My lovely friend Dea from church gave me a wonderful little devotional book at the beginning of the year. It was written by Sarah Young, and it's called Jesus Calling. I love this little book, and it's never far from me in the morning. Turns out, it was exactly what I needed. Isn't that amazing? That God would care so much about the little (seemingly insignificant) details of my life that He would orchestrate the events so that Dea would give me this book, that was written by someone I've never met, but that it would touch me in such a profound way . . .
My faith has been challenged in new ways since I left full-time ministry. Yes, I do miss my comfy job at Hebron. It was easy . . . maybe too easy sometimes, after being there in that same spot for fourteen years. Don't get me wrong, the hour-long commute for the past three years was not easy, but the job was . . . comfortable. I knew how to do it. I was able to avoid conflict and navigate my way through big and small events. There weren't as many challenges as just ordinary bumps along the way.
Leaving all I had known in Gwinnett/Barrow counties and relocating completely to Lumpkin has been interesting and DIFFERENT in so many ways. I am now a part of a completely different kind of church, with a different style of worship (same Jesus), and lots of new people with different experiences and different ideas. And everywhere I turn, I am blessed to find God's people all working toward the same goals. I work for a nonprofit but not a ministry, I work with people of all different backgrounds and practices. I face challenges that are new and . . . did I already say it? Different.
But it doesn't really matter where you go, or what you are doing, you always have to take YOU with you. I mean, here I am, doing something completely different than ever before, with new hours, new responsibilities, new experiences, new perspective . . . and I've got the same old me, the same old temptations, the same old habits, the same old quirks. (Don't ask John, he will tell you that my addiction to Golden Girls reruns makes me weird. This is a "quirk") . . .
And the same old me is still facing the same old daily battle. It's this: One in seven women are/will be affected by infertility. I am the one in seven. I am her. I don't like being her. I would rather not be her.
So it comes as no surprise that while reading Jesus Calling two days ago, after a night filled with bad dreams and some sadness, God spoke to me very clearly through this little book. This book is a daily reader, written in first-person as if God is speaking directly to you. It's basically just scripture, so you don't have to face the age-old questions about if God would really say this . . . because honey, he already did. Of course, the author does take a little liberty (we all do) and in patching together this verse of scripture to that one, she does add a phrase here or there. Monday's reading encouraged me to face up to my biggest faith obstacle . . . and even give it a "nickname" - introducing it to God, and allowing him to handle it. Wow, I've never considered this nickname business before. It seemed a little . . . unconventional? I can tell you my biggest faith obstacle but giving it a nickname? Well, that sounds a little silly . . . a little lighthearted . . . a little like I don't feel. My faith obstacle is hard to sum up in five hundred words or less. My faith obstacle seems so big. How could I give it a nickname and introduce it to Jesus like it was this annoying kid who lives next door to you and is always there asking nosy questions about what you are cooking for dinner?
So I thought about this for awhile. I read over the daily reading again. I got still. I got quiet. I paused just long enough for the nickname to enter my mind. The ache.
The ache is the name of my biggest obstacle. It's not JUST the infertility. It's not JUST the two babies I lost from my own body, and the one I lost in a failed adoption. It's not JUST the feeling of raising other people's kids but not being called MOTHER. It's not JUST being the one out of seven. It's not JUST having to tell people over and over again why I don't have any babies of my own . . . and never really understanding why. Why was I picked? Why was I the one in seven? What did I do?
The Ache is the only name that I can use to really explain it. It's a deep longing, a deep hurt, a deep and abiding sadness that never really goes away. It's a tender spot that aches when you touch it. The ache does ease off sometimes. Sometimes the ache gives me purpose. Sometimes the ache gives me energy to help someone else. Sometimes the ache gives me compassion, or empathy. Sometimes the ache helps me identify with people that I never would have had a friendship with before. And sometimes, like a few days ago . . . I hate the ache with all my heart.
So I named it. I named my biggest faith obstacle and I introduced it to Jesus.
And he said: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (that is really in the Bible, too.)
Who knows? Maybe one day I will make friends with the ache.