Tag Archives: patience

How To Survive a Season of Waiting

departure_lounge_sign

Remember when you were little and all you wanted was to get older?

Maybe you couldn’t wait to drive. Or go to college. Or vote. Or get your first “real” job. Or get married.

When I was little I couldn’t wait to turn thirteen. It wasn’t until I turned thirteen that I would be allowed to get my ears pierced. For years I anticipated that day–I waited on it like it was going to be the greatest day of my life.

I was not patient, either. I begged my parents to allow me to get my ears pierced long before my thirteenth birthday. I pleaded. I offered to do extra chores or never do anything wrong again for the rest of my life (that was a mighty offer when I was ten). I. could. not. wait.

My ears were pierced on my thirteenth birthday, just as my parents had promised, and I was overjoyed. I also immediately found a new “something” to have to wait on. Life is a series of waiting games.

My seasons of waiting are now centered around more serious issues, and the periods of waiting are much, much longer and seem more difficult to manage.

waiting_roomWe wait on things daily. We buck against the system of waiting, whether it be in a doctor’s office, at an airport, or even receiving a piece of snail-mail.

In our society of instant gratification, we’ve become accustomed to getting what we want with speed. We shave time off of waiting in every possible way we can find.

But there are some seasons in our life where shortening our waiting time is impossible. The season of waiting is, in itself, out of our control.

Have you faced a season of waiting? I certainly have.

I’m waiting now. Some things I’m waiting for seem trivial while others are life-changing.

I’m waiting for this baby weight to come off.

I’m waiting for my first publishing contract.

I’m waiting for God to answer several prayers about very important life issues.

My husband has recently gone through a season of waiting–one that has been really trying.

The most difficult season of waiting that I’ve ever experienced was certainly when I went through my struggles with infertility. There is nothing–and I mean nothing— that is as difficult as having ZERO control over a situation and it’s outcome.

But this isn’t a post about control.

So what shouldphotographer we do in a season of waiting? Pray for more patience? You know what they say about praying for patience…

Seasons of waiting can be made more bearable when we change our focus.

1. Forget about passive patience and focus on active perseverance.

We are full of joy even when we suffer. We know that our suffering gives us the strength to go on. The strength to go on produces character. Character produces hope. And hope will never let us down. Romans 5: 3-4 (NIrV)

“…the strength to go on.”  In a season of waiting, the best thing we can do is keep moving. Instead of sitting around, putting our lives on hold until we receive the answers we seek, we must forge ahead and live, enjoying each precious day as it comes. Seeking the joy that comes in the little moments of each day will encourage hope. So keep going, friends. Instead of putting your life on hold, get out there and do. You won’t regret the memories, relationships, and experiences you’ll have while you wait.

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:36

2. Focus on the lesson. Seasons of waiting don’t come upon us simply to teach us patience alone. 99.9% of the time there is another lesson imbedded in the wait– we must identify it and learn from it. As our bodies grow and change over time, so must our hearts.

I have no doubt that my seasons of infertility and all the trials and anguish that came with them were meant to teach me about control. (Mostly that I have none.) The soul-searching that I did, seeking answers as to why I couldn’t get pregnant and when God might answer my prayers about adding to our family, led me to the blinding realization that although I was a follower of Jesus Christ, I had never truly given him complete control over my life. I’m a different person now than I was just five short years ago– like the potter molding the clay, he changed me through that season of waiting. I thank God for it now.

 3. Thank God for this season. That’s right, I said it. Be thankful. I’m sure you are stressed. I’m sure you’re exhausted. I’m sure you’re frustrated and annoyed and tired and maybe even ready to give up. You should also be thankful. A thankful heart is a happy heart (sorry to quote the Veggie Tales here, but it’s appropriate) and a happy heart is an open heart. An open heart is one ready to receive the blessings of the Lord however they may come.

4. Put the focus on helping others. When time moves like a John Deere tractor on a freeway, the best way to survive is to focus our energies on helping others. Something happens when put our effort into doing for others. Not only are we active, but our emotions are no longer solely trained on our own problems. Helping others not only passes the time, it lifts our spirits and develops an attitude of outward concern instead of inward frustration.

5. Focus on praying. Make your prayer life not only about whatever issue has caused your season of waiting, but about how you can pray for others. The same with doing things for others, pray for others. Develop an attitude of seeking God’s response in your prayer life, not just listing all the issues you might have. Pray not for patience, but for perseverance and strength of character (Romans 5:3-4). Pray not just for an answer, but for what lessons you can learn during your season of waiting.

6. Focus on the promise. The promise is that no matter what your issue or how long your season of waiting, God will answer (Hebrews 10:36). Whether or not you receive the answer you seek is up to Him, but he will respond. Until then, you need to prepare.

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

When we give ourselves over to the Lord, completely focusing on Him, when we seek him with our whole hearts and yearn to understand his word, our will conforms to his will— he will give us the desires of our hearts because our hearts will seek only him. It’s an amazing, beautiful thing.

7. Focus on preparation. Be mentally prepared– get in The Word. Seek God’s truth and his answers. The Bible is the only book that’s got everything we’ll ever need.

Be physically prepared– exercise is good for you, not just because of what it does for your body, but what it does for your mind and spirit. I’m sure you’ve heard that exercise releases endorphins, and those endorphins will help you feel better. Exercise has tons of benefits, and taking care of our bodies honors the gift of life God gave us.

Be emotionally prepared– God has three answers to our prayers– yes, no, and maybe (or in this case, keep waiting). No matter what answer we get, when we do the things listed above, focusing our attentions on things other than our own season of waiting, we can prepare our minds and hearts to receive his answer.

butterfly

Waiting is difficult. Waiting can destroy our faith, if we allow it. But shifting our focus during that season of waiting can change us into the person God wants us to be– which might be the reason for the whole season of waiting to begin with.

Share with me: What truths did God reveal to you during a season of waiting?

Real Signature

Love this song from John Waller– sums up waiting perfectly. (Video from the movie Fireproof.)

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12 Comments

Filed under Infertility, The Christian Walk, Uncategorized

Secondary Infertility: The Spiritual Sojourn

**This post was originally published some months ago, but in support of the release of Katie Ganshert’s story of hope through heartache, Wildflowers from Winter, I’m re-posting my beauty from ashes story. I hope you’ll indulge me and reply with your own “beauty from ashes” story.

When I was struggling with secondary infertility (backstory here), I was at the lowest point that I had ever been in my life.

Never before had I faced an obstacle that seemed so overwhelming. Never before had I ever felt so lost and out of control.

Although my husband and I had welcomed a beautiful, perfect baby boy in the spring of 2006, my heart yearned to give him a sibling.

And as months passed without my ability to conceive, I began to obsess about all things ovulation and pregnancy. I read every book. I searched the web for every single tidbit of information, hoping that someone somewhere would give me the answer to my “problem.” And I prayed.

And when my doctor confirmed that I did have a medical issue, I felt even more despair.

When you tell a control-freak that there’s an issue with her body that she can do absolutely nothing about, it tends to sit as well as lava in an active volcano.
I simply would not accept that I would not have more children. And even though I have been a follower of Christ for as long as I can remember, at that point in my life, I was not willing to submit myself completely to the will of the Lord.
See, my life had been easy. I came from a good family. My parents had been married forever and raised my siblings and me in a loving, Christian home. I’d had a great childhood, and a pretty easy, straight path for most of my life.
I had never been challenged. I had never been really low. And although I had relied on God and known Jesus Christ as my savior for most of my life, I had never been broken.
I was a problem-fixer. I liked to be in control because I had solutions; I had answers. I always had a better plan.
I figured that I could live my life relying on God as long as his plan was my plan. I was pretty arrogant and I didn’t even realize it.
So when the fourth and final month of the fertility medication rolled around, I was desperate. And depressed. And obsessive. And more than anything, I wanted to fix the problem. I was also very, very sick as a result of the Clomid I was taking. I had trouble with every wacky side effect that medication could throw at me.

God was breaking me in a merciful way. For me, it was ALL about control. I had to learn to submit (something I was definitely not good at) and accept who was really in control of my life. I couldn’t go through life “depending” on God only when I needed to. I couldn’t lean on God only when times were tough. I had to be broken to come to an understanding that my dependence on God was to be a daily, hourly, moment-by-moment relationship with my heavenly father. And above all, His will wasn’t always going to be mine. What a major blessing it was.

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9

I look back on it now and I am so grateful for the struggle. I am so grateful that heaven seemed silent to my prayers. I needed to get to the point where I was completely dependent on God, on making his will my own, no matter what that meant.

But hindsight doesn’t make the memory of the struggle any less painful.
No one seemed to understand what I was going through. When I was open with people, I got such responses as, “just relax and it will happen” or “I don’t have to pray for you because God has already given me peace about it.”

Responses like these came from family members and were equal with knives straight in my heart. (And I’m not gonna lie, I wanted to hug choke stabpunch people who said things like that.) No one seemed to get that the loss of control, even over my own body, was making me nuts. I wanted support and sympathy, not their dismissal that I need to “relax.”Relax? Really? Oh, gee, why didn’t I think of that???

**Relaxing was not an option. When any woman is struggling with infertility for any reason, relaxing is impossible. So, for the sake of every woman out there struggling with this issue, please do not tell her to relax.
One person even went so far as to say, “you already have a child. You should learn to be happy.” Ouch.
**Whether you have one child, ten children, or no children at all, a woman’s desire to have a child is the same.  The longing, heart-aching need to mother is built into our DNA. It’s God’s design for us, and being denied that design for reasons beyond our understanding is overwhelming. Especially when we follow a Creator we believe holds plans to “prosper and not to harm.”
Friends simply stopped talking to me about it. I noticed when announcements about someone being pregnant were…delayed… in reaching me. I noticed when people began to get uncomfortable, even when I asked for prayer for an “unspoken.” Some of my friends stopped looking me in the eye if the topic of babies or children came up.
And I can’t blame them. No one understood because no one I knew had ever been through such a thing as secondary infertility.
**I would much rather had my friends say, “Hey, what you’re going through stinks,” instead of ignore it. Even “I’ll pray for you,” was appreciated.
The part that hurt the most is that they thought that because of my struggle I was incapable of sharing joy. Sure, I had some momentary internal jealousy when several of my friends got pregnant, but I wanted to celebrate with them. I wanted to rejoice in their blessings. I wanted to celebrate with them because I was learning that God’s will for others was not his will for me, and I had an awful lot to celebrate. I had a wonderful husband and a beautiful, precious, train-loving son.
**Another thought– just because a woman is having infertility issues doesn’t mean you should leave her off a guest list to a baby shower or not tell her about someone’s pregnancy. Those actions are even more hurtful than her situation.
Once again I turned to the internet to seek companionship from those who were suffering in the same condition. And I found it. I found hope and despair, anger and understanding. And on one page, I found a young woman who had written her story and talked about how her refuge came in praying the prayer of Hannah from 1 Samuel 1:10-11.
  In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “LORD Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”
So I began praying this prayer. I prayed it constantly. Aloud. I remember reciting these words over and over, begging God to give me one more child so that my son might have a sibling. I remember weeping as I drove down the road, these words pouring from my mouth.
When my fourth and final round of Clomid came, my doctor saw some problems on the ultrasound and I missed my chance for ovulation that month. I hit rock-bottom.
I sobbed all the way home from his office. I sobbed for the next week. And I screamed at God. I was furious. Lost. Frustrated. Confused. And I wanted answers. Now.
But never once did I say to myself, “He has left me.”
It took awhile, but I was eventually able to come to terms with the idea that we’d be a family of three. I decided that no matter what happened, God had not left me. He had given me an amazing, supportive husband and a beautiful son, and together, we were a complete family.
**One last side note. I want to give props to my husband who was amazingly supportive through all of those months. Even though it wasn’t his body that was causing the problems, he was just as frustrated as I was. But he never blamed me for our inability to conceive. He never pushed me away or refused to talk about it. He held me when I cried, hugged me, and listened when I wanted to talk. He was incredible.
We can’t forget the husband, even when it’s the wife’s biology causing the problem. Father’s desire to father, too. Men want the joy of children and they want to see their wives happy. 🙂
I would be a mother of one. The pain was raw, but I accepted that this was God’s will for me, and His will is always perfect. And although the prayer of Hannah had not “worked” for me, I began to pray a verse that had been important to me for years.
    Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

And my heart began to understand acceptance. Very quickly, I saw the lessons in what God was teaching me.

During all of these months, my relationship with God completely changed. I learned lessons on control and patience. For the first time in my life, I felt God’s comforting arms supporting me, guiding me away from the path I had chosen to the one He’d laid down for me. For most of my life I had been living in my will, masking it as God’s. But now I saw the importance of making God’s will my own.

I had an intense desire to seek God–to really know Him and not be satisfied with what I knew of Him. My relationship with God has never been the same. And above all, I am so grateful for that.

Another amazing “side-effect” of my struggle with secondary infertility is that during all those months God laid an intense desire on my heart to write stories. I had written a little before, and seeking an outlet for my frustration, I turned to writing. It is because of those months, because of my desire to focus on something else, that I label myself as a writer today. A passion was born out of struggle, and it’s something else I am immensely grateful for.

God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we want Him to, but He always answers.

When I finally did get pregnant, the words thank you just weren’t powerful enough. God answered my prayers, but in His time, teaching me many things along the way. He always knows best.

And just because it seems I got what I wanted by adding to our family, I have not forgotten the lessons, nor would I trade that time of struggle for an easy road. Those months molded and shaped me, bringing spiritual maturity. They changed my marriage, brought us closer, and made me appreciate God’s design with fresh eyes.

I wanted my kids two years apart, but God made them a little over three. And His timing is perfect. Hindsight tells me that my family is also perfect, just the way He designed it.

As I said in the previous post, I don’t know if tertiary infertility exists, and I hope and pray that I don’t have to find out. Should we decide to try to grow our family, I pray that whatever happens, I’ll be able to recognize God’s plans in all of it.
Share with me:
What other advice would you give to someone who is friends with a woman struggling with infertility? What life lessons has God used to teach you about His will and timing?

22 Comments

Filed under Infertility

Secondary Infertility: The Spiritual Sojourn

When I was struggling with secondary infertility (backstory here), I was at the lowest point that I had ever been in my life.

Never before had I faced an obstacle that seemed so overwhelming. Never before had I ever felt so lost and out of control.

Although my husband and I had welcomed a beautiful, perfect baby boy in the spring of 2006, my heart yearned to give him a sibling.

And as months passed without my ability to conceive, I began to obsess about all things ovulation and pregnancy. I read every book. I searched the web for every single tidbit of information, hoping that someone somewhere would give me the answer to my “problem.” And I prayed.

And when my doctor confirmed that I did have a medical issue, I felt even more despair.

When you tell a control-freak that there’s an issue with her body that she can do absolutely nothing about, it tends to sit as well as lava in an active volcano.
I simply would not accept that I would not have more children. And even though I have been a follower of Christ for as long as I can remember, at that point in my life, I was not willing to submit myself completely to the will of the Lord.
See, my life had been easy. I came from a good family. My parents had been married forever and raised my siblings and me in a loving, Christian home. I’d had a great childhood, and a pretty easy, straight path for most of my life.
I had never been challenged. I had never been really low. And although I had relied on God and known Jesus Christ as my savior for most of my life, I had never been broken.
I was a problem-fixer. I liked to be in control because I had solutions; I had answers. I always had a better plan.
I figured that I could live my life relying on God as long as his plan was my plan. I was pretty arrogant and I didn’t even realize it.
So when the fourth and final month of the fertility medication rolled around, I was desperate. And depressed. And obsessive. And more than anything, I wanted to fix the problem. I was also very, very sick as a result of the Clomid I was taking. I had trouble with every wacky side effect that medication could throw at me.
God was breaking me in a merciful way. For me, it was ALL about control. I had to learn to submit (something I was definitely not good at) and accept who was really in control of my life. I couldn’t go through life “depending” on God only when I needed to. I couldn’t lean on God only when times were tough. I had to be broken to come to an understanding that my dependence on God was to be a daily, hourly, moment-by-moment relationship with my heavenly father. And above all, His will wasn’t always going to be mine. What a major blessing it was.

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9

I look back on it now and I am so grateful for the struggle. I am so grateful that heaven seemed silent to my prayers. I needed to get to the point where I was completely dependent on God, on making his will my own, no matter what that meant.

But hindsight doesn’t make the memory of the struggle any less painful.
No one seemed to understand what I was going through. When I was open with people, I got such responses as, “just relax and it will happen” or “I don’t have to pray for you because God has already given me peace about it.”
Responses like these came from family members and were equal with knives straight in my heart. (And I’m not gonna lie, I wanted to hug choke stabpunch people who said things like that.) No one seemed to get that the loss of control, even over my own body, was making me nuts. I wanted support and sympathy, not their dismissal that I need to “relax.”Relax? Really? Oh, gee, why didn’t I think of that???

**Relaxing was not an option. When any woman is struggling with infertility for any reason, relaxing is impossible. So, for the sake of every woman out there struggling with this issue, please do not tell her to relax.
One person even went so far as to say, “you already have a child. You should learn to be happy.” Ouch.
**Whether you have one child, ten children, or no children at all, a woman’s desire to have a child is the same.  The longing, heart-aching need to mother is built into our DNA. It’s God’s design for us, and being denied that design for reasons beyond our understanding is overwhelming. Especially when we follow a Creator we believe holds plans to “prosper and not to harm.”
Friends simply stopped talking to me about it. I noticed when announcements about someone being pregnant were…delayed… in reaching me. I noticed when people began to get uncomfortable, even when I asked for prayer for an “unspoken.” Some of my friends stopped looking me in the eye if the topic of babies or children came up.
And I can’t blame them. No one understood because no one I knew had ever been through such a thing as secondary infertility.
**I would much rather had my friends say, “Hey, what you’re going through stinks,” instead of ignore it. Even “I’ll pray for you,” was appreciated.
The part that hurt the most is that they thought that because of my struggle I was incapable of sharing joy. Sure, I had some momentary internal jealousy when several of my friends got pregnant, but I wanted to celebrate with them. I wanted to rejoice in their blessings. I wanted to celebrate with them because I was learning that God’s will for others was not his will for me, and I had an awful lot to celebrate. I had a wonderful husband and a beautiful, precious, train-loving son.
**Another thought– just because a woman is having infertility issues doesn’t mean you should leave her off a guest list to a baby shower or not tell her about someone’s pregnancy. Those actions are even more hurtful than her situation.
Once again I turned to the internet to seek companionship from those who were suffering in the same condition. And I found it. I found hope and despair, anger and understanding. And on one page, I found a young woman who had written her story and talked about how her refuge came in praying the prayer of Hannah from 1 Samuel 1:10-11.
  In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “LORD Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”
So I began praying this prayer. I prayed it constantly. Aloud. I remember reciting these words over and over, begging God to give me one more child so that my son might have a sibling. I remember weeping as I drove down the road, these words pouring from my mouth.
When my fourth and final round of Clomid came, my doctor saw some problems on the ultrasound and I missed my chance for ovulation that month. I hit rock-bottom.
I sobbed all the way home from his office. I sobbed for the next week. And I screamed at God. I was furious. Lost. Frustrated. Confused. And I wanted answers. Now.
But never once did I say to myself, “He has left me.”
It took awhile, but I was eventually able to come to terms with the idea that we’d be a family of three. I decided that no matter what happened, God had not left me. He had given me an amazing, supportive husband and a beautiful son, and together, we were a complete family.
**One last side note. I want to give props to my husband who was amazingly supportive through all of those months. Even though it wasn’t his body that was causing the problems, he was just as frustrated as I was. But he never blamed me for our inability to conceive. He never pushed me away or refused to talk about it. He held me when I cried, hugged me, and listened when I wanted to talk. He was incredible.
We can’t forget the husband, even when it’s the wife’s biology causing the problem. Father’s desire to father, too. Men want the joy of children and they want to see their wives happy. 🙂
I would be a mother of one. The pain was raw, but I accepted that this was God’s will for me, and His will is always perfect. And although the prayer of Hannah had not “worked” for me, I began to pray a verse that had been important to me for years.
    Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

And my heart began to understand acceptance. Very quickly, I saw the lessons in what God was teaching me.

During all of these months, my relationship with God completely changed. I learned lessons on control and patience. For the first time in my life, I felt God’s comforting arms supporting me, guiding me away from the path I had chosen to the one He’d laid down for me. For most of my life I had been living in my will, masking it as God’s. But now I saw the importance of making God’s will my own.

I had an intense desire to seek God–to really know Him and not be satisfied with what I knew of Him. My relationship with God has never been the same. And above all, I am so grateful for that.

Another amazing “side-effect” of my struggle with secondary infertility is that during all those months God laid an intense desire on my heart to write stories. I had written a little before, and seeking an outlet for my frustration, I turned to writing. It is because of those months, because of my desire to focus on something else, that I label myself as a writer today. A passion was born out of struggle, and it’s something else I am immensely grateful for.

God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we want Him to, but He always answers.

When I finally did get pregnant, the words thank you just weren’t powerful enough. God answered my prayers, but in His time, teaching me many things along the way. He always knows best.

And just because it seems I got what I wanted by adding to our family, I have not forgotten the lessons, nor would I trade that time of struggle for an easy road. Those months molded and shaped me, bringing spiritual maturity. They changed my marriage, brought us closer, and made me appreciate God’s design with fresh eyes.

I wanted my kids two years apart, but God made them a little over three. And His timing is perfect. Hindsight tells me that my family is also perfect, just the way He designed it.

As I said in the previous post, I don’t know if tertiary infertility exists, and I hope and pray that I don’t have to find out. Should we decide to try to grow our family, I pray that whatever happens, I’ll be able to recognize God’s plans in all of it.
Share with me:
What other advice would you give to someone who is friends with a woman struggling with infertility? What life lessons has God used to teach you about His will and timing?

3 Comments

Filed under Infertility, The Christian Walk