Tuesday, October 29, 2013

No Guarantees

I've realized that so many things in my life lack a guarantee.  My eyes have been opened to so much in the recent weeks that I feel led to share this somewhat somber post. 

The Devil does such a good job of making us think that we are in control of our lives!  He makes us think that if we get a degree and go to school then we are guaranteed a job.  He makes us think that if we wear the right clothes and say the right things, people will like us. He makes us think that if we work hard and show up to work every day we will always have a job and a paycheck.  He makes us think that as long as we have money in the bank, we are financially secure and nothing can touch our livelihood.  He makes us think that if we love each other enough, spend enough time with each other, go on enough dates, have nice things and do fun things, our marriages will be untouchable.  He makes us think that if we eat right and exercise, we are going to have control over our lives/lifespan.  He makes Jake and I think that as long as we put our hope in doctors and medicine, God and faith have no place in our pregnancy. 

How many students have bachelors degrees and masters degrees and are looking for work?  How many men and women try their hardest to conform to the ways of this world, yet still feel alone?  How many people worked hard and showed up to work everyday for 30 years to find a pink slip in the mailbox one day and their severance packages dissolved?  How many people have savings in the bank only to find out after a bad medical diagnosis or a crisis that it wasn't enough?  How many marriages start out with the best intentions and seem so happy only to be ripped apart by divorce and infidelity?  How many healthy and active people treat themselves and their bodies right, only to find out they are another victim of cancer?  How many doctors have we visited and how many treatments have we tried yet we still aren't pregnant?

None of the things above come with a guarantee.  None of the things above are promised to us.  I once heard someone say, "On any given day, your boss owes you nothing more than a paycheck.  Regardless of how good of an employee or person you are, at the end of the day all they owe you is a paycheck for the hours you worked." 

Also, people spend hours reading countless articles about marriage and keeping the love alive only to see the bottom of the page filled with comments from people who say, "I tried this and my marriage still failed...  I stayed in great shape and my husband or wife still cheated on me...  This is a lie, the love never stays alive..."

So much money gets spent on gym memberships and healthy foods and yet, people still die at a young age, or have heart attacks because of their genetics or get diagnosed with cancer.

Satan fools us by giving us a false sense of control.  

Possibly the biggest trick that Satan has is that he makes us think that as long as we show up to church on holidays or even once a week and do the song and dance, we will go to Heaven.   He makes you think that doing good things and treating people right will get you to that happy place above.  Why should you need a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in order to go to heaven?  Why should you SERVE someone in order to live a happy life?

I say all of this not to condemn anyone but to challenge people.  Just as I am being challenged right now because I have been tricked by all of these lies and recently my EYES have been opened to the fact that I was BELIEVING so many of these lies.  I realize that the only guarantee that I have in my life is my Savior.  I am guaranteed by asking God into my heart and asking Him to guide and lead my life, that my name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life.  I am not guaranteed that I will always have a job but I am guaranteed that no matter what circumstances I face, whether they are financial, physical, or emotional, He is with me.  My marriage is not guaranteed to be perfect but as long as Jake and I put Christ first, we will have something bigger and stronger than ourselves guiding us.  Our treatments are not guaranteed to get us pregnant but we know that God will lead us down whatever path we are supposed to walk once they are no longer an option. 

God guarantees us one thing in life: His love.  Please remember that the next time you want to complain about something not going your way.  You have not been guaranteed any of these things so instead of being upset, focus on the best and most important guarantee you'll ever get in your life - God loves you and if you submit to His will and His plan for your life, you will spend eternity in Heaven! Where none of this other stuff will matter anyways! Can I get an amen to that?! 

Initial shock: Made Wrong

This week has not been a good week.  On Wednesday I felt down and defeated and throughout the rest of the week that feeling just continued.  My weekend was a great reminder of what wonderful friends I have but it was spent away from my husband.

On Sunday, I picked up Jake from the city and we headed out to the suburbs to relax and spend time with my parents.  We were staying the night at their house because we had two doctor's appointments the next day.  One because I needed to get a booster of the MMR vaccine and the second appointment was for my hystersalpingogram.

I had outgrown my two MMR vaccines from childhood.  I've learned that this isn't as uncommon as I thought but it means that any potential treatments have to be pushed back by a whole month because it is a live vaccine. If we were to conceive in this month the baby could be at risk for miscarriage or birth defects.

The hysterosalpingogram is a test to tell whether or not your tubes are blocked.  It is an invasive test and uncomfortable.   During the test they discovered that my right tube appears to be blocked.

When we left the appointment I asked the nurse what the next step would be and she said to set up an appointment with the doctor.  The next appointment wasn't available for two weeks but we went ahead and made it.

Keep in mind that it has been over two weeks since Jake gave his semen analysis, we have not received any results from that, and our first appointment was on May 6th.  My body simply refuses to get on board with this whole baby idea.  It feels like it has been a long time and we still haven't gotten anywhere....until yesterday.

After hearing that one of my tubes was blocked I felt like I had gotten punched in the gut.  All this time I was waiting for an answer or for the doctors to "figure something out" and once I got an answer it knocked the wind out of me.  All of those negative emotions just boiled over again and I wanted to cry.  Knowing that I have one tube blocked limits our options. 

Like I said, I had finally gotten an answer but this time I didn't hear, "your right tube is blocked" I heard, "It's all your fault, again, you and your husband are having a hard time having a baby because there is SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU."

I was hurt. I was sad. I didn't know what to say.  I felt guilty.  I was discouraged.

Then one day I heard this incredible line, which you've seen throughout other posts.  We chose marriage over parenthood.  Jake chose me before we knew there were any issues.  He chose to do life with me before the thought of kids even entered our mind and he reminds me of that all the time.

Another reminder I got was that not only has Jake chosen me, more importantly God has chosen me.  He has pursued me and created me to be His child.  He has chosen me to be a part of His greater purpose on earth.  I may not always know why God picked me to experience these things but I do know he chose me and created me whatever way He wanted to.  He was gracious and gave Jake and I one another to experience this life with and He has blessed us beyond measure.  No matter what medicine said or anatomy said, I was chosen for a purpose and there is nothing wrong with me.

Remember that God created you and He has chosen you.  He has chosen you to glorify Him.  He has chosen to show you mercy and grace even when you can't sense it.  He chose to create you exactly how you are.  Choose to honor Him with that.  

Treading Water

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by life in general that you feel like you are treading water?  No matter what you do you can't seem to get to the shore or get a good stroke in for a strong swim.  Everything seems close yet so far away and it is all you can do just to doggy paddle right where you are and keep your head above the water.

After our second IUI attempt failed, Jake and I made the decision to proceed with my surgery.  After the news that our IUI failed and before the surgery we had about a month of wait time.  It was during this time that I started to feel like I was sinking.  So many people kept telling me how great it will be once I have the surgery because I will get answers and know exactly what is going on.  While I wholeheartedly agreed with these statements, the thought of getting answers absolutely TERRIFIED me.  Every step that we have gone through in this process, each answer I have received, has been harder than the next.  When you going through infertility you realize that while you would love to always be optimistic and be a half glass full type of person, you also have to think about the glass being half empty.  So while we want to get excited each time we do a procedure and be hopeful, we are always cautious about keeping our emotions in check because we know that we may hear, "I'm sorry but not this time," or, "it didn't work out this time," or "the test came back negative, you are not pregnant. What would you like to do next?"  20 times we have gotten glass is half empty or entirely empty answers.

All this time the doctors have always said you may have a blocked tube, that may be the reason you aren't getting pregnant but we won't know for sure unless we do surgery.  Once we do surgery then we will know exactly what is going on and be able to give you a firm diagnosis and plan going forward.  If it is something we can fix, we will, if not, we will let you know and look at other options.

"Other options."  Two words that haunted me for an entire month.  All I could think about before this surgery was this is it.  THIS is when we will find out if I am able to have a child or not.  THIS is when we will hear if it is something they can fix or not.  THIS is when the doctors will really know what we are dealing with or are up against.  I was preparing for the worst.  The results of this test were going to affect the rest of my life.  My entire future.  I was dreading hearing that the doctors couldn't fix it and I wouldn't be able to have my own children.  The mere thought of this kept sucking me under and God had to keep pulling me back up. 

I realized during all of this that treading water isn't a bad thing.  You work your darndest to keep your head up and sometimes you succeed while other times you dip under for a little bit.  I got to the point before hearing my results that I said I am giving up on treading water.  I can't do this anymore and that is when it happened.  That is when my friend said to me, "Dana, you always tell me to be still.  Do I need to be telling you that right now?"  And IT HIT ME LIKE A TON OF BRICKS!  I didn't need to be treading water, I didn't need to be carrying any of this weight because God would carry it for me.  Right there!  Right in that moment when my friend used my own go-to line against me, I realized God was speaking to me.  He can calm the seas, He can walk on water, and He can meet me in my needs.  I just needed to be still (in the water) and He would be there to catch me and help me float. 

At the end of the surgery I was told it is not something that could be "fixed" but it is something we could "work with."  First of all - God has a funny sense of humor in showing me that HE MADE ME, He created me exactly how he wanted me and it wasn't going to be something that needed to be fixed.  Second, He brought us to another step but this time the answers still gave us hope.  

Wherever you may be today, I pray that you just stop.  Stop treading water.  Stop trying to keep your head above it and let yourself be still.  See what God does to the rough waters then.  See Him walk on the water to reach you.  See Him calm your storm and give you peace in being still during your present circumstances. 

Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fires you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

2 Samuel 22:17 He sent me from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters.