How Infertility Has Shaped My Faith

I was 16 when I first knew there was something wrong with me. The doctors ran all the tests, covered all their bases, then put on their half-hearted smiles, and told me there was a chance. “When you grow up and get married, you might be able to have kids,” they said. “Or maybe not. […]

I was 16 when I first knew there was something wrong with me. The doctors ran all the tests, covered all their bases, then put on their half-hearted smiles, and told me there was a chance. “When you grow up and get married, you might be able to have kids,” they said. “Or maybe not. You’ll just have to wait and see.”

Wait and see.

This is the human condition, isn’t it? There’s so much we cannot control. So much we cannot know. So much we cannot predict. It’s one of the most frustrating limitations of our humanity—the inability to peer into the future (James 4:14). It’s an essential consequence of our having descended from Adam and Eve and an essential opportunity for hope.

It’s only between the massive gap—being told to wait and finally seeing—that there can be hope. No other creature has this keen and insightful ability to hope, to hold one’s breath and listen to the flutter in one’s chest and anticipate what may come.

But in that gap between waiting and seeing, in that gap where hope is formed, something much more sinister can develop: a darkness, a self-preservation, an isolation, and worst of all, a cynicism. God invites us to choose one road or the other: the road of faith and vulnerability, or the road of self-reliance and despair. Which one will you choose?

SELF-RELIANCE AND DESPAIR

For a long time, I chose the latter. At least, when it came to my fertility. I pretended like it wasn’t a thing to hope for. I didn’t discuss it. I didn’t wonder about it. It was an insecurity, a vulnerability, a wound that I didn’t bother tending to. So deep down, in that chasm between the waiting and seeing, I let the lingering thought—this is never going to happen for me—fester in the darkness. Out of sight, out of mind, out of faith.

And then, years later, I learned what God had seen all along. The new doctors—both the seasoned fertility doctor and the specialized IVF doctor—told me that I had no eggs. Not a single one. Having my own biological kids? There was no chance.

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There was no more waiting. I had seen the answer. God had withheld something very precious from me. Wasn’t I smart, daring to not put my faith in a God who would do this to me? Wasn’t I wise, suppressing that ridiculous fantasy called hope?

That is how I remained for a time. Stuck in the dark cynicism, in the deep frustration, in the chasmic sense of lack I had allowed to grow. This led to nagging shame, a belief that God did not love me—or at least, that he did not love the infertile part of me. After all, I had heard that to be fruitful and multiply was the most important thing a woman could do. Christians had said the highest calling for a woman was motherhood.

So, if God made women to make babies, then how could he possibly love me? More than that, He must have disliked me a lot for making me this way on purpose. What kind of God was this? Certainly not one to hope in.

And so, in my cynicism and shame, I shut Him out. I let other voices grow louder than God’s (Prov. 29:25). I stopped talking to the One who held the universe by his word (Heb. 1:3). I stopped coming to the God who was writing my unique story. I stopped believing that the life he dreamed for me was better than the life other human beings thought I should be living.

But I could not go on living like this—in the despair, self-loathing, and discontent. I couldn’t keep running to the bathroom to cry whenever a friend told me she was pregnant. I couldn’t keep gazing with jealousy upon the woman who kept popping children out, one after the other, seemingly effortlessly.

These women were living the life I thought I would. They were living what was expected of them, what I thought was expected of me. But God was calling me out of the expectation and into the wilderness (Hosea 2:14)—into the unknown, into a bigger, broader form of waiting and seeing.

WHILE WE WAIT

It took counseling, conversations, and the return to prayer and trust, but I eventually learned that what I had dealt with concerning my infertility was simply life. Every day we wait to see.

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Will that job come through? Will that guy ask me out? Will that friend forgive me? Will that project fail? Will my spouse cheat? Will I get pregnant?

Sometimes we see the truth. Other times, we remain in the dark. No matter the situation, and no matter what the outcome, we must ask, What will I do while I wait? What we choose to do while we wait greatly impacts how we will handle it once we see.

What gap are you currently standing in? What are you hoping for? While we wait, we must:

• Let faith and hope grow, not diminish (Mark 9:24).
• Let God’s Word guide, not our own understanding (Ps. 32:8–11; Ps. 138:8).
• Draw near to Jesus, our great high priest, who knows what it’s like to wait (Heb. 4:15).
• Continue to embrace the limitations of our humanity (Ps. 144:4).
• Cry when we’re sad (John 11:35).
• Laugh when we’re happy (Prov. 17:22).
• Comfort one another in all our afflictions (2 Cor. 1:4).
• Fight cynicism with joy (Phil. 4:4).
• Daily surrender to the cosmic creativity and perfect vision of God (Isa. 40:26).

Most of all, we must fix our eyes on the Truth, remembering that one day, we will see him face-to-face (1 Cor. 13:12), and everything we’ve been waiting for will be made plain. Faith is being sure of Jesus (Heb. 11:1), inviting him to enter into the gap, and trusting him to rule there with love. It’s saying, “This thing I hope for may come to pass, or it may not. But while I wait, I will follow you, knowing that you are the God who sees” (Gen. 16:13; Prov. 15:3).

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” — Romans 15:13