(Originally posted as “163 Miles North“)
The steering wheel was wet. I could barely hold on, but the anger inside seethed and prevented me from stopping, despite my blurred vision from the tears that jumped from my face. I ranted and raved in my head. The injustice! The money lost! The months waiting! The painful nights! The fervent prayers…all for nothing!
I drove north from the fertility doctor’s office in Ann Arbor, Michigan in a silent car that was full of noise. In 45 minutes I would be telling Chris that it didn’t work. It was the end of the line. “You can wait a year and try again,” the nurse consoled.
Does she know how long 12 months is?!!!
We were at the end of the line of treatments. Four years into marriage, and nine years into female issues, I had tried the pills, the surgeries, the shots and now a mixture of them all. “Your best bet is to do this procedure within six months of the surgery,” the doctor had said. We had saved the $10,000 needed for a chance to have our own child; it would be worth it! We had only spent $2,000 (in meds), when they told me my body wasn’t responding like a 26-yr-old’s should. “Take the shots for one more month, and it will do ‘the trick’,” they said. After another yearlong month of being a chemist mixing meds at home and waking Chris so he could administer them before I left for my engineering job, I guess “the trick” wasn’t done. The ultrasound showed only one egg. “There’s not enough of a chance of in-vitro working with just one egg to extract. You can save your $8,000, and we can try again in a year,” the specialist said.
As I drove, it was as if the devil sat on my shoulder and whispered in my ear. My anger turned into a deep sadness. Negative thoughts enveloped me.
“You are unworthy of being a mom.”
“Don’t you remember the things you have done?”
“Other women would raise children better; God is leaving the job to them.”
“Chris could have married anyone who would have given him a child by now. Maybe he should just go do that.”
The tears flowed.
I passed my highway exit, intentionally. I couldn’t bear to tell Chris that we had to wait another year. I really knew deep down that another year didn’t mean better chances. I would be doing the same thing and expecting a different result: the definition of insanity.
In my despair, I lifted my eyes. I wish I could say it was in a proper way, but I lifted my eyes with more emotion than I have ever experienced “at” God. “Lord, what is this?!! I PRAYED to You! I had THE DREAM. Wasn’t that You practically TELLING me that I would be a mom?!”
I had had “the dream” a few weeks prior. I had dreamt I gave birth. In the dream, holding my new little boy while Chris stood beside me, we thanked God for answering our prayers. I cradled him in the crook of my left arm, as tears flowed down my cheeks and hit the baby’s. I told him how we had been waiting for him for so long, and God had answered our prayers. But I awoke on a wet pillow- real tears had been falling from my sleeping body. As I sat up in bed, the weight of disappointment hit, realizing that it had only been a dream. The crook of my elbow was still damp- from sweat due to heat of the imagined baby’s head. It had been so…real. I wept in bed again, this time in sorrow.
“You gave me such hope!” my raging in the car continued. “- all to lead me down this path of pain and emotion and still no baby? This is torture!! I TOLD You I didn’t want to go through all of that for nothing! I TOLD You I wanted to bring You glory by Your healing my infertility…that if You wanted me to adopt, I was fine with it. Why didn’t You tell me that it wasn’t going to work? I would never have gone through all of this. I wanted THY WILL NOT MY WILL!”
…and it hit me like a ton of bricks. He had just told me. Actually, the doctor had just told me. God’s will was that the medical procedures would not work. Period.
But what hit me was that if I was screaming, “THY WILL NOT MY WILL!” at the same time as crying, then I was missing the whole point. MY will is what was causing the tears, the anger, and the sorrow. The deep torture was self-inflicted as I was refusing to truly surrender. It was as though I thought I could secretly harbor the feelings of how badly I wanted and “deserved” to be a mother, and God wouldn’t know. Ha! God wouldn’t know? That’s just funny. He knew all along.
He knew my love for children as I babysat for over 60 families in high school. He knew my desire to be a good mom, as I told the Pittsburgh newspaper reporter who had asked why an engineering student like me would choose to work at a childcare center to help pay for college. He knew my sinful jealousy when unplanned pregnancies surrounded me. He knew my righteous indignation when a bad parenting story showed on the news. He knew I thought I was in control of my life.
And He knew what I needed in order to truly surrender to His will. He was answering my prayers of His will, not mine, and I almost missed it in my emotions.
“Infertility” in life can have many forms: a deferred college application, a business that won’t grow, a house that goes into foreclosure, a miserable marriage, a job loss, a church that slinks backwards or any time things go in a direction opposite of our desires. But in order for anything to be filled, it must first be emptied. I believe the infertility was the key to my being emptied, and therefore the key to being filled.
On my drive that day, a peace came over me, and true silence filled the car. Nature outside came alive, as I recognized white birch trees lining both sides of the highway.
“Birch trees? Where am I?” Looking to the first sign, which read, “Mackinaw Island 37 miles,” I realized I was 163 miles past my exit. Wow. What a car ride. I think Jesus had taken the wheel. 🙂
Two weeks later, we found out we were pregnant.
When the doctor recognized me in the parking lot, he excitedly said, “You have been the talk of the board meeting among doctors this week. One egg!! I guess sometimes nature prevails when science fails.”
The womb that had been empty was filled. My heart that had been filled was emptied, …only to be filled again by Him. To God be the glory.
I was a Christian before, but my heart was not contrite. At 163 miles north of my exit, my heart was broken enough, that I could watch God put the pieces back together. It was the shattering that He had allowed, and then at the right time, built it back again, stronger, holding more of Him. (Matt 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”)
My favorite book, Elizabeth Prentiss’s Stepping Heavenward, which is a journal of a woman says it this way: “Thus I have been emptied from vessel to vessel, till I have learned that he only is truly happy who has no longer a choice of his own and lies passive in God’s hand.”
He only is truly happy who says truly, “Thy will, not my will, be done.”
Ps 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.”
I hadn’t read this when you referenced it yesterday. Thanks again for being willing to share yourself. So many of us need that 163 mile drive to let the Lord take the wheel. Thanks for being such a great example!!
Thank you for sharing such a deep and meaningful experience in your life! You make it easier for us to be “real” in doing so, and offer Christian teaching as well through your experience. I value the opportunity to peer into life and know you a little better. Thank you.
I am new to LIFE and absolutely adore your stories! You have a grace and peace about you that makes you shine! Thank you for your stories!
Your love for the Lord just pours out through your personal testament. Thank you for writing on something so personal and real to you.
Isn’t it interesting how we often seem to think that our will SHOULD be His will?
Wow! What a great and very personal thing to share. I am new to finding God and this was very inspiring to read. Although I have been a part of this Team for a while, I had not read this story. Thank you for putting it out here for us as an example of our will to be given to Him.
Terri, thank you, I really appreciate you sharing this story. And the Lord brought it to me at exactly the right time, as He is so good at doing! It hits close to home, not because of infertility, but because of something else I want SO badly to happen in my life. I really needed this reminder, which made me realize anew that I am God’s CHILD. And just as we want the best for our children, God wants the best for me, the absolute best ~ and only HE knows what that means in my life. Not me. There’s a country song that talks about thanking God for unanswered prayers ~ we do not always know the answers, even though we THINK we do. Our feelings are not a good compass or GPS system for the direction we should go in our lives. And WAITING is the hardest part of all of this. But I WILL wait upon the Lord, and take comfort from the fact that HE sees the end, the results down the road; that I don’t have to, because that is all that is needed; and that I’m not the only one who struggles with the waiting, the hoping, and the longing. And also that the Lord knows what I want and why I long for it ~ but He also knows exactly what I NEED ~ which may NOT be the same things. I will continue to learn what I need to learn where I am, and let the Lord orchestrate the outcome. Not only because that is what I MUST do ~ after all, do any of us really have any other choice? But because I am learning to trust in the Lord and lean not unto my own understanding. And because that is what He asks of us – to trust in HIM. There’s a little poem that I love that is SO appropriate ~ I don’t know who wrote it: “I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, “give me a light, that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he said, “step out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.” SO TRUE. “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31, KJV. I will lean into the Lord and keep doing what I know he has set my hand to do. And the outcome will be spectacular, I’m sure! God bless!
Donna, Thanks for sharing! I am so excited where the Lord is leading you! God bless, Terri
Not until today did I realize this letter was on your blog. It brings back so many emotions of when I heard you first share this publically. Thank you for holding out your heart and connecting.
Terri, I cannot explain what emotions this blog article has stirred in me tonight as I read it. I have been with TEAM awhile and I remember you talking about infertility but I guess I did not pick up how much of a struggle it was for you. I too have gone down that path but His Will was not to be for my husband and me. I have learned to take it as a blessing after 10+ years because HE had a different path for us. God has blessed us with 2 wonderful boys through adoption and is teaching us so many new things through this journey. These boys may not be ours by blood, they are a different ethnicity, but they are sooo much like us you would think they have our blood. You, Chris, and the other leaders here are such a blessing and a comfort to me as each obstacle/goliath has come into my life. Now tonight you have taught me something that I have missed for a long time. My struggle with my marriage, boys, finances, and this business are all a form of “infertility.” I think for the 1st time I realize how “empty” I have been since the day we gave up on having our own child and started pursuing adoption. I have lost my way by getting off the “right path” of surrendering to God’s Will and pursuing my will but thinking it was His. The Isaiah passage that Donna mentions above is one of my favorite verses and has been my strength through each struggle. I realize now that I must lean into HIM and let HIM restore me and guide me. I need to learn to trust “that inner voice”/”peace of mind” that comes over me as being HIS guidance. I know that “God does not make junk” so I have a greater purpose here on Earth that will be used to glorify HIM!! Thank you for sharing something so deeply personal. You truely have a God given gift for teaching and leading people!!
Thank you, Kim,for sharing.Your note brought tears to my eyes:) It is wonderful to surrender in the grip of His will, though it is never pleasant at the time. May God bless you and guide you in this walk called life!
Hallelujah! Thank you God, he’s so good!
Your blogs inspire me! My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for over a year now and it’s been heartbreaking. Earlier this year I was diagnosed with bronchitis and treated when what I actually had was a kidney infection. I have never been so sick in my life! A month and a half later I was pulled down by our dog and ended up with torn tendons in my shoulder and a herniated disc in my neck. I am a preschool teacher and haven’t been able to work since the end of March. There are 14 two year olds in my class and I have to be able to lift them. I developed vertigo during this time as well and was seeing several specialist, but not the one I wanted to see… a fertility specialist. We found the LIFE business and it has helped me see that not being pregnant yet is a good thing, as I have spent many hours getting x-rays, ct scans and MRI’s. I was a week away from going back to work when a girl blew her tire on the freeway and stopped in the middle of the freeway at night causing a 3 car pile up. I was rushed to the hospital in the worst pain I’ve ever felt. All my old injuries hurt and I have a bad sprain in my other shoulder now. It’s been very overwhelming dealing with one thing after another this year but if it weren’t for my faith and knowing that my Heavenly Father knows what is best for me, I would have given up by now. When I’m feeling bitter towards these women who don’t want kids but get pregnant anyway, I pop in a CD, read your blog or turn towards the scriptures.
Today this is exactly what I needed to read. Thank you!
Thank you for sharing your story, Terri! Beautiful testament to total surrender and trusting God to keep His promises. God is good, always!
I just found this. I needed to read this. I’ve been struggling so much with this. Fighting the feelings of feeling that I’m “broken” and “not worthy.”
I’m 26 years old. I can see her, my daughter, in my minds eye. I can hear her. I know that no matter how long the wait, and how much pain there is, my God is still in control. She will be here in His timing, not my own.
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