This is the second in a weekly series of Advent devotionals reflecting on what an experience of infertility can teach us about waiting for Jesus here at Faith Forward. If you missed the first post, you can read it here.
“Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.” II Corinthians 4:1
I was in labor for almost eight years.
There were ultrasounds.
There was blood work.
There was pain: both physical and emotional.
I felt called to motherhood. It’s as strong as the calling I felt to enter the pastorate ten years ago. It’s as strong as the calling that I felt to marry in 2007.
When I first began the journey toward motherhood, I was naïve.
After being married a year, I thought we’d start trying to have kids and then nine months later pop out a beautiful baby. I saw so many of my friends become mothers so easily. My mind and body felt strong. I saw no groaning up ahead. Why would childbirth not happen easily for me?
I had no idea the process of waiting for a baby can extend Advent after Advent, year after year.
I had no idea that labor pains sometimes can feel like the awkwardness of attending a party and being asked by a stranger “Why don’t you have children?” It’s finding your way to a polite response, though what you want to say is “bug off.”
I had no idea that labor pains can feel like a dear friend telling you she’s pregnant with her third. It’s finding a way to say with a smile and a hug, “Congratulations!” You are happy for her, but . . .
I had no idea that I’d have to invite doctors and lawyers and friends into the process—a process that should have been all about love between my husband and me but instead became a process that included contracts, test tubes, and diagrams of the fertilization process between an egg and a sperm.
Through this painful waiting, I’ve asked God a few questions:
Where are you God when what seemed so sure fell through again?
Where are you God when I had to preach about a teenaged girl having a baby again?
Where are you when my college girlfriends gather to talk about their babies, and I have nothing to offer again?
Throughout this journey of motherhood I’ve always had a choice.
I’ve had a choice to believe that God has clothed me in the scarlet letter of infertility (and God hasn’t).
I’ve had a choice to believe that this wait is punishment for some un-confessed wrongdoing (I don’t believe it is).
I’ve had a choice to believe that I will never welcome children into our family (One day we did!).
In all of this, God’s kingdom is coming though it is not already here. This is our Advent reality.
Like Paul told the believers in Corinth, “we have this great ministry, we don’t lose heart,” God has reminded me of this time and time again. And it has been love that has carried me through this labor—love of what my heart has seen, though my eyes have not. In God’s kingdom, we groan together and wait.
Let us pray:
God, Advent can be such a hard time for those of us who are in the middle of waiting for what is to come. Help us to find your love for us even in the in the uncomfortableness of the unknown. We pray together for your light to come to us all.. Amen.
Elizabeth Hagan is the author of Birthed: Finding Grace Through Infertility recently released through Chalice Press. She’s an ordained American Baptist minister serving churches through intentional interims in the Washington DC area. She blogs about her adventures in non-traditional mothering over at Preacher on the Plaza.