One Step Forwards, Two Steps Back

In the beginning every passing month was notched up on a chalkboard in my mind and I would hope we would be pregnant before we reached the next six month milestone. Now the months blur and I cannot remember without concentrating how many have come and gone though I know two years since we began this journey looms on the horizon.

I used to feel guilty that I was making a fuss about finding this season hard and that somehow I should just grin and bear it but I wonder now what actually is much more devastating for a woman than the inability to bring into reality the inherent desire to bear children. Not all women have that urge or need to have their own children but that is another matter. The biological ability to bear children is central to our physicality and our identity. The inability to conceive is a devastating reality which rocks the core of one’s identity and renders one powerless to the workings of one’s anatomy.  When trying for a baby some days it does seem as though all I can see is mothers and babies everywhere. The brutal irony of our personal story is that we live next door to a church with a thriving community of young families attending play groups, so the reality is I do see them constantly. To pull the kitchen blind down, or not – that, some days, is the question!?

I caught sight of our wedding photo the other day and found myself unable to identify with the smiling, carefree blonde in the picture. Dressed in ivory and glowing with all that could be, she has no understanding of the heaviness that life can bring when dreams are unfulfilled. She is unaware of the strain that will come upon her marriage some day as she experiences the bleakness of infertility. She has no idea that her expectations of what she thinks life holds for her may not be anything like what she will experience. She is naive, light-hearted and full of potential. As I gaze at that photo now I know that some days I don’t recognise the princess I felt like on my wedding day. We were invincible and aware of our blessings. Now we are broken and choosing to see the blessings.

Some days I think I have become my very own circus: a juggler of mixed emotions; a clown with a smile plastered to her face; a lion tamer as I wrestle my fears back into their cage; and a tightrope walker who balances between faith and fear. Yet of late the Lord has reminded me that I am, in fact, His princess still and worthy of the same inheritance bestowed upon His only Son. I was not born into a life of poverty, but a life of royalty. I was not born to wear the sackcloth and ashes of mourning, but the royal robes of righteousness and life. I am a princess because I am the daughter of a King. I am not at the mercy of my circumstances because I live in the light of a debt fully paid and a future that is whole.

Sometimes I forget the truth that it is only by the grace of God that I go forth each day. My efforts don’t alter the circumstances. Fasting or praying – or fasting whilst praying, or performing, or wishing I was more this or that, or looking for answers on Google, or trying to become something I’m not, or wondering whether if I just did this or that, or read my Bible more, or served at church more or helped people more – none of these things will bring me to a resolution in our circumstances any more quickly. Because it’s not about me and it’s not about changing His mind about how He sees me in order to get the result I crave. I know that He loves to redeem and to restore. I know that there is nothing I do or don’t do which alters how much He loves me. I know that this walk has to be all about Him. I come back to the heart of my faith – grace. His love which reached out and set me free. His story through which all of our stories reveal Him. And when this prayer is finally answered I know that we will be able to take none of the credit, for it will be absolutely His will, His way and all for my heavenly Father’s glory.

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