~By: Krista Steuber~
This past year at my church, they showed two videos (one shortly after the new year and one over the summer) about two different couples and their struggles with infertility. Their stories were very similar. They both went through a time of not being able to conceive. One couple already had children, and the other did not. Their time of infertility lasted about several years, and one couple suffered through a miscarriage. Both couples prayed and fasted and questioned what was happening, but ultimately held onto their faith and put their trust in God. Their stories both had the same happy ending--they gave birth to healthy babies. One of the couples had twins. While these stories were beautiful, I was frustrated after I saw the second video. I thought, Why are they only showing one kind of ending to this story? What about the women who have been waiting over a decade to conceive or adopt and are still waiting? What about the women who have had multiple miscarriages and have not been able to carry a pregnancy to term? What about the women who have gone through infertility and have not become a mother, but are at peace?
My story of infertility began in my early 20s. I went through some medical issues with the end result being that I would not be able to conceive a child naturally. I would either have to seek medical intervention through infertility treatments or consider adoption. That hit me hard. I was in college at the time, working towards my degree in elementary education. I remember crying in my dorm room. I went through the motions of going to my classes in kind of a daze for a little while. I loved kids. I had always expected to get married and have children of my own. After I got over the initial shock and the sorrow and heaviness that I felt, I was hopeful because there were options I could pursue in the future to have children.
When I was dating my future husband, I was upfront about the fact that I couldn’t have kids naturally. He was very accepting of that, and he didn’t run for the hills, and for that I was so grateful. We got married fairly young, I was 25 and he was 23, and we weren’t ready to have kids yet, so we put off pursuing any type of treatment or looking into adoption until some time in the future.
As the years passed, many of my friends and family had babies. Each time I learned that someone was pregnant or I went to a baby shower or a kid’s birthday party, it was like a knife in my heart. Along with the sadness, I felt jealousy. Whenever someone asked me if I had kids, my go-to answer was, ‘not yet.’ There were very few people who knew about my infertility. It was something that I didn’t want people to know. I guess in a way I was ashamed and embarrassed about it because I thought that I was ‘incomplete’ and that there was something wrong with me. I was afraid of what people would think of me or questions they might ask. I didn’t want to talk about it at all.
After more time went by, my husband and I looked into infertility treatment and also adoption. Both options seemed daunting to me. The invasive procedures, the stress, the uncertainty, the long and arduous process, the unbelievable cost, and the heartache that would come if it didn’t work out all terrified me. We went back and forth over whether or not we really wanted to move forward with either option. Finally, the time came when we decided ‘no.’ With that decision, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I was at peace with our decision. But, I was not yet healed from the hurt of not being able to be a mother. That took a lot more time. The span of time in which all of this happened, including my healing and arriving at a place of being at peace with not having children, was about fifteen years.
All of that took place at the time in my life when I was not walking with God. Maybe my heart would have healed sooner and I’d have been at peace in a shorter amount of time if I had been a Christ-follower during that time, or maybe not. Maybe the peace I felt when my husband and I made our final decision was because I finally aligned myself with God’s will. I’m not really sure. I don’t have definitive answers to those questions. What I do know is now that I have surrendered my life to Jesus, I have felt an even deeper and more complete peace about not having children of my own.
God has been giving me a new perspective and revealing things to me. The sense of shame that I felt about myself was from the enemy, and the hidden isolation in which I placed myself was exactly where he wanted me to be. Because I hid, I didn’t connect with other women or couples who were going through the same thing. I didn’t share and talk about my pain with others in order to heal and find purpose in it, as well as wholeness in who I was.
I now look at things through the lens of God’s Kingdom and with an eternal perspective. I know that God made me exactly the way that He wanted to. I am whole. I need to embrace all of it, because I was created to be distinct (Psalm 139:13-18). I know that every heartache, every trial, every struggle, and every painful and awful situation is for a greater purpose--God’s purpose (Romans 8:28). EVEN IF I can’t see or understand the purpose, I trust God because I know His character from His Word. God is forever good and faithful. This life on earth is temporary; my suffering is temporary (Romans 8:18). When I go through storms in life, it is to refine and mold me for God’s purpose and glory. My faith is strengthened and my trust is deepened, because God continues to reveal His faithfulness and bring me to the other side.
But, the reason for my trials is not just for my own personal growth, it’s so I can help others. I try to find purpose in the pain for myself and for others: What is God trying to teach me? What am I learning? How can I use this for good and His glory? He has been showing me that I need to share my stories and my testimonies so that I can help other women find healing. Honestly, that’s not been an easy thing to do. It’s been a process of allowing myself to open up and be vulnerable. But the more I do it, the easier it becomes, and it gives me a sense of freedom. Now, I shake my head and think, Why was I trying so hard to hide that part of myself?
Another thing that God has revealed to me is that even though I am not a mother to children of my own, He has literally surrounded me with children. I’m a teacher, so I work with children every day of the school year. I’m an aunt; I have a nephew and four nieces. My friends have kids. My neighbors have kids. Just because I don’t have my own biological or adoptive children, that doesn’t mean that I can’t be a mother-figure to other children. There is so much joy to be found in that! I’m reminded of the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” There’s nothing stopping me from investing in those children’s lives and building relationships with them, except myself. We call fellow Christians ‘brothers and sisters in Christ,’ so why can’t the children in our lives be ‘sons and daughters in Christ’ to us?
I wanted to leave you with a quote from one of my favorite books, Hinds’ Feet on High Places: “Every circumstance in life, no matter how crooked and distorted and ugly it appears to be, if it is reacted to in love and forgiveness and obedience to your [God’s] will, can be transformed.”
What is ready to be transformed in your life?
What lies that the enemy has gotten you to believe are ready to be cast off?
How can you use the word of your testimony to be God’s mouthpiece?
And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. Revelation 12:11a