One of the many things that have assured me that the Bible is true is the story of Hannah in First Samuel. Hannah is an infertile woman living in an ancient society that places feminine worth in those who produce children. The description of her inconsolable depression is pretty accurate, I get Hannah. She is my kindred spirit.
I've changed a lot over the years, and infertility has a lot to do with it. When I asked God to get me married, I was ready for it and the whole raising a family package. I spent most of my late 20's and early 30's bracing myself for an onslaught of offspring that never came. My late 30's consisted of fertility treatments and working towards a plan for adoption.
My body and our financial situation weren't co-operating with our goals and desires. As we got older, I got more inward with my disillusionment and pretty much packed away my hopes for a family. How does one cope when things don't go the way she wants them to?
Hannah laid her heart at the feet of God with a remarkable prayer. She became peaceful and joyful before she became pregnant, which pretty much means she was liberated from her own desires to be validated as a woman--God validated her by listening to her, and her response was a trusting calmness. If she did not have a baby, fine. If she did, the baby was not hers, but God's. The ball was in God's court.
She came to a point where children were not the objective, but God's glory was. She could not fill her empty life or empty womb, but God filled her empty heart. She was not like Rachel who screamed "Give me children or else I'll die!" with a hunger that was not placated with her sons nor with family power plays against Leah's children.
No. Hannah was fulfilled and a fulfilled woman loves in a way that doesn't attempt to wring self worth out of others, things, sacrifices and everything that has to go her way. She didn't care about Penninah's cruelty or her society's obsession with family. But she knew that she was cared for by One who controlled all things, whether her desire was realized or not.
I'm glad that God not only gave her one child--whom she dedicated to be raised in His temple--but many afterward. She gave God what she desired most, because her desires were not about herself anymore but about honoring Him. And He honored her in return. It didn't have to be more children, it could have been anything that spoke to her of His love for her. She had Him, and He was worth more to her than a hundred children.
Infertility is frustrating, because despite all the medical technology out there, the results of treatments are unpredictable. No woman is the same. Reproduction is a delicate and complicated process that we take for granted because there's a ton of people on this planet and pregnant ladies everywhere. When everything goes right, it actually is quite a miracle. And most doctors seem pretty much like they are guessing when it comes to treating infertility which works out for a blessed few who stick it out through a lot of ups and downs.
Right now, Dennis and I are experiencing a lot of the instability that is in today's economy. We are wondering what the next step for us will be. There is a lot we can do, though, that others our age cannot. So, if you are thinking that I have sunk into passive resignation, think again. I'm on the brink of a very exhilerating high dive of faith.