Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rejoicing in Hope of the Glory of God

Last month I wrote about a hope that aches surrounding our desire for children. Struggling with infertility has definitely produced a hope that aches and the journey that I was on that resulted in my blog post was one of the most precious I have been on.

I needed to go through that journey in order to prepare my heart for the journey I am currently traveling. Two weeks ago I started having abdominal pain on my right side. Back in May, I had a tumor removed from my right ovary and I was diagnosed with endometriosis. After a couple doctors’ appointments and a few ultrasounds, I have learned I now have a new tumor growing inside my right ovary. I was a little discourage to find ourselves on this road again and facing another surgery yet I was still in pretty good spirits. My surgeon who is actually a Gynecological Oncologist wanted to send me to a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) since we want to preserve fertility and since he is not specialized in endometriosis.

I went to see the RE last week while my husband was out of town. I had already suspected that I had a tumor when my husband went out of town so I felt like I was in a good place to meet the doctor and learn what our best options were. I was so very wrong.

This doctor could not have been any more insensitive or harsh. Long story short, he said that my right ovary needed to be removed since the tumor was inside it and since the endometriosis will probably return and since I have very little chance of conceiving I might as well have the left ovary removed to avoid a third surgery. Um, what? I made it very clear that removing the left ovary was not an option. He said that since I have severe endometriosis, I’m overweight and my husband has had a vasectomy reversal, our only chance of conceiving would be IVF and due to my weight, he wouldn’t be able to do IVF. He also said that he considered me a high risk for surgery and that I needed to return to the Oncologist for the surgery. I could not get a single question out to him with any assurance I wouldn’t burst into tears. I just shook my head and waited until he left the room before allowing the tears to flow.

I immediately called the Oncologist to see what my options were only to learn he wouldn’t be back in the office for almost 2 weeks. Now what? I had just received the worst possible news while my husband was out of town and wouldn’t be able to find out my next steps for two week? Luckily, someone was able to at least get a hold of him and he tentatively scheduled my surgery for the week he returns. I have so many questions and so much conflicting information!

I then had the next three days to try and process all of this while my husband was out of town. I have tried to be strong and upbeat. I can handle another surgery, I can handle the pain associated with endometriosis; however, my mind and heart refuse to even begin to consider that we have no hope of conceiving. At least with infertility, I had a hope that we would still have children. I am now having to face a reality that there is a real possibility that we will never have children. The worst thing imaginable with infertility is all hope being stripped. I can barely type those words before the tears begin to flow uncontrollably. I am strong, even with life shattering circumstances I have proven how strong I am, but not with this, not without any hope.

Absence of hope is darkness. My hope in the ability to mother more children remains, however there is a great fear it will be stripped from me. Ultimately, I have to rest my hope in Christ. Anything outside of Chris is darkness. It is far more terrifying to imagine a life without Christ than a life without more children. This hope being robbed though gives me a glimpse of what kind of darkness would exist if not for Christ. I can’t imagine being faced with this kind of circumstance without Christ let alone a lifetime or eternity without Christ. Even as I write “my hope is in Christ”, I realize that I may not fully grasp what that means for me personally. I am looking forward to unpacking that and writing about it at a later time.

Sometimes having faith seems like there a BIG “to do” on my part, that the act of faith requires a huge amount of effort on my part. I have been feeling like I am just not up to it right now, I am weary and physically in a lot of pain. As I was pondering how much effort I needed to put forth in order to just rest and trust that God is in this, He reminded me that no amount of effort on my part will produce faith, all I need to do is surrender.

Here is the scripture that my heart has been clinging to this last week…

Romans 5: 1-5
1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Destroy My Heart

As I was entering into a time of worship last week, I just felt disconnected and unmoved…a hardened heart. I was about to go into a group with hurting women and I wanted my heart to be softened by God, but not simply because of their stories of pain. I prayed that God would just destroy my heart.

Immediately I had a visual of my precious daughter being taken from me. I immediately said to God “no, that is not what I meant” but realized that I wanted to be broken but only in my terms, my definition. So as I started to run away from God in that moment, I felt Him pull me back and cause me to sit in the tension of desiring my heart to be completely broken by my sin and separation from him and yet wanting to hold on tightly to the gifts he has given me. I felt that nudge that I have heard others speak of, the one that says “if I take every earthly valuable thing from you, will you still call me God?” I still wanted to say “of course, just please not that one”. I did not run but I don’t think I totally surrendered either.

How do you surrender that one idol that you think you could not live without? I hate to think of my daughter as an idol but if I am going to hold on so tightly, she must be. I can remember prior to knowing Jesus thinking that if anything ever happened to my daughter I would just kill myself. I was completely bound in fear that something would happen to her. I still have some fears but they are not as gripping as before and although the thought of losing her makes me want to vomit, I know I could not take my life because it belongs to God.

As I started the writing above I thought the outcome was headed in a certain direction. As it has taken several weeks to unfold I can see how God has used the time to reveal something much bigger to me.

God has shown me in a very profound way that the visual of losing my daughter was not a physical loss but a spiritual loss; losing her heart. I could see how my daughter could turn away from me in her heart or far worse, turn away from God.

As I was contemplating what it looked like before to entrust my daughter completely to God, I was stuck in the need to protect her yet the sovereignty of God. For example, we would not let a young child cross a busy intersection alone just because God is sovereign. So as I think about that and how much I try to control my daughter’s well being unrealistically versus healthily, God has reminded me that I actually have a much bigger battle to consider and that is the battle for her heart.

I can do many things to protect her physical well being. I can also instruct her heart in the ways of the Lord, but ultimately I cannot do anything to control her heart. I cannot decide for her what to turn to. I cannot force her to choose good from evil nor can I force her to choose God over the things of this world. This is quite humbling. My self-sufficiency as a parent is shattered when it comes to my daughter’s heart. I am at a loss and incapable of doing anything other than turning to Christ and placing her heart at his feet and pleading before him that he would protect it and guide her. That he would grab hold of it and her love for Him would be stronger than any worldly pull on her heart.

The only control I have in this is lifting my precious daughter up in prayer constantly. Praying that God would also reveal to me how best to love and parent my daughter as she figures out who she is and desires to be. It is with a broken heart and utter dependence on Him that I enter into His presence on behalf of my daughter and humbly submit my agenda and motivations for the sake of my daughter’s heart.