“Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.” II Corinthians 4:1
I have been in labor for almost five years.
There have been ultrasounds.
There has been blood work.
There has been pain: both physical and emotional.
I feel called to motherhood. It’s as strong as the calling I felt to enter the pastorate ten years ago. It’s as strong as the calling that I felt to marry over six years ago. But, I am still a childless mother. My bio below lists no children in our immediate family.
When I first began the journey toward motherhood, I was naïve.
After being married a year, I thought we’d start trying to have kids and then nine months later pop out a beautiful baby. I saw so many of my friends become mothers so easily. My mind and body felt strong. I saw no groaning up ahead. Why would childbirth not happen easily for me?
I had no idea the process of waiting for a baby can extend Advent after Advent, year after year.
I had no idea that labor pains sometimes can feel like the awkwardness of attending a party and being asked by a stranger “Why don’t you have children?” It’s finding your way to a polite response, though what you really want to say is “bug off.”
I had no idea that labor pains can feel like a dear friend telling you she’s pregnant with her third. It’s finding a way to say with a smile and a hug, “Congratulations!” You are happy for her, but . . .
I had no idea that I’d have to invite doctors and lawyers and friends into the process—a process that should have been all about love between my husband and me but instead became a process that included contracts, test tubes, and diagrams of the fertilization process between an egg and a sperm.
Through this painful waiting, I’ve asked God a few questions:
Where are you God when what seemed so sure fell through again?
Where are you God when I had to preach about a teenaged girl having a baby again?
Where are you when my college girlfriends gather to talk about their babies, and I have nothing to offer again?
Throughout this journey of motherhood I’ve always had a choice.
I’ve had a choice to believe that God has clothed me in the scarlet letter of infertility (and God hasn’t).
I’ve had a choice to believe that this wait is punishment for some un-confessed wrongdoing (I don’t believe it is).
I’ve had a choice to believe that I will never welcome children into our family (I still believe we will).
At this juncture of the journey I choose to believe that the desires of my heart will come to fulfillment, somehow, someway. As I continue to wait, I’ve been given the opportunity to experience God’s love at a deeper level than I ever could have imagined. Friends blessed me with deep expressions of kindness that have healed parts of me that I didn’t know were so broken. My husband and I have leaped into the certainty of “No matter what, we are going to get through this together.” And my faith has come to the other side of knowing for sure that even as this season of waiting labors on, my waiting is not in vain. God’s kingdom is coming though it is not already here.
Like Paul told the believers in Corinth, “we have this great ministry, we don’t lose heart,” God has reminded me of this time and time again. And it has been love that has carried me through this labor—love of what my heart has seen, though my eyes have not. In God’s kingdom, we groan together and wait.
Let us pray:
God, Advent can be such a hard time for those of us who are in the middle of waiting for what is to come. Help us to find your love for us even in the midst of the pains of labor that endure for the night. We pray together for your light to come. Amen.
Elizabeth is an ordained minister in the Baptist tradition, a freelance writer and a social media consultant who divides her time between Arlington, VA and Oklahoma City, OK with her husband Kevin. She blogs regularly at “Preacher on the Plaza” (this site). This Advent Elizabeth is hoping for the gift of being present in the moment.