Hi friends, long time no chat. I’m sorry about that :'( I hope you are all doing well and having a great week so far.
This past weekend, our life group, which is what we call Sunday school, had a Saturday night social event. Our church always has people coming and going because of the military so the socials help you get to know new people and our life group just happens to be the largest Sunday school class at our church.
The life group is for married couples, so you can imagine we have a lot of:
Yup…you guessed it, pregnancy announcements, births, and pregnant bellies.
When we first joined the church in 2011, we attended a newlywed life group that was much, much smaller. At the time we joined, everyone was just a married couple with no children yet. It was a fun time and I loved going. By that summer when we started to have our miscarriages I actually transitioned into being a teacher for 6th grade Sunday school and then I wasn’t around for all of the pregnancy announcements and births. I definitely don’t think I could have handled it while I was going through that first year of having 3 miscarriages back to back to back. Thinking back to that time, I’m not even sure how I made it to church at all. Had it not been for the commitment I made to teach Sunday school, I probably would have stopped going just for survival reasons. I’m pretty sure there was several Sundays when I would show up to teach Sunday school and then go home and skip service.
Our church is very military focused as well as family focused. This is something I have struggled with for a long time. We are a police family – military life is much different. And of course, we don’t have children, which causes the biggest internal struggle of all.
After teaching 6th grade Sunday school for a year, I made the decision to step down from teaching. I was exhausted and starting to get burnt out from over-doing it with ministry. Most Sunday’s I would not only teach Sunday school but also volunteer in Children’s church, which is a program we call BLAST. I wanted to try to be more social and make friends at church, so we joined a new life group that was for married couples in 20’s and 30’s.
At first, I enjoyed going, but I quickly learned that pregnancy announcements and birth announcements were going to be a very regular part of the fellowship. At that time, our life group was even bigger than it is now because our church had not yet moved to a new schedule and we still only had one hour of Sunday school classes compared to our new schedule of three different Sunday school hours. Because our life group was so big, we had small groups that met outside of church in someone’s home for more one on one fellowship.
The first fellowship night was on a night of the week that Jonathan was working and couldn’t attend. I’m pretty shy as it stands but without Jonathan with me, I will most of the time decide not to go. But at this time, I was trying so hard to move beyond the depression from the miscarriages and I forced myself to go by myself.
I was the only one that didn’t bring her husband and I was the only one without children. All 3 moms had at least 3 kids each. I felt so out of place. The girls were nice enough and I was able to open up about what was going on in my life, but I definitely felt like the Debbie downer of the group.
The small group didn’t last all that long however because our church changed from a one hour Sunday school schedule to a three hour Sunday school schedule. Because our church was growing in size, we needed more space for everyone, so we just added an extra hour and more Sunday school classes. So we have 8:30 Sunday school hour, 9:45 Sunday school hour and worship, and 11am Sunday school and worship. Our life group split into two groups, one going to the 8:30 hour and the other meeting at 9:45.
Anyways, since the schedule change, I’ve really struggled to make it to life group. I have wanted to fellowship and be a part of the group, but sometimes I just can’t handle the “baby talk”.
In December, feeling so left out by my church because of the strong devotion to family ministry, we decided to try out new churches and pray about what God would have us do. We found one church that I loved because of their ministries they had outside of the church. My church is really big on fellowship and anything that is service related (like going to a homeless shelter or nursing home) usually happens within small groups or life groups. I even liked this new church’s life groups. They weren’t separated based on lifestyle such as married couples, singles, seniors, and so on. They had life groups based on the type of study they would do or ministry work.
The group that we tried was called, FISH: fellowship in service to Him. The group was designed to study the bible together during Sunday school hour but plan and work together for ministry outside of the church. So the group would literally work through the bible and pray together for how they could get outside of the 4 walls of the church to minister to those in need. I LOVED THAT!
On the second Sunday that we attended, they wanted everyone to start by going around the room and introducing yourself. Even though this wasn’t a married couples group and there was many different ages, the interesting topic to share about yourself was, “Do you have children?” I was so frustrated by that – I can never get away from it!
Every single person in the group, of course, had children – including the senior girl in High school. It was like God was reminding me that there’s always going to be children no matter what church I go to or what life group I join.
We ended up deciding to go back to our church because we felt like God was telling us to strengthen our church and encourage more ministries. I’m glad that we did go back because I was able to see a lot of people in my church feeling the same way that I was, frustrated by the lack of opportunities to serve outside church, and ready to make a change. One of my dear friends from church has been working hard to establish this and I’m so thankful for her. Because of her efforts, we are now working with a local homeless shelter, a foster night program in Austin, and other local ministries. But let me tell you, she has faced a lot of opposition in doing this. For some reason, it is really hard to get the entire church on board. For right now, it’s still just small groups working together to do this. My hopes are that the church as a whole will become more committed to outside ministries. It’s definitely growing and more and more people are stepping up to volunteer, but we have a long way to go.
So anyways, Jonathan and I have started to make an effort to get to our life group and move beyond our sad feelings about our childless situation. So on Saturday night, I decided we needed to make an effort and go to our life group’s social.
It ended up being a really nice time and it made me realize that I’m not as shy as I once was. I guess getting older helps! But towards the end of the night we were playing a game at each of our tables. Each table had to come up with 10 things that they all have in common. Both Jonathan and I inwardly sighed knowing the first thing everyone would pick was “children.”
And yes, it was the first thing that our table tried. We just said “no sorry” and moved on from that to other topics.
But then each table had to stand up and share their top 10. It was funny hearing some of the things, especially when one life group said, “We all like to have sex with our spouses”. The wife was so embarrassed by this hahaha! But every table except for our table shared that they had children, or as one table so thoughtfully put it, “achieved pregnancy.”
This made me realize, we are the only childless couple in our life group, or at least from those that showed up to the social. I totally forgot about a friend, sitting at one of the other tables, who is also childless.
Until the leader at her table said after each table finished sharing, “Hey guys, our table ALL has children.” And pointed to my friend. That was their way of announcing their pregnancy and it all went right over our heads.
I was okay when they first announced this – I felt a little anxious but I didn’t think I would fall apart or start crying. But by the time we left to go home and got in the car, I was ready to fall apart.
I didn’t want Jonathan to know, so I went to the bathroom and cried my heart out.
The entire night felt so heavy and dark. All I could do was cry and pray. Of course Jonathan figured out really quickly that I was upset but I didn’t want to talk with him about it and I didn’t want to cry in front of anyone either. I just wanted to be alone. I went to bed early, not even bothering to eat dinner.
Of course I couldn’t sleep well and ended up waking up after 2 hours. Jonathan was in bed at this point so I went to the couch and read my bible with tears pouring down my face the entire time. I just read through the Psalms, crying, and praying for answers and comfort. And then I turned to one spot in the bible and was so very confused and hurt by what I had turned to:
“Give them, O Lord – what will you give them? Give them wombs that miscarry and breasts that are dry.” Hosea 9:14
Anger rose in me and I shouted in my head at God, “What is this supposed to mean? Are you trying to tell me that you are punishing me for something?”
And then I read the study guide notes at the bottom of the page and this is what it said:
“Hosea prayed this prayer when he foresaw the destruction that Israel’s sins would bring (2 Kings 17:7-23). This vision of Israel’s terrible fate moved him to pray that women would not get pregnant and that children would die as infants so they would not have to experience the tremendous suffering and pain that lay ahead.”
Wait, what? What are you trying to tell me, Lord?
Is God trying to tell me that in the future, there will come a point when I will be thankful that my children are safe in Heaven and not here with me?
Do you remember my post from before Mother’s Day, when I shared the following passage of scripture:
“As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!” Then ‘they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” Luke 23:26-31
I’m not sure what to think of all of this. Maybe God is telling me that suffering is coming to our nation? Maybe it’s just a coincidence that I happened to turn to that spot in the bible. I really don’t know what to think. Only time will tell. (Though I will say – I’m definitely going to take this scripture to some of the teachers in my church and find out what they think. I’m curious to get some opinions or better understanding of what this scripture is talking about.)
I know that if the “end times” were to come and intense suffering and persecution came upon us, I would be praising God and thankful that I have 5 beautiful gifts in Heaven, safe and waiting to meet me, never knowing fear of sadness or pain, but only love. I know that if it ever comes down to it and I’m persecuted for my faith, my 5 precious babies in Heaven will remind me that this is not my home.
But I don’t know what will come. We know that in the book of Revelation and other books in the bible, Jesus warns of horrible times, the likes of which the world has never known before. But we don’t know when that will be. And we can’t become weighed down with anticipation and worry over what might happen or when it might happen.
All we can do is put our focus and trust in God and believe that He is big enough to see us through all the trials and tribulations that we face. There is no problem too big for God.
So whether that passage or scripture was prophetic for my life or not, I’ll choose to say, “My God, I trust in you!”
The next morning, I made it to life group even though I was worried about attending. And you know what, I had a really great time at church that day. Perhaps the intense sadness I felt the night before was just the enemy trying to stop me from growing in my church, fellowshipping with others, and having the support of brothers and sisters in Christ who love me and care about me.
And on Monday night, me and 5 other ladies met up at the park to have a prayer meeting for the crisis in Iraq and other events happening throughout the world. It was such a great time of prayer and getting to talk with these ladies about our hopes for the church and some plans and ministry ideas we have to start for the next year. I’ll write a separate post later on how to pray for the crisis in Iraq and ideas to host a prayer night of your own in case anyone is interested in that.
I have much more to talk about, but this post is getting rather lengthy so I’ll stop here. Although I still have many hard days and struggle with this RPL/infertility journey, I’m hopeful and excited for the things God is doing not just in my own life but in the world. He is definitely up to something and it is exciting to see so many people coming to the Lord for salvation!
With love and prayers,