Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” When I was eight years old, my parents found me crying face down on my bed, because I was worried that God would give me a child with mental challenges, and that I would not be a fit mother for them. Why would I have been upset about this at such a young age—much less even thinking about it? Well, God made me a uniquely sensitive and passionate human, with a very strong desire to nurture. I have always known that being a wife and a mother is what I was built for, my true calling. I met my husband Carter when we were both counselors at Hidden Acres Christian Center. The first thing that attracted me to him was how good he was with his campers. I saw a God honoring man pouring out love to children and I was done for!
Carter was 23 and I was 21 when we got married- I still had a year left in college. We waited one year before we decided to start trying for a baby. We knew it was early, that most people waited longer after getting married, especially at our age. But we both had this deep desire for a child in our hearts, so we decided to give it a shot. I remember reading an article that said the average time it takes to conceive is six months and thinking, “There’s no WAY I would be able to wait more than six months, we better get going!”
And then a year passed.
That winter I typed, jokingly, on our Christmas card, “Despite their best efforts, Carter and Lindsey have failed to have a baby. Check back next year.” I felt that was all my year had been- a series of failed attempts to pursue a desire that had been banging around in my heart since I was small. To make matters worse, after trying and failing to conceive for a full year, a couple is officially medically labeled as “infertile.” Satan used those labels to suck me into believing that was my identity. I thought the one thing that I should naturally be able to do had failed me. My body had betrayed me. God wasn’t listening to my prayers. I felt like I was being punished. I felt deeply, deeply alone.
You never know when asking a young married couple when they are going to start having children might pierce like a dagger in their heart. These words sound harmless and are meant to show interest, but they can be brutal to more women than you might guess. We have a tendency in society to push each other to look towards what’s next. If you are dating, when will you get married? When are you going to upgrade your house or get that new car? If you have one child, when will you make it two? The idea behind asking these questions is good, desiring to enter in to each other’s lives in order to identify and encourage. However, constantly pushing for the next thing can cause ones you care about to feel like where they are right now isn’t good enough. Over that first year of trying, I fell into a deep trap of believing I was not worthwhile because I had not yet achieved motherhood. Those close to us knew we were trying. Well-meaning friends asked what the plan was, what we could do next, how we can push through to achieving our goal. The issue is that those questions do not leave room for what God is doing during the waiting time; how He is showing glory through our lives right now. It is easy to point to God’s goodness when we get something we want, but it means a whole lot more when we do it while we are waiting.
This lesson ended up taking me a long time to learn, because after a year and a half it was finally my time to make my big announcement. I was pregnant. We would be nine weeks pregnant at Christmas, the perfect time to tell our families our news. It was a time of pure joy, a precious pocket of weeks that I will never forget. Unfortunately, our first pregnancy was also our first loss. Our world crumpled—especially mine.
Three dark weeks of processing the pain followed. We had only begun to explore the depths of this loss when something shocking happened—I was pregnant again. It was the ultimate emotional whiplash. How could this be? I thought, Wow, first 17 failed months and now two pregnancies back to back? God must REALLY want us to have this baby! As terrified as I was of experiencing the same loss all over again, I didn’t think God would let me go through that pain again. My battered hope slowly regained confidence. The joy was still there, but this time was very different. We didn’t talk about names, didn’t plan for the due date, and didn’t think past the first two months. When the day of our first ultrasound finally arrived. I was thrilled and terrified. We prayed together fervently. I wrote letters to my sweet precious baby, telling of our love and excitement.
At the ultrasound, two words destroyed the fragile hope we had rebuilt. “Something’s wrong.” My heart dropped, tears immediately started, and I just knew. Four excruciating days followed of waiting to hear back on tests to confirm the worst. I was miscarrying again. A week later, our second baby was gone.
The next few months were a blur of merely surviving. In a matter of three and a half quick months, I had become a mother of two precious babies in heaven. My grief was enormous. For really the first time ever, I questioned God’s promises for my life. Did he have a plan for me, for us? Why did he give us this deep desire to be parents, only to rip it away from us, not once, but twice so quickly? Did he not know how much we wanted those babies; how deeply they were loved in the short amount of time we had with them? Had I done something wrong? I sank deeper and deeper into doubt and fear. I succumbed to Satan’s lies and believed that this was all I would ever be: an invisible mother that was incapable of bringing her children safely into this world. My pain would never be understood, my babies would never be held, and I would forever bite back tears watching other parents effortlessly live out my most precious hopes and dreams.
I would still be in that darkness if it wasn’t for God’s sweet, perfect provision. As I questioned whether God had a plan for me, He was enacting a beautiful one that would lead to a sweeter and deeper relationship with Himself, my husband, and my someday babies. Jesus had seen and counted every tear we shed over our lost children. He collected them in His hands and whispered in my ear, “I know, dear child. I have already made this right. I have gone before you and laid your path. Wait on my perfect timing.”
He called me to Psalm 130:6, which says “I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on Him. I have put my hope in his word. I long for the Lord more than the watchman longs for the dawn.” As surely as the morning comes each day, God will come to me and deliver me from this broken and weary place of longing. He will make me new again, and my joy will overflow. So on the bad days—the days that I burst into tears upon hearing a pregnancy announcement or force myself to swallow bitter words of jealousy—even on those days, God’s promise for me is true. My emotions may overcome me and draw me into darkness, but the reality of Christ is that He does not leave us with our emotions being the final word. The creator of all things is in charge of my destiny. Only He can say what my future will hold: not doctors, not nosy onlookers, not my own most faithless and terrified thoughts. Proverbs 3:5 reminds me, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” When my earthly understanding has been shattered through doubt and fear, it is so comforting to know that I can lean on His truth. I don’t have to understand what God is doing, I just need to trust who He is.
Psalm 139 says, “You go before me and you follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. . . You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!” verse 5 and 16-17. If this God--the one who built me from scratch and gave me every longing--has created me to be a woman with arms desperate for a baby, then why would he withhold this from me? He wouldn’t. Nowhere in the bible does God give one of his people a longing and does not answer it. There are, however, lots of times when God gives a desire and then allows suffering, false starts, and years upon years of waiting before satisfying the thirst. There are many women in scripture that were for lengths of time infertile, Sarah being the best example. She had to wait for 80 years before she was given a child, far beyond childbearing years. But God is BIGGER than our human limitations. Genesis 21:1-2 proclaims, “Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.” It was not Abraham and Sarah’s time, it was God’s, and their very lineage would eventually produce Jesus Christ. Their family line had multiple instances of years of childlessness. It was God’s timing that these women would have their children when they did, in order to make sure that Jesus came to us at the exact right time. God’s timing allowed Christ to bridge the gap from our sin to Heaven, saving all of mankind. Uh, wow! That’s kind of an important thing, and it makes me glad that God did not answer their prayers for a child the first or thousandth time that they prayed them.
Now, I am not saying that I think we have suffered both infertility and multiple miscarriages because we are going to produce a messiah (duh.) But I am saying that God’s answers of “not yet,” and “not this child,” are ultimately for my good. Only God is sovereign, and His plans are perfect. God says to us in Isaiah 55:9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Of course His plan for me is what is best. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.””
I know God hears my prayers for a child. Psalm 138:3 confirms, “As soon as I pray, You answer me; You encourage me by giving me strength.” Whether His answer is yes, no, or wait, He does not delay in answering my pleas and giving me strength to handle his answer. I may never know exactly why He allowed it to happen (until Heaven), but I do know that it was not to punish me or cause me pain. The only way we can grow is through suffering, and it was time for me to grow. He wanted to draw me closer to my husband and to Himself, to let me know that even my good and right dream of a family would not satisfy my heart. He alone can create hope and joy in my life, and I need to look only to Him.
The first time I was pregnant, I felt extremely confident that I would be having a perfectly healthy baby in my arms in nine months. Even when things got shaky, I kept insisting in the emergency room that the doctor was going to come in and tell me my baby was doing great. I felt the Holy Spirit telling me, “I’ve got you. You and your baby are both going to be safe and fine.” So when the doctor told me that my baby had died in my womb, I felt like the God had betrayed me. How could He deceive me like this? But later my dad pointed out, “Lindsey, you are safe and fine. And guess what? Your baby is safe and fine.” It is true; my baby was now in the safest and most glorious place possible. God had created and then brought our sweet, precious, perfect child back to himself. As a mother, all that I could ever want for my children is for them to be cared for, loved, and protected. No one can do this better than God, as much as I wanted the opportunity to try. I’m quite sure that Carter and I would have done a bang up job loving that baby fiercely, but we are nothing compared to our Maker and Heavenly Father.
It has been a while since our losses, and it is not true what they say. Time does not heal all wounds; God heals all wounds. Thanks to God’s loving provision of His word, caring family, understanding friends, and wise mentors, I have come to place of expansive healing. When we lost the second pregnancy, my mentor asked me, “Do you think you could heal from this without getting pregnant again?” That was a tough question for me, because I felt like the only way I got over the first loss was the promise of the second pregnancy. What if there wasn’t a third? What if motherhood for me only ever was the promise that I would hold my babies someday in Heaven? Well, if that were to be true, I would still be safe and fine. I would still have God’s love for me, Christ’s sacrifice covering my sin with holiness, an eternity to spend in perfect light and love. But God gave me this promise, and His word does not return void. Hours after our first miscarriage was confirmed, my husband and I looked into each other’s tear stained eyes and realized that we felt closer than we ever had before. Despite it being the worst day of our lives so far, God was giving us glimpses of Himself. That kind of steadfast love simply does not fail.
I believe with every fiber of my being that we are going to get to experience the joy of parenthood here on planet earth. It takes work, a sometimes-daily effort to set down my fear and pick up my faith. But I have come to a point of believing that some day—maybe in nine months, maybe in 15 years—I will hold a living and breathing, precious child of my own. Someday you will see me with a pregnant belly, and I can GUARANTEE that no matter the pain or sleeplessness or stress you see on me, I will be the most infinitely ecstatic and joyful pregnant woman. Some day you will see me carrying my baby or holding the hand of my toddler, and I hope that it speaks of God’s faithfulness to you. The promises He has made for you is just as true as mine. Please know that you are loved, and despite your suffering you are being cared for. God’s work is always bigger than the darkness.
I thought about waiting to share this story with people until we were successfully awaiting a viable pregnancy, or until after we had had our first baby. But there are times when I hear stories of God’s enduring faithfulness after the fact and think, “Well that’s great for them, but what if my time never comes?” I want to share our story with as many people as I can so that they may see our faith and believe for themselves, too. Even if our happy ending is delayed, doesn’t come, or is totally different than we wanted, God is still good. Our faithfulness and hope will be rewarded when we meet Christ in heaven, whether or not we get to see the rewards on earth. Our darkest times are when God puts us in the fire, reforms us, and brings us out holier, stronger, and more like himself. Rather than letting the fire destroy us, we need only to wait faithfully for God’s work to be done. Only through our weakness can His strength be shone.
These words are my pausing to build an altar for God, to thank Him for His goodness to me and to show others what He has done. This place of healing and joy despite my circumstances is God bringing me into holy ground. If you are reading this and have suffered from miscarriage, infertility, or waiting for your baby for any amount of time--you are not alone. If you are waiting on God’s timing in any way, know that the joy that is to come will overshadow all of the pain. Until then, we wait in hope and trust in the Lord.