I’ve often heard the question arise from women experiencing infertility: “why has God put this desire on my heart if He’s not going to fulfill it?” I’ve sat with and pondered this many, many times in the past few months while wandering the desert of secondary infertility. I’ve searched my own heart for the answer, and have been surprised to experience some revelation while meeting God in the interior life and examining my heart, honestly and carefully. Here is what I have discovered.
Perhaps the very deepest desires of our hearts, deeper even than the desire for motherhood that is written into our very bodies, is the desire for daughterhood. To be seen, known, loved. To be cherished. To belong. These deep desires are ones which not only can God fulfill, but ones which ONLY He can fulfill completely and in their entirety. Our ability to trust Him, to be fortified for the crosses and sufferings of this life with peace and joy, are rooted in our understanding and experience of His fulfillment of these deepest desires of our hearts.
Oftentimes, I do it backwards. I base my trust, my understanding of God’s goodness, on how He fulfills my (good and holy!) desires for things outside of myself. When left wanting in the face of another negative pregnancy test, wounded by a miscarriage, or facing the loneliness of comparing my circumstances to that of others, I start to wonder how or if He can fulfill the deepest desires of my heart - to be known, loved, seen and cherished. I am left floundering, free-falling in grief with only one place to land: bitterness. And within the walls of bitterness (speaking from experience, here), joy is dimmed, heartache is heightened, colorful things fade and there is very little capacity to receive grace.
Slowly, little by little, God has been inviting me to seek fulfillment of my desires in the intended order. To seek first fulfillment of my daughterhood desires. To pray first for those desires of my heart which ONLY He can fulfill: Lord, see me. Lord, show me that I am known. Lord, give me your love. Prove how cherished I am to you. Reveal to me to whom and how I belong.
Little by little, this reordering is changing the way I seek, ask for and expect fulfillment in other desires, such as my desire for more children. Fortified in the knowledge that God, and God alone, will and does fulfill me, I can move forward trusting in faith that He WILL fulfill my desires for the growth of my family. That in turn opens my capacity to accept that fulfillment in whatever way God intends it, EVEN if it’s different to what I envision or, at the end of the day, what I want.
Trust me when I say there was a time when I never thought I’d be here, and never even considered it possible to truly be content, happy, joyful or fulfilled when the answer to my most dearly held prayer is “no”, or “wait”, or even a sacred silence altogether. In my mind, this was the stuff of saints - to remain joyful in hope amid longing, to actually praise God from within the heart of the storm, to feel so certain that His goodness is mine to claim that no amount of waiting or loss could shake my peace.
If I’m being honest, there are still many days I’d simply prefer the miraculous to be the tangible - the long awaited positive pregnancy test, the miracle child wiggling in my arms, the physical proof that God is faithful. Yet, in His goodness, God continues to pursue my heart with the reality that the miraculous can be my joy amidst disappointment, my desire to worship in the wait, or the peace that surpasses all understanding, that roots itself even deeper than my holiest and most pressing desires.
There is freedom, sisters, in desiring Him more than anything else. I am finding it, slowly, quietly, like a flower whose petals unfold softly, one at a time rather than all at once. The road there can be painful, even dark. But joy comes in the morning.
I invite you to tread this path with me, and to open your heart to ALL the possibilities God has in store for you. We put God in a narrow box when we decide there is only one way in which He can do the fulfilling. It is us, though, who bear the weight of those limitations we set. So, release them.
It can start with a simple prayer, one I’ve whispered to myself several times in recent months: “Jesus, be my joy.” It’s a starting point if you’re unsure, a beautiful starting point for a journey God longs to bring you on and bless you through. It’s a prayer for the hard moments, largely unseen by others’ eyes, to hold in those secret places of pain. It’s a way to lean into God with trust in the hard, sad, and disappointing moments, rather than away from him in bitterness. It’s an invitation for Him to show up and BE who He has said over and over again that He is. It’s an invitation for Him to fulfill a promise to you, that He can be enough to fill your cup and then some, regardless of whatever else happens.
If it seems impossible, too good to be true, look to Bethlehem, to the stable, to the manger, where God transformed the lacking and the emptiness with nothing else but Himself. That same glory that filled the emptiness then, that satisfied the deepest longing in all of humanity, is yours now, today, this very moment. He will prove it to you if you let Him. That it is yours. That it is enough.