that moment:

I was remembering high school me, content to believe “Everything happens for a reason!”

I was recalling college me, content to believe “God has a perfect plan that He is working out even as we speak.”

I was recognizing that this was where I was currently:

To high school me: If everything happens for a reason, then why is this happening to me? Show me the reason, and I’ll deem whether or not it’s worth the pain.

To college me: If God has a perfect plan, and His plan involves me suffering like this and giving up on prayer, and doubting His close presence in my life, then what kind of perfect plan is that?

To all the other “me’s” that have been, and to those who think they have the answers:

If God is in control of everything and plans everything out, well, then, He’s being pretty mean allowing everyone in my life to be pregnant except for me.

If God is not in control and has chosen to limit His power in this broken, fallen world, and is sitting back, just as sad as I am about this suffering, well, then, He’s just not all that powerful is He?

If God really does operate like the book of Job suggests, allowing Satan to harm us to prove that we can be faithful to Him, well, then, where was my choice in the matter? Because today, I don’t feel like being the one that proves faithfulness.

If God is choosing to allow suffering in my life to reveal His glory in me, for some odd reason, well, then, sorry to yet again sound selfish, but I’d rather not play that role, thank you very much.

If God is changed by our prayers, and prayers are worth praying, well, then, has anyone been giving Him my messages? Because not just me, but probably hundreds of people have sent up prayers about this and nada.

And the biggy—if everything is set in motion, and God isn’t affected by our prayers, well, then, I’m out. I’m done. Because the prayers are just disappointing at this point.

Please know that I am very aware—nauseatingly aware—of how incredibly selfish, and bitter, and angry, and well, human all of this ranting sounds. But hey—guess what? I’m HUMAN! And I refuse to stuff my real, true emotions with some platitudes designed to make me sound like a good Christian girl.

I voiced this all to Erik, who is struggling with the same hurt and deep sadness and so obviously didn’t have any answers, and went about my day. My Mom called at one point, and I sobbed my eyes out over the phone. It had been a while since we’d talked, and I was in quite the turmoil, so my conversation with her was full of anger and bitterness and doubt and questions … and the overarching desire to quit. To give up. To latch onto my anger and run. Though I’m not sure how far one can actually run from God, when He’s ingrained into your very being and etched on the walls of your heart, but I sure thought that maybe I was going to try. I didn’t get very far with that idea though, because I had to get ready for a business trip. And off to Kansas I went. . .

(for the sake of length, the rest of this will be posted tomorrow-ish.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I might Be ... I might be Not

The two week wait (lovingly referred to as the TWW by TTC [trying to conceive] couples) is hellish enough on it's own.

For those who aren't familiar, because I know I wouldn't be if I hadn't had all these troubles, it's the 14 day stretch from ovulation to menstruation. It's the excruciating time between "trying" and either discovering a conception, or, well, not.

This almost unbearable waiting period during which I grow increasingly anxious and hopeless is horrible enough without adding injected hormones that create drug-induced pregnancy symptoms. I've come to the conclusion that the most inhumane thing to do to a TTC woman is to inject HCG (the pregnancy hormone) into her system, which causes her to feel pregnant, and then tell her to "just wait". I understand the medical reasons for doing so, but here I am on my second round of drugs, feeling pregnant, dealing with fatigue, increased appetite, heartburn, swelling, bloating and headaches ... all while knowing that inevitably, the drugs will wear off, the symptoms will fade, my little dream world of pretending I'm actually pregnant will float away, and I'll be left with my period, a flat belly, and another round of treatments.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Happy Birthday

My soul aches within me.

My mind is dull with depression,

The numbness spreads to my heart; at least for this moment, I've lost the ability to hope.

I sit heavily and stare blankly.

My limbs feel detached and my face seems to sag.

There is no hope in my heart, no bounce in my step, no smile on my lips.


Infertility is a lonely journey. For most, it's a quiet, private one and others never know. I look healthy, and successful. I'm helpful, and articulate. I'm young and in shape. People don't see that I'm operating with a broken heart, that gets re broken every month. I run on forced energy with an often fake smile pasted on my face. A hug here and there, an email of encouragement, but basically, a lonely journey. People don't rally, churches don't pray, no one brings meals, they don't lay hands. Because there are no symptoms. It's not obvious. There's no disease, no life-threatening illness, I'm not in the hospital. I appear just fine.

For almost three years now, I've been coping with trauma. It is life-threatening. Not physically, but mentally, emotionally, relationally ... and definitely spiritually. The only symptoms for those who look closely are a new bitterness in my heart, deep pain in my eyes, two tattoos on my wrists, and the absence of a child who would now be two.

Happy Birthday, unknown, unseen but loved little baby. Mommy still grieves you ... and always will.

Quietly, silently, with a smile on my face and loneliness in my soul. Because I'm not sick--just infertile.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Green Day and God--Huh?!

I spent Friday night "accidentally attending an anti-Christian rally", as my friend put it. Actually, it was a Green Day concert that we paid for and planned on attending, naively believing it would be "okay". Let me tell you ... quite the experience. I don't love concerts to begin with. Heck with love--let's be honest--I don't even like them. But Erik does, and so I go. And usually it's okay.

This was not okay.

My thoughts throughout the evening were jumbled and scattered, mostly due to almost constant, impossible to ignore interruptions, always beginning with some form of the "F" word. Seriously--could he be any less creative with his choice of words? (the inflection in the question is reminiscent of Chandler from Friends, if you were wondering.) So my thoughts are scattered and a little random, but I'd like to get them down on virtual paper anyway. So here goes:

My first semi coherent thoughts as the band took the stage and began their "performance" were about the crowd. Maybe I'm not normal, or maybe it's a product of my upbringing, but I've never been one of those people who idolizes others. As a teen, I think maybe I had a Rebecca St. James poster on my wall--you know, the one with the sunflower?--but that was about it. Actually in college, I once attempted to become infatuated with a movie star. I even bought his picture at Universal Studios in California. It didn't work though; I couldn't do it. I just don't care if they're famous or not. So when thousands of people scream til their throats are hoarse, and sway with their eyes closed to this music from these crazy men, I honestly just observe in a clinical fashion, because I do not understand it. Any time I cheered at the concert that night, it was more of just a half hearted "Whoohoo"; I pretty much only did it because I had paid $50 bucks and figured I should "whoohoo" a coupla times. But no chills. No excitement. No shivers. Honest to goodness, I got more chills depositing Dr. John Piper's checks at the bank in college than I got that night watching Green Day. What does that say about me? I recently saw Jeremy Camp very up close. Erik and I have backstage passes and I was able to stand right near the edge of the stage and watch him sing. That almost kinda gave me chills, but not so much because it was Jeremy Camp. More so because it was cool to be so close to a man who has been through so much, and could still stand up there and give all the glory to God. That's incredible. What Green Day does? Well, that's just a good show, I guess. If you like being cussed at, mocked, and shouted at all evening.

As I watched the crowd worship--and that's what it was, it was worship--Green Day and Billy Joe Armstrong, my heart was broken. I felt the physical ache in my chest. At one point, as I scanned the crowd, tears rushed to my eyes. The scene was so utterly depressing. Thousands of people, singing, dancing, yelling, shouting, grinning---WORSHIPING---a tiny little man on stage, who wrote some kinda good songs and can exert nonstop energy for over two hours. They sang for, shouted for, cried for a man. A man. Not even a creative man! I mean really, it's not too hard to get Americans to like you. Rail against the war, the government, and Christianity, throw in multiple F-bombs and people will think you are incredible. It's not that unique. It's not that creative.

At first, I wanted to go home. (but let's be honest--that wasn't because it was Green Day. I just detest concerts, remember?) But after the initial anger (brought on when a huge vampire-looking portrait of Christ was displayed on stage, and Billy brought a child up and went through the motions of a "Christian healing" while singing a song that only serves to mock Christians), and defensiveness dissipated, and after the tears had flowed and dried up, and after I was over my refusing to participate in any part of the concert whatsoever, I began to appreciate the experience. It was definitely an eye opening one. There are people out there who hate us. And by us I mean Christians. Christ followers. And while that frustrates me to no end (I mean really, when was the last time Billy Joe Armstrong sat down with a normal Christian, an every day believer and asked us our thoughts on life?), I can recognize that yes Christians today have a "massive public relations" problem, as my pastor is fond of pointing out, and yes we misrepresent Christ on a daily basis. So part of me couldn't blame Green Day for it's rantings. And yet, my heart is still broken.

I'm also grateful for the reminder that people are desperate. People are desperate for someone to follow and something to worship. Erik has always talked about how he sees people worship so freely at concerts, and now I know what he means. It's incredible to watch; I wish our churches looked like that on a Sunday morning, because God deserves that kind of worship. God deserves that kind of adoration and attention. I know I'm rarely found giving to Him--are you?

What is it about the way we are portraying Christ that causes people to reject Him, and instead worship Green Day?

Other thoughts that ran through my head:
This man is a father?
And he's how old?
Who in their right mind brings children to this kind of concert!
But I won't get into those today. :)