Waiting, Hoping, Wishing, Trusting
Ever since I was a young girl, I have looked forward to being a mom. I carried my baby dolls around the house and when I was old enough I carried real babies around while babysitting for many special families. When people asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I often would respond, “a mom.”
Though God had very fulfilling opportunities for me after college, my heart still ached to not experience marriage and babies at the same time as many of my friends. I do, however, see that God had my best in mind during that season because I grew in confidence, self-awareness, and trust in Him while I waited. Thankfully, in God’s perfect timing, He brought Jared back into my life and it truly was a dream come true when we married.
We decided to wait to expand our family for a little while so that we could establish a strong marriage foundation. Before we could even begin discussing our future family plans, we found out the unfortunate news of my cancer diagnosis.
Though being diagnosed with cancer at 29 was terrifying, what probably affected me the most was the realization that I may never bear my own biological children. When my oncologist informed us that there was a 10% chance that my remaining ovary could be too damaged from the chemo to have children, I was devastated. (Even though the odds leaned in our favor, I was so sad that there was a possibility I may never be able to have children.) Seeing my emotion, my oncologist gave us the option of going through fertility treatments to increase our chances of having our own children.
Jared and I started the process of fertility treatments but we ultimately had to stop them due to a harmless, stubborn cyst on my remaining ovary. Although I was extremely disappointed, I felt a peace that God had orchestrated closing that door. Jared and I felt God ask us through this turn of events to trust Him completely with our desires for a family and to leave the percentages to Him.
Throughout the entire chemo regimen, I prayed that God would protect my remaining ovary. Actually, truth be told, I made up new words to a childhood song and sang, “He’s got my right ovary in His hands…He’s got the whole world in His hands” to remind myself that He was not only the Creator of all the earth but also the Sustainer of my tiny ovary.
A couple of months after I finished chemo, I visited an integrative doctor who checked all of my hormone levels to see how well my remaining ovary was functioning. She matter-of-factly told me that the numbers indicated that my body may be headed into premature menopause. I will never forget sitting in my car after the appointment crying out to God with tears running down my face. I reminded Him again how much I desired to be a mom and have my own biological children. I remember hearing several songs back to back on the radio in those few moments that spoke truth to me about God’s strength and power. Through my tears, I told God that I believed He could do anything and I asked Him to put His hand on my body and restore my hormone function.
A couple of months later, after receiving acupuncture, taking herbs, eating healthy, and trying to reduce my stress, I was relieved to hear my hormones were back in normal range and my body was functioning like it should for a woman my age. My faith was indeed strengthened as I realized God had graciously worked on my behalf.
At my year check-up with my oncologist, she was pleased to hear that my ovary was in working order. Now that pregnancy was an option, we had a lengthy discussion about her recommendations for when it was safest for Jared and me to try and become pregnant. I remember taking a deep breath and blinking back tears when she recommended another year of waiting if we wanted to take the most conservative approach. Though a year felt long, Jared and I wanted to allow my body adequate time to heal and strengthen. And though we desired children, we also didn’t want to let this wish drown out our gratefulness for my good health. God had indeed blessed us.
Just a couple of months ago, we received the unexpected good news that my oncologist feels comfortable with us trying to begin a family in January as long as my scan is clear. For the first time in this journey, hope began to slightly grow in my heart. I’ve realized that as a way to self-protect myself, I haven’t really allowed myself to begin dreaming about beginning a family because the reality felt too far away and too impossible. Now, with this encouraging news, I have begun to allow my heart to “go there” and have begun asking God to prepare my body and work in His way and timing.
About this time, a group of women and I were studying a Bible study called Believing God by Beth Moore. It’s based on the premise that we may believe in God but oftentimes we don’t believe and trust Him. As I began this study, I wrote down on the first page of my workbook, “Lord, what are You asking me to trust You for?” A few days later, the answer came to me: “Trust Me for an easy, uncomplicated, healthy pregnancy.” I’ll be honest, at first, I was scared to death that if I uttered the desires of my heart, I would jinx the whole thing. But over the course of the last month of studying this subject of faith, God has been teaching me to take Him at His word, wait expectantly, and trust Him for the results.
There is a reason that I have not blogged in detail about this topic of pregnancy until now: it has been too painful. Having such a strong desire to start a family and being told we had to wait while watching people close to us expand their families has felt excruciating at times. I’ll be honest that I have had to work through my raw, disappointed feelings with God. And in response, God has met me in very specific ways to remind me that He has not forgotten me. One special way He has provided has been through the wonderful group of ladies that I have the privilege of leading in the weekly Bible study that I referred to above. While leading this group last fall, God used the words from Beth Moore’s Breaking Free study to encourage my heart and remind me that He is allowing me to “mother,” just in a different way than I envisioned.
Beth says, “I believe our girlish dreams to have babies represents even more than the obvious. They represent a desire to have fruitful lives, to invest ourselves in something that matters. Something that affects. Something that grows…I have tried my hardest to keep my children from growing up, but all my efforts have failed. Sometimes I think, What will I ever do? I was born to be a mommy! Then I remember God has called me primarily to women’s ministry and I will always have the opportunity to ‘mother’ a few spiritual offspring as long as I’m willing to invest myself” (pgs 141, 143).
I am so grateful God opened my eyes to this wonderful truth and reminded me that though I haven’t had the opportunity to raise my own children yet, I have had many amazing opportunities to invest into some very special women (not to mention sweet nieces). Just today as I was writing this, I took a break to skype with a dear friend who used to be in my Bible study when she was in high school and is now a junior in college. We were chatting because she was preparing to give a talk to a Young Life group and it was so fun to see how much she had grown in her faith since high school. As we were signing off from skype, I told her I was proud of her and she laughed and said, “See, you’ve raised me well.” If she only knew how meaningful those words were to me.
Thank you, God, for the ways You are redeeming this difficult waiting season by allowing me to invest in the ones You have so graciously brought into my life.
I had a very difficult time writing this blog. It felt very personal and vulnerable, and I wasn’t convinced I wanted to share these details with you. But recently I have felt that God has asked me to invite you into this extremely personal matter of my heart so that you could join us in prayer for God’s glory. It is a nerve-wracking step of faith for me but I want to be obedient to what God may be doing. So since Jesus tells us to ask (Mark 11:23,24), here is what I am asking for:
-that God would keep the cancer far, far away and allow it to never return (and especially that I would have a clear scan in January)
-that I would get pregnant quickly and have an uncomplicated, healthy pregnancy(s!!)
We have learned so very much about surrender over the course of the last two years and so we offer these prayer requests up with a loose grip, trusting that God knows what we need and what will bring Him the most glory. We rest confidently in who God is as we wait to see how He will work.
“We wait in hope for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
In Him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in His holy name.
May Your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in You.”
Waiting Here For You by Christy Nockels and the Passion Worship Band
If faith can move the mountains
Let the mountains move
We come with expectation
Waiting here for you, I’m waiting here for you
You’re the Lord of all creation
And still you know my heart
The Author of Salvation
You’ve loved us from the start
Waiting here for You
With our hands lifted high in praise
And it’s You we adore
You are everything You’ve promised
Your faithfulness is true
And we’re desperate for Your presence
All we need is You
Alleluia, singing alleluia, alleluia
Waiting here for you
With our hands lifted high in praise
And it’s You we adore
We’re singing Alleluia