Thursday, June 23, 2016

Keeping The Faith And Growing In The Journey

Not long ago I was chatting with a friend who is currently dealing with infertility issues. Normally a bubbly and positive person, the entire situation is starting to take its toll. Not only on her, but her husband and their marriage as a whole. As we talked she made a comment about how she admired me for my strength and faithfulness though our journey. Listening to her tell it I sounded like a pretty amazing person, but I had to stop her before she could finish, because that person she was describing wasn't me.

While I have been pretty open about our journey and struggles, but at that moment I realized I sometimes sugar coat parts of it when outside my core confidants. And sometimes I even sugar coat it with them. If I am going to be open about this part of our life, I need to really be honest about it. Even when it isn't pretty.

Throughout this journey (5 years and counting) I have worked so hard to find peace in trusting God's plan for us. But the truth is this - I struggle in some way nearly every single day. NEARLY. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  

I still spontaneously cry. Sometimes it is just a tear or two, sometimes it is full on ugly cry out of nowhere. I have been flooded with anger and pain out of the blue.  I have avoided situations, like baby showers or holding an acquaintances baby, because at that moment it was too much for me. And then afterwards felt so much guilt, because I felt like I was being selfish.

Those moments have become less and less frequent over the last two years, but they are still there. They are still very real. Earlier this year was one of the worst times in a few years. I never planned to share it publicly. Heck, this is something I have only shared with 3 other people. But crazy as this will sound to most of you, the last few weeks I have had that nagging feeling that I am supposed to share my experience for the sake of someone who is going to read it. I hate these nagging feelings. They push me be so vulnerable and raw. Yet every time I have taken the leap of faith and listened to that little voice, I start to see the big picture and why sharing that part of my heart was important at that moment.

Two years ago my prayers changed drastically. They went from being focused on us getting pregnant and bringing a healthy baby into the world to simply allowing God's will for growing our family to be done in his time.  We knew we were being lead to adoption and we pray daily for our future birth mother and for God to prepare us for this next step. But all that said, I have never discounted the idea that miracles happen and the chance we could have a biological child through a God sized miracle was there.

My mind and heart are focused on adoption so it wasn't something I thought about often, but when my normally right on schedule period was nearly 3 weeks late you can imagine the thoughts that ran through my mind. For nearly 2 1/2 weeks I just waited for my period to start. I didn't say a word to anyone about it, not even Kipper.  I just waited. I didn't want to get my hopes up and I was terrified to take that test because I had been there so many times before. We were so close to starting our adoption journey so why was this happening now? Was this the miracle we had once prayed for?

For 3 weeks I stewed in my own thoughts, until one night I had the courage to finally open the test. Within moments I was reliving the same flood of emotions I had experienced more times than I care to recall. Once I pulled myself together, I decided there was no way I could tell Kipper right now. He was so stressed out over an upcoming exam and his workload.  I didn't want to burden or distract him from where his focus needed to be. And the truth be told, I couldn't handle seeing the sadness/disappointment in his big blue eyes.

Needless to say this wasn't what I should have done. If you know us at all, you know we have NO secrets. We share everything with each other. We have never successfully pulled of a surprise party for each other. And there is a reason we are such last minute Christmas shoppers when it comes to giving to each other. The fact I held this to myself was rare and awful. To make it worse, he knew something was up the whole time but couldn't figure it out.

I went another week and an unfortunate meltdown before I told him everything. I saw the sadness in his eyes I was hoping to avoid. But as I sat there bawling and attempting to apologize, I realized while he was experiencing  disappointment from the news I just shared, he was mostly sad that I tried to carry this burden alone.

It would be 2 more weeks until God presented me with a moment to confide in someone else, but I didn't take it. I brushed it off and made up a lame excuse for the reason I wasn't quite myself. I felt terrible about it.  I couldn't make the words come out of my mouth, but I just knew I was supposed to share this with her. Later that afternoon, through streams of tears, I wrote out one of the longest, rawest texts I have ever sent. My sweet friend's response spoke right to my heart and put everything into such perspective for me. I was thankful I stepped out of my comfort zone and shared it with her.

You would think after 5 years of walking this journey I know nothing good comes from trying to shield others from my pain and troubles. Just a few weeks ago I finally told on of my very best friends the whole story. I tried to explain that I didn't want to be that friend who had been crying about the same thing for 5 years. I didn't want to burden those who love me every time I struggled. Once again I was met with the words I needed to hear - You are not alone. We want to walk with you. We are invested in your dream too and are here to support you through it.

Through this experience I am reminded that each of us are an important part of the body of Christ. We are not meant to be alone in our struggles. We are not only meant to lay our troubles at His feet, but to allow those around us to help us walk through that storm together. That doesn't mean every person we know has to be privy to every trial and tribulation, but we should never allow ourselves to suffer alone. Satan knows my greatest weakness and by allowing myself to get lost in my own thoughts, instead of turning it over to God, he found a way in. When I am tired and my faith is weaker than it should be, others are there to help carry some of the burden and lift me up. Just as I would do for them.

Everyday I pray for peace and reassurance that we are following God's path for us. I know that he would never put the desires of being parents on our hearts like he has if it wasn't part of the plan, but simply knowing that doesn't always take the worldly struggle away completely. And while I would never wish our experiences and pain on my worst enemy, I am grateful for it. We are not the same people we were 5 years ago. I can't even begin to explain all the ways we have grown and changed for the better. Ultimately this journey has made us a stronger couple and in turn will make us much better parents. I can already look back and tell you why I am grateful for this recent experience.  This recent storm was the lesson I needed to ground and center myself before we take the next major leap.

I know adoption is an emotional roller coaster.  I know that there are going to be some challenging and emotional days ahead of us. And I know that I still can't tell you on paper how it will all work out. That used to really stress me out, but then I read this amazing book Rhinestone Jesus by one of my favorite bloggers, Kristen Welch. The entire book spoke to my heart but this one quote really stuck with me.

It was in reading those words any worry that we were not following God's plan for us washed away.   As we move forward, both Kipper and I both know that can't do this alone. Alone we don't have all the answers, resources, or funding.  As stubborn as we both are when it comes to asking for help, God has shown us that we have to humble ourselves. We have to allow those who love us to help us through this part of our journey.

If I am being honest, that terrified me. It was so out of my servants heart comfort zone. I am the one who is supposed to be helping and serving others. There are so many people who are far more deserving or in need of the blessings of others.  What if people judged us for asking for help?  What if when push came to shove we were left standing there alone? In my moments of panic, I could come up with all sorts of crazy.

But then I remember that quote and my way of thinking changes. What if there are people wanting to help us, but they don't know how because we have been too proud to ask? What if the only thing standing in our way of our God sized dream is getting out of our own way? What if our amazing community of friends and family helps makes our dream a reality?

Since truly humbling ourselves and openly admitting we need help, God has showed up in such a big way. It started with a dear friend approaching me (after a Joe T's marg I might add) about hosting a fundraiser for us. I still chuckle that the conversations started with "I want to ask you something and I don't want you to tell me no." It seems my friends know me pretty well. :)

Saying yes that night has not only led to some of my dearest friends coming together to plan a fundraiser to help grow our family, but other offers and generosity I could have never imagined. It still doesn't quite seem real to me that there are already so many others that are truly invested in our God sized dream. But it is real. Very, very real.  I just hope someday we will be able to pay it forward in a way that is just as meaningful as this is to us.