In the musical Into the Woods, the barren couple traveled into the woods in search of four things: “the cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, and the slipper as pure as gold,” all before the chime of midnight in three days’ time. You see, they had been cursed by a witch to be barren, but if they completed the task set before them, the curse would be no more and they would be with child.
I can relate.
Well, to the part about struggling to get pregnant. And I also narrate my life through song at times. And, at times I’ve nearly viewed this whole conceiving thing as a formula much like this couple in the musical, except that the tasks I needed to complete involved things like…
Calendars and charts
Ovulation predictor kits
Getting busy with it when the ovulation predictor stick smiles at me
A yoga pose recommended by my chiropractor that is simply not reasonable :/
Feeding my body fertility friendly stuff from morning till night
So we’ve completed these tasks and many others many times. Why are we not getting pregnant? And yes, for all of you who may be thinking that we just need to throw away the charts and kits and yoga poses and just relax and have a glass of wine and let it all come naturally….we’ve done that too. The formula just isn’t working and I’m feeling like 2+2 isn’t equaling 4 anymore.
And that’s just it….math is full of formulas, but life is not a formula. A child is not formed in the womb because one follows a formula. Part of me has put a lot of confidence in these methods at one time or another. They aren’t bad things to try and I do believe from a scientific viewpoint that they do increase one’s probability of getting pregnant, but as we have traversed this hike, I see more and more clearly that God is the one who opens and closes the womb.
well it’s more like painting…
Paint bleeds and runs together and even if you mix orange and yellow together you don’t know what shade of red will result. Often times as a painting evolves it can be hard to tell if the picture will turn out to be beautiful. With each brush stroke, something is evolving, but it doesn’t always look all that picturesque during the evolving process. If you ever study a painting up close, you may be surprised to find certain colors blended into certain spots. Hues of gray in a vibrant sunset or shades of red in water don’t make sense to our minds, yet when we gaze upon the final painting, it ALL makes sense….. and we are glad that our life’s portrait is not a paint by numbers get up because that would just be too predictable, simplistic, and probably boring.
You can relate to me. Maybe not in the “I’m giving my uterus a pep talk daily” kind of way, but you have probably held expectations in your life based on a formula you were or weren’t aware you had until the disappointment came…
Maybe you’ve believed that if you…
Get a degree = get a great job. I have a number of dear friends where this reality has not quite panned out as hoped.
Be a good person, bathe, have a strong work ethic, and a good personality = Spouse. Some of my most FANTASTIC friends are still waiting and praying for their spouse to come. Perhaps these friends need to bathe more, and stop talking about their cats. What?….You think I’m cat obsessed? Stop judging me 😉
Get married and have children = forever happy and fulfilled. I find incredible happiness and fulfillment in my marriage, but I don’t believe my marriage or future children will totally fulfill me – that’s something only God can do.
Gain great wealth and possess nice things = Always powerful and contented. Simply not true. Too many examples we can all think of where the love of money has ruined people.
Be an honest person and work hard = Be recognized and rewarded. Many heroes go unrecognized everyday. God does not overlook you though – He sees all and remembers the least of these.
Turn up Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On” and well, get it on, a lot = get pregnant. Not always so…
I can’t tell you why our expectations haven’t been met. Maybe the expectation itself is not born of a good heart and pure desire and we are chasing after the wrong thing. Or perhaps the expectation/hope/desire is good and pure, but our flesh is getting in the way even so. Our motives can get messy. Sometimes we end up worshipping something or someone more than our good Father and conforming to the world thus walking down a path of ungodliness. Sometimes that is why things haven’t worked out for us. Parents don’t often reward their child with a new go cart when the child is showing reckless, disobedient behavior. From a place of love they say ‘no, not yet, you have more to learn and more to mature.’ If the reason life has sucked lately is perhaps because you have kind of made some sucky choices, well, that’s everyone at one time or another. Don’t beat yourself up. There is hope. Scripture says, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,” Acts 3:19. Turn around and go the other way from the sinful choices that have brought you down a destructive path. And then, don’t continue to wear a scarlet letter that brings only shame from your past upon you. Be free. You have repented and the chains are broken. Walk in this new reality that you are fully forgiven by a forever loving Dad and no longer identify yourself with the ‘adulterer, slanderer, liar, etc.” that you once were. Be free.
Maybe our expectations haven’t been met because we live in a world that is ruled by the ‘prince of the power of the air’. He is a thief. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy. We were all born onto a battleground. Let us not forget that there is a very real enemy seeking whom he may devour (“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” 1 Peter 5:8). As children of God, we who have a relationship with God can declare with authority that the enemy “get thee behind me.” This is somewhat new territory for me. The practice of speaking God’s promises and protection over my life and believing by faith in the authority and power of His word is a practice I am inviting into my life more and more. God is our deliverer from sin and from spiritual attack.
And perhaps our expectations haven’t been met because ‘rejection is God’s protection.’ It’s a cheesy saying, but it acknowledges that the wisdom of God is greater than the wisdom of man. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight” Proverbs 3:5.
So there are red brush strokes in the painted stream and they don’t seem to fit in my mind’s eye. Thankfully, “He works all things together for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His purpose” Romans 8:28, AND “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” Psalm 84:11 (italics mine). Notice the heart of the psalmist in Psalm 84. Read it. The psalmist yearns for the Lord. He longs to dwell in the Lord’s presence always. His heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. He loves his father God. He is walking uprightly and loving the Lord fully, and therefore has confidence that no good thing will be withheld in his life. What an amazing Psalm to grasp hold of and example to follow that will help us remain steadfast even when poop smears across the painting.
In the place of unmet expectation, we can turn away with bitter hearts or we can turn toward and reach forward to our Good Good Father. The psalmist continued to dwell in the house of the Lord and declare “how blessed is the man who trust in you!”
I’ve gone into the woods with my formulaic approaches and found that formulas don’t require faith, but only follow through, and unless the formula is found in a math problem, there is no guarantee the formulaic approach will even work. As I continue into these woods I’ll probably continue to give my uterus some pep talks and probably utilize some helpful tools to aid in getting preggo, like sex ;). And speaking of sex, would you believe the awkwardness that ensues when a relative or acquaintance says something like,
“You know that babies come from having plenty of sex right?”
“Yes (awkward swallow), yes I am aware that is part of the process….I mean I was confused for a while…thought a stork would bring us a baby…but I’m all caught up now.”
Utilizing tools is helpful, but my faith is not in these things; my faith is in Him. As we continue into these woods, we will continue to pray and consider adopting. We are attending another info meeting this week at another agency. Prayers for wisdom and for Manbeast and I’s hearts to land on the same hop scotch square would be much appreciated. And you, faithful reader, are awesome – God said it, not me