Thursday, October 23, 2008

God in the Details

Have you ever noticed how many details there are in a leaf? What about a flower, or a sunset, how about humans? We are amazingly made with every detail perfect and wonderfully designed. I tend to see God in the big things in life, not the small details of life. When faced with huge, unimaginable circumstances, there is no doubt who I turn to. In nightmares when I am crashing my car off of a cliff, I am crying out to Jesus. God is there in big moments of need. Why do I fail to see God in the details?

It is because I think I have the small things covered; I do not need God for little things. He is there for me when I need him, when I decide it is time to turn to him. If I can see God’s glorious design in the small things like the leaf, or the scent of my favorite flowers, or in the indescribable colors of a sunset, why can’t I believe He is in the small details of my life?

Why does it seem silly to me to turn to God when I am overwhelmed with cleaning my home or organizing paperwork, when I am scheduling our calendar and I have to decide what we are going to commit to in any given month, when I am just too tired to spend the time shopping for healthy foods and opt out for the convenience of take home? What about in the struggles of faith when my heart is hard and I know the bible answer but want to experience it in a greater way? Why do I think God will not show up there? Why do my prayers have to be so extreme? Why do I find it impossible that God would give me clarity and the energy to get my daily tasks done and provide a healthy meal for my family?

What am I afraid of surrendering? Self-sufficiency? My own plan? My will? I am sure most people think the answer is simple and turning to God in the small things is second nature to them but for whatever reason, I find it the most difficult thing to do. Maybe it is pride? Maybe I am too proud to admit that I cannot manage my life on my own, that I am not as efficient and capable as I have made myself believe. Maybe I do not believe God is interested in the details of my life? How gross and prideful is that? Maybe I do not really believe God likes me or desires to be with me?

That is a good one. That is a lie the enemy has been feeding me since I was a little girl and my friends did not stick around. I have heard that lie my entire life. I believed that about my mother, I believed it about my best friend in 2nd grade, my other best friend in 3rd grade, again in 4th, and in 5th…well any friend that ever entered my life eventually went away. Facebook actually saddens me. I look at my high school friends and can view their friends and they are all still connected. The same friends that hung out together in high school have the same friends on Facebook. I have not spoken to anyone from high school in exactly 19 years! Today I believe that about my brothers and sister who never contact me. I still believe it about my mother.

Sadly, I often hear the enemy tell me that my husband does not really like being around me, he just tolerates me. In moments of weakness and self-pity, this lie causes me to crumble into a Gina pity party and gives me “permission” to withhold from my husband. I often allow this lie to keep me from relationship with other women. I have a fear that they will get to know me, not like me and exit the relationship after I have poured my heart into it; just like in the past. As a result, I long for relationship but allow fear to overpower. I keep women at a safe distance, close enough to keep from being lonely but far enough to not be able to hurt me. I have however in the last two years taken huge risks in relationships and have made some wonderful friendships. I still fear that I keep them at a safer distance than I should but I know God is working on my heart there as well although I can see room for repentance, especially with my husband.

I do not have any resolution but I pray that I remain in this place as I work through the struggle. Am I really arrogant enough to believe that God’s word and promises are really for other people and not applicable to me? Am I willing to say it with my mouth because I am certainly saying it with my actions?

I want to be broken over the smallest of sin, even that which seems insignificant. I want to grieve not with worldly shame but a real broken heart over anything that separates me from God.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hope Awakened...A Hope that Hurts

Can you think of desires or longings that seem so far from ever happening that when you think of them actually bring a smile to your face? A nice longing to think that some day may or may not come true?

Now what about those longings that have a real possibility of becoming reality? Maybe those longing actually bring an ache to your heart when you think about them because they have yet to be realized.

My journey this year has been filled with hope and anticipation, yet longings that are left unrealized.

In 2006 my husband had his vasectomy reversed although we never followed up with testing to see if the surgery was successful. We didn’t think much about purposefully conceiving, we just carried on with intimacy as we were moved, not because I was close to ovulating. Our desire for children was there and we looked on lovingly at other children. It was a desire we had that was not a ruling desire, it seemed appropriate.

In May of 2008, I woke up with excruciating abdominal pain. Initially we thought it was appendicitis but further testing indicated a very large tumor on my ovary with some suspicion of cancer. After further consultation, I learned that my ovary would have to be removed along with the tumor. My doctor assured me that he would do his best to preserve fertility. I had to wait an entire week for the surgery and during that time ponder the possibilities. I was amazingly calm during that week and knew that kind of peace only comes from God. During that week I was never concerned with the possibility of cancer, only the thought of losing my fertility.

As I awoke from the anesthesia, I was informed that they had removed the tumor which was in fact benign but they were also able to preserve my ovary and not remove it. Additionally, the doctor told me that the procedure would increase fertility. Hope awakened…having children was now a real possibility for us! God had taken us through a moment of immense difficulty and leaning into Him only to bless us in a way we never imagined.

We decided to have my husband tested to ensure that his surgery had been successful and we were even more blessed to learn that it had been 100% successful and that our inability to conceive over the last 2 years was likely due to my tumor. Hope was on fire!

Over the next few months I would discover that I had several hormonal imbalances and conditions that had been impacting fertility. From thyroid to adrenal to testosterone, with each new discovery came a new supplement to take and more hope. The most recent discovery is that I’m insulin resistant which has a huge impact on fertility.

It is now five months later and I not do not seem any closer to being pregnant. Since May, I have charted my cycles, taken my temperature every morning, planned sex, made sure that my husband was ready when my body said it was time and certainly not before, as well as taking fertility drugs. I have had some months where I was so convinced I was pregnant that I wouldn’t have a glass of wine or take any Ibuprophen. Since I now had full expectation of getting pregnant, I began to hit very low points in the month when I would get my period. Hope would gradually escalate during the month until it would come crashing down. Emotionally I would feel it; “why God have you given me this desire and hope just to let me down each month?” Additionally, I felt it physically in extreme and unexpected ways. The let down of not physically being pregnant caught me off guard. The awakened hope has caused an ache in my heart beyond belief, truly a hope that hurts.

I have wrestled with self-righteousness by almost bragging, well at least I’m not angry with God, at least I’m still happy for those who are able to get pregnant, and at least I’m not bitter. Far worse, I have elevated having a baby above everything, even my relationship with God. I have withheld intimacy and my heart from my husband because talking about it is too painful and assuming he couldn’t possibly know what I’m going through, assuming he isn’t going through his own pain as well. For this baby, I am truly sorry; I know your desires for children are as great as mine if not more. I pray that God gives me your understanding, your patience, and your faith. I also pray that he gives me the heart to hear you and not dismiss you because I believe my pain is greater.

I have been just like the Hebrews being delivered from Egypt. I spent my entire life in slavery to others and my own bondage; unloved and unprotected. God delivered me in the most amazing and redemptive way. He also delivered me from the possibility of cancer; not once but twice. Instead of being thankful that I’m loved, protected, cared for, adored, alive, and healthy, I’m groaning and complaining that he hasn’t given me more, the desires that I long for.

Just this weekend I came to a place where I truly desire God’s will for our family, even if the answer is no. On the days that my period appeared, I cried out to God that I didn’t want to have a baby more than I wanted to be in His presence; that I didn’t want to see Him as just a blessing giver. I truly mean that with all my heart, yet in all my actions it would seem that I do in fact desire a baby more than I desire to be in His presence and I often do see Him as a blessing giver. What I fear most is that my heart is going through the motion of surrender so that in turn He will bless us. I pray that not be so! I do not desire to be in a place where all month long I’m planning and obsessing about conceiving only to convince myself this must be the month I’m pregnant then to be racked with disappointment when my period arrives and all hope is flushed. I don’t want to avoid sex and intimacy with my husband for fear it will set me up for greater disappointment.

I long to walk through the month trusting in God’s will for our family and leaning into Him with an honest heart that desires nothing more than communion and relationship with Him. That when my desires (the desires He has given me) go unmet that I’m still praising Him for delivering me from Egypt. That I’m thankful for a beautiful daughter that was hand-picked for me and a husband that has fought the fight no man was ever willing to battle on my behalf.

I don’t want my prayers to be God take this desire from me, I want them to be Lord hold me tight during disappointment, cry and grieve with me yet lift my face up to yours and show me your tears, your radiance, your love for your daughter. Chase the enemy’s lies far away, let me not even ponder his ridiculous statement even for a moment but to laugh in his face and tell him that I know the truth and I believe whole-heartedly that not having a baby does not depict who I am or how You Lord chose to love and bless me.

I don’t want to just say with my mouth “God has a perfect plan for me” but to stand firm in that truth and be thankful and praise Him for that truth; not to feel better or for pain to be minimized but simply because that is the truth and God stands by His promises.