Tuesday, August 25, 2009

the Definition of Me (Part 7/10)

It’s not been vastly different from any other night. I came in from work around 5 pm, and after welcoming hugs from my children they immediately set in to asking when I was going to feed them dinner. I didn’t even sit down, but immediately began pulling out pots and pans and a variety of ingredients with which to attempt to put together a healthy meal in a quick fashion. The entire 45 minutes I cooked, the kids begged for food. They were impatient to eat. Of course, once dinner was served, no one really wanted to eat the delicious meal set before them.

After dinner, it was time for homework and baths. I got Julia busy bathing and went to take care of another chore, but I didn’t get far because a big yelling match broke out. Nathan wanted Julia out of the bathtub NOW because he was ready to take his bath. I asked him to give her a few more minutes and to be patient for his turn. Nathan said, rather indignantly, “I don’t see why I need to wait any longer. She’s already had at least 20 minutes in there!” Impatience strikes again.

I often find it quite frustrating when my children aren’t patient people. I guess you could say I’m impatient with impatience! And truthfully, I can be a rather impatient soul myself. I want things done my way and on my timetable, and when things don’t work out the way I envisioned, I tend to get all out of joint.

I was 27 years old when I gave birth to my oldest child. I’d been married 6 1/2 years, and wanted a baby for well more than half of that time. I remember when my high school and college friends began to have children, and how part of me was happy for them and then another part of me was so jealously sad for me. I couldn’t figure out why God wouldn’t bless me with a child.

A journey through infertility is a very difficult thing to describe. It’s not something that is easy to talk about with anyone else. It can be embarrassing. Even once doctors get involved, there seem to be no easy or quick solutions ... just humiliating medical tests and regularly sharing your intimate life with perfect strangers, all in hopes of someday getting to hold that sweet little bundle of joy.

Perhaps the most frustrating part of my personal 3 1/2 year walk through infertility was the year I taught a pregnant 7th grade student. Every day I watched her come to class ... her stomach growing rounder and rounder, proof of life growing within her. At some point she became unable to squeeze into her desk and I had to find an alternate way to seat her. I remember how she used to ask to leave class to go to the restroom. Every time I’d let her out of class, I would fill this mix of sorrow for the child who was about to have to be a mom and sorrow for me because I wanted a baby so very much. I couldn’t figure out why God wouldn’t bless me with a child, but He allowed this 13 year old to get pregnant.

I was impatient with God’s timing. At that point, I didn’t think it was so perfect. In fact, I thought it was pretty rotten timing. I couldn’t see His plan ... only my own desires and dreams that weren’t coming true according to the timetable I had laid out for myself. I suppose that most couples who deal with infertility feel the say way. Impatience with the waiting period is one of the hardest things about infertility. It's made that much harder because you simply don't know how long the wait will be. A pregnant mother-to-be knows that her precious baby will make an appearance sometime around a certain date. An infertile mom-to-be doesn't know how much time will pass before she holds her sweet baby in her arms. She rocks an empty cradle and her heart weeps while she waits.

Have you ever noticed that the Bible is full of barren women? When I was wanting to be someone's mother, I used to read and reread the story of Hannah. I was amazed at how the very thing she longed for she gave right back to God. I took comfort knowing that God had given children to so many barren women ... Sarah, Rachel, Hannah and Elizabeth. Their stories, though thousands of years old, gave me hope. As I prayed for my own child, I remember how God had heard and answered their prayers. Surely He would someday answer mine, too.

I love the following passage from The Bible Jesus Read by Phillip Yancey:

“After promising to bring about a people numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, God then proceeds to conduct a clinic in infertility. Abraham and Sarah wait until in their nineties to see their first child; their daughter-in-law Rebekah proves barren for a time; her son Jacob must wait fourteen years for the wife of his dreams, only to discover her barren as well. Three straight generations of infertile women hardly seems an efficient way to populate a great generation.”

Obviously, God’s timetable is definitely different from that of humans.

Yancey continues:

“After making similar promises to bring about a possession of a great land (Abraham himself possessed only a grave site in Canaan), God arranges a detour for the Israelites into Egypt, where they molder for four centuries until Moses arrives to lead them to the Promised Land --- a wretched journey that takes forty years instead of the expected two weeks. Clearly, God operates on a different timetable than that used by impatient human beings.”

God often moves slowly. He also moves unpredictably. But His ways are always good and perfect.

Standing on this side of infertility, I wouldn’t change those 3 1/2 years for anything. I am convinced that the wait has made me a better mom. I am convinced that the wait has given me a perspective on motherhood that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. And I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have the 3 precious kids that I have right now, for in HIs perfect timing He gave to me the children I was ordained to hold and love ... the sweet little people who call me “Momma.”

From the time we are children, we are taught that patience is a virtue. Yet it is very hard to learn to be patient. Today alone I've been impatient with my children, impatient for a meeting to end and impatient for bedtime to arrive. I'm even impatient with God as I wait for Him to move in a couple of areas of my life. The Battle for Patience is one that I am very familiar with in my life.

Then the seventh thing that I know to be true about myself is that even though I am often an impatient kind of gal who feels frustrated when God's timing doesn't match my own, I am learning and striving to learn to be patient and wait upon the Lord. I am seeing how God’s ways, though mysterious to me, are always best. That is why I am working hard to cultivate the fruit of the spirit of patience in my life.

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