I still remember those words, the ones that cut across my heart and left hot tears filling my eyes.
“Motherhood is the highest calling for a woman.”
I sat with burning eyes, trying hard to hide my pain. If God bestowed the highest honor upon the mothers, what did that mean for me- barren, and with empty arms?
It’s been many, many years and my infertility is no longer the raw horror it used to be in my life. I talk openly about it, I welcome questions and conversations, and have healed so much.
But there’s still desire unfulfilled. I still have a longing to become pregnant and become a mother. After 13 years of marriage, a baby in heaven, and two foster babies we loved and let go, the chances of my celebrating a Mother’s Day as a mom seem to be rapidly closing.
But deep down, beneath the surrender and joy of a family of two, beats a mother’s heart. When I’m being gut-level honest, one of my biggest desires is to be a mother. I long to surprise my husband with a positive test, creatively announce to family and friends the happy news, feel the flutters and kicks of a miracle baby, see the rounded belly, swollen with life. I long for the pain and joy of childbirth, and then holding our baby the first time, tracing the cheek of a precious gift from God. I long to teach our children about Jesus, praying over them to love the Father and be used for His kingdom.
What do I do with unfulfilled desires? It’s easy to chase lesser things. Fill my life full with things or experiences or people. Ignore God, or, if I do talk to Him, keep it surface level.
The hardest thing for me to do with desire? Bring it to God, tell Him how desperately I want it, and then surrender in faith. Why? Because “trusting God is dangerous business. Unless we’re trusting Him for what He’s promised to provide, the step after trust is disillusionment…God cannot be trusted to always minimize our suffering in this life.” (Larry Crabb)
I know this first hand. I’ve begged God for a healthy body since I was 17, but I still struggle with allergies, asthma, and thyroid trouble. I’ve sent so many prayers heavenward, asking God for a baby. And month after month, year after year, my womb has stayed empty. We stepped out in faith to pursue foster parenting. That ended with heartbreak and false accusations. I’ve prayed for others- for healing, for mended relationships, for prodigals, for brokenness. And still, there is sickness and death, broken homes, people wandering farther away from God, barrenness, hurt, and unanswered prayers.
So, it seems easier to protect my heart. I want to pray safe prayers, stay in my comfort zone, and avoid putting my trust in a God who loves but allows pain. But when I do that, I’m deadening the one desire that matters most of all- an intimate relationship with my Father.
It’s a hard pill for me to swallow- that my life on earth isn’t meant to give me good things. I want good health, dreams fulfilled, and prayers answered. I want to feel alive, and to have passion and freedom. I want to enjoy relationships and experience God’s peace. And even if things aren’t going as I wish, I still want to feel as if they were. So when God delays those things, or takes them away, or never even gives them in the first place, I feel betrayed and let down. My soul needs filling and my heart hurts.
The best and absolute hardest thing for me to learn was to not deaden my pain or desires. I’ve learned it’s far better to hurt openly in the presence of God and others, to ask the tough questions, and to be honest about how I view God and life. It doesn’t work to deny desire, neither does it work to ignore it.
As I’ve learned to turn to Jesus with my pain, I’ve noticed something that seems strange. It’s out of my brokenness and deepest pain, that I’ve experienced the most joy and peace. Oh, not always the same day. Not even the same week or month. But looking back, while I would never choose my hardest experiences, I wouldn’t want them to change. Because when all my hopes and dreams were shattered, the one thing I desired more than anything else was my Father. And when I got a taste of that intimate fellowship with Him, I realized that this was what I was created for.
We are to become aware of better dreams and live for them, not only the better dreams of heaven but also the better dreams available now of drawing close to God. When we discover our desire for God, we can live for nothing less. (Larry Crabb)
The very center of my heart belongs to God. I want Him, I long for Him, I need Him, whatever the cost.
I’m still human. I still have desires for safety and happiness, for peace and good things, for pregnancy and babies. But when I understand that at the core of it all is a longing for my Father, I surrender them to Him, knowing that whatever He chooses to do with them is the very best.
Shattered dreams and unfulfilled longings break my heart and allow God to work in me. So through my tears of pain, I lift my hands in worshipful surrender. He is faithful and He is good.
And He said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.’
Mark 14:36 NKJV