I love slow days when my husband and I can escape the fast-paced life in the city and take day trips to the quaint towns in the Texas Hill Country. While writing this piece I remembered one of those visits and thought of a cute little antique shop we found. It was a tiny little house with a coffee shop. When we walked in, the aroma of roasted coffee beans mixed with weathered wood and old books filled the air. I remembered the excitement I felt as my eyes darted around to see where I would begin the hunt for my next treasure.
I was drawn into the shop towards a bookshelf of teapots. They were beautiful to look at, sitting there in a perfectly merchandised row. I picked one with beautiful, hand-painted yellow and pink flowers. The edges were scalloped and delicately painted with a golden stripe. Carefully, I turned it around and noticed it had once been broken and glued back together. However, it was still missing a little piece. It was not very visible, but it was under the spout so the water would have flowed out of the wrong place. How disappointing! I set it back on the shelf and continued to look around the shop. While looking through an old suitcase filled with lacy handkerchiefs, I thought of the beautiful teapot and how I was a lot like it. I too was broken and unable to successfully use my body for its design: have children.
My husband and I have been married for 16 years, both now in our early 40’s. It’s been a joyful adventure of discovering ourselves in each other while growing into adulthood. I knew we at least wanted one child. I wanted a girl. I pictured her being like Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series; frizzy hair and the smartest in her class. After our fifth year of being married and not being able to conceive, we went to a fertility specialist. We underwent a series of tests to conclude that I was unable to become pregnant.
The leech has two suckers that cry out, “More, More!” There are three things that are never satisfied – no, four that never say, “Enough!” the grave, the barren womb, the thirsty desert, the blazing fire. (Proverbs 30:15-16)
The doctors began to discuss fertility options with us. Ultimately, the doctors recommended In-vitro, a process in which an egg and sperm sample is retrieved and then manually combined in a laboratory. If successful, the embryo is placed in the uterus. In the US the average cost for in vitro fertilization is $12,000 – $15,000.
This new plan was not part of my happily ever after! Before this, I was used to things mostly going my way. If things didn’t go my way, there was a reason behind it, a lesson to be learned.
I leaned into the Scripture:
Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)
I went through a two year spiritual fast where I gave up meat and dairy. I did acupuncture and drank crazy herb blends that tasted terrible. When the herbs didn’t work, I drank powered placenta (a traditional Chinese medicine prescribed by the acupuncturist). I prayed, facedown on the floor in submission.
And every month like clockwork a tearful reminder that we were not pregnant. What was I doing wrong? I took an inventory of all the bad things I had done my whole life and asked God for forgiveness. I started to pray against generational curses. I also became more specific with my prayers, telling God I wanted to sing lullabies and read bedtime stories. I learned to knit! I started a baby blanket and prayed blessings over each knit and purl. Through all of this God was silent. Disappointment was dulling my will and I finally gave up. I felt like I was in mourning, although no one died. Still, grief’s heaviness laid on me, and I allowed it.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. (Psalm 34:18)
In my sadness, God revealed my idea of motherhood was not His plan for me.
For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord. They are plans for good, not disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
I began to pray a different prayer, a softer, more simple one. “Your will, not mine.” Every time I felt disappointment I prayed, “Your will, not mine.” Every time I saw my menstrual cycle, I prayed, “Your will, not mine.” Every time a child was born to another couple, I prayed, “Your will, not mine.” When an adoption fell through, I prayed, “Your will, not mine.”
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious spirit lead me forward on a firm footing. (Psalm 143:10)
God gently removed the veil of grief from my eyes.
But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:16-17)
God helped me understand He was not silent or absent, it was my will that was overpowering our connection. I had become zealous in trying to help God instead of zealous for God. In other words, becoming a mother became like an idol. Once I stopped pursuing my idol and started pursuing God, motherhood happened! Below I have listed opportunities that God has given me to share my motherly love to others.
- Working as a nanny for J, A, and K (I love you boys)
- Working for a faith-based after school program for the economically disadvantaged
- Supporting non-profits in my community that counsel mommies through unplanned pregnancies
- Supporting a child through World Vision
- Collecting clothing and toys for children in Mexico who have been orphaned due to the violence of the cartel wars
- Adopting pets that need mommies
- Knitting blankets for special friends with new babies
- Being present in the lives of my godchildren
- Being a spiritual mother to women who need to be reconciled to our Father
- Supporting non-profits in my community that support children who have been removed from their home due to abuse and or neglect
Like the pretty little teapot, the pouring out of God’s glory would not come from the spout but from the brokenness. Father, You created us to be vessels that pour out Your glory, not our own.