Edward Albee, the playwright, said something years ago that’s always stuck in my head.
“Sometimes it’s necessary to go a long distance out of the way in order to come back a short distance correctly.“
I could never understand it because I heard it before I’d lived it. Now? I understand perfectly. I learned the hard way that God’s not a genie in a bottle, He’s not a microwave and He’s not my own personal Magic 8-ball. His job isn’t to satisfy my every desire and fulfill my every whim. And sometimes, He’ll take us a long distance out of the way in order to bring us back a short distance correctly. In fact…
…He will take us out to bring us in.
He will dare us to trust. I’ve wanted lots of things in my life, good things mostly, but none so much as a big family, messy and delightful like big families often are. Children and babies under my feet, crayons, crumbs and chaos, toys strewn, laundry in piles, play dough stuck to the kitchen table. My very own Five Little Peppers all lined up on Easter morning, scrubbed shiny, with little man suits and lacy dresses, patent leather shoes and bow ties, marching into church. My own fuzzy ducklings and me one proud mama. Big family blessings filled with fights and friendships, noisy meals around a big farmhouse table, toddler kisses and scraped knees. My heart, my dream.
He had a different dream for me and my husband, not one we would have chosen but when do we ever know what’s best for us?
We didn’t know when on Labor Day more than 32 years ago, I would nearly die from an ectopic pregnancy, exploded fallopian tube and all.
We didn’t know as we wept over the infertility diagnosis.
We didn’t know after they did the test where they shoot this dark dye into your nether regions to see if the surgery to open the last stubborn tube held.
We didn’t know when the dye didn’t shoot out of the tube as it should have but pooled into a stagnant, evil rorschach blot that mocked our pain.
The doctor was clear and clinical, dismissive even, in his diagnosis.
“You won’t be able to get pregnant again.”
Have you ever actually felt your heart break? My future collapsed that day, my dreams imploded as hot tears gushed and hope crashed. “You can always adopt.” He said. Crash. My ever stalwart husband did the best he could. We lived in New Jersey then and our doctor was in Philadelphia and whenever we had an appointment, we rewarded ourselves with legendary Philly cheesesteaks. That day was no different. By force of habit and love of food even when our worst nightmare just came true, we drowned ourselves in hot chopped steak, gooey provolone sauce, caramelized onions, mushrooms and soggy french fries and drove home shattered. Full but oh-so-empty.
God, in His wisdom and graciousness, had given us one amazing daughter 2 1/2 years earlier and now He was daring us saying, can that be enough? But it wasn’t, not for a long time. This mama’s heart was broken and recovery was long, and 3 after failed adoption attempts, painful. I learned, albeit slowly, how God always has future generations in view. I learned the hard way that our futures are often about something bigger than ourselves.
God knew in time healing would come and baby announcements and showers wouldn’t be pure torture. Going into Babies-R-Us wouldn’t generate a rush to get-the-hell-out-of-there-before-I-break-down panic every time I had to buy a baby present. Self-pity, my favorite bad feeling, gnawed at my heart like a rabid dog with a bone, reminding me Who was really to blame, Who it was who wouldn’t give me the desires of my heart.
Eventually though, I began to heal. As our daughter grew she started revealing gifts and talents that astounded us and God began to show us how to dig deep and bring out those gifts, polish them up and offer them to the world. I wrote a whole book about our journey raising her. It’s called Growing Great Kids: Partner With God to Cultivate His Purpose in Your Child’s Life.
He showed us her life was going to be a public one, her ministry large and far reaching and she would need our full attention to help her get there. We began our journey together discovering the music business and learning all we could to help her launch her dreams.
After years of holding God hostage for not living up to my expectations I began to realize the value of what He’d given me. At a women’s conference I heard Him whisper clear as a bell in the midst of my pity party,
“Am I enough?”
And it broke me. He slipped out of the box I’d worked so hard to close Him in and did the unexpected. He gave us one child with a world class gift, one with a purpose far bigger than I’d imagined and He placed this God Dare in our spirits, “Can you take this on? Will you? Will you be satisfied with the road you’re on no matter where it leads?” Then He took my heart hostage as He whispered, again,
“Am I enough?”
God never asks a question He doesn’t have the answer for so like Moses, I let Him answer.
And He is. He’s everything and there’s nothing I’d trade for the life I’ve been privileged to have. He taught me the most valuable lesson of all–to love Him for who He is, not for what He gives. In spite of my slow to learn heart, God gave us an incredible and loving child and now a wonderful son-in-law and 4 precious grand children who are my absolute heartbeats. And I get to enjoy plenty of crayons, crumbs and chaos. My 4 little peppers, precious little ducklings with a Mimi and Poppy devoted to the moon and back.
And that’s how He answered my prayer for children. It was a no, but qualified. It took me a long time to get it through my thick head but eventually I did. And today I’m grateful, so very grateful that He took me a long distance out of the way in order to bring me back a short distance correctly. He dared me to trust because that’s what The God Dare is all about. What about you? What broke your heart that made you love Him more? Are you in the midst of heartache now? I’d be privileged to pray for you.
Taken from my new book, The God Dare.
Receive the foreword by my daughter Francesca Battistelli, the introduction and first three chapters free!
Hi Kate, your story touched me. Im dealing with infertility for years, last year an amazing doctor found that I have endometriosis and low quality eggs. He removed all my endo and put me on clomid. Unfortunately I havent conceive yet, its devastating. I have pray and I know that God has something for us. Im married with 2 young stepchildren, I love them like they are my own but deep inside I want my own baby. The one that calls me by mom not my real name, the one that loves me unconditionally. Would you pray for me? I have not idea what else to do. So far I’m just enjoy my life and waiting patiently, even though my heart aches.
Oh Irmaris, I’m praying for you right now!! I know your heartache well and I’m asking the Lord to give you His precious peace as you wait to know His answer. I can tell you this, whatever path God has chosen for you–whether it’s to be a mom to your stepchildren only or to have your own baby–as time goes on you will see it is the best path. We gain God’s perspective as we age and what seems devastating when we’re young we often see as God’s blessing when we’re older. As much as I wanted more children, it makes complete sense to me why my petition was not granted. God sees what we cannot see. I pray His grace will flood you today my friend and that He gives you the desire of your heart! Blessings 🙂
I too had fertility problems. God blessed me with two kids, Jason and Brittany. Jason is a 3d animator and has been blessed to work on many new movies that have just been released.
Brittany has been battling auto immune disorder. She had to take time off from college and has only 1 more year to graduate. She is my miracle. The doctors told me she would be born with horrible birth defects and wanted me to abort her. I said no. I knew God has something great for her. She doesnt have ministry your daughter does, but she has a calling for missions. She has such a love for those less fortunate than her, even with her illness. She has traveled to many countries to spread the word of God.
What about you? What broke your heart that made you love Him more? Are you in the midst of heartache now? I’d be privileged to pray for you. When I read these words I broke down in tears. My husband left at 30 years of marriage. Turned his back on God. He lives with his gf and has for 5 years. He refuses to sign divorce papers. Due to finances I cant really afford to go to court. My heart aches for what I have lost. As in your life, my kids life and my own, I know God has something better than I could ever imagine. I just need to trust him. Thank you for sharing. What a blessing God gave you in Francessca. Her music ministers to me and helps me. Thank you for the prayers. God Bless.
Kim–Bless your heart my friend. You’ve been through so much and in the midst of it, your heart is to pray for me. I believe with my whole heart, God has something better than you could ever imagine! He is faithful Kim, that I know. I’m so glad to hear your children are doing well and your daughter, even in the midst of illness, is walking out her calling. That was my goal raising Francesca, that she would find her destiny, wherever it led, and let the Lord use her to bring truth and hope to others. For a mother, that’s the greatest joy!
I pray He will comfort you today and give you hope, flood you with His grace and bless you in every way. Thank you so much for stopping by. Blessings to you!
My heartbreak is different. I have 8 children, so definitely come from a different perspective, though I have had 5 miscarriages alternated with my last four children, so I have some understanding, even if only a taste…. but, for me, my heartbreak was the loss of my only sister. She died 6yrs. ago at the age of 40 from an unexpected illness, just three days before my youngest baby was born. I had just lost my best friend to cancer 9 mons. previously. So, I have this huge hole in my heart. The two people I confided in the most and felt the closest to are gone, and there just is no substitute for old friends, esp. a sister… my family is not close, so my sister was my family. I do not get to see her children often. It is very sad…I do have friends, but none who really understand or have time for me when I just need to talk. I don’t want to burden people who really don’t want to be burdened… but mostly, I just miss having someone to call up and talk to about whatever… you know, with someone who already knows all your “issues” and your “history.” I miss this so much…. I know God is enough, yet I struggle with the fact that it is not the same. Please pray for me.
Jennifer–I am so sorry for the losses you’ve suffered. It’s hard to lose the ones who know you and you feel most comfortable with. When we moved here 3 years ago, we left our home where we’d been for 20 years and all our best friends. We haven’t been able to replace them and in fact, are hoping to sell our house and move to where our daughter and grandchildren are. We are just so alone where we are but it’s forced me to press in to the Lord even more and let Him fill the void in my life. It’s so much easier when you have people in your life you can trust and who ‘get you’. I understand what you’ve going through a little bit, I’ve missed that closeness with others too.
I’m praying God will help you through this season and bring you some relationships where you can be yourself and be open and honest knowing that what you share will be honored. I’m so glad that Jesus is not only our king but also our brother and the one who bears our burdens. He loves you so much Jennifer. He knows every heartache you’ve gone through. I’m praying His grace will sustain you. Hugs!
Broken & Healing
Hopefully not putting my real name is okay. A friend referred me to this blog, and I feel like your experience is very similar to ours. After 10 years of infertility, including multiple fertility doctors telling us it wouldn’t happen, we stopped trying for a biological child and began the adoption process. Of course, just as we finished our home study packet, and after we were completely done with any fertility treatments, we found out we were pregnant with our miracle baby. The pregnancy was healthy and we now have an adorable 3-year-old. I had hoped that was the end of our infertility issues and now God was going to start granting us more children. Nope. After 2 years, I conceived again but lost that baby at 8 1/2 weeks. That completely broke me. I know to some, it doesn’t seem much. I was very early in my pregnancy, and I’ve only had one miscarriage. But still, I have struggled often with the thoughts of “Why did God give me 10 years of never even being able to conceive, [then give me a beautiful healthy baby], then give me the joy and hope of more life, and then take it away and say ‘haha, I was kidding, you don’t really get that second baby’?” I know that’s not what happened, and I have been working my way through the grieving process. 3 years later, I still haven’t conceived again, and I’m getting old enough that even normal women start to have lower fertility. We are considering going back to adoption again. But pretty much everything you wrote about your grief and healing is what we are going through. It hasn’t been 26 years yet, but I am still getting lots of reminders from God about enjoying the one beautiful living child that I have, and not missing out on God’s plan for my living child’s life while I’m too busy feeling sorry for myself and the fact that I can’t seem to conceive again.
At any rate, thank you for your blog. Thank you for your prayers for other women who may be struggling with things. For me a huge thing that gives me hope is that “this is not the end.” God has a bigger plan for me, and I am not going to spend it all sulking about not getting what I want. Still working through that grieving process, and watching all my friends get pregnant and give birth again and again still hurts, but achieving peace with accepting God’s plan is definitely my end goal.
Sweet sister, I get it completely, the joy in having a child yet the ache in not being able to have more. You are on the right path. It just takes time. Your grief is real but knowing this isn’t the end and God has a plan for not only you but your precious child, that’s a good thing. If He only gives you one, know it’s for a reason. God sees far beyond our lives and take comfort knowing there’s a plan for your child to impact the world and if it ends up being just the one, diligently seek His heart for His plan for that child. If you feel like you should try adopting again then have courage and go for it. It may be He wants to expand your family that way. But if not, having an only ended up being a huge blessing for my husband and me. We are very close to our daughter and her life has blessed us in countless ways.
I pray He will give you clarity for the future and deep joy in whatever path He chooses for you because whatever He chooses will be so, so good.
Bless you my friend.
I’m in my 30’s and like any other women, I dreamed & prayed of being married someday.
I met a man, was in love & we got engaged.. But for some reasons, it didn’t turn out well. So everything was cancelled and we mutually decided to go our separate ways. It’s just months ago and I still feel the heart break. How do I deal with what I thought was an answered prayer but it turned out differently in the end? Thank you.
Hi Lars–I’m so sorry for your heartbreak. In the hard situations it’s best to trust the Lord’s wisdom because He can see what we cannot. He knows the future and for whatever reason He deemed that relationship not the best for you. I know I can easily settle for the good when God wants to give me the best and I think that’s true of most of usa. Praying He will speak deeply to you and heal your heart. Blessings 🙂