Caroline

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Barren to Blessed

I was raised attending church, but not forced to attend.  At the age of nine while riding in the front seat of our old station wagon, I felt this urging and told my mom that I was ready to accept Christ as my Savior. Not too long after speaking with my pastor about it, I was baptized. This was an exciting day in my life.

Two years after my baptism I suddenly became gravely ill. An infection had spread throughout my abdomen, and the damage from it resulted in having a hysterectomy at the age of eleven. The surgery, and impact of it, was extremely difficult to wrap my head and heart around. I was barren, and would be for the remainder of my life.

In that one single moment, everything changed.  I went from believing in this giving; all-knowing Heavenly Father who I had been told created me with great purpose, to questioning what my purpose was.

I continued to believe in God but to be totally honest; I did not know how I could fully trust a loving Father who nearly allowed me to die from a rare bacterial infection. He also allowed my ability to have children to be taken away.

I did not stop believing in Him and was part of a Christian youth singing group for a few years after my surgery. However, as I became an adolescent, I strayed far away from what I once believed to be so important. Straying from my faith led to choices of which I am not proud of. I felt alone in my struggle, and knew that infertility was going to be a life-long road to which I would wander.

Questions like “What if I’m never a mom?” circled around in my mind for years.
In college, I continued to live as though I did not know the Lord, even though I continued to believe that God existed.  I just sort of saw God as this big “tool box in the sky”.  I sincerely believed that all religions were tools in the box that ultimately led to Him. I still had not found a good reason why the Lord would have allowed my illness to happen. Questions like, “Will I ever fall in love and get married?” “What if no one wants to marry me because I cannot have children?” and “What if I’m never a mom?” circled around in my mind for years.

I did meet a guy who accepted infertility. We had a wonderful relationship that was built upon friendship, trust, respect, and love. He proposed, and I eagerly accepted. However, about a year before I was married, I was really struggling with life in general. I had a great fiancé who treated me wonderfully, and was in graduate school working on my Master’s Degree. Things were pretty good for a twenty-something. Despite these things, it just seemed that I could not make out what was nagging at me, and the void I felt. I tried to fill it with friends, shopping, going-out, etc, but nothing worked.

Love Finally, my aunt asked if I wanted to go to church with her. I said, “Yes.”  The service was very casual with contemporary Christian music.  I was nearly overwhelmed with the warmth and love that I felt sitting in the chapel. It was as if I was the only person there. I felt as though the music and the message were surely written just for me.

I began recognizing God needed to be in control because I was clearly not. I was the person who always had a goal, always kept out of trouble, or at least did not get caught; always stayed loyal to my family and friends, and always presented with the “I’ve got it all together here” personality.

But the truth is, internally I was still that child who was deeply hurt, saddened, and longed for an answer.

I began to read my Bible more and listen to contemporary Christian music which provided a great ministry through lyrics. It became abundantly clear to me that God wanted me back. Or, better yet, He always wanted me. It was I who had turned away and chose to ignore. He still wanted me to walk through the pain, but this time, I needed to allow Him to numb it a little. I needed to let Him truly take over and start to put me back together again.

I began seeing Him in a different way. Instead of this loud controlling Father punishing me, I saw Him as this loving, worried Dad who wanted His daughter back.

In the book, The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis writes: 

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
C.S. Lewis

God was shouting to me through all of the pain of the years and for the first time I listened.

I sought forgiveness from Him. I felt as though I had been released from the burden of shame I had carried about various choices in life. This helped me to see the true grace of forgiveness. 

For the first time, I felt like I understood the concept of faith as being more than just a blind and immobile notion, but one that required full attention.

Perhaps it was maturity or perhaps it was desperation, but either way, I returned to the God that created me, loved me, and watched me through the years. I was that rebellious child that learned the hard way that it is always best when you really do follow what your parents’ say- especially your omniscient Heavenly Father.

It has been several years now since I nervously walked through the church doors with my aunt. I have not stopped attending church since, but it is not just about attending church.

It is about not stopping in the yearning for the Lord.  It is about not ceasing in praising Him.  It is about serving and loving others as He has asked us to do.  It will always be about living out a life that recognizes mercy, forgiveness, and salvation.

The Lord has not only revealed His love to me, He has fulfilled my heartfelt and desperate plea to be a parent. My faith in Him is what carried me through fostering my children, and it is what continues to carry me through parenting them.

Kids

Another piece of my story is that I work for a Christian child welfare agency that helps to put families back together. I am able to reach out to people who may be struggling with infertility or answering the call to be foster/adoptive parents.  I am truly blessed to have a job that is also a ministry.

My greatest struggle in life was barrenness. However, through the healing redemption of a loving Father, I am now a parent. I am also able to share my story and encourage others through my blog.

The truth is – I love Christ.

I need Christ. 

I am a work in progress…

but He’s okay with that.

photo credit: Randy OHC via Flickr cc