This isn’t the version of this part of my story that I wanted to share for this series. I had written something different — something hopeful and full of resolve and reflective of everything God has been teaching me in the last year and a half. Then God, like He does, interrupted this part of my story this week. It’s not the end of the road, I guess. In fact, I have no idea where the end of the road is. But I know I it seems like the rug was ripped right out from under me this week.
So today I’m still in process. Today I’m still in pain. Today I still feel like all those pieces of me are being broken in order for Him to rearrange them into something beautiful.
I got a call from my doctor last night. He told me my most recent blood test indicated that my body hadn’t responded like they had hoped to the medicine I’d been on, and he wants to go ahead and have a few more tests done and then refer me to a fertility specialist.
He was kind and encouraging, but every word still pierced my heart like a dagger, beckoning me farther into the wilderness I’d been traveling for longer than I ever wanted to. Back on the rollercoaster I go, on this ride that I was so certain was going to end soon.
The phone call came ever so conveniently in the 20 minutes I had between work and having to be at a training at church, so I got off the phone, told my husband what the doctor said, and tried to pretend not to be heartbroken. “I just need to stuff these emotions for a couple of hours, and then I’ll come home and deal with this in my heart,” I thought.
Well, I got home from church and like a volcano, everything I’d been feeling build inside of me for the last few hours erupted. I was angry and confused. I was sad and defeated. I was tired of choosing hope. So far, hope wasn’t proving to be an investment that I was getting much return on. So there I was, on my knees in my living room weeping, the only words I could muster up through my sobs, “God, where are you?”
I lifted my head and looked at the blurred glare of the lights on my Christmas tree through my tears, and immediately the words, “Immanuel — God with us” echoed in my mind. All at once I was comforted that He would remind me what this season is about, and at the same time I was kind of mad that He was so quick to tell me what’s true instead of letting me linger in all of my pain and disappointment a little while longer.
Christmas has always been my favorite. There is something about it, a tenderness and mystery and wonder, that draws my heart deep into the story of the way God chose to come into our world. The way He chose to enter into our suffering. Not just this omnipresent higher being, but a man. A man who walked in our shoes to the point of death, ultimately, just so we could live.
Maybe to know suffering is to know Jesus. Maybe to continue to willingly enter into these places of pain and longing is to live fully in the tension between Heaven and earth. Maybe our suffering is a gateway to deeper places of intimacy with Him. Maybe there are secrets of Heaven hidden in this place — and maybe a lot of us miss those secrets because we don’t want to walk in suffering.
A friend told me this week, “You know, the reality is that once we get to Heaven, there is no suffering. Our time on earth is the only time we get to know Jesus in our suffering. It’s the only place we get to know the depth of what He rescued us from.”
I find myself staring at the same invitation He’s extended to me so many times this year: Will I stay submitted to the journey and my process, or will I go my own way?
When I think of it this way, the answer is easy. Today, in my brokenness, in my pain, in my anger and confusion — I’m still choosing hope. Even when my arms are tired. Even when my heart is overwhelmed. Even when circumstances say I should be hopeless. My reality is not bound to the limited possibility of earth, but exists under the limitless possibility of an open Heaven.
So I’m re-reading that story I love so much that we celebrate this time of year over and over. I’m marveling at the angelic visitations and the promises fulfilled and the wonder and mystery of that holy, hopeful night. Because I want to be the kind of woman who the Elizabeths in my life look at and say, “Blessed woman, you who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to you from The Lord.” (Luke 1:45)
I want to be the daughter that says at the end of this, with confident wonder in her eyes, “Oh, Dad. I knew you were coming!”
“For all the promises of God find their yes in Jesus.” (2 Cor. 1:20)